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Contact: Paul Winegar, 404-562-3182
A general management plan for the 48-mile Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in metro Atlanta has been put on hold so the National Park Service (NPS) can schedule additional public meetings and extend the public comment period on the controversial proposal.
NPS Southeast Regional Director Patricia Hooks said the extra procedural steps are being taken to give planners time to reconsider alternatives spelled out in a draft general management plan released in June.
"The public comment period on the draft plan was set to expire on July 30," Ms. Hooks said. "However, because of deviations from our own planning process and objections we've already received to parts of the plan identified as a preferred alternative, we have decided to take a step back and re-examine where we are going," she said.
A number of outdoor groups and other individuals and organizations particularly object to provisions in the plan that would ban motorized boats and bank fishing on the northern-most sections of the river downstream from Buford Dam, said Kevin Cheri, superintendent of the national recreation area. "Also, some people feel that the Park Service did not fully consider everyone's views before coming out with a preferred alternative," Cheri said.
Additional public meetings will be announced soon to re-open a dialogue with park visitors and user groups on the best choices for managing and preserving the national recreation area. Meanwhile, the Park Service will continue to accept written comments on the four alternatives announced in the draft plan released in June. Those alternatives basically called for expanded visitor facilities and recreational use of the river; centralized river access at three visitor hubs; an alternative that focuses on solitude along most of the river; and a no action alternative that would continue the status quo.
"When we have gathered additional public opinions, we will come up with modified or new alternatives to help guide the management of the river for the next several years," Cheri said. "We encourage everyone who has an interest in preserving the Chattahoochee as one of the Atlanta area's main quality of life attractions to participate in this process," he said.