With the signing of the contract last Wednesday, Upson County has officially taken over operational control of Sprewell Bluff from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and will transition the area into a county park. Acquiring the 50-year lease of the park has been a project Commissioner Steve Hudson has diligently worked on for the better part of the last decade and he couldn’t be more thankful to see his dream come to fruition.
“I am very grateful to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and especially Mark Whitney, that we have been able to work out an agreement for Upson County to manage Sprewell Bluff park,” said Hudson. “This is the culmination of several years of work, since Georgia Parks cut the operating budget, downgraded the State Park to an Outdoor Recreation Area and subsequently turned over management to the Department of Natural Resources. Effective immediately Sprewell Bluff is no longer a state park; as of January 1, 2013 the GORP pass will no longer be required or accepted. In the next few weeks, signage will be changed and we are in the formulation of a plan for the management of ‘Sprewell Bluff, an Upson County Park’.”
Commission Chairman Maurice Raines is also excited about the opportunities this can bring for the community.
“I am proud that this 10-year process has finally become a reality for the community,” said Raines. “I am also grateful to DNR Commissioner Mark Williams, the DNR Board and Commissioner Hudson for all of their hard work on this matter and for making history in Upson County. I am anxious to see the community use this tool we now have for recreational opportunities for improving the quality of life for our area.”
Hudson stated one of the driving forces behind this dream was the fear that if the county did not take over management, the community would be in the same situation as they were 25-30 years ago when the park was not a family friendly environment. However, Dan Forster, Director of the Wildlife Resources Division of the DNR, assures this agreement will ensure that the area will continue to be accessible to the public.
“Personnel with our agency will continue to help manage the habitat of the area and provide hunting opportunities, and the county will take over the day-to-day operations,” said Forster.
Hudson noted that the county will have some of the same problems as the state when it comes to the park, specifically, management of the area with a minimum amount of funding. The county has not allotted any tax payer money to fund the management of the park. However, as part of the agreement between the county and DNR, the county has the right to charge a reasonable parking fee to members of the public who wish to park their vehicles on the premises. Visitors to the area will no longer need a Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass (GORP).
As the county continues to further plans for Sprewell Bluff, Hudson stated the ideas and support of the public will be greatly appreciated. You may contact the Upson County Commissioners office at 706-647-7012.