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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 9:46am

Upper Chattooga Could Open To Paddlers

The US Forest Service is considering opening up part of the upper Chattooga River in north Georgia to boaters. The area has been closed to paddlers for over 30 years.

The US Forest Service has banned boats on the upper Chattooga since 1976 as part of its protection plan.

After pressure from boaters, it’s reviewing public comments on a proposal to open up 16 miles for three months out of the year.

Kevin Colburn with American Whitewater says that’s not enough and any kind of ban is unfair to paddlers.

"Would anglers want to give up half their rivers and boaters give up half theirs and swimmers need one third of the rivers," says Colburn. "You know this zoning this splitting of the rivers is completely uncalled for."

But Wayne Jenkins of Georgia Forest Watch says the ban is necessary to protect the solitude of anglers and hikers in the area.

"There’s a good bit of hooting and hollering and woo-hooing and it’s just a whole different approach to the use of the resources," says Jenkins.

The Forest Service will make a decision by the end of the year.