ATLANTA, Georgia—In a letter sent recently to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) urged the governor to reconsider regulations recently put in place restricting overnight anchoring within 1,000 feet of any structure, such as public and private docks, wharves, bridges, piers and pilings, except in areas near marinas. The national advocacy, services and safety group also asked recreational boaters to send a message now to the state of Georgia regarding the new prohibitive anchoring law.
BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Edmonston said in the letter that the new rule effectively removes from public use a significant portion of the state’s waters, representing a departure from the long-held public trust doctrine.
BoatUS said with little notice or engagement with boating stakeholder groups, the Georgia Legislature approved, and the governor signed, House Bill 201 in the 2019 session. The legislation directs the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop rules regarding the anchoring of vessels in estuarine areas of the state. Georgia DNR then proposed a rule that raised significant concerns with the boating community, including BoatUS and the grassroots group Save Georgia’s Anchorages, which was created in response to the law.
DNR did create so-called “Marina Zones” that allow boaters to anchor as close as 300 feet to marinas or facilities that provide fuel, dinghy access, provisions, vessel maintenance or other services, regardless of whether other structures exist nearby.