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Conservation Plan

The Chattooga Conservation Plan

The Chattooga Conservation Plan

The Chattooga Conservation Plan is a collaborative project of the Chattooga River Watershed Coalition, the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, and The Conservation Fund. Using the best available information, the Chattooga Conservation Plan presents a common-sense approach to preserving, restoring and maintaining the native forest ecosystem in the Chattooga River watershed.

Public lands, which make up 70% of the Chattooga River watershed, are managed by three different national forest ranger districts in three states: the Highlands District of the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina (23% by acreage), the Andrew Pickens District of the Sumter National Forest in South Carolina (19% by acreage), and the Tallulah District of the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia (58% by acreage).

Each National Forest is required to develop a Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP), and these LRMPs are periodically updated to reflect new information on ecological resources, timber harvesting, and public sentiment for proposed management actions. The Chattooga Conservation Plan is intended to serve as a citizen’s alternative in the U.S. Forest Service’s LRMP revision process for the three National Forests in the Chattooga River watershed.

Private lands comprise approximately 30% of the Chattooga watershed. Many landowners here would like to manage their lands in a way that protects soil and water quality, and conserves or enhances the integrity of the native ecosystem. On the other hand, some property holders in the area may think that they cannot afford to manage portions of their land outside of “high productivity” management regimes. Even if they are willing, owners sometimes don’t know exactly what they can do to reach conservation objectives. The Chattooga Conservation Plan can serve as a starting point for the private landowner by helping to outline the ecological context in which their property lies. Furthermore, land trust arrangements, conservation easements, and sustainable forestry plans, some of which are currently being implemented under the Chattooga River Watershed Coalition’s “Private Forestry Initiative”, can make conservation management economically viable for the private land owner.