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Paddling for Open Locks

Boaters of every variety, including kayaks and canoes, “Load the Lock” August 17 at the Millers Ferry Lock and Dam on the Alabama River.

Boaters of every variety, including kayaks and canoes, “Load the Lock” August 17 at the Millers Ferry Lock and Dam on the Alabama River.

Photo by David Rainer

Recreational river users aimed to load up the locks on the Alabama River in mid-August to demonstrate that the locks are valuable for recreation, as well as commercial purposes.

The “Load the Lock” project comes in response to cost-cutting measures by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who last year suggested closing the locks and, after listening to community comments, changed their recommendation to limiting their hours of operation.

Event promoters urged boaters to participate so that inland boaters wouldn’t find themselves landlocked without access to the coast or the state’s other rivers.

It’s especially important, says promoter and sports radio host James Lawler, because Millers Ferry, just added to the 2014 Alabama Bass Trail, would be difficult to reach without river lock access.

Promoters say the locks need to be used 500 times a year to stay open.

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