WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has put a stop on the process that could lead to a new name for Buford Dam and Lake Lanier, one of Georgia’s most popular tourism and recreation sites.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pausing any actions related to project renaming pending further guidance from the Department of the Army,” the corps said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.
The pause comes on the heels of an AJC article about the concern and confusion that arose last week when the corps began notifying stakeholders that Lake Lanier and Buford Dam might be renamed because they both carry the monikers of Georgia men who fought in the Confederate Army.
Local leaders and elected officials had questioned whether the names should change at all and cautioned that doing so would affect surrounding businesses, schools and roads that also took the name of the massive reservoir.
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, was a member of an eight-person Renaming Commission that recommended new names for military bases across the nation, including two in Georgia, that carry the names of Confederate leaders. But he said the commission never intended for Department of Defense assets such as Lake Lanier to be part of that discussion.
He applauded the corps’ decision Friday to halt renaming efforts.
“In the last 24 hours, I’ve had multiple conversations with members of the Naming Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about this issue, and I think USACE made the right decision to pause any actions,” Scott said.
U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, whose district includes Lake Lanier, also said he was happy to hear that what he described as a “misguided proposal to rename Lake Lanier and Buford Dam” had been halted shortly after a phone call with corps leaders.
“The USACE’s decision to pause its efforts is a tremendous victory for Northeast Georgians, as these renamings would have attempted to rewrite history, impose massive burdensome costs on our community, and create unnecessary mass confusion,” he said in a statement. “I will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure that USACE does not under any circumstances engage in any effort to rename Lake Lanier or Buford Dam in the future.”
The corps’ Mobile, Alabama, office on Friday launched a webpage outlining the renaming process for both the lake and dam and referencing a 2021 defense policy package that, among other things, required the Defense Department to remove the names of Confederate leaders from its facilities and assets.
The corps said on the webpage that it plans to “develop and submit a recommendation for a new name for Lake Lanier/Buford for consideration by the Department of the Army and Congress. Ultimately, Congress has the final authority to select a new name for the project since it established the project’s name (Lake Lanier) when it first authorized the project in 1946.”
That webpage, which allows members of the public to submit comment about the name change, is still active despite the announced pause.
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Credit: Miguel Martinez & Seth Wenig