The new rules include:
These severe restrictions are the only of their kind in the entire Unites States, and are intended to benefit anglers who pursue heavily stocked non-native trout. The artificial fishery created by the USFS-sanctioned stocking has significant impacts including hatchery pollution, backcountry helicopter disturbances, near elimination of native brook trout, user created angling trails, and the elimination of nature based paddling from the upper Chattooga River. Ironically, the USFS decision actually harms anglers across the Country by creating potential competition for wild rivers that are currently shared by all forms of backcountry recreationists, and by degrading the rights of anglers to fish from a boat.
During a press briefing, the acting Sumter Forest Supervisor, Monica Schwalbach, stated that the US Forest Service has determined that boating on the upper Chattooga -- even in unlimited numbers -- "would have no impact on the resource."
AW has been working for a decade to bring responsible, nationally consistent river management to the Chattooga, and this work continues today.
For more information about American Whitewater's efforts to remove this boating ban go to The Chattooga Project page
This page was put together from information gained during the Forest Service Boater Trials as shown in this video and Trip Report.
The five mile long Ellicott Rock reach starts with a Class V drop at Bull Pen Bridge that defines the end of the Chattooga Cliffs reach and the beginning of the Ellicott Rock reach. The two or so miles immediately below Bull Pen Bridge to Ellicott Rock are read-and-run, Class IV, with a series of ledge drops and boulder-filled rapids. Approximately 2 miles into the run is Super Corkscrew, the only other Class V rapid on the run. The rapid is a long series of off-set ledge drops with increasingly powerful hydraulics and a shallow, short run out. The rapids below Super Corkscrew extending down to Ellicott Rock are similar to those above Super Corkscrew; the rapids are a combination of Class III-IV ledges and boulder fields. The run requires about 2 hours assuming you move quickly through the last three miles of Class II shoals above Burrell's Ford. (adapted from FS Expert Panel Report)
This section does not have the unique scenery found on the Chattooga Cliffs or Rock Gorge reaches in that the views are limited due to the narrowness of the riverbed, however the whitewater is exceptional for the first two miles. It is noteworthy in that it passes through Ellicott Wilderness and has few trails paralleling the river allowing boaters to enjoy the run with little chance of encounters until you reach the Ellicotts Rock trail.
Chattooga Cliffs (AKA Section 00)
Ellicott Rock (AKA Section 0)
Rock Gorge (AKA Section 1)
This section of the Chattooga has special concerns about large woody debris for fish habitat. Please respect the environment and leave wood as you find it, even if it adds a portage. The Chattooga has a remarkable ability to clean itself and the rapid may be ready next time.
For more information about woody debris in rivers go to Large Woody Debris and Stream Ecology
Link to my '93 account of wading Section 0 at extremely low flow. The coverage down to Ellicotts Rock is good, but after that it is spotty because there is a trail right by the river, down to Burrells Ford. Sorry the link is probably run into this text. Just copy the link and go there.
Sign up to join the Sultan River (WA) working group and stay informed on issues related to improving flows through hydropower relicensing.
Report covering the recreation users, use, economic impacts, and economic benefits of the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River.
Letters in opposition of paddling on the Chattooga from Paul Broun, Robin Hayes and J. Gresham Barrett - Congressional Representatives
The gage is at Burrell's Ford bridge. There are two staff gages now that the USGS installed a full gaging station. The one on the upstream piling is the one linked to the internet. A reading on the upstream gage of 1.8 is approximately equal to the arbitrary FS minimum level of 350 cfs. Minimum boatable levels are around 1.5 ft and upper limits are likely around 2.5 ft on the upper gage.
Correlation information is needed to develop better guidelines. If you are visiting Burrell's Ford, please report readings on the upstream staff gage below the bridge (date, time, level) on the SC side using the "Add a Comment" button on the "Comments" tab (for logged-in registered users of this site).
Start at Burrell’s Ford bridge. Return on Burrell’s Ford Road 2.6 miles to Hwy 107, turn left and go north 6.1 miles and turn left on Bull Pen Road (County Road S-1102), follow Bull Pen Road 5.1 miles to Bull Pen Bridge. Burrell’s Ford Road is approximately 10 miles north of the intersection of Hwy 107 and Hwy 28 in Mountain Rest, SC
Chattooga Headwaters Boater Trial
(RM) Boating Ban Sticker
(RM) Burrell's Ford Staff Gage
(RM) Bureell's Ford Staff Gage
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
The Sumter National Forest told AW today to expect even more delays in the release of their Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding recreational use in the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River corridor. Now a full year late, and fraught with problems, it is unclear when the EA will be released.
