Monitoring, Oversight & Partnerships w/ US Forest Service
The Chattooga River Watershed encompasses 179,000 acres, and 70% is national forest land managed by the Andrew Pickens Ranger District in SC, Chattooga Ranger District in GA and Nantahala Ranger District in NC.
Pending/Active Forest Service Projects in the Chattooga River Watershed:
Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Plan Revision (NC) is ongoing, to produce a new forest plan. We are promoting protection for the Overflow Wilderness Study Area; designation of the Terrapin Mountain Potential Wilderness Area and Ellicott Rock West Potential Wilderness Area; and designation of Wild & Scenic River eligibility for Overflow Creek, East & West Fork of Overflow Creek, the Whitewater River, and the Thompson River. The environmental impact statement for the new forest plan was released in February 2020.
Foothills Landscape Initiative (GA) encompasses 143,419 acres of the Chattahoochee National Forest, including a large portion of the Chattooga River watershed in GA. The project is proposing up to 55,000 acres of commercial timber harvest, 90,000 acres of non-commercial harvest, herbicides over 60,000 acres, and forest thinning just about everywhere. The environmental assessment for this project was released in late 2019.
Southside Timber Sale (NC) in the Nantahala Ranger District affects the pristine headwaters of the Chattooga and Whitewater Rivers. The project targets rare old growth trees and stands over 100 years old, and involves cutting 317 acres of timber, burning 2,000+ acres repeatedly, and widespread herbicide applications (including glyphosate) to kill native forest species in favor of “crop trees.” We are continuing to fight for the protection of critical stands as the Forest Service is gearing up to begin the project.
Upper Warwoman Project (GA) is ongoing, and involves 1,115 acres of timber harvesting and 10,494 acres of prescribed burning.
Native River Cane Restoration Project (SC) We are restoring 29 acres of native canebrake habitat along the Chattooga River in cooperation with the Andrew Pickens Ranger District. This is a long-term project to establish a sizable canebrake, which is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the Southeast.
Loblolly Pine Removal & Restoration Project (SC) is a multi-year forest management project that involves cutting 6,089 acres of non-native loblolly stands; burning 4,369 acres; herbicides on at least 5,542 acres; 57 miles of road maintenance/reconstruction; 37 miles of temporary roads; and 8 miles of bulldozer fire lines.
White Pine Management Project (SC) The Andrew Pickens Ranger District is proposing to harvest Eastern white pine on approximately 1,972 acres. The tree-cutting would be followed by herbicides, prescribed burning, chipping, and/or planting. The environmental assessment was released in October of 2020, and the Forest Service has since been following up with some who submitted comments in November.
Leave No Trace (SC) We are participating in the Andrew Pickens Ranger District’s “Leave No Trace” initiative that is targeting high use recreation areas on the district.
Monitoring, Oversight & Partnerships w/ Private Landowners
Cashiers Hillside is a proposed high-density development that would be located at the southeast corner of Hwy 107 and Hwy 64, known as the “Crossroads” in Cashiers, NC. The 55-acre development would produce serious erosion and sedimentation risks to the upper Chattooga. Represented by Roberts & Stevens, P.A., the Chattooga Conservancy has allied with the Gana-Sita Property Owners Association and several others to challenge the development.
High Hampton Developments have been ongoing since 2019, causing significant impairment to Fowler Creek, a Chattooga River tributary. Downstream residents contacted the Conservancy in the spring of 2020 after complaints to authorities were left largely unresolved. The development was issued a Notice of Violation in May for an erosion control failure, but the repair did not include restoring the creek downstream. We are continuing to follow this issue.
Cashiers Lake Dredging & Development involves a permit request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge Cashiers Lake at the headwaters of the Chattooga River, followed by building 60+ homes. The NC Department of Water Resources approved the permit application in the spring of 2020 for only the lake dredging. The proposed development’s permit is pending review by the NC Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources. The dredging and pending development pose a serious threat to the Chattooga’s headwaters, which are designated Outstanding Resource Waters.
Stekoa Creek Watershed Management Plan Implementation We’re managing a GA DNR grant to: implement a green infrastructure demonstration project on Hwy. 441 in cooperation with the Food Bank of NE GA; implement an agricultural Best Management Practices project in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service; and compose a “Citizens Guide to the Stekoa Creek Watershed.”
Stekoa Creek Park We maintain the grounds of the Stekoa Creek Park, which we built in Clayton, GA.
GA DOT Highway 441 Widening We are monitoring the Georgia Department of Transportation’s plans to widen Highway 441 North, which will impact 3 linear miles of Stekoa Creek.
Outreach & Education
Chattooga Stewardship Initiative involves non-native invasive species removal and a series of trash pick-up events at areas in or near the wild & scenic river corridor. Follow us on Facebook for event dates and details.
Chattooga Currents is our e-newsletter, which we compose and publish every 2-3 months.
Chattooga Quarterly is our newsletter, which we compose and publish.
Education & Outreach Events, presentations, website and social media outreach, etc.
Land Trust We work with private landowners seeking to place conservation easements on properties that possess significant conservation values. Chattooga Conservancy is an accredited land trust.
Alliances, Partnerships, Networks Affiliations with organizations to help advance programs, including Georgia River Network, Georgia Water Coalition, Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership, Leave No Trace and Land Trust Alliance.