Inflatable Policy for the Tallulah Gorge

Posted: 01/24/2003
By: Sutton Bacon

Inflatable Policy for Whitewater Use in the Tallulah Gorge

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources would like to clarify the definition of a "qualified inflatable," as described in the original Tallulah Gorge whitewater craft policy.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding dated August 8, 1996 and made a part of the Tallulah Development FERC Project #2354 license, the current policy regarding whitewater craft in the Tallulah Gorge states:

WHEREAS, for the purpose of this Agreement, the parties have agreed that the terms "boat", "boaters" and/or "boating", as they are used in this Memorandum of Understanding shall include the following water craft or individuals utilizing the following water craft:

Qualified Whitewater Craft shall include kayaks (one person and two person), whitewater canoes or open hard boats (solo and tandem), decked canoes, including C-1s and C-2s and "Qualified Inflatables."

Qualified Inflatables shall include inflatable craft owned by private boaters containing a minimum of three (3) air chambers and which are equipped with appropriate safety equipment and are in good repair and condition.

The definition of qualified inflatable was then expanded to mean a craft that has a manufacturer's rated maximum occupancy of 1-2 persons and is owned (not rented or borrowed) by the boater. As with all craft, the determination of eligibility rests with American Whitewater's representatives, according to the established DNR guidelines.

The Fall 2002 season provided evidence that the policy is not clear enough in regard to what constitutes a "qualified inflatable," and that the inflatable policy must be clarified. Through the consensus of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Power, American Whitewater, Georgia Canoeing Association, and the Atlanta Whitewater Club, a new policy was created to alleviate any confusion surrounding the issue.

Inflatable Policy:

1. All commercial activity on the Tallulah is strictly prohibited. No money may be exchanged for the opportunity to paddle the Tallulah Gorge.

2. All inflatables must be owned, and not rented or borrowed, by one of the passengers of the craft.

3. No inflatables may exceed a maximum length standard of 11'6". For comparison, this is the length of an Aire Puma.

4. There can be a maximum of three (3) persons onboard the inflatable.

5. There can be a maximum of two (2) thwarts per inflatable.

6. All inflatables must be equipped with appropriate safety equipment and must be in good repair and condition

7. Qualified inflatables include whitewater-specific rafts, catarafts, Shredders, Striders, Thrillseekers, and inflatable kayaks, provided that they meet all other criteria.

8. Hydrobroncs, Creature Crafts, and other unconventional inflatables are not regarded as "qualified." This includes all inflatables not intended for advanced whitewater use.

9. All paddlers of inflatables must possess the experience necessary to navigate the Class IV-V rapids found within the Tallulah Gorge.

10. All inflatables must follow the normal boater traffic pattern to registration. As with any boater, the use of the park service road or crossing Highway 441 may result in disqualification from paddling Tallulah or fines from DNR.

11. If an inflatable is to be inflated at the bottom of the stairs, it must be done on bedrock, with the utmost concern for the protection of the federally-endangered Persistent Trillium, as well as for traffic flow from other whitewater craft.

12. Any representative of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has the right to determine the eligibility of an inflatable.

It has been decided that riverboards will not be permitted in the Tallulah Gorge at this time. Also, the GA State Parks staff has decided not to allow SUPs on the Tallulah as of spring 2014.

Please contact American Whitewater with any questions or concerns regarding this policy clarification. 

American Whitewater

Mark Singleton

PO Box 1540

Cullowhee, NC 28723

Phone: 828-586-1930
Fax: 828-586-2840
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