It’s been four years since American Whitewater successfully appealed the US Forest Service decision to reinstitute a ban on paddling the Upper Chattooga River. The highest office of the USFS found that the unprecedented paddling ban violated the Wilderness Act and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, as well as USFS policy. They gave the Sumter National Forest two years to conduct a user capacity analysis and issue a new decision, after which boaters expected to be able to paddle this very remote, very wild section of the Chattooga. However, last year the Sumter National Forest released an analysis of paddling on the river (though not a user capacity analysis) and recommended a continued ban on most of the river, new bans on tributaries, and allowing a miniscule amount of use on a portion of the river which will result in no use at all in many years. A final decision was scheduled to be released in December of 2008, at which point the Forest Service announced the decision would come “next year.”
The delay prompted American Whitewater and its team of lawyers to approach the forest service yet again, asking for a resolution to the illegal ban on boating. Thus far, the F.S. has yet to produce a nationally consistent recreation plan based on a user capacity analysis, as is required by law.
For more info, go to American Whitewater.