Weeks Act History: National Forests of Georgia
Date Forests Were Established
In 1911, the Forest Service bought 8,456 acres for a price of 7 dollars per acre. These were the first lands acquired under the authority of the Weeks Act in north Georgia. These earliest national forest lands were managed as part of the Cherokee National Forest. On July 9, 1936, these lands became part of the newly established Chattahoochee National Forest.
Later, in 1935, the Weeks Act again provided the authority for the Forest Service to acquire 18,013 acres in the Piedmont of Georgia. At this time, it was not part of the young and growing national forest system in the eastern United States. In the years that followed, more land was acquired under the Weeks Act and other authorities. In 1959, President Eisenhower issued the proclamation to establish the Oconee National Forest from 96,000 acres of federal lands in middle Georgia.
At the end of 2010, the Chattahoochee National Forest contained 750,611 acres and the Oconee National Forest included 116,292 acres for a total of 866,903 acres in federal ownership.
Significant Watersheds Protected by Weeks Act Purchases
The Chattahoochee, Chattooga, Conasauga, and Etowah Rivers are just several of the large watersheds in north Georgia that have enjoyed protection as a result of their acquisition though the authority of the Weeks Act. The Oconee, Ocmulgee, and Little Rivers are three noteworthy river systems located in middle Georgia on the Oconee National Forest. These lands provide clean water for the millions of people who live in and around them.
Special Forest Features
Georgia’s two National Forests are located in between and near Atlanta, Macon, Athens, and Augusta. These are four of the State’s largest cities. The lands contained within these two National Forests are heavily used and provide unexcelled outdoor recreational opportunities to Georgia residents and visitors from other places. There are ten wilderness areas located within these national forests. The Chattooga River is only one of two wild and scenic rivers in the southern region and provided the setting in which the movie Deliverance was filmed. The southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is located within the Chattahoochee National Forest. There is also much historical significance associated with these two National Forests given events such as the famous Georgia gold rush of the early 1800s and the Civil War which was fought both in northern and central Georgia.