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 Lake Strom Thurmond - Clarks Hill


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J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake Project at Clarks Hill is the larClark Hill Ski Dogest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project east of the Mississippi River .  Built between 1946 and 1954 as part of a comprehensive plan of development for the Savannah River Basin , Thurmond Lake is one of the 10 most visited Corps lakes in the nation.  The J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake Project at Clarks Hill has provided hydropower, water management, fish and wildlife benefits, and recreation for local communities and the Southeastern United States for more than 50 years.  This project represents years of dedicated service by the staff of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its contractors.


We are very proud of those who were here to dig (View Lake History) the foundations and place the tons of concrete and steel; the power plant operators, electricians, and mechanics who operate and maintain our facility day and night; the rangers who greet visitors to our parks; and the biologists and volunteers who work to protect our habitat and improve our public lands. 



We are thrilled that you have allowed us the opportunity to serve you and your recreational needs, and hope that you and your friends and family enjoy your time spent at Thurmond Lake .



Purposes of Thurmond Lake

Flood Control                                                                    Clark Hill Dam


            During times of heavy rainfall, runoff waters stored in the lake protect thousands of downstream homes, businesses and farmlands from flooding.  Thurmond Dam is the primary flood control structure on the Savannah River .



Power Production 


Electricity produced by the Thurmond power plant generators provides pollution-free energy for homes and businesses.  When in operation, each generator produces between 52,000 and 57,000 kilowatts of electricity.  One generator operating one hour produces enough electricity to power two aClarks Hill Powerverage homes for an entire year.  Since alternating current (AC) electricity cannot be stored, Thurmond Lake stores water to produce power when it is needed most.  The Corps is the nation’s leading producer of hydroelectric power providing five percent of the nation’s electricity.





            Water stored in the lake can be released to increase downstream river depths between Augusta and Savannah for commercial barge traffic.  This activity has diminished in importance, however, dependence on water for industrial use and municipal water supply use has increased.  Thurmond Dam is also credited with reducing sediment material in the Savannah Harbor by 22 percent.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Clarks Hill Girls In Canoe                                        

            Although recreational activities have been ongoing since the dam’s construction, Congress officially recognized recreation as an authorized purpose in 1986.  As the largest Corps lake east of the Mississippi River, it is understandable that Thurmond Lake ’s numerous campgrounds and day use areas make Thurmond Lake one of the nation’s most favored Corps lakes.


Fish and Wildlife


            The U.S. Corps of Engineers, the State of Georgia, and the State of South Carolina have developed management plans to ensure the protection and enhancement of fish and wildlife at Thurmond Lake.



Nature and Wildlife



            Thurmond Lake is home to a variety of plant and animal life.  Situated on the fall line between the piedmont and the coastal plains, the lake area is a unique blend of pine forest and hardwood bottom environments.  Many rare plants can be found around the lake.  In the shade of the forests, you will find native flowers and plants that have been present in this region throughout the ages.


            Significant strides in wildlife management have been made, such as the reintroduction of white-tailed deer, wild turkey and Canada geese.  In recent years, increased focus has been placed on non-game species, including rare, threatened and endangered species.  Today, sightings of southern bald eagles, migratory waterfowl and neotropical birds are commonplace.

                             Clark Hill Forest

            Many species of birds frequent the lake presenting excellent opportunities for bird watching.  The many species of birds identified in the area include the bald eagle, osprey, and numerous songbirds.  Migrating waterfowl find Thurmond Lake to be an excellent rest stop on their southward journey.


            Hikers and mountain bikers may want to visit the Bartram Trail near Thurmond Dam.  Along the nine-mile trail you can glimpse beautiful lake and woodland scenery, rare wildflowers and a variety of wildlife.  The trail winds through several park areas and along the Thurmond Lake shoreline.                                   






            If you are here just for the day, you might want to take advantage of one of the hundreds of picnic sites Thurmond Lake has to offer.  Most parks have grills, picnic tables, and convenient access to restrooms.  With beautiful views of the lake and surrounding woodlands, picnicking at Thurmond Lake can be a relaxing activity after a busy workweek.


            Group shelters are available at several parks.  These are perfect for your family reunion, company picnic or birthday party.  Call (877) 444-6777 or go online at www.recreation.gov to make reservations for group shelters at Corps of Engineers operated parks.






