Lake Seminole lock to remain open

Published 7:18 am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has decided to allow recreational boaters to continue using locks on the Apachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin, reversing an earlier decision to close the locks to non-commercial traffic.

The decision was announced earlier this summer as part of a Corps of Engineers plan to save money on operating the dams, where commercial traffic has dwindled in recent years.

But Corps officials successfully submitted a plan which will let recreational boaters continue to travel the entire Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, the Eufaula, Ala., Tribune reported. More details are forthcoming, said Bill Smallwood, the Corps’ project manager for the ACF Basin.

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Oct. 7 was to have been the date that the lock on Lake Seminole’s Jim Woodruff Dam was to have closed, along with others on Lake Eufaula and near Columbus, Ga. Recreational boaters would have still been allowed to pass through the locks during maintenance periods, but an outcry among area boaters appears to have made a difference.

The “Save the Seminole Locks and Lake Day” was held this past Saturday on the part of Lake Seminole near Sneads, Fla. Many boaters passed through the Woodruff lock on Saturday to show their support for the lock to remain open.

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland from Florida attended the rally and voiced his support for keeping the locks open, the Jackson County (Fla.) Times reported.

Other supporters, according to media reports, included U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Columbus, Georgia), U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Sen. Bill Nelson of Fla., and the Columbus, Ga., City Council.