Today the Sumter National Forest released their new proposal for management of the upper Chattooga River, and an environmental assessment of their alternatives.
The proposal would essentially maintain their 32 year old boating ban. Specifically, it would allow boating on only a third of the upper Chattooga, on only 6 days (really 3), only in the winter, for only 4 groups. Other sections up and downstream remain totally banned. All other uses are allowed in unlimited numbers, all year, in all locations.
American Whitewater is reviewing the Environmental Assessment and will post more information here. Paddlers have 30 days to respond, and we are encouraging you to wait for our analysis of the EA prior to submitting comments. Following the comment period, the USFS has granted themselves several months to make a decision (until December 31st).
Our initial review indicates the EA is nothing more than a massive waste of taxpayer money. The EA has many simple and fatal flaws which AW will point out in comments in the next few days. Perhaps most importantly, it does not include or reference a user capacity analysis which is required to make any decisions on use limitations on a Wild and Scenic River, and offers no basis for limiting boating without limiting other uses. It also fails to offer a full range of alternatives, including an alternative that allows paddling on the entire river.
Choosing to manage only boating without limiting vastly larger uses is like restraining a small dog in a china shop while there is a bull running around knocking over shelves.
You can read the proposal and the EA here.
USFS Chattooga River Proposal Released
July 2, 2008