AW’s strong conservation and access program was recently refocused and transformed into River Stewardship, an integrated approach to the mission work of our organization. In addition, stewardship recognizes that we have an ongoing commitment to the resources we work to protect and restore.
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, and California. 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.
Dates for the New River Dries Paddling Flow Study have been tentatively set for May 6 and 7, 2014. River flow and other factors could result in rescheduling, with a final determination made several days prior to the study. Volunteer paddlers with suitable (Class IV) skills are encouraged to participate in the study, and to RSVP.
American Whitewater congratulates Friends of the Cheat as it celebrates its 20th anniversary at the annual Cheat River Festival on May 3rd. The organization, founded by a group of whitewater paddlers and local residents, has been a driving force in the river’s rapidly improving water quality. The river, which was badly polluted when the group was founded, recently passed a significant milestone: the lower 26 miles of the Cheat River main were removed from the state’s list of acid-impaired waters in 2012! In addition, FOC maintains four paddling access areas on the Cheat and Big Sandy Rivers. American Whitewater worked closely with FOC in developing these sites. For more information on this year's CheatFest use this link: http://www.cheat.org/our-work/cheat-river-festival/.
Thanks to the tireless work of The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund over 3,800 acres of the Cheat River Canyon were recently protected. The acquisition covers a 7 mile stretch of the Cheat River between Albright and the high bridge at Jenkinsburg, the famous “Cheat Canyon” whitewater run. Great news for the Cheat!
2014 marks the second year of restored paddling opportunities on the West Fork of the Tuckasegee. The first of 7 releases this year will be on April 19 and 20, and we would like to share some important facts and lessons we’ve learned about the river to help paddlers know what to expect. First and foremost, be aware that this run requires Class IV/V skills and a commitment consistent with wilderness rivers given the remote nature of the gorge and private property.
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!
Paddlers that run the New River Dries (WV) between now and July 31, 2014 are encouraged to fill out a flow study survey after each day on the water. Submitting surveys will add important data to the Extended Whitewater Evaluation Study and will greatly help American Whitewater and others negotiate improved flows for the New River Dries.
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.
American Whitewater would like to commend the Shoshone National Forest for expanding their roster of rivers protected as “eligible” for Wild and Scenic designation under their new Forest Plan. American Whitewater participated in their forest planning process and offered evidence and recommendations for several new eligible streams. All told over 82 miles of spectacular rivers receive new protections under the new plan.
Earlier today, Yosemite National Park released their Merced Wild and Scenic Final Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. The new plan places paddling on equal footing with other activities in the Park, and we're very pleased to announce that the Park Service has improved and enhanced opportunities to enjoy Yosemite via kayak, canoe and raft.
The River Paddling Protection Act, introduced by Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), passed the US House of Representatives on Thursday and now moves to the Senate for consideration. The bill grants the National Park Service three years to replace 60 year-old paddling prohibitions in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks with modern science-based management. Doing so would allow Americans to experience these iconic landscapes through non-commercial paddling in a low impact, sustainable, and carefully managed manner.
American Whitewater offered testimony on several so-called "low-impact hydro" measures before the Vermont House Committee on Fish, Wildlife & Water Resources. In reality, all hydropower has an impact on rivers, and even small hydropower projects can have significant adverse impacts. AW encouraged the Committee to require state agencies to seek out and consider input from stakeholder groups like American Whitewater before deciding whether to support projects.
American Whitewater and Vermont Paddling Club have filed a Motion to Intervene in hydropower relicensing application filed by Morrisville Water & Light for the Green River dam. We are asking FERC to require the utility to provide 8-10 annual releases on this scenic and challenging run in northern Vermont. While MWL has agreed to provide two scheduled annual releases, we are seeking additional boating opportunities through the relicensing process.
After more than three years of waiting the access to the Powerhouse run on the Snoqualmie River is now open for public use. While this is a short run of less than a mile, it is a popular and important section of river less than 30 miles from Seattle.
The first three weekends of November in the southeast are scheduled Tallulah releases, a stapel of dixi boating. Here are a couple quick reminders for Tallulah releases.
Earlier this week the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Forterra announced the purchase of 50,272 acres along the Teanaway River and its three forks to be designated as the Teanaway Community Forest. Of importance to the whitewater paddling community, this acquisition will protect riverside lands, maintain water in the river, and keep the river open and accessible to the public.
Eighteen months ago whitewater paddlers raised over $20,000 for off-road parking in Friendsville, Maryland. This small riverside town sees a large influx of paddlers running the Upper Youghiogheny on summer weekends. Work continues despite unexpected challenges that have greatly increased costs, but the town remains committed to the project. Click through to get the latest details:
While paddling the Elwha River is a fascinating way to experience restoration and recovery of a free-flowing river in action, it's not the only way to get a first-hand look at one of the nation's most ambitious and fascinating restoration projects.
Legislative momentum continues to build for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (S. 112, H. R. 361). Following passage of the bill by unanimous consent in the Senate, the House formally took up the legislation with a hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee.
The Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board issued an order directing the Department of Ecology to do an aesthetic flow study if Okanogan PUD decides to build its economically troubled Enloe Dam project on the Similkameen River in Washington State. Of significance to the paddling community, the Order recognizes the critical importance of considering impacts to aesthetics and recreation in decisions that impact water quality.
A new economic study of the controversial Sunset Falls Dam on Washington’s South Fork of the Skykomish River, reveals the power generated at the proposed site would cost 2.3 times more than the Snohomish County Public Utility District (SnoPUD) estimates.
American Whitewater releases the 2012 Annual Report. Your membership support allows American Whitewater’s river stewardship staff to work on important projects in their respective regions. Our team consists of professional staff supported by board members and volunteers from communities across the country.
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.
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.
A cornerstone of our outreach and education program designed to empower our volunteers is our Stewardship Toolkit, an on-line resource built on a decade of AW institutional knowledge in conservation, access, and safety issues. Each link below is a chapter containing a wealth of information. These topics are constantly being updated and we invite additional contributions.
6) River Access
Navigability Law Primer
State Navigability Law
State Liability Law
Paddling in National Parks
Private Land Closures
Barbed Wire / Obstructions
Protecting a Streamgage
8) River Safety