March 2020

Dog Waste is Contaminating the River

Many of the three million people who visit the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) every year are dog-walkers. As park visitation has increased over the decades, so has the volume and distribution of dog waste left on the ground – bagged and unbagged. This waste represents a public health threat on land and in the water and can degrade natural resources, in addition to being unsightly.

For the past twenty years, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Park Service (NPS) and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper have monitored bacteria levels in the recreational waters of the national park, as part of the BacteriALERT Program, which is supported by Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy (CPC). Samples have shown that, most of the time, the water in the CRNRA is safe for recreation by people in good health. Not surprisingly, the data has also shown that bacteria levels can be high during and after storms, when muddy runoff enters the river, carrying pollutants including fecal matter that can cause gastrointestinal illnesses in humans.

To identify the sources of the contamination and inform park managers, the USGS, NPS and U.S. EPA conducted a two-year study. Data from the microbial source tracking study, which was recently published, suggest that dogs are a primary contributor of fecal contamination in the Chattahoochee River within the national park.

This news underscores the importance of the ongoing effort between CPC and the NPS to help park visitors understand the need to properly dispose their dog waste – and stop contaminating the river and littering the park. Our new Bag and Bin It! Campaign will be rolled out this spring. Your contribution here will help us fund this program, including the purchase of new dog waste stations. Thank you!

Celebrating 10 Years of Sweeping the Hooch on April 4

A decade ago, the National Park Service collaborated with Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Upper Chattahoochee Chapter Trout Unlimited to organize the inaugural Sweep the Hooch Cleanup within the CRNRA. Today, that effort has grown to 40 sites along a 100-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River. More than 113 tons of trash have been removed, to date, with the help of thousands of volunteers and dozens of new partners and sponsors, including CPC.

Volunteers can register to pick up trash as a walker, wader or paddler. Once a site reaches its capacity, registration for that site will close – so we encourage you to sign up today! Join CPC at the popular Whitewater Creek cleanup site, which we have sponsored for the past five years; you’ll meet CPC board members and learn about our organization before the trash collection begins. Register here for a fun and satisfying day of service to the CRNRA on Saturday, April 4, 9am-Noon.

Volunteers Remove Illegal Bike Trail

Earlier this year, the NPS received a report that an unauthorized mountain bike trail had been built on a wooded slope in the Cochran Shoals Unit of the CRNRA at Powers Island. Many small trees had been cut down to make way for the half-mile trail which included jumps, three-foot berms and straight downhill runs.  Fifteen volunteers and park staff spent 50 hours rehabilitating the area by covering the trail with leaves and deadfall, removing the earthen jumps and filling large holes that had become mud pits from the recent storms.

Park rangers discovered and confiscated a cache of tools, hopefully sending a message to the offenders that their activity is not allowed in the park. Also found on the site: a deer stand and empty bags of corn, which were turned over to law enforcement. The NPS has received reports of other illegal trails in the West Palisades Unit and is investigating. Thanks to Volunteers in Parks (VIP) members and MTB Atlanta for helping CRNRA Volunteer Coordinator Dave Thomas and other park staff restore the damaged area.

If you observe any potentially illegal activity in the CRNRA, call the park office at 678-538-1200. Thank you!

Walk & Talk: Geologic Wonders in the Park

ONLY A FEW SPACES LEFT! On Sunday afternoon, March 22, Bill Witherspoon, co-author of Roadside Geology of Georgia and a former teacher at Fernbank Science Center, will take a group of CPC members to one of the metro-area's largest natural rock faces exposing out most typical rock type: biotite gneiss. Along the trail are outcrops of the tough rock, quartzite, which is responsible for the impressive depth and steep walls of Chattahoochee Palisades Gorge. At the top of the Palisades, overlooking Devil’s Racecourse Shoals, the power of the Chattahoochee is impressive. The two-mile, moderate walk has a few steep up-hill climbs. Ages 10 and up. No dogs, please. Register here. Not a member, yet? Join us here.

Things To Do

Volunteer in the Park! Help the CRNRA by donating your time to maintain trails and assist with events, youth programs and administrative tasks. Visit to get involved. Give forty hours and get a free annual parking pass. Monthly volunteer meetings are held at the Island Ford Visitor Center. Volunteer calendar here.

Crayfish Creek Restoration Project – Saturday, March 7 (8:30am-1pm). Join Trout Unlimited, Georgia DNR and other project partners for a workday at Crayfish Creek. Perform macroinvertebrate sampling, fish sampling (electroshocking) and learn how to monitor water quality. All ages welcome. Register here as a volunteer.    

REI Classes in the Park – Sunday, March 8

  • Natural Rock-Climbing Anchors Class, Allenbrook (10am-4pm). Details here, including dates for other rock-climbing classes.
  • Back Country Navigation with a Map and Compass, West Palisades (10am-2pm). Details here.

Hike with Ranger Jerry Hightower. Reservations required by calling 678-538-1200.

  • Forest Ferns and Flowers, Gold Branch Unit – Saturday, March 14 (1-4pm). Enjoy an early spring loop hike through oak, hickory and beech forests along the ridges above Bull Sluice lake. All ages welcome.
  • Ridge Top Overlooks, Vickery Creek Unit – Saturday, March 21 (1-4pm). Hike the ridge top trail above the scenic Vickery Creek Ravine, viewing bigleaf magnolias, native ferns, shrubs and wildflowers. All ages welcome.

Walk & Talk Series: Geology in the Park with Bill Witherspoon – Sunday, March 22. FREE for CPC members; join here. See above for details. Only a few spaces are left, so register asap!

19th Annual Parks and Greenspace Conference – Monday, March 23 (Noon-9pm). Attend the largest parks conference in the southeast, showcasing thought leaders from Atlanta and across the nation. Register here.

10th Annual Sweep the Hooch Cleanup – Saturday, April 4 (9am-Noon). See above for details; register here.

2020 Georgia Trail Summit: Connecting Communities – May 3-4, Augusta GA. This annual event will feature exciting field experiences, inspiring keynotes and engaging sessions about hiking, cycling and paddling trails. Details and registration here.    

Online Park Passes. You can buy your daily ($5) or annual ($40) pass to the CRNRA online now. Go to Recreation.Gov and type in Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area Digital Pass. You will be directed to the page to purchase your pass. It’s easy and fast! 

Become a CPC member or donate today!

YOU can help us achieve our vision of an inspired and thriving community of support for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

CPC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We are proud to support our Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, a unit of the national park system by the National Park Service.

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Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy
P.O. Box 769332, Roswell, GA 30076