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Union County Historical Society Blairsville Georgia

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

The effect of the formation of the National Forest
on the citizens of Union County will be added.


General Map of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in northern Georgia is actually two U.S. National Forests, the Oconee National Forest and Chattahoochee National Forest, linked together. The combined total acreage of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is 865,855 acres, of which the Chattahoochee National Forest comprises 750,502 acres and the Oconee National Forest comprises 115,353 acres. The county with the largest portion of the forest is Rabun County, Georgia, which has 148,684 acres within its boundaries.

History The Chattahoochee National Forest takes its name from the Chattahoochee River whose headwaters begin in the North Georgia mountains. The River and the area were given the name by the English settlers who took the name from the Indians living here. The Cherokee and Creek Indians inhabited North Georgia. In one dialect of the Muskogean languages, Chatta means stone; ho chee, marked or flowered. These marked or flowered stones were in the Chattahoochee River at a settlement near Columbus, Georgia. In 1911, the United States Forest Service purchased 31,000 acres of land in Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin and Union Counties from the Gennett family in 1911 for $7.00 per acre. This land was the beginning of what would become the Chattahoochee National Forest. The initial land purchases became a part of the Cherokee National Forest on June 14, 1920.

Ranger Roscoe Nicholson, who was the first forest ranger in Georgia and had advised the Forest Serive in its initial land purchases, continued the growth of the Chattahooche by negotiating the purchase of most of the Forest Service land in what is now the Tallulah Ranger District. The Coleman River Scenic Area near Clayton, Georgia was dedicated to Ranger "Nick", as he was called, in honor of his promotion of conservation ideals.

Ranger Arthur Woody also promoted conservation and was a key figure in the early development of the Chattahoochee. Unwise land and resource use had caused the deer and trout populations to virtually disappear in the North Georgia mountains and Woody brought trout and deer back to the area. The trout were shipped to Gainesville, hauled across the narrow, dirt, mountain roads and eventually released in the streams. Woody also purchased fawns with his own money, and fed them until they could be released on what became the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area. Many landmarks in the Chattoochee bear Ranger Woody’s name in tribute to his work. Sosebee Cove, a 175-acre tract of prize hardwood along GA 180 is set aside as a memorial to Woody who negotiated its purchase for the Forest Service.

On July 9, 1936, the Forest Service was reorganized to follow state boundaries and President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the Chattahoochee a separate National Forest. In 1936, the Chattahoochee was organized into two Ranger Districts, the Blue Ridge and the Tallulah. In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed 96,000 acres of federal lands in middle Georgia as the Oconee National Forest. The Oconee then joined the Chattahoochee to become the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests of today. The Chattooga River was designated a Wild and Scenic River during the 1970s. The Chattoga reamins one of the few free flowing streams in the Southeast and is known for its white water rafting and beautiful scenery. The movie "Deliverance" starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight was filmed on the Chattooga River and the Chattooga became the fictional Cahulawassee River in the movie.

The Chattahooche National Forest Today The Chattahoochee National Forest today covers 18 north Georgia counties. The Chattahoochee has six ranger districts and employs several hundred people. It includes over 2,200 miles of rivers and streams (including about1,367 miles of trout streams). There are over 450 miles of hiking trails and 1,600 miles of "roads." In addition to the Chattoga River and the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River, natural attractions within it boundaries include the beginning of the 2,174-mile (3,500-km) Appalachian Trail, Georgia's highpoint, Brasstown Bald and Anna Ruby Falls. The Chattahoochee also includes ten wildernesses that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. all of which are managed by the United States Forest Service. The wildernesses are:


  • Big Frog Wilderness
  • Blood Mountain Wilderness
  • Brasstown Wilderness
  • Cohutta Wilderness
  • Ellicott Rock Wilderness
  • Mark Trail Wilderness
  • Raven Cliffs Wilderness
  • Rich Mountain Wilderness
  • Southern Nantahala Wilderness
  • Tray Mountain Wilderness

Georgia Counties with Land in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
Listed below are the counties with land in the Forest showing the number of acres and the relevant ranger districts.



Chattahoochee National Forest

  • Banks County - 650 acres located in the Chattooga Ranger District
  • Catoosa County - 6 acres located in the Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District
  • Chattooga County - 19,390 acres located in the Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District
  • Dawson County - 6,760 acres located in the Toccoa Ranger District
  • Fannin County - 106,130 acres located in the Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District and the Toccoa Ranger District
  • Floyd County - 6,620 acres located in the Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District
  • Gilmer County - 55,074 acres located in the Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District and the Toccoa Ranger District
  • Gordon County - 8,076 acres located in the Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District
  • Habersham County - 39,874 acres located in the Chattooga Ranger District
  • Lumpkin County - 56,982 acres located in the Brasstown Ranger District, the Chattooga Ranger District and the Toccoa Ranger District
  • Murray County - 51,696 acres located in the Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District
  • Rabun County - 148,684 acres located in the Tallulah Ranger District
  • Stephens County - 23,304 acres located in the Chattooga Ranger District
  • Towns County - 57,538 acres located in the Brasstown Ranger District, the Chattooga Ranger District and the Tallulah Ranger District
  • Union County - 97,839 acres
  • located in the Brasstown Ranger District, the Chattooga Ranger District and the Toccoa Ranger District
  • Walker County - 18,844 acres located in the Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District
  • White County - 41,316 acres located in the Chattooga Ranger District
  • Murray County - 11,719 acres located in the Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District

Oconee National Forest

  • Greene County - 26,659 acres located in the Oconee Ranger District
  • Jasper County - 30,312 acres located in the Oconee Ranger District
  • Jones County - 16,461 acres located in the Oconee Ranger District
  • Morgan County - 308 acres located in the Oconee Ranger District
  • Oconee County - 157 acres located in the Oconee Ranger District
  • Oglethorpe County - 3,762 acres located in the Oconee Ranger District
  • Putnam County - 37,443 acres located in the Oconee Ranger District
  • Monroe County - 251 acres located in the Oconee Ranger District

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