The picturesque landscapes of the Tennessee Valley and the neighboring mountains in the Cherokee National Forest commonly make appearances on top 10 lists, but one site has landed on a top 10 of a different tone.
Goforth Creek Canyon, located east of Ocoee, Tenn., ranked at No. 7 on the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Top 10 Endangered Places, released today.
The annual list, now in its fifth installment, highlights areas in the southeastern U.S. that are set to see significant environmental threats this year and thus deserve immediate attention through public awareness and the SELC’s efforts.
The nonprofit organization has tasked itself with the protection of the southeastern region’s environment for the past 25 years.
Spread out over Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia-and working in the courtroom and in the fight for national and state legislation-SELC focuses on legal measures that defend the region’s natural resources and ecological systems.
Goforth Creek Canyon is a familiar campground for visitors to the Cherokee National Forest. The creek itself feeds into the Ocoee River at U.S. Highway 64 and marks a place where travelers can pull off the two-lane highway for picnicking or exploring further into the forest.
During high water season, Goforth Creek’s lower sections become a hotspot for kayakers with Class 5 rapids.
SELC singled out the Tennessee location because of a proposed roadway to connect Chattanooga and Asheville. Corridor K, a piece of a larger transportation plan that was first drafted in the 1960s, would cut directly across Goforth Creek Canyon, in addition to dumping oil, runoff and sulfuric acid from the rock formations into trout waters.
The organization is currently suggesting alternatives, such as making strategic improvements to U.S. Highway 64.
The Top 10 Endangered Places also included Talladega National Forest, Ala.; the metro Atlanta area’s water supply; Cape Fear Basin, N.C.; and the Virginia and Tennessee mountains.