Acting Assistant Secretary Rachel Jacobson Highlights New National Water Trail as Economic Engine for Local Community
SANDY SPRINGS, Ga.— Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Rachel Jacobson today joined local Atlanta Metropolitan Area officials and managers of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area at a summit to discuss ways to promote tourism and outdoor recreation in the Southeast and stewardship of the Chattahoochee River Corridor.
“When Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar selected a 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River as America's first National Water Trail in February, it opened up new opportunities to boost tourism to the Atlanta region,” Jacobson said. “We are working with local communities to tap into these opportunities to promote economic growth and create jobs supporting outdoor recreation and tourism.”
The summit is part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation ethic, reconnect Americans to the natural world and support a strong outdoor recreation economy in communities across the country. Participants focused on a tourism marketing strategy for the Chattahoochee River Corridor that would complement Atlanta's other sightseeing attractions.
The sponsors of the River Tourism Summit include Southeast Tourism Society, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, The Trust for Public Land and the National Park Service.
The Chattahoochee River currently serves 3.2 million visitors annually, mostly from the Atlanta metropolitan area. In February, Secretary Salazar designated the Chattahoochee the first national water trail when he signed a secretarial order establishing national water trails as a class of national recreational trails under the National Trails System Act of 1968. The order established a framework to facilitate outdoor recreation on waterways in and around urban areas, and provide national recognition and resources to existing, local water trails.
“Partnerships that recognize the importance of conserving and sustaining our valuable natural, cultural, and historic resources also help to promote tourism, which is the economic vitality of the local community,” said Bill Hardman, President and CEO of the Southeast Tourism Society and a former member of the National Park Service Advisory Council. “The National Water Trail designation will help visitors from across the country and around the world understand the recreational possibilities on the Chattahoochee River.”
The Southeast Tourism Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of tourism throughout the Southeast. It was founded in 1983 with eight member states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Arkansas joined later. The society advocates for the future conservation of treasured public lands by acting as a spokesperson on issues of sustainable tourism in the region.
The Trust for Public Land was founded in 1972 with goals of protecting land in and around cities and pioneering new land conservation techniques. In 1995, the trust joined with other conservationists to create the Chattahoochee River Land Protection Campaign, a long-term effort to establish a green corridor along the river, extending from the north Georgia Mountains around Helen south to Columbus.
To date, the trust has conserved nearly 75 miles of river frontage and more than 16,000 acres of land in the river corridor, at an acquisition cost of more than $250 million. The campaign goals include protecting safe and clean drinking water, providing places for people to paddle, hike, bike, fish, and jog, enhancing the quality of life in communities along the river, and protecting natural habitat in the midst of a rapidly developing region.
Established in 1994, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) is a river advocacy organization with more than 5,000 members dedicated solely to protecting and restoring the Chattahoochee River Basin — a drinking water source for 3.5 million people. CRK was the 11th licensed program in the international Waterkeeper Alliance, which has since grown to an organization of almost 200 members. The organization actively uses advocacy, education, outreach and research to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee and its watershed.
Also attending the summit were representatives from Sandy Springs Hospitality and Tourism, the Roswell Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Roswell Business Alliance and federal, state and local officials from Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Forsyth Counties.
Participants plan to continue working together over the next year to promote the Chattahoochee River National Water Trail as a destination for visitors to the Atlanta region.