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AW's Stewardship Program

River Stewardship is an integrated approach to the mission and program work of American Whitewater. Our stewardship program is made possible through on-going membership support.

  • Stewardship is an umbrella that covers the major project areas of AW.
  • Stewardship is the process for an integrated approach to AW mission work.
  • Stewardship includes an educational approach and tools for turning recreational users into conservation advocates.
  • Stewardship builds partnerships with land management agencies.
  • Stewardship enhances the public perception of boaters.

AW's stewardship program is managed by a National Stewardship Director who coordinates efforts between regional coordinators, volunteers, board members, and other staff members including our regional directors in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, California and the Northeast. Our Stewardship Team is in place to lead, train and support community-based activism representing the interests of boaters and the rivers we care for.

Our River Stewardship Team remains focused on our mission, “To conserve and restore America’s whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.” Staying true to our mission, we will continue to integrate our most valuable asset, AW member volunteers, into the issues at hand.


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Stewardship News

AW and NPS Co-Host Access Meetings in Harpers Ferry (WV/MD/VA)

posted January 26, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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Earlier this month American Whitewater and the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program (RTCA) hosted a series of meetings and site visits in the Harper's Ferry, WV area.  We met with roughly 35 interested groups and individuals, including 18 leaders from the paddling community, and visited over 20 river access sites.  The meetings kicked off a collaborative effort to create and implement a river access Plan for the Harper's Ferry area, and were highly successful.  

Bill Restricting Access to Washington's Rivers Introduced

posted January 24, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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The legislative session is underway in Washington State and earlier this week we were shocked to learn of a bill that would severely limit access to the state's rivers and shorelines. Specifically the bill would prohibit water access on small parcels of public land that do not provide formal parking.

Opportunity to Determine Future of Punch Bowl Falls on the Hood River (OR)

posted January 22, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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Punch Bowl Falls is one of Oregon’s iconic scenic and recreational sites on the Hood River in the Columbia Gorge. At the confluence of the east and west forks of the Hood River, the site has been privately owned and its future remains to be determined. Our goal is to see the site become a public park and we encourage the boating community to join that discussion.

Take Action: Protect Wild and Scenic Illinois and NF Smith Headwaters (CA/OR)

posted December 18, 2014
by Megan Hooker
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Mining companies are actively pursuing proposals to strip-mine in Southwest Oregon watersheds, threatening Rough & Ready, Baldface and Hunter Creeks and the Wild and Scenic Illinois and North Fork Smith Rivers. One of the surest ways to protect the wild rivers of Southwest Oregon is through a mineral withdrawal, which would prevent future mining activities on these public lands. You can help protect these whitewater gems by contacting your Congressional Representatives today!  

Holtwood Whitewater Park to Open in 2015 (PA)

posted December 15, 2014
by Kevin Colburn
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Anticipation was running high for the first public dam releases on the newly constructed Holtwood Whitewater Park this fall, however the final round of testing in early October revealed more work was needed before opening the park. Testing and modifications are ongoing, and we'll release a schedule of releases early next year.  The good news is that the waves are going to be incredible.

Congress Passes River Conservation Bills

posted December 13, 2014
by Kevin Colburn
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In the final days of the 113th Congress, several river conservation measures have been passed designating significant new Wilderness Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers in areas vitally important to the paddling community.

Comment Opportunity on the Green River Gamelands Plan (NC)

posted December 12, 2014
by Kevin Colburn
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The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has released their draft management plan for the Green River Gamelands in North Carolina.  This plan addresses all uses and activities in the iconic Green River Narrows, as well as the Class III+ Upper Green and the Class II Lower Green. This place and this plan are important to many paddlers in the southeast and across the globe.  You can review the plan, and send in a comment by January 16th, 2015.

Mining Co. Appeals Water Right Decision–NF Smith Watershed (CA/OR)

posted December 10, 2014
by Megan Hooker
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Red Flat Nickel Corp is continuing its push to mine near Baldface Creek in the headwaters of the Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith River. Last summer, the Oregon Water Resources Department denied Red Flat's application for a water right, and the company recently filed a petition for reconsideration in response. Read on for a press release with more information. American Whitewater will continue to work to protect the headwaters of the Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith. Stay tuned for ways that you can help. 

National Park Service Proposes to Raise Entrance Fees Across the Country

posted December 2, 2014
by Thomas O'Keefe
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Currently several National Parks across the country are considering increased fees for park entry and wilderness permits. A number of National Parks provide whitewater paddling and we want to make sure our community is aware of the opportunity to provide comment on these proposals.

American Whitewater Supports Clean Water Protection Rule

posted November 13, 2014
by Megan Hooker
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Through Outdoor Alliance, American Whitewater joined today with the Outdoor Industry Association to support the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers' proposed Clean Water Protection rule. The rule clarifies Clean Water Act protections for rivers and streams that offer world-class recreation opportunities that improve the quality of life and provide the economic foundation for countless communities. "It's important to American Whitewater's membership that these headwater streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act," said Kevin Colburn, National Stewardship Director.

