Camping Limited to 14 Days on Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Release Date: 

Contact(s): Steven Bekkerus, 770-297-3043


U.S. Forest Service managers on the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests issued a Forest Order to limit the number of days camping is permitted on these public lands. The Order provides for public safety and the protection of natural resources by prohibiting long term occupancy of the only National Forest within the State of Georgia.

Prohibiting camping in excess of 14 days within any 30-day time period will ensure that campsites are vacated and available at least every 14 days, to provide for use and enjoyment by as many members of the public as possible. Prior to this Forest Order, some visitors extend their stay on the national forest by relocating to a nearby area, only to rotate and return to prior occupied sites, in effect becoming semi-permanent occupants on public national forest system lands. 

National forests and grasslands are ours to enjoy now. We want them to be enjoyed for future generations as well. So is it up to all of us to care of these natural resources. This means we can all enjoy the recreational activities of our choosing, but do it responsibly.

The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is experiencing record visitation levels as it serves as a premier destination for more than 3 million people every year.

"Now more than ever, our favorite outdoor spaces are playing an important role in our lives," said Nick Baggett, recreation program manager for the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. "Together, we can continue to keep the national forest a safe place to be enjoyed today and for future generations as well."

While developed campgrounds and recreation sites can be impacted by overuse, increased public use of the national forest includes people seeking dispersed camping locations that do not provide restrooms, trash services or drinking water found at developed campgrounds. Overuse of dispersed camping locations more often results in impacts to the landscape from litter, human waste, and soil erosion into waterways. These areas also experience an increased level of illicit activities that threaten public safety and interfere with the enjoyment of these public lands by all visitors.

This Order is needed to ensure that natural resources are protected. Areas that are occupied for extended periods of time have experienced excessive soil compaction, erosion, and removal of vegetation and ground cover within riparian zones, which adversely impacts water quality and streams that serve as critical habitat for numerous sensitive or endangered wildlife and plant species.

LNT campsite

Creating new campsites kills vegetation and leads to soil erosion. If possible, use an existing site, or pick a site where vegetation is absent.

Effective March 14, 2022, forest-wide closure order number CO-08-03-00-22 shall be enforced:

"Camping or maintaining a campsite in developed and dispersed areas in excess of 14 days within any 30-day time period. After the camper(s) has accumulated 14 days within any 30-day time period, the camper(s) must leave that area/campground and move from CONF land before returning for another stay. 36 CFR Section 261.58(a)."

Today's decision supersedes item 10 in General Forest Order No. CO-13-36 that required campers to relocate every 14 days at least 1-mile away, but allowed continued occupancy on public land.

For more information about volunteer opportunities, or the status of roads, trails and campgrounds, visit the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/conf or follow the Forest on Facebook and Twitter @ChattOconeeNF. While the office is not open to visitors at this time, services are being provided virtually, and staff are available to assist during business hours.

Please visit the Recreation Condition Report to learn status for developed recreation sites: www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/conf/recreation