Yesterday a hearing was held in US District Court in South Carolina regarding the Forest Service's illegal bans and severe limits on paddling 21 miles of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River. The Judge ruled in favor of conservation-oriented paddlers and charted a schedule to resolve the case early next year.
The first season of legal paddling on portions of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River since 1976 is nearly upon us. The Forest Service will begin allowing paddling on December 1, 2012, through April 30, 2013, under various restrictions. This article will help you jump through all the hoops and enjoy the river!
A decision made earlier this month by the Washington Office of the US Forest Service officially ends the agency’s consideration of recreational management on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. The decision marks the final Agency green light allowing the public to paddle a 15-mile portion of the Upper Chattooga River this winter for the first time in 36 years!
In the midst of the controversial paddling ban and capacity consideration on the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River, the Forest Service is proposing to jointly develop a “farmstead” on the banks of the disputed section of river with a private non-profit partner organization. This proposed new use of the Wild and Scenic River Corridor, in a reach heavily stocked with non-native trout and deemed to have zero capacity to support floating, is raising eyebrows and drawing comments from many Chattooga River stakeholders.
It has been a big week for the management of the Chattooga River. The USFS released plans to allow paddling on a portion of the river beginning as early as this weekend if a laundry list of conditions are met. Conservation-oriented paddlers appealed the new decision that unlawfully limits paddling, and anti-paddling groups may request a stay in the coming days that if granted would prevent paddling. The mismanagement of the Chattooga is also likely to go to trial by year end.
Two federal court decisions issued in recent days favor conservation-oriented paddlers and their efforts to require fair, legal, and protective management of the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. AW believes that the recent decisions by the court respect the interests of everyone involved. The decisions also represent another step towards restoration of paddlers’ long tradition of floating the Chattooga River.
Today, the US Forest Service released their newest proposal regarding how to manage recreation on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River, where they currently maintain a controversial ban on paddling. The proposal would allow more paddling than has been proposed by the Forest Service in prior proposals as soon as March of this year. However, like previous proposals, the new proposal would limit whitewater paddling by stream reach, season, and flow, while imposing no such limits on all other similar visitors.
Yesterday, national and regional conservation-oriented paddling organizations submitted comments on the US Forest Service’s 489-page Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding recreation on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. Also joining the comments were three individuals that enjoyed paddling the river prior to the controversial 1976 paddling ban.
The Forest Service recently published a 500-page manifesto aimed at continuing the 35 year old ban on paddling the upper Chattooga. If you care about being able to enjoy rivers flowing through public lands, we ask that you submit a comment regarding the upper Chattooga River, and to call your political representative before the August 30, 2011 deadline.
Earlier today the US Forest Service released a Draft Environmental Assessment that proposes to continue denying the American public the simple right to float in canoes and kayaks down the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River for most or all of the year depending on the section of river. While successful in advancing some of the paddling community’s conservation goals, paddlers remain singled out for inequitable and harsh limits based solely on the Agency’s unfounded belief that user conflicts would occur if boating were allowed.
The US Forest Service has announced yet another 45 day comment period regarding paddling on the
Upper Chattooga River (NC/SC/GA) and we encourage paddlers to read the USFS scoping letter and
offer any comments you may have. Also, as a special holiday treat we are pleased to bring
you some rare footage of paddling the Chattooga headwaters prior to the 1976 paddling ban.
On December 2, 2010 United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs issued a decision regarding the mis-management of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River. The decision confirms that conservation-oriented paddlers have a ripe and valid case against the US Forest Service, and the case will now proceed to trial.
Yesterday, conservation-oriented paddlers presented their case against the US Forest Service regarding the agency's illegal paddling ban on 21 miles of the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River in a federal district court hearing. The judge heard roughly four hours of arguments and testimony, and stated that she would issue a decision at a later date.
The USFS announced today that they will further delay reaching a new decision on how to manage recreation on the Upper Chattooga. A 2009 decision was withdrawn shortly after its release, and the agency stated a new decision would be released early in the spring of 2010.
Yesterday the US Forest Service “voluntarily withdrew” their decisions and analysis regarding their illegal ban on paddling the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. The decisions and analysis were under intense scrutiny in the administrative appeals process, and are currently being challenged in Federal Court. The step is just the most recent in 14 years of avoidance tactics employed by local decision-makers in the agency, and will create massive additional burdens for public participants in the process.
Earlier this week the US Forest Service cancelled their plans to allow a paltry six days of paddling on one small section of the upper Chattooga River (NC/SC/GA) this winter. As it has been for 33 years, the entire Upper Chattooga River now remains banned to all canoeing and kayaking, while all other existing uses have no limits. Conservation-oriented paddlers have challenged the overarching agency decision to ban paddling on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River in court and in the administrative appeals process over the past two weeks.
Conservation-oriented kayakers and canoeists sought protection in federal court on Wednesday from an illegal decision by the United States Forest Service involving the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River. The USFS decision, which was the culmination of a 2004 administrative appeal by American Whitewater, makes it a federal crime for paddlers to float the northernmost 21 miles of the River and its tributaries except on a limited seven-mile section during 6 or fewer days per year.
American Whitewater and our attorneys have been in contact with US Forest Service officials at the local, regional, and National level asking for prompt resolution of the mismanagement of the Chattooga, which has now been delayed over 2 years. The USFS has not set a new deadline for releasing their long overdue decision, nor shared a reason for the delays.
The Sumter National Forest announced today that the final decision on recreation uses on the upper Wild and Scenic Chattooga River is under internal review and will not be released this month as planned. The decision is now scheduled to be released "next year." It has been over 3.5 years since the highest office of the Forest Service ruled that the Upper Chattooga boating ban violates the Wilderness Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Like many paddlers, American Whitewater yesterday submitted comments on the Forest Service's environmental assessment (EA) of recreation on the Chattooga River. We would like to thank all the paddlers that filed comments in support of responsible management on the Chattooga. As a community we have daylighted a national treasure being mismanaged by a small group of people for a small group of people. AW remains committed to bringing responsible river management to the Chattooga on behalf of all backcountry recreationists.
Today the US Forest Service announced that they will grant the public another 2 weeks to submit comments on their "environmental assessment" of recreational use in the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River corridor. The new comment period ends August 18th.
AW has finished our initial review of the Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding recreation on
the Chattooga River and we will be filing detailed comments on the EA prior to the August 1st
deadline [extended to August 18th]. We encourage paddlers nationwide concerned with
river management and protection to submit comments. The proposed
management action on the Chattooga is a damaging and politically motivated precedent that would
impact rivers, managers, and recreationists across the country.
Today the United States Forest Service released their new proposal for management of the upper Chattooga River, and an environmental assessment of their alternatives. There will be a 30 day public comment period. The USFS proposes to essentially maintain their ban on boating while allowing other uses unlimited access - again without any basis whatsoever.
The USFS has announced another 6-month delay in deciding on a new plan for managing recreation on the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River. The announcement came in a certified letter to AW, in response to a letter AW sent the Chief of the USFS requesting an update and swift equitable resolution of this protracted issue.