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Local union working to improve Wolftever Creek boat launch ramp

For six months out of the year the courtesy dock at the Wolftever Creek Boat Launch Ramp is all the way out of the water making difficult, if not impossible for boaters to use. With final approval of a new plan inspired by the UAW Local 42 union, a new 100-foot pier will be built that can be used by boaters year-round. (Photo: Richard Simms)

One of the most popular boat launching ramps on the east side of Chickamauga Lake will likely be seeing some major improvements soon. In a project spearheaded by the Union Sportsman's Alliance (USA), the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is expected to approve funding to improve the fishing pier and completely replace the pitiful, dilapidated courtesy dock at the Wolftever Creek Boat Launching Ramp at Harrison Bay State Park.

The plan is to repair the existing fishing pier and replace the boat ramp courtesy dock with a 100-foot pier that will be accessible to boats 12 months out of the year. Currently the tiny existing courtesy dock cannot be used effectively during the winter months when the Chickamauga Lake levels are lowered.

"Please, please do that," exclaimed David East, an avid fisherman with the Discount Depot tackle store. "That's been needed to be done for several years now."

Robert Stroede, Conservation Manager for USA, said the plan was actually the brainchild of members of Chattanooga's UAW Local 42. He said the members expressed an interest to USA in performing a community service project.

Stroede said, "We usually reach out to state conservation organizations for ideas but we did this one a little different. We actually made a post on the Chattanooga Fishing Forum Internet site asking for ideas. We got several responses and [the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp] kept coming to the top of the pile."

The UAW Local 42 held a fundraising banquet last November and raised $10,000 specifically for the project. TWRA plans to chip in $22,000 on the project, that money coming from TWRA's portion of the Marine Fuel Tax (not hunting & fishing license dollars). Most importantly, Union Sportsman's Alliance members will be donating their time and skilled labor to actually do the work.

Lt. Colonel Glenn Moates, TWRA Asst. Chief of Boating & Law Enforcement presented the budget expansion item to the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission at its committee meeting Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 27). The full TFWC will vote on the measure Wednesday.

In the overwhelming majority of cases involving cooperative efforts such as this, the commission action is simply a "rubber stamp." The project is virtually assured of passage.

Taking his boat out of the water at Wolftever Tuesday, Dennie Smith was glad to hear the news.

"They need that real bad," he said. "As many years as we've been putting in and putting up with that [poor dock]. Just look at the out-of-state tags you see in this parking lot. It's a great thing."

Another angler, Don Rush, agreed.

"That'll be good. This dock is pretty bad, it's so ragged," said Rush. "One of them nails sticking up, you trip on them. It's bad. Yesterday the water was so low you couldn't even get your boat close to it."

Stroede said when final approval of the budget comes; the next step will be getting approval for the new pier construction plan.

"Hopefully we can have this all done no later than June 1," said Stroede.

"We were just commenting this morning about what bad condition this pier is in," said Jerry Simulis. "We'll be happy to see that."

Tuesday Video as boaters struggle to use the existing pier at the Wolftever Boat Ramp

In other action the TFWC is expected to approve a new rule forbidding big game hunters from returning to Tennessee from ANY OTHER STATE or Canada with a harvested deer, elk, moose, or caribou unless the animal has been butchered to very strict specifications. The measure is part of a continuing effort to prevent Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from occurring in Tennessee.

Previously the importation restrictions were only applied to animals harvested in one of the 25 states where CWD has already been identified. But as that list grows, the restriction will be applied to deer, elk, moose, or caribou harvested in any other state or Canada. Go to this web page to learn about the restrictions and measures hunters must take before returning to Tennessee with a harvested deer or elk.

The TFWC will also select new officers. While the officer titles for TFWC members really don't mean a great deal, the Chairman (or Chairperson) wields a little extra power in guiding the actions of the Commission. The Chairperson also appoints committee chairpersons which can potentially influence which measures make their way to the full commission for action.

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