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Feds accepting Bear Creek comments again
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The Savannah District of the U.S. Corps of Engineers is accepting comments until Sept. 19 for the county’s recently proposed changes to the site of the Bear Creek Reservoir dam in southern Newton County.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners last month agreed to move the site of the dam 2,200 feet upstream from the site originally proposed, which would eliminate the need to destroy and rebuild Henderson Mill Road atop the dam.

The Savannah District’s public notice says the county “is not proposing a modification of the elevation (or water level) of the proposed reservoir pool; however, the normal pool area of the reservoir, as currently proposed, will be reduced from 1,304 acres to 1,244 acres, based on a revised survey of the project site.”

The notice says the reservoir will “result in impacts” — or the flooding of — 104,977 linear feet of streams, 31.68 acres of wetlands, and 7.96 acres of open water. Relocating the dam reduces those impacts to streams by 4,525 feet, the wetlands by 3.70 acres, and open waters by 4.16 acres.

The ecological offset, or “mitigation” in government terminology, will be made by the county on four sites in Newton County and one in Jones County. The Corps has “tentatively” approved the mitigation plan, which will create new wetlands and preserve some that might have been developed.

County attorney W. Thomas Craig proposed moving the dam upstream for several reasons: The road won’t have to be moved, the original engineering study chose a poor location for the dam, and the amount of water estimated to be held in the reservoir was higher than needed (at 1,304 acres).

The Corps in its notice says it has or is requesting comments from the public, federal, state and local officials and Native American tribes on the proposed move. The Corps will use those comments to “issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal.”

No public hearing is scheduled, but the notice states that “any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this application.” Such a request must include a reason, and the ultimate decision to hold a meeting is up to the Corps’ district engineer.

Comments should be mailed to Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Attention: Adam White, 1590 Adamson Parkway, Suite 200, Morrow, GA 30260-1777. In your letter, list Newton County and application number SAS-2000-03600. Call White at 678-422-2730 or email him at