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New Chattooga Comment Opportunity and Video

Posted: 12/20/2010
by Kevin Colburn

The US Forest Service has announced yet another 45 day comment period regarding paddling on the Upper Chattooga River, a form of outdoor recreation which they have banned on that section of river for 34 years.  Their announcement states that all comments since 2005 will be considered, and are only seeking any new comments, information, or ideas.  

In late 2009 the USFS reached a new decision to ban paddling following at least 6 years of analysis.  They almost immediately withdrew those decisions, cancelled their analysis, and scrapped all the pending appeals.  Now, a full year later, they are trying to “re-initiate” that process.  It is unclear what this means or what exactly the public is expected to comment on.  The announcement sketches out their concept in broad terms that could reflect any amount of any use – from total bans to no limits whatsoever.

In an October 2010 court hearing, counsel for the USFS warned the court not to expect any outcome from this new USFS process except another boating ban.  Thankfully, the court hearing was favorable for paddlers and the legality of any paddling ban – past, present, or future - will now undergo judicial scrutiny.

We encourage paddlers to read the USFS scoping letter, which includes directions for commenting, and offer any comments you may have by January 24, 2011. 

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.  In 1974 The Georgia Tech Outdoor Club took a rafting and kayaking trip from Burrell’s Ford to Highway 28.  This unedited footage follows the club as they paddle, portage, and take in the awesome scenery of the Upper Chattooga.  Special thanks to Miller Templeton and the other Georgia Tech alumni that shared this footage.