Proposed ordinance limiting alcohol on the Cartecay River

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Proposed ordinance limiting alcohol on the Cartecay River.

Boaters are limited to a single one liter or smaller plastic or metal container per person between Lower Cartecay Road and Mulkey Road. Coolers and glass containers are forbidden.

Commercial Outfitters utilizing the Mulkey Road access point must comply with the following:

  • Must obtain a $250 annual non-transferrable Commercial Outfitters Permit after having demonstrated compliance with the following items:

    • Must obtain a Gilmer County Business License

    • Must obtain a $1,000,000 liability policy which names Gilmer County, its officials, agents, employees as additional insured

    • Must limit the number of passengers on any vehicle to 14 + 1 driver unless the vehicle is designed for more passengers and the operator has a current CDL permitting him or her to transport more than 14 passengers

    • Provide evidence that applicable sales tax has been/will be collected, credited to Gilmer County, and transmitted timely on all rental customers

  • Once the Commercial Outfitters Permit is received, the Outfitters will collect a usage fee of $1.00 per customer, which will be submitted by the tenth of the month for the preceding month’s customers to Gilmer County general revenue fund during the months of operation. Failure to report all customers is grounds for immediate suspension of the Permit for two weeks. Successive violations will result in suspension of the Permit for four weeks.

  • Inflatable crafts available for rental must be constructed of a tough rubberized fabric, or its equivalent capable of daily abrasion and abuse of a class III river and contain at least three separate inflatable compartmentsi (no “tubes”)

  • All Commercial Boating customers must wear a class III personal floatation device and appropriate footwear at all times when on the river.

  • If the Commercial Outfitter provides guided trips, the following requirements also apply:

    • All guides must be certified instructors through the American Whitewater program or its equivalent

    • All guides must be certified in CPR and First Aid

    • A first aid kit with the following items must be carried for each four boats in a commercially guided outing (List to be inserted here)

  • i The requirement for multiple air chambers and tough rubberized material suitable for Class II-III rivers would eliminate commercial tubing in its present form on the section between Lower Cartecay Road and Mulkey Road. I believe this is the best course of action for a number of reasons:According to property owners and low enforcement officials, the overwhelming majority of negative encounters with property owners have been with commercial tubers, not private boaters.

  • Tubers often do not use life jackets

  • Tubers do not use paddles, leaving their hands free for other things, which, more often than not, include alcohol and drug use.

  • Tubes only have one air chamber. Coupled with the fact that tubers have not been required to use life jackets, this means that a leaking tube leaves the individual with no floatation. This does happen with some regularity.

  • The Cartecay is a free flowing river, which means that the water level fluctuates very quickly, sometimes with no warning if a cloud burst occurs upstream. While the Cartecay is somewhat tame at a water level of 1.2-1.8 feet, it takes on another character above 2 feet, and becomes downright mean above 3 feet. Above 2.5 feet, several strong hydraulics develop and the current becomes continuous, with no calm pools in which to recover. The following graph shows the rapid rise of the river during an autumn rain event. The rains which produced this rapid rise in the water level were more of the “slow and steady” variety, not torrential downpours like those associated with thunderstorms. These cloudbursts cause the river to rise even more quickly than what is depicted here. In the two plus hours it takes to tube the section between Lower Cartecay Road and the Mulkey takeout, the Cartecay can be transformed from a fun, mellow float to a terrifying and dangerous river. This situation, coupled with single air chamber tubes and no life vests can have tragic results.

  • The elimination of commercial tubing from the Lower Cartecay road to Mulkey Road Section would reduce the sheer volume of folks on the river, easing the tension with property owners and freeing up the Mulkey takeout for shared use between private boaters and commercial outfitters. This shared takeout scenario worked for years before the addition of commercial tubing.

  • There are several other sections of the Cartecay, Ellijay, and the Toccoa River which are absolutely appropriate for commercial tubing. The outfitters operating between Lower Cartecay Road and Mulkey road would not be able to rent tubes, but the types of river craft allowed under the proposed regulations will command a higher rental rate for fewer customers. The outfitters have the option of conducting tubing operations on other sections of the Cartecay under this proposal.

In August of this year, a young man was life-flighted out of the Mulkey Road area after breaking four vertebrae in his neck after diving into the rapid at Stegall Falls. The young man was a tubing customer and had reportedly consumed a good quantity of rum and beer coming down the river. As of two weeks ago, the young man was still in the Shepherd Spinal Clinic with no sensation below the waist and limited use of his hands. It is amazing we have not had more incidents like this considering the amount of partying that goes on among the tubers on the Cartecay. The Cartecay River between Lower Cartecay Road and the confluence of Clear Creek is an appropriate river for boaters who have the equipment, training, and experience to deal with its Class II-III+ rapids. I do not believe the same can be said for tubers for much of the year. Over the years, I have personally witnessed several instances of dangerous, irresponsible behavior by inebriated tubers on the river. The lack of proper respect for the hazards of the river coupled with the intake of alcohol and drugs can have disastrous results.

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