Recreationists unite: The Cullowhee-based nonprofit American Whitewater is urging concerned paddlers to express their opinions on the National Forest Service’s draft Environmental Assessment for the upper portions of the Chattooga River, a stretch of river that has been closed to boats for nearly 30 years.
The proposed management plan would allow limited boating, but AW says it’s not enough, adding that the plan would “create a selfishly motivated precedent that would negatively impact rivers, managers, and recreationists.”
In a recent statement, the group went on to say that “Private landowners are seeking a monopoly on a Wild and Scenic public river, the Forest Service is seeking to strip basic protections from Wild and Scenic Rivers, and other stakeholders claiming zero-tolerance of paddlers are seeking to have paddling prohibited.
“Boaters are irrationally being singled out for adverse treatment, even while the Chief of the Forest Service directed that all users be treated equitably. Many river professionals and Forest Service personnel are behind us, but it is up to us to stop this nationwide train wreck.”
The Forest Service has established an Aug. 1 deadline for public comment on the assessment, and American Whitewater is encouraging paddlers nationwide to submit their concerns to the federal agency.
A copy of the EA and a summary of the alternatives is available on the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests’ Web site (www.fs.fed.us/r8/fms).
Comments may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or surface mailed to: U.S. Forest Service, Chattooga River Project, 4931 Broad River Road, Columbia, S.C., 29212.