Lake Lanier to waive fees for veterans, service members today

BUFORD - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is waiving fees today at its recreation areas nationwide for veterans, service members and their families.

At Lake Lanier, people are encouraged to come out and enjoy the fall colors or have a picnic in a park, said Michael Lapina, the chief park ranger. The parks that charge admission fees, such as West Bank Park, will be included in the waiver, he said.

The waiver also includes boat launch ramp and swim beach fees, according to a news release from the Corps. Fees for camping, camping related services and specialized facilities such as picnic shelters will not be waived.

While the drought has caused many boat launch ramps to be closed, a few are still open, Lapina said. Swim beaches at Lake Lanier are closed for the season.

Veterans and active, reserve and guard members, along with their families, can take advantage of the waiver.

"Our intent is to honor and support the men and women who have served our nation in the armed services," Maj. Gen. Don T. Riley, the Corps' director of civil works, said in a statement. "We chose this occasion to encourage our veterans and those on active duty to enjoy our parks and realize the benefits of outdoor recreation activity."

The Corps is one of the largest providers of outdoor recreation, operating 2,625 recreation areas at 423 projects, mostly lakes, and leasing an additional 1,867 sites to state or local park and recreation authorities or private interests, the news release states.

About one in 10 Americans visits a Corps project at least once a year to recreate, according to the news release.