October 22, 2020

Grant approved for proposed ATV park in Heard County

(Franklin, GA) — Several hundred acres of state-owned property near Franklin could someday become a large all-terrain vehicle adventure park.

The state has owned the 700-acre Bush Head Shoals property, located along the Chattahoochee River a few miles east of Franklin for several years but has never developed the property.

The proposed ATV park would be a first for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources which currently offers other types of outdoor recreation facilities and activities such as golf, hiking, fishing, boat ramps, and camping.

Before now, the only entities to provide these types of recreational parks in Georgia have been the US Forest Service and privately held land owners.

The current plan would include over 14 miles of one-way ATV trails, a boat launch for small boats and canoes, as well as camping facilities. The goal of the DNR is to make the park a very family friendly destination.

The project took a huge step forward recently when the Georgia DNR announced the award of 14 new grants totaling $2.3 million for recreational trails around the state including a substantial $1.1 million for the proposed Heard County project.

Conceptual Plan of the Proposed ATV Park (Photo: Georgia Recreational Trail Riders Association)

Conceptual Plan of the Proposed ATV Park (Photo: Georgia Recreational Trail Riders Association)

The selected projects will provide new outdoor recreation opportunities for a variety of trail user groups.

A total of 46 applications were received from state, federal,and local governments during this grant cycle, totaling $5.3 million in requests.

DNR administers the Recreational Trails Program under the guidance of the Federal Highway Administration.

Funding for the program is appropriated by Congress in national highway legislation and is overseen by the Federal Highway Administration.

Each year, the DNR offers awards through a competitive grant program.

Agencies of state, federal, local government and authorized commissions are eligible to compete. Every recipient is required to match the grant by providing at least 20 percent of the cost of the project.

The Recreational Trails Program funds hiking, biking, and horseback trails, in addition to canoe and kayak launches.

Despite being awarded the large sum of money, officials say much work remains before the facility can become a reality.

The Georgia DNR will at some point in the future be engaging the local community and especially those near the proposed site through a public meeting or meetings.

The motorized trails grant program isn’t a very popular program, so a large amount of money has built up in that grant fund, according to Wes Robinson, director of public and governmental affairs for the Georgia DNR.

“It wouldn’t have happened without the grant,” Robinson said in a report by the Newnan Times-Herald Sunday. “It’s still very, very early in the process. All this means is that we have identified the funding.”

Out of 46 applications and the 14 projects awarded grants, the Bush Head Shoals will receive nearly half of the $ 2.3 million total. All of the other grants awarded were $100,000 or less.

Although this would be the first state-run ATV park, there are already several ATV parks in Georgia that are privately operated, and some trails are on federal lands.

Heard County Commission Chairman Lee Boone thinks the proposed park has the potential to bring much-needed revenue and tourist dollars into the county and also be a big boost for local businesses.

“The fact that the State of Georgia is wanting to invest $1.1 million dollars in our county is encouraging,” said Chairman Boone Sunday. “This could potentially be an economic blessing for Heard County.”

The tract of land for the proposed park is on the opposite side of the road from Heard Elementary School.

Stay tuned to HeardCitizen.com for further information as it becomes available.

Riders on the trails at Bone Valley ATV Park in Florida (Photo: Polk-County.net)

Riders on the trails at Bone Valley ATV Park in Florida (Photo: Polk-County.net)


  1. Helen Hadden says

    What a wonderful story. I’m not from Heard County, but my grandfather was. Him and Mayhayley were cousins. In this day and time, our police, fireman and any first responders are more important to our family’s than any other time that I can remember. I’m 68 years old and I still say sir and mam to these brave men and women that put’s their life on the line each day and night for us. As a matter of fact, I always walk up to them and stick my hand out to shake their’s and tell them thank you. I do the same with anyone that I might run into that’s in our military. They can’t hear it enough from us. I know that this little boy was so excited. God bless this police force.

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