Opinion

Saving Goat Island

Losing Goat Island to the waters of Lake Wylie would surely sadden thousands of boaters, fishermen, water skiiers and others who have enjoyed the small island for decades.

But stopping the erosion won't be easy or cheap. And a feasible solution -- one that doesn't require Duke Energy or state taxpayers to foot the bill -- has been difficult to find.

Lakegoers have frolicked on Goat Island for decades. It's been a campground, fishing post and, basically, just a great place to hang out. Visitors arrive on watercraft that range from kayaks to luxury boats.

But water and waves have been eroding the shoreline for years. Folks who have watched the island over time say it is slowly withering away to nothing. They fear it'll be gone in a few years, marked only by "a bunch of buoys."

State Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, and others have been working for more than a year to save Goat Island. A fix is expected to cost up to $100,000.

Some believe Duke Energy, which owns Lake Wylie and its islands, should foot the bill. But Duke has no plans to do so. The company says it will monitor the island to ensure it doesn't become a safety hazard.

Other funding options include asking volunteers to chip in, seeking state money, or using wildlife funds supported by boat registration revenues.

Those working to save the island should be commended for their efforts. It's clearly a landmark in one of York County's greatest resources.

But Duke Energy shouldn't be forced to pay for renourishment because, ultimately, the money could come from Duke's customers. Because a fraction of those customers use the island, it's unfair to make all of them pay.

Meanwhile, the state surely has better ways to spend $100,000 than to preserve a small island in Lake Wylie. We understand why the state routinely funds beach renourishment along the cost because our beaches are a major draw for tourists and the money they spend here. The money gained from beach renourishment outweighs the cost.

But it's doubtful that a lot of people go to Lake Wylie solely for Goat Island.

Finally, any money available from boat registration revenues should be devoted to boating safety. We've already seen the tragic consequences of unsafe boating on Lake Wylie.

The best way to preserve the island would be for property owners and other users of Lake Wylie to raise the money themselves. We hope someone will lead that effort and that it will be successful.

Goat Island would surely be missed. But saving it shouldn't cost the customers of Duke Energy nor the taxpayers of South Carolina.

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