By ernest Noe, Chief Ranger
Did you know that it is illegal to remove trees from public lands surrounding Lake Lanier? It’s just like going on your neighbor’s property and cutting down trees. The US Army Corps of engineers is continuing its dedicated program to enforce timber trespass on public lands to protect the shoreline.
In some cases, selected trees have been removed from Corps property. In others, the land has been clear cut. And while it may be difficult to determine exactly how many and what types of trees have been removed, the US Army Corps of engineers South Atlantic District has retained the services of an attorney to assist in resolving these situations.
When it is obvious that trees have been removed from Corps’ property, rangers will come out and talk with the homeowners adjacent to the public lands. The Corps will make every effort to determine when the trees were removed and who was responsible for removing them before taking any action.
Fines and replanting
The penalty for removing trees from public lands can be a combination of fines and a requirement to replace trees as much as a two-to-one ratio, depending on the size of the trees that were removed. If there is a dock permit associated with the property, the permit will be tagged noting the encroachment and may also be voided. If it is voided, all dock facilities will be required to be removed.
The standard for replacement is 2-inch caliper for overstory trees and a one-inch caliper for understory trees. The Corps requires the use of native trees, available at area nurseries. The Corps can provide a list of the acceptable tree species. As part of the enforcement process, the Corps provides a replanting plan for property owners which includes the number, size and types of trees that must be planted on the public land.
There are several reasons for continuing to have trees on Corps’ property. They establish and maintain natural habitat for wildlife; they help reduce soil erosion; and they keep the shoreline natural to reduce the noise levels. Lake Lanier has a very limited natural environment on its shorelines and the Corps is working hard to maintain and protect what is there.
For more information about the timber trespass program, contact the Lake Lanier Shoreline Help desk at 770-945-9531.