Originally created 09/06/98

Cleland wants land protected



ATLANTA -- Sen. Max Cleland has asked the U.S. Forest Service to consider adding some 25,000 acres of the Chattahoochee National Forest to a wilderness study list it compiled last year.

If Mr. Cleland's request is approved, the acreage -- comprising six government tracts in North Georgia -- would be included in an inventory of "roadless areas" in the Chattahoochee Forest.

In a letter this week to Regional Forester Elizabeth Estill, Cleland named: Moccasin Creek, a 5,000-acre tract of roaring waterfalls and giant hemlocks in Rabun County; additions to the Cohutta, Rich Mountain and Mark Trail wilderness areas; Windy Gap, a steep ridge mantled with hardwoods east of Clayton; and Three Forks, a popular recreation spot where three whitewater streams form the West Fork of the Chattooga River.

"From the accounts of the conservation groups, the areas contain high-quality streams and rivers, rugged trails and deep interior forest that afford outstanding opportunities for solitude or backcountry recreation," wrote Mr. Cleland, D-Ga.

Gary Pierson, chief planner for the Forest Service's Southern Region, said the list was received but nothing had been decided.

Roadless areas are places pristine enough to qualify for inclusion in the federal wilderness system but are not permanently protected from logging or road construction.

Last year the Forest Service listed some 63,000 acres in 21 different areas in a roadless inventory of the Chattahoochee, part of an effort that identified some 800,000 acres of potential wilderness in eight national forests in the Southern region of the Appalachians.