The deadline for public input on a sweeping improvement plan for the National Park Service's
Atlanta-area Chattahoochee National Recreation Area is fast approaching, with April 30 the final day to submit written comments.
Among the major initiatives are adding new hiking trails to the parks, and trail restorations, reconstructions and relocations along the 65 miles of established trails. Other major plans call for improving visitor safety, installation of better trail marking and directional signage, adjusting parking areas and patterns to better match visitor use, and protecting natural and cultural resources through sustainable trails management practices. Details are provided in a published 278-page Comprehensive Trails Management Plan / Environmental Assessment document issued by the NPS.
According to the park proposal, a one-time cost of $9,654,216 would be incurred for the preferred upgrades. Small increases in annual operating and maintenance costs and additional maintenance personnel also are included in the proposal. Written public input and comments are invited through April 30, 2022. The full proposal can be downloaded for review.
A series of articles in Newsbreak highlight proposed changes at some of the most-visited Chattahoochee NRA areas, including:
Bowman's Island, near the Buford dam in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties,
In 2021, an estimated 3.3 million people visited the Chattahoochee River parks, roughly the same number of visitors as the iconic Yosemite National Park. Chattahoochee is the 23rd most-visited park among the 423 locations in the National Park System, according to NPS statistics.
The Chattahoochee NRA stretches along with winding river from Buford Dam in the north to the I-75 / I-285 interchange in the south. Created on August 15, 1978, in legislation signed by President Jimmy Carter, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area includes the following 14 parks and 19 locations listed in the NPS improvement proposal:
- Bowmans Island – West
- Bowmans Island – East and Orrs Ferry
- Settles Bridge
- McGinnis Ferry
- Suwanee Creek
- Abbotts Bridge
- Medlock Bridge
- Jones Bridge – North
- Jones Bridge – South (Chattahoochee River Environmental Education Center)
- Holcomb Bridge
- Island Ford
- Vickery Creek
- Gold Branch
- Johnson Ferry – North
- Johnson Ferry – South
- Cochran Shoals – Sope and Gunby Creeks, Interstate North
- Cochran Shoals – Powers Island
- Palisades – East
- Palisades – West