Charlie’s Creek Road – OHV recreation destination causes sedimentation issues

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By Melanie Vickers : Board Secretary

Charlie’s Creek Road meanders through National Forest land in Towns County between Tallulah River Road and Upper Hightower Road, following Charlie’s Creek, a beautiful mountain stream that feeds into the Tallulah River, a popular trout fishing and camping destination.  The road provides a path for power lines to Tate City, an escape route in the event bridges are out on Tallulah River Road, and access to the Old Smyrna Church cemetery (which dates to the 1850s).  Unfortunately, in its current condition, only skilled drivers of 4WD vehicles can safely navigate the road.  

ForestWatchers walk the muddy rutts of Charlie’s Creek Rd in Town’s County.
Photo Credit: Melanie Vickers

Charlie’s Creek Road has become a popular destination for Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) clubs and enthusiasts, as witnessed by area residents who often see caravans of jeeps fording the Tallulah River to access the road.  Despite signage on both ends of the road stating that it is illegal to leave the road, many OHV enthusiasts do just that, and enjoy creating mud-bog playgrounds. The sheer volume of OHVs on the road has caused deep trenching and erosion, leading to road sediment flowing directly into Charlie’s Creek.  Build-up of sediment in streams destroys habitat for small organisms by filling in the gaps between rocks, and subsequently leads to declines in fish populations.  ForestWatch members, advocates, and local residents recently walked the road to view and document the damage, then followed through by contacting  local officials from both the Towns County and the Forest Service to determine how concerns might be addressed.  We would especially love to hear from any other Towns County residents that have concerns about this road. Email us at info@gafw.org. We will share updates on our monthly Advocacy Zoom every first Friday at 2:00 pm. Check gafw.org/clean-mountain-streams for sign-up details. 

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