Rob writes a weekly outdoors column and covers energy, environmental and nuclear issues (and lots of other topics) for the metro section. He has been an avid angler and hunter ever since he realized he had neither the aptitude nor the desire to take up golf. He has been a full-time journalist for 28 years, including 11 years as bureau chief in Columbia County. Before joining The Chronicle, he worked at newspapers in Columbia, S.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla. He has edited or authored three reference books on antique fishing tackle; and his freelance work has appeared in Field & Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal and Georgia Outdoor News. He lives in Evans.
 
Posted January 21, 2011 11:51 am - Updated January 21, 2011 11:53 am

Off the table after 19 years: Yuchi Public Fishing Area

Yuchi Wildlife Management Area in Burke County was to include a 110-acre lake, with an average depth of 27 feet. Although surveying and land clearing was completed decades ago, the project was never fully funded, and this year, appeares to be off the table for good. The 7,800-acre Yuchi WMA, however, remains available for hunting and other public uses.

Almost two decades ago, plans were made to carve a 110-acre fishing lake from the swampy wilderness on the low-lying portion of Yuchi Wildlife Management Area in Burke County.

 

The plan included docks, trails, parking areas and maintenance workers who would help manage the site just 20 miles south of Augusta. Surveyors marked the boundaries and timber was cut to accommodate the rising waters once the dam was built and sealed.

 

But it never happened. The $2.1 million needed to finish the project was included in perennial funding requests over the years, but it never quite got to the construction phase.

 

This year, the project is off the table completely, as Georgia's cash-strapped government grapples with funding shortfalls that threaten to close parks and cancel leases on some wildlife management areas.

 

"It was never funded at a level we could move forward with," said Todd Holbrook, Georgia's deputy natural resources commissioner. "And even though some of the preliminary work was done, half a dam does not hold half a lake."

 

In the years that have elapsed since timber was cut for the project, trees have long since regenerated. Yuchi, with 7,800 state-owned acres, remains open and is one of the state's most popular WMAs with quality hunting opportunities.