To the editor:
I urge conservation-minded residents of Western North Carolina and all those hikers, birders, campers, anglers, hunters, nature photographers, picnickers and local people who prefer the true solitude of a magnificent, wild national resource to again take pen to paper (and fingers to keyboards) to comment on the latest U.S. Forest Service plan to open the Upper Chattooga headwaters to boating.
The agency’s latest proposal would forever change the wild and scenic character of the river reaches from Green Creek (just below Grimshawes and its popular Slide Rock) to Lick Log Creek — some 16.5 miles downriver, right through the middle of the sensitive Chattooga Cliffs area, the Ellicott Rock Wilderness and the equally wild Rock Gorge.
As your readers know, both private and commercial boaters already control access and primary use of the 36 miles of the Chattooga River below Route 28. Kayakers, moreover, have full access to the wildly challenging West Fork and Overflow Creek all the way to Blue Valley.
To adopt the new plan would leave only six miles of the Chattooga, approximately, boat free. The latest Forest Service plan appears designed to try to again appease the interests of an extreme sport, and gives little attention to the equally valid interests of those who have worked hard for the past 35 years (largely by maintaining trails and resources) to safeguard the headwaters reaches for future generations.