GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Federal officials are stalling a plan that could lead to new names for Lake Lanier and Buford Dam in Georgia after locals objected to changing the monikers of landmarks that are now named after Confederate soldiers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a statement on Friday announcing the pause pending further guidance from the Department of the Army.
U.S. Representative Andrew Clyde, a Republican who represents much of northeast Georgia, said he called the Corps of Engineers on Friday to voice his opposition. He said the break is a “massive victory” and that “renaming it would have attempted to rewrite history, place enormous burdens on our community and create unnecessary mass confusion.”
Lake Lanier is a huge reservoir that covers nearly 150 square miles and occupies the Chattahoochee River northeast of Atlanta. It was named after the poet Sidney Lanier when it was built after World War II. Lanier served as a soldier in the Confederate Army and later wrote “Song of the Chattahoochee,” a poem about the river.
Buford Dam is named after the nearby town of Buford, which takes its name from Lieutenant Colonel Algernon Sidney Buford, who served in the Virginia militia during the Civil War. The city of Georgia is named after Buford because he became president of a railroad that helped build the city after the war.
Hours before the pause in the renaming process was announced, The Times of Gainesville reported that the Mobile District of the Corps of Engineers issued a press release and unveiled a website seeking input and aiming to pick new names by the end of the year . The Corps said it was following a 2021 federal law governing the renaming of military bases christened for allies, including Fort Gordon and Fort Benning in Georgia. Fort Gordon becomes Fort Eisenhower, while Fort Benning becomes Fort Moore.
The Mobile District said it will continue to solicit public comment on new names for the lake and dam, but said it would be up to Congress to choose them.
U.S. Representative Austin Scott, a Republican from South Georgia who served on the committee that proposed new names for military bases, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the committee never intended to change Lake Lanier’s name.
Officials in the Gainesville area are also resisting the change.
Clyde Morris, a board member of advocacy group Lake Lanier Association, told The Times on Friday that ties between the Confederacy, Lanier and Buford are “really too distant” to warrant changing the names, saying each man is better known for something other than their time in the military.