Outdoor Safety & Ethics

As a visitor to the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, there are lots of ways be a good steward and to protect the Forest and the natural environment, to ensure the health and safety of visitors, and to promote pleasant and rewarding outdoor recreation experiences for all visitors. We ask that you follow certain rules and regulations designed to ensure your health and safety, to protect the Forest, and to promote pleasant outdoor experiences for everyone. 

Topics unique to this forest that you need to know before visiting:

  • National forests are a refuge for wild animals of all kinds, which makes recreational activities like hunting and wildlife viewing possible. Hunting is a seasonal activity. State regulations for seasons, dates and licensing apply on national forest land. Avoid wearing white or tan during deer and turkey season. Wear hunter orange or another highly visible color. Wondering where guns are allowed on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests? See our "Guide to Firearms Use."

  • Humans cause nearly nine out of ten wildfires. When you visit the forest, fire prevention is YOUR responsibility. Forest visitors are also reminded to ensure that all fires are extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving them. Learn more about campfire safety from Smokey Bear.

  • Fireworks are prohibited on Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests. Despite changes to Georgia's law regulating fireworks in 2015, the prohibition on national forest lands remains in place.  The possession or discharge of all types of fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices is prohibited on all national forest lands year-round, regardless of weather conditions or holidays.  Regulations are enforced, and violation is punishable as a misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment of not more than six months, or both.

  • When looters and vandals destroy archeological and historic sites, part of the Nation's heritage is lost forever. Sites on public lands are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and other statutes.‚Äč Be a Steward of the Past and:
    • Treat remains of past cultures with respect.
    • Tread lightly when visiting heritage sites.
    • Leave artifacts where you find them.
    • Photograph and enjoy rock art, but do not touch fragile surfaces.
    • Help preserve the past by volunteering your time and talents through programs like the Passport in Time program.

Outdoor Ethics

  • Leave No Trace

    Leave No Trace Button

    It's up to all of us to sustain healthy, vibrant natural lands for all people to enjoy, now and into the future. Every person who ventures outside can put Leave No Trace practices into action!

  • Tread Lightly!

    TreadLightly! Button

    Tread Lightly!'s core focus is on supporting and encouraging stewardship of America's lands and waterways.

Visitor Safety

There are many elements of nature that are not as hospitable as the people of the South. Many of these elements are unseen or unknown until the unthinkable happens.  Know Before You Go!

  • Weather Safety

    Weather Safety rain on roadway

    Weather in the Southern Region varies widely across the area, and can include everything from tornadoes to hurricanes to extreme winter weather conditions.

  • Water Safety

    Water Safety Family canoeing

    There are inherent risks associated with water recreation and outdoor sports. Know before you go to keep you and your family water safe!

  • Wildlife Safety

    A snake slithers across concrete.

    Snakes, Ticks, and Black Bears! Oh my!

  • Safety in the Woods

    Safety in the Woods hiking feet

    What should you do if you get lost? Or if you slip and fall? Check out the safety checklists for these potential emergency situations and more!

  • Safety Around Others

    Protect From Others Car Lock

    Protect yourself and your valuable before venturing out! Simple tips, and what to do ahead of time to keep yourself and your family safe can be found here.

  • Outdoor Ethics

    Outdoor Ethics footprints in sand

    We are all stewards of the environment. Make sure those who visit these special places after you have their own experiences!


Staying Safe on the Forest

Tips and advice for Staying Safe on the Forest

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Trail Safety

The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for the trip

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