            Camping at Thurmond Lake can be a memorable experience.  Whether it’s a primitive campsite hugging the shoreline away from the crowds or your home-away-from-home site for your recreational vehicle, Thurmond Lake has it all.


            The lake features 13 Corps campgrounds with more than 500 campsites.  In addition, there are numerous county and state campgrounds Clark Hill Campingavailable.  Visit www.recreation.gov to make online reservations for Corps of Engineers operated campgrounds or call (877) 444-6777.


            A trip to Thurmond Lake is a great way to strengthen family ties and help children learn to appreciate nature, develop interpersonal skills, get exercise, and build self-esteem.  Many of our sites offer educational programs on topics like water recreation safety, fish and wildlife species, and cultural and historical resources.




           Thurmond Lake has a large population of game fish including: striped bass, hybrid bass, catfish, crappie and many other species.  Take your choice of fishing from the bank, by boat or go with a professional fishing guide.


            Clark Hill FishingYellow perch fishing below Thurmond Dam is also a popular activity.  The cool water below the dam is a popular spot for friends to meet and fish.  Call (800) 533-348 for the daily water release schedule and lake level.


            The goals of J. Strom Thurmond Project fisheries management program are to protect, conserve and restore aquatic ecosystems, to assist partners in improving the quality and quantity of fishing opportunities and to encourage and accommodate public use and appreciation of the project’s fisheries resources.


            Major emphasis is placed on maintaining lake conditions favorable for fish spawning and survival.  In the spring, lake level fluctuation is minimized during the spawning periods for largemouth bass and crappie.  Additionally, fisheries habitat is improved by maintaining 12 deep-water and 14 shallow-water fish attractors, felling trees into the water along the shoreline, and planting flood-tolerant plant species along the shoreline.  The Georgia and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources each maintain 10 deep-water fish attractors.  On average, the two state agencies stock more than 220,000 striped bass and 610,000 hybrid bass annually.



                                                                                                                                                                                               Clark Hill Boating 2

            Whether you are on a houseboat, fishing boat, personal watercraft, sailboat or canoe, there is plenty of room for everyone on this 71,100-acre lake.  Launch your boat from one of more than 40 boat ramps around Thurmond Lake ’s shoreline. 

            The lake has five marinas that offer fuel, boat storage, snacks and supplies for your last minute needs.  If you don’t have a boat, check with the marinas for rentals.

            Boaters should be watchful for submerged stumps, logs, rocks, and shallow water.



Outdoor Recreation



            J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake project’s recreation program is a national leader with 13 campgrounds and six major day use areas.  The lake’s facilities include hike/bike trails, horseback riding areas, and much more.  The lake itself is popular for sailing, water skiing, fishing, canoeing, boating, and scuba diving.  The project consistently ranks in the top 10 most visited Corps projects in the nation.






            Approximately 55,000 acres of public land around Thurmond Lake are suitable for hunting including more than 28,400 acres of project lands leased to the Georgia and South Carolina Departments of Natural Resources for wildlife management.

                                                                            Clarks Hill Hunting

            Unique to the Southeast is the Bussey Point Management Area.  Bussey Point is a 2,545-acre peninsula located at the confluence of the Savannah and Little Rivers in Lincoln County, Ga.   More than 11 miles of trails along with primitive camping and picnic sites offer hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders an excellent opportunity to enjoy this area.  Limited primitive weapons hunts are held in the fall and spring to maintain deer and turkey populations within the carrying capacity of the area.

All state hunting regulations apply to protect lands and waters. Hunters must possess a valid hunting license and permits for the state in which they are hunting. For state regulations and wildlife management area information, visit www.dnr.sc.gov/ or www.gadnr.org.


 Play It Safe



                                                                        Clarks Hill Swimming

        Learn how to swim 

            Swim with others – never alone

            Watch children closely at all times

            Swim in designated area

            Never dive into unknown waters

            Wear a life vest




            Know state and federal boating laws                                  Clark Hill Boating

            Stay clear of swimmers and scuba divers

            Carry the required safety equipment

            Don’t drink alcohol when boating 

            Wear a life jacket