The complaint challenges the USFS decision because it imposes the harshest possible limits on
nature-based paddling while artificially increasing angling use and inequitably allowing all
other uses of the river corridor to occur in unlimited numbers. The USFS
decision violates the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Wilderness Act, the National Environmental
Policy Act, and other environmental laws and policies.

The complaint references Forest Service data that shows if paddlers were managed like all other
uses (i.e. unrestricted) they would comprise only 2% of the total visitors to the area and would
only contribute 1 ½ % of the days on which encounter standards are exceeded.
In four years of considering this issue, the Agency has failed to document a single
adverse impact of paddling on the river corridor or on other users.
Like all regional headwaters streams, the Chattooga’s flows naturally
separate angling and boating uses, with anglers and other users having the river to themselves on
more than 300 days annually when boating cannot occur due to insufficient stream

“To ban the smallest, slowest growing, and lowest impact use while allowing all other uses access
to the river in unlimited numbers not only violates the law, it is poor resource stewardship and
management,” contends Kevin Colburn, American Whitewater’s National Stewardship Director. “It is
irrational to ban paddling merely to reduce paddler-angler encounters when the two uses seldom
overlap and are compatible. We are confident that any objective reviewer
of this issue will restore nationally consistent river management.”

Don Kinser, American Whitewater’s President adds “The Agency’s own review bears out what we have
been telling them for years: that paddling will be self regulating based on rainfall, use will be
low and that there is no adverse effect on fishing. Despite the facts to the contrary, the Agency
continues to pander to a small group of elite anglers who want a private playground on public
land – even though this decision will harm anglers, paddlers, and all Americans that enjoy
visiting rivers on public lands.”

The complaint follows fourteen years of stewardship work by American Whitewater and other groups
to restore nationally consistent river management to the Chattooga River through the USFS’s
administrative process. “Litigation against an agency partner is always the last resort for our
organizations, and is an extremely rare action for any of us to take,” notes Paul Sanford,
Stewardship Director for the American Canoe Association, “While our organizations and members
work extremely well with the USFS at the national level and literally on every other river, we
simply can’t allow this bad decision by local Forests to stand.”

Kevin Miller, a representative of Foothills Paddling Club agrees, “The Forest Service does a
commendable job of managing rivers across the Country in a manner that is generally equitable,
rational, legal, and protective. We are simply asking that they manage the Chattooga like they
manage all other rivers.”

Bruce Hare, a local South Carolina paddler who regularly floated all sections of the 52-mile Wild
and Scenic Chattooga River prior to the original USFS decision making it a federal crime to do
so, has joined in the Complaint to make sure others can experience this river as he once did.
“The upper Chattooga River is a challenging river that rarely has enough water to float, but when
conditions are right it provides an incomparable and unique paddling experience.
I and other paddlers supported federal wild and scenic protection of the Chattooga
specifically to protect and enhance the river and the paddling experiences it
provides. I cannot believe the local Forest is trying to make boating a
criminal act on any part of a Wild and Scenic River. It is contrary to
everything the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act stands for.”

“The one silver lining in the recent decision is that the USFS is finally going to protect the
river from rampant user-created-trails and sprawling campsites.” notes Colburn. “Had we not
challenged USFS mismanagement of the river these significant ecological impacts would have gone
unnoticed and unmanaged. We have helped protect the river, now if only we could enjoy

The Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include American Whitewater, American Canoe Association, Atlanta
Whitewater Club, Foothills Paddling Club, Georgia Canoeing Association, Western Carolina
Paddlers, and three individuals. The kayakers and canoeists are being represented on a pro bono
basis by the law firms of Patton Boggs, LLP, and Nelson Galbreath, LLC.