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The U.S. Forest Service announced its decision Tuesday to not allow boating on a disputed stretch of the Upper Chattooga River, a national wild and scenic river.
"Current management, or not boating, will be maintained year-round between Lick Log Creek and (Georgia) Hwy. 28, an area that includes the popular Delayed Harvest, a highly valued trout fishery," the three forest supervisors in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia have decided. (The northern reaches of the river are in the Nantahala National Forest in Jackson and Macon counties, North Carolina.)
To maintain the ban on boating in the northern section of the river has been the Forest Service's stated preference throughout the decision-making process, so the final ruling comes as no surprise.
"The agency’s decisions have been seven years in the making," the Forest Service news release says, "during which time many individuals and organizations haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on how to manage the upper segment of the Chattooga WSR."
The restricted area is approximately 20 miles of the river's total of 57 miles. For five of the 20 miles, the river passes through the 8,274-acre Ellicott Rock Wilderness, which is protected under the Wilderness Act.
The Forest Service will continue to allow boating in the winter and early spring between Green Creek in North Carolina and Lick Log Creek in South Carolina.
"Other actions include maintaining the current prohibition on commercial boating and boating in the tributaries on the upper segment; preventing large woody debris removal without agency approval; and redesigning, relocating or closing some trails and campsites and maintaining sustainable ones," the release says. "In addition, the agency will continue to monitor visitor use and its impacts."
The 496-page decision and it supporting and background documents are available here.
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