In great news for the area, a deal has been reached to save our local fish hatcheries, which have been under threat of closure since 2011. Essentially, the TVA will pay for the fish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will pay for the cost of the hatcheries, and local state agencies will do the stocking. (The DNR is responsible for that in Georgia.) In addition to our local hatchery, the Erwin and Dale Hollow hatcheries in Tennessee are also part of the agreement. Closing our hatchery would have been a disaster for our local economy, as our fishing brings many people to our area and is part of our claim to fame. (While we do have some wild fish, most of our trout water does not support reproduction in sufficient numbers to provide good fishing.) It is estimated that anglers spend $73 for each $1 invested in the hatcheries, for a total economic benefit of $45 million to the region. It’s also estimated that over 250,000 people fish for trout in Georgia and Tennessee each year. (Our local hatchery, the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery, is currently closed to visitors for renovations, primarily to the tanks where the trout are reared.)
The Lake Blue Ridge Civic Association is sponsoring a petition to the TVA, asking them to delay the winter draw down until October, extending the lake season. As most people know, the TVA inexplicably begins the draw down in mid-August, when there is still a good two months of swimming and boating on the lake. There have been many attempts to get the TVA to change their ways over the years, all ending unsuccessfully. We can hope that this petition will do the trick, if enough people sign it. When I just visited the site, they had 246 signatures. (You can also get the current lake level on their website and sign up for their newsletter.)
Here’s the link to the petition http://lbrca.org/
There’s a new event this weekend, the Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival. Here’s a brief description: “Don’t miss this spectacular event in a beautiful outdoor setting! Come sample a diversity of wines, including those being made locally in the North Georgia Mountains Region, while enjoying delicious food prepared locally and listen to top jazz performers also from the region. Purchase wine by the glass or bottle and bring your blanket and lawn chairs to relax in while listening to great music. Follow them on their Facebook Page for updates: facebook.com/blueridgewineandjazzfestival
Hope @ 561-889-7499 or Terry Ellis of Kharisma @ 678-570-5342.” It’s scheduled for noon to 9:00 PM at 44 Boardtown Road (just off 515 behind Mountaintop Cabin Rentals). Tickets are $25 at the gate.