Comment Opportunity on Upper Chattooga Access
The Forest Service is seeking comments on their Environmental Assessment and proposal to upgrade and designate the trails and access areas that paddlers and others use to access the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. Comments are due by midnight, November 7, 2014.
The Forest Service took a step towards restoring normal river management to the Upper Chattooga River when they partially restored paddling to portions of the river in 2012. The 2012 decisions split the Upper Chattooga into three sections that are each managed differently. The 2 miles above Green Creek were removed from active managment, paddling was allowed on the middle 15 miles December-April when flows exceed 350cfs, and paddling was banned entirely on the lower 4 miles.
To make this plan work the Forest Service proposed new and upgraded trails and river access areas to allow paddlers to hike into the river below the unmanaged section, to sustainably access the river at Bullpen and Burrells Ford bridges, and to hike out upstream of the banned section. Their new analysis proposes to conduct the trail work in a responsible and careful manner. In addition to trails, another direct outcome of this Environmental Assessment will be a revised Chattooga River Paddling Permit. AW supports the trail proposal, with a couple caveats. Paddlers are encouraged to submit a comment. Here are our basic responses to the trail and river access plan.
- We support the trail analysis and Forest Service proposal for trails in Alternative 2. High quality sustainable trails are good for forest visitors and the river.
- The Forest Service does not need to require that paddlers use specific river access and egress points, but if they do, they should likewise require that all visitors seeking shore and water access use those same points.
- The Environmental Assessment should be clear that it does not cover the section of the Upper Chattooga upstream of the Green Creek Trail, and that the resulting Paddling Permit should only be required for padlding downstream of Green Creek.
Together these comments will offer high quality and sustainable hiking and paddling opportunities, discourage user-created trails, restore a measure of fairness, and update the Paddling Permit with the Forest Service position that they "neither permit nor prohibit floating" upstream of Green Creek.
Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading "Chattooga River Boating Access."