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Agencies placing stones to protect Lake Lanier shorelines from erosion
Portions of Van Pugh Island show signs of erosion Monday morning. Boat wakes and waves driven by other sources cause erosion and banks to collapse at the sites of unprotected shoreline. - photo by Erin O. Smith/The Times

Four islands in Lake Lanier are getting help to defend against waves and boat wakes that have eroded their shorelines since the lake was built in the 1950s.

The Lake Lanier Association teamed up with Hall and Gwinnett counties, private businesses and the Army Corps of Engineers to put heavy stones, or riprap, along the shores of the islands — basically hilltops before the area was flooded to create the lake.

In all, some 6,500 tons of stone will be used to line 3,150 feet of shoreline on Browns Bridge, Aqualand, Six Mile and Van Pugh islands south of Browns Bridge, which spans Lanier at the Hall and Forsyth county lines.

“As the lake ages, just due to wind patterns and boat traffic patterns, the shoreline has a tendency to erode,” said Joanna Cloud, the lake group’s executive director. “Old-timers will tell you there are some islands that have completely eroded away, that are completely washed in.”

Marine Specialties workers were scrubbing away debris from Van Pugh’s shoreline Monday morning in preparing to lay the stone.

Once Van Pugh is completed, work will move to Six Mile, then Aqualand and Browns Bridge, Cloud said.

The project, expected to be completed in March, involves some $275,000 in riprap, with funding coming from Hall County’s special purpose local option sales tax, Gwinnett County and the Chantal and Tommy Bagwell Family Foundation.

“It’s kind of a small start,” Hall Commissioner Jeff Stowe said. “We hope that in the future we can dedicate more dollars to protecting the lake.”