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The Grady County Lake Authority will open Tired Creek Lake again this year for duck hunting, and youth hunters will have an opportunity to hunt during the upcoming teal season. The authority also learned this week the county is set to more than double its revenue from daily passes paid by out-of-county residents who fish at the lake.
During the authority’s monthly meeting Tuesday, authority members took up the issue of duck hunting in 2019. According to Lake Authority executive director Mike Binion, the county collected approximately $6,600 in fees from duck hunters last year.
“That’s $6,600 we didn’t have and I think people really enjoyed being able to hunt it,” Lake Authority Chairman Steven Childs said.
Binion said his only recommendation was to develop a more simplistic system of drawing for hunters and coordinating the scheduling of hunts and collecting payment for the hunting fee.
“It was complicated and time consuming last year,” Chairman Childs agreed.
“Was there any downside to opening it up for duck hunting?” authority member Laura Register asked.
Authority member and Grady County Commissioner Ray Prince said there was not, but noted that in the future when development begins to take place around the lake it might be an issue, but not at this time.
Part of the confusion last year, according to Childs, was that there were not enough interested hunters to fill up all of the available slots for the two days of the week open for hunting during the season without contacting those who did express interest and then schedule for multiple hunting dates.
“Who is to say the interest this year might not be two or three times as much?” authority member Bob Ponder asked.
A number of ideas of how to conduct the lottery and how to collect payment of the fees ensued. Grady County Tax Commissioner Barbara Darus, whose office issues the annual permits for local residents and sells annual passes to out-of-county residents, offered to assist the authority in processing the duck hunting permit payments.
After much discussion, Vice Chairman Chip Wells volunteered to head a committee including himself, authority member Stephen Francis, Binion and Tax Commissioner Darus to come up with a process for how the duck hunting will be managed and to bring back a recommendation to the authority for its approval.
Chairman Childs suggested that teal season, which runs Sept. 14-29, be opened to youth hunters accompanied by an adult. Binion said that not that many hunters hunt teals and he said he agreed with Chairman Childs that it would be appropriate to restrict it to youth hunters.
Binion asked if it would be reserved for local youth only, but the authority decided to open teal season up to all youth, both local residents and out-of-county residents.
The authority also agreed to host a Youth Waterfowl Day on Saturday, Nov. 16 in accordance with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
The regular duck season in Georgia will be Nov. 23 – Dec. 1 and Dec. 12 – Jan. 31. The authority will continue to allow hunting during the duck hunting season from the legal starting hours until noon on Wednesday and Saturday.
Final details on how the duck hunting lottery will be conducted this year will be announced shortly.
“The sooner we can get it out there and advertise it the better off we will be,” Chairman Childs said. Vice Chairman Wells agreed and said that many in the public had the wrong impression that only the “good ole boys” had been allowed to hunt last year. “That’s not how it was and we need to make sure we let everyone know that it is open to everyone,” Wells said.
Binion also reported Tuesday that since Jan. 1, 2019, the county had collected nearly $18,000 in daily pass fees, which is what the county had collected in all of 2018. “We should double that this year with no problem,” Binion said.
In other business this week, the authority:
Heard a report from Binion about mitigation site inspections conducted by officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently. According to Grady County Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, attorney Laura Benz has been communicating with the Corps regarding the inspection and she had reported that “everything went very well.” Johnson said that Benz was doing an “amazing job” for the county.
Heard a report from Binion on the results of water samples, which indicate all levels are in compliance with the county’s permit. Binion also reported DNR officials will be conducting a dam inspection in a couple of weeks.
Heard from Chairman Childs who shared with the members that he had been contacted by citizens complaining about the feral hogs that have become “more and more visible all around the lake and even the boat ramps.” Binion said he had a plan for dealing with the hogs but did not elaborate publicly.