The Chattooga River watershed is a rare, wild place filled with wonder. If it is nature study and solitude you’re looking for, there are colorful birds singing in forests and meadows, glorious wildflowers in abundance, and playful river otters in the watershed’s streams, where native Brook Trout still swim. There are deep grottos where rare tropical ferns cling to ancient rocks, and more unique salamanders than any other place on earth. There are majestic Peregrine Falcons, which nest on the ledges of the 2,000-foot Whiteside Mountain, put on a fantastic show with their aerial displays of 200 m.p.h. dives to take prey.
If it is adventure you seek, the Chattooga River watershed offers some of the best whitewater around, plus great hiking and mountain biking trails, and good fishing, hunting and rock-climbing throughout its 200,000 acres, nearly 70% of which is public land.
Yet, there is trouble in paradise. The Chattooga River watershed is being loved to death. Surrounded by one of the fastest growing regions in the country, people from Atlanta, Greenville, Charlotte, Asheville, Chattanooga and other nearby urban centers flock to the Chattooga River each year in increasing numbers, to get away from the toils of work and seek recreation and renewal in this magic place. In many places, people are causing erosion and resource damage by creating trails on steep slopes, camping too close to streams, while trampling and cutting vegetation, and fouling access areas with trash and human waste.
Below are some guidelines we can all use to save and protect this special place.
Do more than “pack it in, pack it out.” Take a trash bag and pick up litter.
Camp in designated sites, and/or camp at least 1\4 mile from major access places and at least 50 feet from streams.
Do not cut green vegetation.
Stick to established trails when possible.
Bury human waste well away from streams when in backcountry areas or when toilet facilities are absent.
Respect other visitors.
Observe but do not harm wildlife.
Adhere to all hunting and fishing regulations. Do not take more than your share.
Report illegal activity such as All Terrain Vehicle use in unauthorized areas, trash dumping, etc., to the U. S. Forest Service, or to the Chattooga Conservancy (our telephone number is 706-782-6097).
Be careful with fire. Drown all campfires, then stir and cover with soil. Do not leave fire scars on beaches or rocks.
Be a good steward of the land and inspire others to do the same. Have a great trip to the Chattooga River watershed!