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Thursday, January 3, 2008
Updated: January 4, 8:35 PM ET
Georgia Gov. says "Go Fish"

By Robin Hill
Georgia DNR

PERRY, Ga. — As the Georgia Department of Natural Resources begins implementation of the Go Fish Georgia program, Gov. Sonny Perdue announced the locations for the Go Fish Georgia Center and Hatchery and the 10 sites across the state for mega-ramps to be built on lakes and rivers.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (left) receives an oversized lure.
"The announcements today are exactly what I envisioned when I proposed the Go Fish Georgia program — state and local governments joining with private donations, all contributing to growing our state as a destination for recreational and tournament fishing," Gov. Perdue said.

Gov. Perdue joined a number of local officials from Perry and Houston County to announce the Go Fish Georgia Center will be built on 120 acres located on the south side of the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter. This facility will include a visitor's center that will market and promote fishing opportunities throughout the state, an on-site public fishing lake and a fully functioning warm water hatchery.

The site for the visitor's center and hatchery was selected after an independent review of more than a dozen potential locations using criteria developed by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Economic Development (GDEcD).

In addition, the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter supports the use of this property for the facility, and the Houston County Development Authority, Houston County, Perry Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Perry are contributing $2.5 million to the construction costs of this tourism asset.

"We are excited about serving as the host community for Governor Perdue's Go Fish Georgia Initiative and are even more pleased about the tourism potential this statewide visitor's center brings to our community," said Perry Mayor Jim Worrall. "The Go Fish Georgia Center is a natural complement for the Georgia National Fairground & Agricenter as both will attract visitors to our community and enhance the economic impact of tourism in Georgia."

The 10 mega-ramp sites announced are part of a 15-site bass fishing trail that will include large ramps capable of accommodating large fishing tournaments. Eight of the sites will receive Go Fish Georgia funds to match local financial and in-kind contributions for construction.

The other two sites will be built on Lake Hartwell using funds from the PCB contamination settlement stemming from chemical releases upstream by a South Carolina plant that eventually flowed down into the lake.

The sites that were announced include:
•  Laurel Park — Hall County on Lake Lanier
•  Wildwood Park — Columbia County on Clarks Hill Lake
•  Richard B. Russell State Park — Elbert County on Lake Richard B. Russell
•  Pyne Road Park — Troup County on West Point Lake
•  Veterans Memorial State Park — Crisp County / Cordele on Lake Blackshear
•  Earle May Boat Basin Park — City of Bainbridge on Lake Seminole
•  Jaycee Landing — Wayne County and City of Jesup on the Altamaha River
•  Robert Baurle Ramp — Augusta / Richmond County on the Savannah River
•  Gum Branch Access — Hart County and the City of Hartwell on Lake Hartwell
•  Tugaloo State Park — Franklin County, Stephens County and the City of Lavonia on Lake Hartwell.

"This program will allow for the development of a new ramp enabling Augusta to pursue economic development opportunities in the form of fishing tournaments, while at the same time providing increased outdoor recreational opportunities to local citizens for generations to come," said Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who also attended today's announcement. "I would like to personally thank Governor Perdue for his efforts as they are greatly appreciated."
Also announced were the new logos for Go Fish Georgia. These logos were selected to represent the family values and the economic potential associated with program.

The red bobber logo promotes recreational fishing for families and draws upon memories of childhood fishing adventures for young and old alike. The classic bass fishing lure is meant to appeal to more advanced anglers and professional fishing tournaments.
Fishing contributes approximately $1.5 billion to Georgia's economy each year. DNR estimates more than 10,000 jobs in Georgia are related to sport fishing, which generates $15 million in state income taxes, and $19 million in state sales taxes. A major bass fishing tournament can have as much as a $5 million economic impact on a local community. A championship event can have a $27 million economic impact.

Go Fish Georgia is designed to promote and enhance boating and fishing tourism in Georgia and to boost economic development in communities across the state. This initiative will result in quality fisheries resources statewide, including family friendly fishing and recreation access points that will increase fishing participation in Georgia.

For more information on fishing in Georgia or the Go Fish Georgia initiative, please go to www.gofishgeorgia.com