Park ranger speaks to Rotary about West Point Lake

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, December 19, 2023

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WEST POINT — Danielle Clark Woody, a park ranger on West Point Lake, talked about her job at last Thursday’s noon hour meeting of the West Point Rotary Club. A native of Troup County, she’s a 2018 graduate of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in Tifton, Georgia. She earned a degree in applied science and was hired by West Point Project that same year and has worked out of the Project Management Office ever since.

“I love the outdoors,” she told members of the Rotary Club. “I don’t think I’d be happy working any other kind of job.”

In her first year with the office she worked in the natural resources side. She was later transferred to the recreational side and is well satisfied with that since it has her outside most of the time. She works with the shoreline program, takes part in control burns on lake property and does a lot of boundary walking to make sure property lines are properly marked.

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A flood in February 1961 caused a great deal of damage to West Point and the surrounding area. It served as the catalyst for the West Point Lake project being included in the Flood Control Act of 1962. Construction on West Point Dam started in 1965, and it took ten years for the dam to be completed and the lake impounded.

“The main reason for the dam was flood control,” Woody said. “Another reason was public recreation. That’s where my job comes in. There’s over 30,000 acres of land with the West Point Project. 25,000 of that is the lake itself. The lake has a shoreline of more than 500 miles. We allow people who have property on our boundary line to have dock permits. We have a total of 1,040 shoreline permits right now.”

The West Point Project has four camping areas. The R. Shaefer Heard campground on the east side of the lake is open year round. Amity Park, located on the Alabama side, is open from April until Labor Day weekend. Holiday Park and Whitetail Ridge Park, both located off Georgia Highway 109, are also open from April to Labor Day. There are two sites that are leased for county parks, one in Troup County and one in Heard County.

Located along the middle portion of the lake, Pyne Road Park is one of the best developed recreation ever  on the lake. It’s home to a “mega ramp,” which is rated as the largest boat ramp ever to be pushed in place in a body of water. It’s been there ever since. Pyne Road Park is also home to the newly-opened Oakfuskee Conservation Center. Named for the famed Oakfuskee Trail that crossed the Chattahoochee River near this spot, the Oakfuskee Conservation Center is a natural sanctuary offering panoramic views of West Point Lake. The new center was designed to minimize ecological impact while preserving the local ecosystem. The center will play host to numerous public and private events and will serve as a new home for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. Events for 2024 are being booked. Call (706) 298-3767 for details.

Also leased on West Point Project property are Southern Harbor Resort, Highland Marina and the Frank G. Lumpkin Boy Scout Camp.

Located on Antioch Road in northern Troup County, Camp Lumpkin has been a success story on West Point Lake. For a long time it had been an almost totally deserted site on the lake. Then known as Autry Park, is was a remote, hard to get to site that drew few visitors. It has since been transformed into a modern camping site with lots of conveniences for youth. It draws hundreds of Boy Scouts every year.

West Point Lake is a strong, economic asset for the west central Georgia-east central Alabama region. It draws more than two million visitors every year and generates an estimated $2 million each year in the local economy.

“Jay Jamison is our operations manager,” Woody said. “He wants more public involvement in what’s going on at West Point Lake. There are some people who have lived in our region all their lives but have never been out on the lake. They don’t know what they have been missing.”

Many people who live a good distance away from the lake come back here each spring and summer season. R. Shaefer Heard campground, for example, is one of the busiest federal campgrounds anywhere.

“We do what we can to encourage more visitation to the lake,” Wood said. “It’s a great resource we have right here in our backyard.”