American Whitewater has withdrawn its lawsuit challenging a paddling ban on the upper Chattooga River outside Cashiers.

Paddlers floated down the Chattooga River outside Cashiers last weekend for the first time in 30 years since the U.S. Forest Service first imposed a paddling ban on the upper stretch of the Wild and Scenic River.

Hikers, fishermen and environmentalists won a small victory last week in an on-going tug-of-war with paddlers over the upper Chattooga River — a Wild and Scenic River that tumbles off the Cashiers plateau.

My Chattooga?

Controversy over a paddling ban on the upper Chattooga River attracted more than 125 people to a public meeting in Highlands last week held by the U.S. Forest Service.

Paddlers are challenging the 30-year-old ban, while fishermen, hikers, birdwatchers and other wilderness solitude seekers are lobbying to keep the ban in place. The forest service is conducting a two-year study to determine whether the ban is justified.

The Sumter National Forest has fired back at American Whitewater, a paddling organization that is challenging a ban on paddling the upper Chattooga River.

The Chattooga is a federally designated Wild and Scenic River that tumbles off the Cashiers Plateau and into the Sumter National Forest of South Carolina.

By Bruce Hare • Guest Columnist

In response to your article (“Tug of War over the Chattooga River,” May 31 Smoky Mountain News), I would like to thank you for reporting on an issue that is important to me and I think your coverage was balanced and fair.

The only thing rippling more than the water through the rocky headwaters of the Chattooga is the controversy regarding the U.S. Forest Service’s ban on paddling in that stretch. It is a ban that has been in place for 30 years or so and doesn’t sit well with paddlers. Although paddlers have tried for decades to have the ban lifted, Sumter National Forest’s management plans of 1985 and 2004 both left the ban intact.

Riverwild

A blistering fight over whether paddling should be allowed along the upper stretch of the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River has landed in court.

American Whitewater, the premier national paddling advocacy group whose headquarters are in Jackson County, filed a lawsuit two weeks ago challenging the ban on paddling as baseless and unfounded.

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