Delete - Merge Up Avid fishermen may be frustrated due to the closing of the Rocky Ford Landing on the Ogeechee River, but when the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation and Georgia Department of Natural Resources get through with it, the landing will be a jewel in Bulloch County's crown.
Having been neglected for years, the popular landing is slated for renovation, and will be closed until October.
"The Rocky Ford boat ramp area has been an important area in the history of both Bulloch and Screven Counties," said Broni Gainous, marketing coordinator for Statesboro-Bulloch Parks and Recreation.
"First, there was a rail line that brought lumber from what is now Portal to Rocky Ford in the late 1800's. Later, the train trestle was converted into a one-lane toll bridge that connected Bulloch and Screven County, something that had long been desired," she said.
A few years later, the area was sold to the Bulloch and Screven counties, and a steel bridge was built to span the river, she said. "This area is still a heavily trafficked route today for people of Rocky Ford and Screven County travelling into Bulloch County and vice versa."
But the spot is also a mecca for avid fishermen, as well as others who just want to enjoy the river's beauty and wildlife. Sportsmen love the challenge of fishing for the redbreast fish for which the Ogeechee is known, as well as many other species of fish. Others love swimming in the river or boating for pleasure, and landings such as the Rocky Ford Landing are important to those who need an easily accessible spot to reach the water and put in their boats, she said.
But, "The old boat ramp at Rocky Ford Landing has become difficult to use and outdated, without proper loading and unloading areas, no dedicated area for canoe/kayak use and no defined parking," Gainous said. "The Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department along with the Department of Natural Resources have set out to bring this ramp up to standards, providing ample parking for vehicles with trailers, and providing canoe and kayak access."
Public landings that are easy to access are not that plentiful, said DNR Region 7 Fisheries Regional Supervisor Bert Deener.
"Public access sites such as the one at Rocky Ford are hard to come by, few and far between," he said. "These sites will allow the public to access the beautiful Ogeechee River for fishing, sightseeing, wildlife observation and other uses."
Gainous said the ramp, which closed July 12, will reopen Oct. 4.
"We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."
Currently the ramp at the landing is overgrown with grass and weeds, cracked and uneven. Proposed improvements will include a boat ramp with a guide rail, smooth paving, and steps alongside the ramp.