Free access offered at U.S. Corps facilities

Published 9:43 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

The U.S. Corps of Engineers, which operates several boat landing sites in this area, announced that it would waive all fees for swimming beaches and boat ramps from Saturday, Aug. 1, through Sunday, Aug. 9.

Fees for camping, specializes facilities such as picnic shelters and other special-use locations will not be waived, and the waiver does not apply to Annual Pass purchases.

“We are going to waive the day-use fees,” said Valencia Young, natural resources specialist with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. “All that we will ask of the visitors is to tell us if they had a discount pass so we can keep track of the fees that we would have collected otherwise.”

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The Corps is implementing the waiver to highlight recreation opportunities at Corps lakes and to draw more visitors during a historically low-use period, early August.

“People are going back to school and are going shopping for school, so people are watching their pennies and cutting back on vacations and boating,” Young said.

Young added that increased use of the Corps lakes would also benefit the city economy, plus people who take advantage of the free access are likely to come back again.

The Corps will place plastic bags over the honor vaults so that people who have not heard about the free access days will not feel that they need to pay. Fliers with information about the free access days will also be available at the boat ramps.

“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Young said. “I anticipate that we will have a lot of positive response. We’re getting the attendants ready at the gatehouses for the turnout.”

The boat ramps taking part in the free access days include the ones at Foscue Park in Demopolis, Belmont Park in Sumter County, Runaway Park 2 in Forkland, Jennings Ferry Park in Eutaw Lock 8 Park in Akron, Lock 5 Park near Greensboro and Service Park in Choctaw County.