The Lower Chauga

After the Deadman in the Darkroom gig at the 2008 Gauley Fest, I was approached, by an old friend of mine, to help in producing a short film. The goal of this project was to aid in acquiring funds to purchase a two mile stretch banking the Lower Chauga in the upstate of South Carolina. These two miles are located within the runout of the often paddled class IV Chauga section. This acquisition would connect to the present Chau Ram Park trail system and give the general public access to a greater portion of this wilderness. Due to the recession in America’s economy the State of South Carolina cut all funding from the Preservation Department and the project never got off the ground.
After the Deadman in the Darkroom gig at the 2008 Gauley Fest, I was approached, by an old friend of mine, to help in producing a short film. The goal of this project was to aid in acquiring funds to purchase a two mile stretch banking the Lower Chauga in the upstate of South Carolina.  These two miles are located within the runout of the often paddled class IV Chauga section.  This acquisition would connect to the present Chau Ram Park trail system and give the general public access to a greater portion of this wilderness.  Due to the recession in America’s economy the State of South Carolina cut all funding from the Preservation Department and the project never got off the ground.

Lower Chauga from From the Darkroom on Vimeo.

lc_bedrock.jpgCurrently, the Chauga river is not a part of the National Wild and Scenic River System and is now under reconsideration by the National Forest Service.  In 1985, the agency found the river eligible but, decided without any explanation, not to make a positive recommendation to Congress (The Chauga has already been classified by the State of South Carolina as an “Outstanding Water Resource”).  It will be a tough battle for the Chauga to win.  Most awards are given out in comparison to its regional counter parts, being in this case the Chattooga and Horsepasture Rivers.

Despite the close proximity of the Chattooga and Chauga watersheds the bedrock differs geologically.  The Brevard Fault is the most complex fault in the entire Appalachian Chain.  It runs from Alabama to Virgina and crosses South Carolina right along the Chauga River.  Because of this unique geology and the sub-Blue Ridge elevations (1000 to 1500 feet) allow for a distinct assemblage of plant communities, described as ‘Chauga Flora,” not found any where else in the state of South Carolina.

The Chauga’s water temperatures are just a degree or two too high to support reproduction but the stocking program makes it one of the few places one can fish for trout in South Carolina.  The S.C. Department of Natural Resources stocks the Chauga with 40,000 catchable Rainbow Trout per year and uses helicopters to stock 20,000 sub-adult Brown Trout in remote stretches of the River.  The protection of the Chauga’s water quality is of the upmost importance not only for its inhabitants but also for the residents of Westminister and Oconee County.  These communities heavily depend on the Chauga as their main drinking source.

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After learning of the Chauaga’s  unique beauty and experiencing it I was very disappointed with the news of the project’s termination.  I then shifted my focus from creating a promotional piece to a piece of activism.  There are certain direct negative impacts, by man, witnessed during my documentation of the Lower Chauga.  These findings were omitted from the first edit.  This decision was out of my hands, due to local politics, and I will leave it at that.

I guess the theme of this short, “is not being afraid to speak up about what you believe in” (Ashton of Bassnectar).  The war in preserving our natural river systems against pollution, disturbance, mis-managament, and hyrdo electric power is overwhelming to an individual.  I encourage people to look locally, to open yours eyes and ears, and to act in raising awareness.  To report illegal acts, contact the local county offices, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Stormwater Authority.

-Windham

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The music in this film is only a small sample of the full tracks from artists.  You can stream the full tracks and purchase them on Hello Sir Records
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Artist: Maserati   Track: Ambassador of Cinema   Album: The Language of Cities
Artist: Maserati   Track: A Common Interest in Silence   Album: The Language of Cities
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Artist: A. Armada   Track: If Only You Knew What the Lost Soldiers Did to Me   Album: Anam Cara
1 comment
  1. Hey guys,

    I really enjoyed this video alot. This section of river has special significance for me because I pretty much learned to paddle there. I spent many a day hiking back up for another lap with the guy who taught me to paddle. I was really cool to see that someone else takes notice of this beautiful little piece of river. It dissapoints me alot to see all the funding was cut for project like this, maybe things will look up in the future. If there is anything I can do to help shoot me an e-mail. Good lines.
    Peace,
    Mac

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