A New Scenic/Wilderness Bill in Georgia!
This bill is in its early stages, but there will definitely come a time to get involved to encourage its passage. We will be working closely with Georgia ForestWatch (one of our Member Groups!) on this project, so stay tuned!
Atlanta, GA – Two Republican Congressmen from north Georgia introduced legislation to provide special protection for nearly 22,000 acres of the Chattahoochee National Forest. H. R. 5612 is sponsored by Reps. Nathan Deal (R-10) and Charles Norwood (R-9). The bill, if enacted, will provide increased protective measures for the 13,382-acre Mountaintown, the state’s largest inventoried roadless area and add 8,448 acres to existing wilderness areas.
This is Rich Knob, within the proposed Scenic area in the
Chattahoochee National Forest.
Rep. Deal spearheaded the legislative effort in response to local citizens, business owners and political leadership in Gilmer County. By establishing the Mountaintown Creek Scenic Area, the bill will protect more than 13,000 acres of beautiful, wild and remote national forest lands in the Cohutta Mountains northwest of Ellijay, Georgia.
“The bill’s provisions are more stringent than those outlined in current U.S. Forest Service management plans and are deemed vital to safeguarding this pristine area for generations to come,” said Beth Pigott, a member of Friends of Mountaintown, the local, grassroots community organization in Gilmer County that has been working on the Mountaintown protection measures for the past two years.
“This bill represents the culmination of many hours of hard work and negotiation with Rep. Deal and the Forest Service,” Pigott said. “It will provide long-term protection for this area from additional road-building and unnecessary logging, and will prove economically beneficial to Gilmer and the entire north Georgia region.
“We applaud Rep. Deal’s dedication to protecting downstream water supplies with this bill,” says David Govus, a local hunter and fisherman. The headwaters of one of Georgia ‘s premier trout streams, Mountaintown Creek, originate in the proposed scenic area.
Pigott also credited Georgia ForestWatch with providing expert support to Friends of Mountaintown in connection with technical aspects of the Deal-Norwood proposal. “ForestWatch is pleased to assist local communities with their efforts to protect our last large forested areas,” said Wayne Jenkins, executive director of Georgia ForestWatch. “Many of us have moved to these beautiful mountains in order to be near and use these special places for traditional activities such as hunting, fishing and hiking. As the floodtide of development sweeps over our region, having protected places like Mountaintown for providing for the recreational needs of our people, protecting the headwater streams supplying our drinking water and maintaining special natural areas that improve in scenic splendor over time will be understood as good business for local economies and all citizens,” he continued.
The legislation also designates 8,000-plus acres of smaller additions to existing wilderness in the Chattahoochee National Forest, as recommended by the National Forest Service and the Bush administration in September of 2004.
Friends of Mountaintown looks forward to the bill’s movement through the House Agriculture and Resources committees and hope a companion bill will be introduced soon in U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ Agriculture committee with full support by our senior senator and Senator Johnny Isakson.