Georgia Lawmakers Begin To Undo Anchoring Ban (Video)
By KIM RUSSO
America Great Loop Cruisers Association
Relief is one step closer for boaters wanting to cruise the waterways of Georgia!
The Georgia House of Representatives this week passed HB-833, a bill that “undoes” much of the damage created by rules put into place earlier this year that were widely viewed as unfriendly towards cruisers, and some of the most restrictive in the nation.
On January 1, 2020, HB-201 became law in Georgia, giving the Department of Natural Resources broad power to determine where boats may anchor. It also attempted to over-ride federal regulations on discharge of sewage. To implement the law, DNR issued an Administrative Order banning anchoring within 1,000-feet of marine structures and shellfish beds, and within 300-feet of marinas.
However, Representative Ron Stephens, who happens to be a Gold Looper, filed a bill to help fix these issues and reverse the unfairness of the rules for cruisers. After gathering feedback from DNR and the cruising community, the final version of Rep. Stephens’ bill, HB-833, was issued and worked its way through the legislative process. It passed the House by a vote of 157 to 6 today.
(A Gold Looper is someone who has "crossed his or her wake." That is, completed the Great Loop, a 6,000-mile circumnavigation of the East Coast, mostly using inland waterways.)
HB-833 takes back the power from DNR to establish anchoring zones, and instead statutorily sets the setback where anchoring is not allowed at:
Another change is that HB-833 establishes long-term and short-term anchoring. Short-term anchoring is defined as anchoring a vessel within a one-mile radius of a documented anchoring point where a vessel is anchored for up to 14 cumulative days in a calendar year. If your stay is short-term, the above setbacks apply. However, if you want to stay within a one-mile radius of the same spot for more than 14 cumulative days in a calendar year, you are long-term anchoring and a permit must be obtained from DNR under terms and conditions as the commissioner or his or her designee may prescribe. This is a win for cruisers, as most don’t stay in one place for long, and still gives DNR some additional “teeth” to regulate derelict and nuisance vessels, which was their primary goal with the rules set to implement HB-201.
The next step for HB-833 is to work its way through the Senate side of the Georgia General Assembly. The session lasts into April. We’ll keep you posted on progress and post any calls-to-action that are needed via the AGLCA forum and social media."