The USFS has announced another 6-month delay in deciding on a new plan for managing recreation on the Wild and Scenic upper ChattoogaRiver. The announcement came in a certified letter to AW, in response to a letter AW sent the Chief of the USFS requesting an update and swift equitable resolution of this protracted issue.
After considerable delay, US Forest Service officials announced a final decision on managing recreation uses on the upper Chattooga River and released the Environmental Assessment.
Earlier this week the US Forest Service cancelled their plans to allow a paltry six days of paddling on one small section of the upper Chattooga River (NC/SC/GA) this winter. As it has been for 33 years, the entire Upper Chattooga River now remains banned to all canoeing and kayaking, while all other existing uses have no limits. Conservation-oriented paddlers have challenged the overarching agency decision to ban paddling on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River in court and in the administrative appeals process over the past two weeks.
Yesterday the US Forest Service “voluntarily withdrew” their decisions and analysis regarding their illegal ban on paddling the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. The decisions and analysis were under intense scrutiny in the administrative appeals process, and are currently being challenged in Federal Court. The step is just the most recent in 14 years of avoidance tactics employed by local decision-makers in the agency, and will create massive additional burdens for public participants in the process.
Yesterday, conservation-oriented paddlers presented their case against the US Forest Service regarding the agency's illegal paddling ban on 21 miles of the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River in a federal district court hearing. The judge heard roughly four hours of arguments and testimony, and stated that she would issue a decision at a later date.
On December 2, 2010 United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs issued a decision regarding the mis-management of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River. The decision confirms that conservation-oriented paddlers have a ripe and valid case against the US Forest Service, and the case will now proceed to trial.
Earlier today the US Forest Service released a Draft Environmental Assessment that proposes to continue denying the American public the simple right to float in canoes and kayaks down the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River for most or all of the year depending on the section of river. While successful in advancing some of the paddling community’s conservation goals, paddlers remain singled out for inequitable and harsh limits based solely on the Agency’s unfounded belief that user conflicts would occur if boating were allowed.
The Forest Service recently published a 500-page manifesto aimed at continuing the 35 year old ban on paddling the upper Chattooga. If you care about being able to enjoy rivers flowing through public lands, we ask that you submit a comment regarding the upper Chattooga River, and to call your political representative before the August 30, 2011 deadline.
Yesterday, national and regional conservation-oriented paddling organizations submitted comments on the US Forest Service’s 489-page Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding recreation on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. Also joining the comments were three individuals that enjoyed paddling the river prior to the controversial 1976 paddling ban.
Two federal court decisions issued in recent days favor conservation-oriented paddlers and their efforts to require fair, legal, and protective management of the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. AW believes that the recent decisions by the court respect the interests of everyone involved. The decisions also represent another step towards restoration of paddlers’ long tradition of floating the Chattooga River.
It has been a big week for the management of the Chattooga River. The USFS released plans to allow paddling on a portion of the river beginning as early as this weekend if a laundry list of conditions are met. Conservation-oriented paddlers appealed the new decision that unlawfully limits paddling, and anti-paddling groups may request a stay in the coming days that if granted would prevent paddling. The mismanagement of the Chattooga is also likely to go to trial by year end.
A decision made earlier this month by the Washington Office of the US Forest Service officially ends the agency’s consideration of recreational management on the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. The decision marks the final Agency green light allowing the public to paddle a 15-mile portion of the Upper Chattooga River this winter for the first time in 36 years!
The first season of legal paddling on portions of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River since 1976 is nearly upon us. The Forest Service will begin allowing paddling on December 1, 2012, through April 30, 2013, under various restrictions. This article will help you jump through all the hoops and enjoy the river!
Yesterday a hearing was held in US District Court in South Carolina regarding the Forest Service's illegal bans and severe limits on paddling 21 miles of the Wild and Scenic upper Chattooga River. The Judge ruled in favor of conservation-oriented paddlers and charted a schedule to resolve the case early next year.
The Forest Service is seeking comments on their Environmental Assessment and proposal to upgrade and designate the trails and access areas that paddlers and others use to access the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. Comments are due by midnight, November 7, 2014. Your comments can help encourage high quality and sustainable hiking and paddling opportunities, and help clarify that no permit should be requied to paddle the Chattooga River upstream of Green Creek.
Last week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the case over the Forest Service’s 2012 decision to implement restrictions on paddling the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. Conservation-oriented paddlers, Georgia Forest Watch, and the Rust Family had asked the court to overturn various portions of a lower court decision that favored the Forest Service. These requests were denied, and the lower court ruling was upheld by the Fourth Circuit.
The Forest Service released their decision yesterday to formalize roughly 1.5 miles of existing undesignated trails and build less than 1000 feet of new trails to improve access to the Upper Chattooga River for all visitors. This step is well within their normal range of management actions and begins the process of bringing the trail system in the river corridor up to modern standards.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!