Land along Chattahoochee River in Cumming acquired to expand national park

By Maria Saporta

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area has just been expanded.

The Trust for Public Land and the National Park Service announced the acquisition of 18.5 acres of key riverfront property in Forsyth County. It will add nearly 1,000 feet of frontage along the Chattahoochee River in Cumming.

Chattahoochee River

A section of the river frontage that will be part of expanded Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Photo by Karen Clarke for the Trust for Public Land)

The property will be an addition to the Bowman’s Island Unit of the National Recreation Area, creating more opportunities for a river front trail for walking, biking, and hiking as well as new access to the river.  The property includes the only Class 2 rapids in this stretch of the Chattahoochee River, rapids that are popular with local boaters.

“Protecting this vital land with access to the river is the latest success in the Trust for Public Land and our partners’ 20 years of work on the Chattahoochee,” said George Dusenbury, Georgia state director for the Trust for Public Land.  “The Trust for Public Land continues to work with the National Park Service on expanding the Bowman’s Island Unit, which is one of the most scenic potions of the river.  We hope even more people will be drawn to enjoy and care for this incredible outdoor destination.”

The National Park Service has prioritized the property as an addition to the National Recreation Area for many years.

“The acquisition of the former Green tract will allow for the eventual creation of a riverfront trail on the Forsyth County side of the river from Buford Dam to Highway 20,” said Bill Cox, superintendent of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

“We are extremely appreciative of land owners who are willing to allow their land to become part of the legacy of the National Park Service, and the outstanding efforts of the Trust for Public Land in bringing transactions such as this together,” Cox continued. “The Trust for Public Land continues their long tradition here in Georgia and the metro Atlanta area in particular, of improving the quality of life for all by acquiring these important conservation lands.”

TPL Chattahoochee River

A section of the river frontage that will be part of expanded Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Photo by Karen Clarke for the Trust for Public Land)

The Trust for Public Land purchased the 18.5-acre property from a private owner in 2017 and has held it since then. The former owner, Ron Green, said he was very pleased that the property would be added to the National Recreation Area for the public to enjoy.

The National Park Service purchased the property using funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the federal government’s main source of funds to protect land. The LWCF is funded by a small fraction of revenues generated by offshore oil and gas royalty payments. It is not supported with general taxpayer dollars.

The Trust for Public Land was able to convey the property to the National Park Service at a significantly discounted price because of the generous financial support of private individuals and foundations who have supported the Chattahoochee River Land Protection campaign.

“This is a significant contribution to the creation of a Chattahoochee Greenway from Helen to Columbus, and is an example of how important the Land and Water Conservation Fund is to local communities,” Dusenbury said. “Unfortunately, authorization for LWCF lapsed this year. While we are grateful to have Congressional support for LWCF and our work on the Chattahoochee from Senator Isakson and Congressman Woodall, we urge other elected officials to work quickly and ensure LWCF is permanently reauthorized and fully funded.”

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) thanked the Trust for Public Land and the National Park Service for their efforts to create and expand the Chattahoochee National Recreationg Area.

“As members of Congress and residents of Georgia, it is important that we look for opportunities to protect our land to ensure that our natural spaces will be preserved for future generations,” Isakson said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-District 7)  agreed.

“Preserving Georgia’s extensive natural beauty and resources requires the kind of deep commitment and strong partnership we are fortunate to have here at home,” Woodall said in a statement. “I’m proud to support the work being done through the Trust for Public Land at the federal and local levels, and look forward to continuing the success we’ve achieved to this point.”

Since 1996, the Trust for Public Land, in partnership with many local, state, and federal agencies and other conservation-minded organizations, has helped conserve more than 18,000 acres of land fronting on the Chattahoochee River between its headwaters north of Helen to Columbus.

The commitment to the Chattahoochee River program is ongoing. The Trust for Public Land continues to protect lands that will provide additional park land and access to the river, while creating natural buffers to protect drinking water quality and preserve important wildlife habitat.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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