File Photo In this file photo, kayakers paddle down the Chattahoochee River near the Highway 20 bridge. The U.S. Department of the Interior chooses Georgia river as first national water trail, as part of a new program aimed at restoring waterways.
DULUTH -- Atlanta's Chattahoochee River was named the first national water trail, as part of a new U.S. Department of the Interior program.
The 48-mile river, which acts as one of Gwinnett's borders, is surrounded by national, state and local parks, which represents 65 percent of the greenspace in metro Atlanta. It is a popular fishing, canoeing, rafting and kayaking location.
"Rivers, lakes, and other waterways are the lifeblood of our communities, connecting us to our environment, our culture, our economy, and our way of life," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, announcing the honor Thursday. "The new National Water Trail System will help fulfill President Obama's vision for healthy and accessible rivers as we work to restore and conserve our nation's treasured waterways."
On the river, he added, "The Chattahoochee River Water Trail provides clean water, greenspace, and river access for millions of Americans every year. As our nation opens a new chapter on rivers -- one where we value our waterways for their recreational, economic and ecological importance -- it is fitting that the Chattahoochee River Water Trail leads the way."
The water trail system is a class of national recreational trails, set under the National Trails System Act of 1968. Salzar said he hoped the designation of water trails will help facilitate outdoor recreation on waterways in and around urban areas, as well as provide national resources.
"The Corps will actively participate, working with many local partners, to develop the water trails system and connect people to the water resources close to their homes," said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. "The National Water Trails System will recognize and promote local efforts at a national level."
The announcement of the new water trail system comes a day before the White House Conference on Conservation, where leaders will talk about efforts that are par tof Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, a press release said.
For more about the National Trails System, go to nps.gov/nts/.