Forest Service should let boaters on the Chattooga

The U.S. Forest Service is about to release its opinion on whether to allow boating on the Chattooga River. It’s been a long and complicated battle, but here’s hoping that American Whitewater’s attempt to open the river to kayaking is successful.

The Chattooga is a Wild and Scenic River, and 30 years ago it was given a special status among protected rivers on Forest Service land — all uses except boating — kayaking, canoeing and rafting — allowed. That means swimming, hiking, hunting and fishing are OK, but not kayaking.

There is a fear among some purist anglers and solitude seekers that the river experience will be ruined if boaters are allowed in. We disagree. It will certainly be different on busy weekends when the water is big, but on most days it will be the same.

Boaters are not some outrageous breed of river user that needs to be kept out of certain places. To the contrary, boating advocacy groups promote wise use of our water resources and surrounding land.

•••

Keith Presnell sent out an announcement on Monday, Feb. 11, that he was going to run again for the state Senate. Presnell, R-Burnsville, will go head-to-head with Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, for the 47th District that stretches from Waynesville to Avery County. These two have spent half a million dollars per campaign, and this one promises to be the most expensive yet. Queen won in 2002, then Presnell took him in 2004, then Queen got the seat back in 2006.

I’ve heard some valid criticisms of Sen. Queen, but let’s be clear. Queen is head and shoulders better than Presnell. If the Burnsville convenience store owner is the best the GOP can come up with, they deserve to lose.

•••

Best quote from last week’s paper was in Jeff Minick’s review of Simon Rich’s Ant Farm:

In If Life Were Like Middle School, Rich gives us this scenario:

Judge: In all my years on the bench, I have never seen a more despicable criminal. You robbed, assaulted, and tortured the victim simply for the thrill of it. Do you have anything to say in your defense before I sentence you?

Criminal: Nope.

Judge: In that case, I hereby sentence you to forty years in a maximum security prison. I also sentence the victim to forty years in prison.

Victim: Wait — what? That doesn’t make any sense! He attacked me!

Judge: I don’t care who started it.

— By Scott McLeod, Editor

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