Hydropower Project Proposed for Talkeetna (AK)

posted October 7, 2014
by Thomas O'Keefe
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Northwest Power Services recently filed a preliminary permit application to construct a hydropower project on the Talkeetna River. The Talkeetna is known to many as Alaska's best backcountry whitewater trip. The developer proposes to construct a 2300 feet long and 370 feet high dam located in a scenic canyon just downstream of the confluence of Disappointment Creek. A public comment period is now open for this project.

Mining Water Right Denied–NF Smith Headwaters (CA/OR)

posted September 30, 2014
by Megan Hooker
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The Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) has denied Red Flat Mining Corporation's application for a water right for exploratory mining activities in the headwaters of Baldface Creek and the Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith River! The international mining company seeks to develop a nickel strip mine in the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area, which is one of the most remote and expansive backcountry areas in Southern Oregon. This is an important victory in the effort to protect the crystal clear waters of Southern Oregon, however our work is far from over.

Gauley River (WV) Open Letter to Boaters 2014

posted August 15, 2014
by Mark Singleton
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Gauley season is just around the corner and in preparation for fall releases American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area informing boaters of planning efforts for this season.

April Volunteer of the Month Presented by Kokatat

posted April 1, 2014
by Mark Singleton
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American Whitewater is pleased to announce our April Volunteer of the Month, Jess Whittemore. For his leadership in securing additional boater access at the Upper Yough (MD) takeout Jess will be receiving a custom Kokatat Woolcore Shirt!

Yosemite Releases Tuolumne River Plan

posted March 21, 2014
by Megan Hooker
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On Friday, March 14th, Yosemite National Park released their Final Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Final Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, announcing that boaters will have the opportunity to enjoy the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne by kayak on a trial basis. While we’re pleased that the Park has placed boating on equal footing for this reach, we're disappointed that the plan continues to prohibit boating on the rest of the river.

Avoiding Collisions on the Gauley River

posted September 21, 2010
by Charlie Walbridge
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River outfitters and American Whitewater joined together decades ago to protect the Gauley River from hydro development. The success of these business enterprises were one of the key reasons that the river was protected as a National Recreation Area. But with success has come new challenges. Professional guides find the number of kayakers on the Upper Gauley overwhelming at times and kayakers also find the number of rafts intimidating.  Regardless of any “right of way”, it’s everyone’s job to avoid crashes! Here’s what you can do to avoid collisions with commercial rafts. 

Ausable Study Finally Released (NY)

posted April 11, 2007
by Kevin Colburn
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The report on paddling access to the Ausable River has finally been issued: late, incomplete, biased, and erroneous.  All of the data in the study support year round paddling access, and the data is generally accurate and defensible.  The dam owner, New York State Electric and Gas, has maintained its position however that no access should be allowed to the beautiful Class IV river.  It is now up to FERC, and AW and KCCNY will be filing comments this week  requesting year round access.   

Team completes First legal upper Chattooga descent in 30 years

posted January 9, 2007
by Kevin Colburn
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January 5th and 6th of 2007 marked the first legal descent of the upper Wild and Scenic Chattooga River in over 30 years. A team of kayakers and canoeists took two days to explore the river, traversing countless rapids and small waterfalls as they traveled through a remote and beautiful valley. What they found echoed the findings of the very first exploratory paddling trips made over three decades ago, which inspired the US Congress to designate the Chattooga as a Wild and Scenic River in 1974. Their photos and stories reveal a forbidden national treasure.

AW Partners with BLM on New River Database

posted September 28, 2006
by Kevin Colburn
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The Bureau of Land Management recently announced the completion of the National BLM River Database.  The database is a product of a successful partnership between American Whitewater (AW), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the River Management Society (RMS), and is now available online.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Get More Water (CO)

posted September 19, 2006
by Kevin Colburn
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Trout Unlimited and Western Resource Advocates recently won a court victory overthrowing an agreement between the US Department of Interior and the state of Colorado.  The agreement would have allowed all flows over 300 cfs removed from the river for various out of channel uses.  The judge found the agreement to be arbitrary, capricious, nonsensical, and illegal.

Future of Hells Canyon Up For Debate

posted September 14, 2006
by Kevin Colburn
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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is accepting written public comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement it prepared as part of the relicensing process for the 3-dam complex on the Snake River, on the Oregon-Idaho border.  These dams and upstream land management severely impact the once great Snake River in many ways, including impacts to the incredible class IV Hells Canyon reach immediately downstream.

Twelvemile River Dams Likely to be Removed (SC)

posted February 15, 2006
by Kevin Colburn
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A settlement was recently signed that if approved will lead to the removal of two dams on the Twelvemile River as early as this year.  The settlement also provides funding that could lead to the removal of a third dam on Twelvemile.  AW Regional Coordinator Kevin Miller was directly involved in this issue and many paddlers weighed in to support dam removal.  Additional comments are now needed for support. 

Stewardship director
Dave Steindorf
4 Baroni Drive
Chico, CA 95928
Phone: 530-343-1871