Setbacks Trouble Green River Land Acquisition

Posted: 06/11/2003
by Sutton Bacon

After a monumental and emotional fundraising effort, American Whitewater has announced that it will not complete plans to purchase the 17-acre Green River land acquisition.

On April 30th, 2003 American Whitewater received notice from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) prohibiting access to the Green River Gamelands from AW's proposed site. This occured after what seemed to be a productive meeting with WRC on-site, during which, American Whitewater was optimistic that WRC would allow a small amount of structural maintenance on the existing trail leading from the proposed site into the Gamelands. Since the arrival of this notice, AW has lobbied hard and explored many political solutions to this issue, but ultimately, WRC's decision did not change. That decision effectively eliminated the opportunity to provide permanent public access to the Green River and the Green River Gamelands from this site.

American Whitewater is deeply troubled by WRC's decision because it reinforces its policy of limiting recreational use of the public lands it manages. While the Green River Gamelands was purchased with taxpayer money through the Natural Heritage Trust Fund, it is managed with funding from hunters and fishermen. American Whitewater works closely and cooperatively with the Wildlife Resources Commission on many projects throughout the state, but we feel that its single-focus management of the public lands it oversees is a violation of the public trust and an inappropriate use of public resources and taxpayer funding.

AW volunteers and staff have worked tirelessly and have expended hundreds upon hundreds of hours toward providing permanent access to the Green River. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the paddling community, American Whitewater raised more than enough money to purchase a small parcel necessary for an access point and lined up many potential buyers for the remainder of the tract. However, the late April decision by the WRC undercut our efforts to secure the site in perpetuity and develop a public access point to the Green River Gamelands for all users: hikers, fishermen, hunters, bird watchers, and boaters.

American Whitewater is vigorously working on several alternative proposals and hopes that permanent Green access can still be attained by other means. For the next three months, AW will explore these options and if no permanent solution can be found before September 12, each donation into the restricted Green River Access Fund will be refunded in its entirety or reallocated to the American Whitewater Southeastern Access program as specifically directed by its donor. Please contact AW Board Member Sutton Bacon at sutton@suttonbacon.com for more information regarding this effort, or if you donated to the fund and did not receive an e-mail notice earlier today.

AW would like to thank those individuals who made financial gifts, or gifts of their time and expertise, to help preserve Green River access. Thank you for believing in us and we hope that you will continue to support AW as it works to protect and enhance responsible river access around the country.
Sutton Bacon, Jr
309 Vanderbilt Rd
Biltmore Forest, NC 28803-2806