Water-based recreation seen as restoration and tourism drivers
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with recreation icons like the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails, the federal government is in the process of developing a National Water Trails System, a new network that will increase access to water-based outdoor recreation and encourage community stewardship of local waterways.
This week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Chattahoochee River Water Trail in Georgia will be the first to be designated as a National Water Trail under the new system. The water trail travels through 48 miles of river within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The park serves 3.2 million visitors annually, most from the local Atlanta metro-region.
In addition to providing more than 65 percent of the public greenspace in this urban region, the river provides most of Atlanta’s drinking water. The park and new water trail contain 18 developed public access points and connects with other local city and county parks. The river is heavily used by anglers, tubers, kayakers, canoers, and rafters.
“Rivers, lakes, and other waterways are the lifeblood of our communities, connecting us to our environment, our culture, our economy, and our way of life,” Salazar said. “The new National Water Trail System will help fulfill President Obama’s vision for healthy and accessible rivers as we work to restore and conserve our nation’s treasured waterways.”
Creating river and waterway-based national trails could also bring economic benefits to local communities, Salazar said, signing a Secretarial Order that establishes the national water trails as a class of national recreational trails under the National Trails System Act of 1968.
“The Corps will actively participate, working with many local partners, to develop the water trails system and connect people to the water resources close to their homes,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “The National Water Trails System will recognize and promote local efforts at a national level.”
The federal government will provide resources for signage and technical assistance with each designation.
Although National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails may only be designated by an Act of Congress, National Recreation Trails may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture.
Under the Secretarial Order, the National Park Service will coordinate the national water trail nomination process.
To learn more about the National Trails System, please visit: http://www.nps.gov/nts/
Filed under: Environment, federal government, national parks, public lands, rivers Tagged: | boating, National Recreation Trail, National Trail System, National Water Trail System, recreation, Tourism, Travel