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Paddlers Succeed in Chattooga Hearing - Case Moves Ahead!

Posted: 12/04/2010
by Kevin Colburn

On December 2, 2010 United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs issued a decision regarding the management of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River, located in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The decision follows a hearing held in October.  The decision denied the US Forest Service’s motion to dismiss a case against them that was filed late last year by conservation-oriented paddlers.  The decision also denied a preliminary injunction request that would have granted paddlers the ability to float the Upper Chattooga immediately and throughout the judicial process.  Now that the conservation-oriented paddlers’ case has been deemed ripe and valid for judicial review, that review will proceed to trial.


The case stems from a 34 year old prohibition that the US Forest Service enforces against members of the public seeking to explore the uppermost 21 miles of the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River in kayaks, canoes, and inflatable whitewater craft.  Incredibly, notwithstanding the agency’s own finding in 2005 that a Headwaters paddling ban is illegal, the agency continues to deny all floating use on the Upper Chattooga in violation of federal law. 


The decision marks a major victory for the conservation-oriented kayaking and canoeing community, who have sought protective nationally consistent management of the Chattooga River for well over a decade.  The plaintiffs are represented by superb pro-bono counsel from Patton Boggs LLP and Nelson Galbreath LLC.

Associated Projects

Chattooga Headwaters (NC)
The US Forest Service has banned boating on the upper 21 miles of the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River.

Associated Rivers


  • Chattooga Court Decision 12/2/10

    Court Opinion denying motions to dismiss and motion for preliminary injunction in the 2009 case against the US Forest Service regarding their paddling ban on the upper Chattooga River.