Chattahoochee River Property Purchased as National Forest Addition
The Trust for Public Land has protected nearly 7 acres of Chattahoochee River frontage north of Helen, Ga., as an addition to the Chattahoochee National Forest. The property fronts more than 500 feet of the Chattahoochee River’s western bank, and it will now be available for public access to the river, also popular for trout fishing.
The USDA Forest Service worked with The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization with a Georgia office in Atlanta, to purchase the property both to serve public access within the forest, and to preserve the quality of the water in this headwaters region serving the Chattahoochee River. Over 20 years The Trust for Public Land and its partners have conserved more than 75 miles of land fronting the Chattahoochee River.
In an area where the local economy depends heavily on recreation and tourism, protecting the natural resources that serve as a primary attraction helps assure long-term economic health.
“Protecting this Chattahoochee River property for the National Forest will enhance public access to thousands of acres of recreational lands,” said Curt Soper, The Trust for Public Land’s Georgia state director. “This particular stretch of river is shallow, rock-lined, clean and cold, which is ideal for trout fishing.”
The Trust for Public Land purchased the property for $250,000 in 2010. The organization was able to sell it to the Forest Service for $110,000 by securing support from its Chattahoochee River Protection Fund; the David, Helen and Marian Woodward Fund; and The Patterson Family Foundation, Inc.
“This property along the Chattahoochee River is another step in our long-term strategy to support balanced growth in the region,” said Soper. “Thankfully, we were able to secure the additional private funding needed to complement limited public funding and sell the property to the Forest Service at a reduced price. We are grateful to our funders for supporting this critical conservation project for the Chattahoochee National Forest.”
Public funding for the Forest Service purchase came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is derived from royalties paid by energy companies recovering publicly owned oil and gas on federal lands, rather than taxpayer dollars, to acquire critical new conservation lands.
“This addition to the Chattahoochee National Forest will help to further protect a primary source of clean water for metro Atlanta, as well as provide superb recreational opportunities for forest visitors,” said Ed Hunter, Chattooga River District Ranger for the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests. “We are proud to work with The Trust for Public Land to protect the water and special places like these for future generations.”
“This project is an outstanding example of how to be successful in protecting a sensitive resource by using the collaborative efforts of the private sector, government and conservation organizations. This purchase will enhance past successful efforts to protect the Chattahoochee River. Future generations will enjoy the benefits of this cold-water habitat. Protection of these types of properties is essential to keep viable trout populations in our State” said Jim Kidd a Trout Unlimited member and retired Forest Service land program manager.
Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than 34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Encompassing around 867,000 acres across 26 counties, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests provide the finest outdoor recreation opportunities and natural resources in Georgia. Learn more about the national forests in Georgia at www.fs.usda.gov/conf.