Access above headgates tightens

Anglers who kayak and canoe the Savannah River above the Augusta Canal headgates will have to work harder to get there.

Columbia County, citing safety concerns, blocked the access road used by vehicles to drop off boats.

Conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians left little choice, said Community and Leisure Services Director Barry Smith.

"The posts were installed to deter vehicle traffic," he said. "The road was designed for pedestrians only, and vehicles present a safety issue with folks walking or mothers with strollers."

Vehicles using the area were also causing damage to the path and stone walls.

"The lower road was not constructed or designed for the weight of vehicles, and we are constantly having to make repairs to areas caused by cars and trucks," he said, noting that the there is a newly expanded vehicle access to launch boats in the lower portion of the river, but not to the upper channel.

The island-studded stretch of river above the Augusta Diversion Dam and canal headgates is already among the least accessible portions of the 300-mile channel.

Sandwiched below Stevens Creek Dam and above the canal area, there is little or no public access outside of a sliver of Augusta Canal National Heritage Area property beside the headgates.

Boaters, however, can still portage their canoes about 200 yards from the access road beside the old Gatekeeper's Cottage -- or use a wheeled device to roll it through the barricades.

For anyone who has ever fished those secluded waters, it's easily worth the walk.

FIRST DRAW: You can always tell autumn is approaching when you see all kinds of deer stands strapped to trucks and trailers.

Some of those devices are in use this weekend, with Saturday marking the opener of Georgia's archery season for whitetails.

If you think bowhunting lures only a few hunters to the woods, think again: last year, 107,792 archery hunters harvested more than 54,000 deer, with similar numbers expected this season.

Statewide archery season runs through Oct. 8, followed by a weeklong primitive weapons season for black powder enthusiasts. The firearms season opens Oct. 16.

BREAM BUSTER: Bruno Brunson had a wonderful surprise while fishing in a Lincoln County pond the other week: the biggest bream he has ever seen.

"The fish weighed 2 pounds, 8 ounces," the Richmond County man told me. He caught it while retrieving a small grub with a spinner attached.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119 or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

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