Pike is bordered by 22 miles of the beautiful Flint River and locals enjoy floating, fishing and swimming, but for those without river property, there is no public access. The Flint has been the subject of lawsuits regarding fishing and Pike commissioners and other leaders are facing a lawsuit regarding blocked access at Flat Shoals. Citizens who used the access prior can join the suit as a complaintant.
Every other county in the state with the Flint River running through it has a public boat ramp for citizens to use.
FLINT RIVER WATER TRAIL:
The Flint River Water Trail group has banded Georgia counties together in the effort to ensure access to the river and great strides are being made in neighboring counties including Meriwether, Upson and Spalding.
The Flint River is a total of 344 miles long and the nearest boat ramps are in neighboring counties such as Upson (at Highway 36) and Meriwether (at the Joe Kurz WMA in Gay).
According to members at the July meeting of the Flint River Water Trail, the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Grant and other grants could help Pike fund a boat ramp when the Flat Shoals bridge is replaced in the next few years.
LITIGATION OVER RIVER ACCESS:
In February 2022, an ante litem notice was filed against the county regarding the blocking of what was used for decades as an access road to the Flint River at Flat Shoals Bridge. The president of The Shoals subdivision’s HOA applied for a permit and blocked the access road with a driveway – complete with a large culvert – in October 2021.
The blocked area was property of the state when the bridge was built in 1958 and is now also under the control of the county since they took over maintenance of Flat Shoals Road. According to information obtained in 2021, the driveway permit was granted to Thomas Morgan. A land easement (which was filed June 11, 2021) from Ark Builder Inc. granted Morgan a 50-foot strip of land across the southern boundary of the lot adjacent to the access area for $10. A home in the area would invalidate the gated community by necessitating a separate gate. A home has yet to be built – despite the well-built driveway blocking the access road which have dubbed ‘the driveway to nowhere.’
Walker Chandler recently filed suit over access in the Superior Court of Pike County. Listed as respondents in the lawsuit are Tom Morgan, Ark Builder Inc. Carol Smith, Todd Goolsby in his official capacity as Public Works director, commission chairman Briar Johnson and commissioners Tim Daniel, Tim Guy, Jason Proctor and James Jenkins.
“I have finally filed a lawsuit to try to make sure the public has an unfettered, legal right to launch boats and otherwise access the Flint at Flat Shoals,” he said. “I may soon be called upon to use affidavits and witnesses to establish the facts that I have set forth in my Complaint. I am also calling for affidavits to be gathered as soon as possible. I want the court to understand that it’s not just me who objects to what has been done to block the boat ramp.”
To join Chandler’s efforts to ensure river access, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BENEFITS OF BOATING:
According to Captain Experience’s new report, an estimated 100 million Americans – nearly one-third of the total population – go boating each year. In fact, boating and fishing is the largest conventional outdoor recreation activity in the U.S. and in 2021, it added nearly $31 billion to the nation’s GDP, and was one of just eight categories to see positive growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In November 2022, a renovated boat ramp was unveiled in Meriwether County at River Cove Landing. State lawmakers and officials with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Meriwether County helped provide area citizens with an 18-foot-wide concrete boat ramp. The area has eight parking spaces for trailered vehicles, plus five additional car spaces, with ADA parking also available.
“The installation of boat ramps improves access to waterways, helping facilitate fishing participation in Georgia’s exceptional fishing resources. Additionally, the availability of ramps in a community brings visitors to those areas, as well as increased economic benefit,” said Melissa Cummings of GDNR.
To find a boat ramp, download the Outdoors GA app or go to GeorgiaWildlife.com/outdoors-ga-app.
FISHING ON THE FLINT:
According to a final judgement order by the Attorney General’s office issued March 27, the public is allowed to use kayaks, canoes, and other vessels to float the section of river (navigable), but fishing is now the exclusive right of the property owners.
“Georgia’s 1.2 million anglers should be outraged since fish stocking and fisheries management, virtually every penny, are paid for by anglers through the purchase of fishing licenses and federal excise taxes,” said Mike Worley of the Georgia Wildlife Federation. “Every Georgian, almost 11 million, should be outraged because all of us are the owners of all our state’s fisheries and we all were just told we have to steer clear of fishing for the very fish we collectively own.”
As a result, the GWF and Georgia Hunting and Fishing Federation, along with assistance from Southern Environmental Law Center, Altamaha Riverkeeper, and Flint Riverkeeper, went to work and were able to cobble together a bill on the last day of the legislature.
Senate Bill 115 achieved final passage in the closing seconds of the General Assembly on March 29.
“This bill allows for the public to hunt, fish, and transit the navigable waters of this state –
an embodiment of the principle of sic vos non vobis and a privilege that has been assured
Georgians for generations,” said Gov. Brian Kemp upon signing Bill 115.