A landmark legislative battle is playing out right now in the state of Utah regarding the rights
of paddlers to traverse the state's rivers. A 2008 court case clarified the public's right to
paddle and fish Utah rivers. In response, legislators have sought to pass new laws that
redefine the rights of the public. The fate of two competing bills will determine whether
paddlers will be able to continue enjoying Utah Rivers or not.
The Colorado legislature is considering House Bill 10-1188 (HB-1188), legislation that attempts to clarify Colorado’s river access laws. As written, HB-1188 is limited to commercial outfitters and sections of river that have been commercially rafted. AW continues to work to amend the bill to include private paddlers, and is neither supporting or opposing the bill at this time.
American Whitewater is pleased to announce that our Colorado Stewardship Program has been granted additional foundation support for it's work in the Dolores River basin. Funding for our Dolores River Project will enable AW to grow our advocacy role in the Dolores River basin, and engage our membership and affiliate networks to put to use the tools, resources, and partnerships available through our Stewardship Program.
Due to the current weather predictions, the US Army Corps of Engineers has cancelled the public meeting scheduled for Summit County (December 8). The meeting will be rescheduled for January 2010. Stay tuned for meeting anouncement.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has added a public hearing on the Moffat Collection Project. Date: December 8, 2009 Location: Keystone Conference Center (0633 Tennis Club Road, Keystone, CO, 80435) Time: Open House 4:00 pm; Public Hearing begins at 6:00 pm
Earlier this year Cody Erhart, a recent landscape architecture program graduate, produced images for American Whitewater depicting what Sullivan Creek (WA) might look like following the removal of Millpond Dam. We are pleased to share these images which are a blend of science and art aimed at facilitiating discussion about the future of Sullivan Creek.
Earlier this week FERC granted a permit that gives a private company sole rights to study and seek to develop a damaging hydropower project on Montana's famed Madison River. The project would pipe water from Quake Lake around the Class IV/V Slide section of whitewater to a new powerhouse downstream. American Whitewater and regional paddling clubs have opposed this project and will continue to do so.
If you want to obtain a permit to float the Selway, Snake, Middle Fork of the Salmon, or wild main Salmon Rivers in 2010, you need to know about changes coming in the Forest Service permit lottery and launch reservation system. The Four Rivers Lottery is going “green”, incorporating an entirely online system as part of our desire to go paperless.
Right now the State of Colorado is accepting input on a management proposal for unroaded backcountry areas on Forest Service land including lands along Los Pinos, Piedra, Hermosa Creek, Mad Creek, Saint Vrain River, Conejos River, Lime Creek, Upper Animas River, Cache la Poudre, Elk River, and the Taylor River. Even though Americans already decided to protect ALL roadless areas in the Forest System through a federal plan in 2001, a plan that has been upheld in recent court decisions, the state continues to push a plan that includes some troubling provisions that impact the backcountry experience our community enjoys.
Fifty years ago today a 7.3 magnitude earthquake triggered a massive rockslide that dammed Montana's Madison River and buried a Forest Service campground beneath 80 million tons of rock. Recently, a power company pitched a plan to divert water from the lake that was formed behind the slide to a powerhouse in the valley below, which would severely impact the river. American Whitewater, Beartooth Paddlers, and the Jackson Hole Kayak Club filed comments last week introducing legal, recreational, and ecological arguments against the project.
This is the classic Class V whitewater race on the Upper Colorado River that brings together the finest whitewater rafters, kayakers and paddlers of all types of river craft. As always the race is open to all boaters willing to take on some of the best Class V whitewater in the state of Colorado.
Spectators are welcome but remember: stay off the railway tracks!
The National Forest Service is currently in the process of implementing a new river management plan for the Wild and Scenic Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. The USFS proposes to maintain all exisiting designated roads but take steps to curtail off-road use that is damaging ecological and recreational values of the river corridor. Today, American Whitewater submitted a letter to the USFS in support of their proposed actions.
Earlier this year, the Idaho Legislature passed new legislation to provide funding for programs aimed at preventing the introduction of invasive aquatic species in Idaho. The new law requires boaters, both motorized vessels and non, to contribute to the Idaho Invasive Species Fund. For most paddlers, this means that you must purchase a $5 sticker for each boat you intend to paddle in Idaho each year, and stop at a boat inspection station each time you enter the state where an inspection station exists.
On June 18th the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new 50 year license for several dams on the Spokane River, near Spokane Washington and Post Falls Idaho. The license is based on several years of intense negotiations between the power company, tribes, agencies, and non-governmental organizations. Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, Northwest Whitewater Association, and American Whitewater were involved on behalf of paddlers. The results of the new license are significant, and paddlers will certainly notice some positive changes in the not too distant future.
American Whitewater is pleased to announce the 2009 release program for West Rosebud Creek, located in Montana's beautiful Beartooth Mountains. Paddlers should expect optimal boating conditions on weekends beginning sometime in early to mid July and these conditions will likely continue well into August. Read this article to learn how to predict flows, and enjoy West Rosebud safely!
Paddlers are reminded that based on nearly a decade of negotiations and study, Idaho's Bear River is finally benefiting from pulse flows that provide great Class IV and V boating as well as ecological benefits. There are currently two different types of releases: scheduled and flow-dependent. The dam owner has alerted us that flow-dependent releases are anticipated on both Saturday and Sunday of this weekend.
American Whitewater's Colorado Stewardship Director, Nathan Fey, talks with John Grace at LVM about the current state of water rights and whitewater in Colorado. Nathan goes on to explain what the threats are to one of the nation's most iconic rivers, and what we as whitewater enthusiasts can do to help. Not to mention you'll get to see some cool video of the Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park, the infamous Barrel Springs rapid in Glenwood Canyon of the Colorado and Gore Canyon too.
The US Army Corps of Engineers announced two additional meetings and an extension of the scoping comment period for the RWSP, also known as the Green River Pumpback. One of the proposed benefits of the RWSP, the largest water project in Colorado's history, is the mitigation of future pressure on the Upper Colorado River and the state's western slope rivers. With the recent ACOE announcement, western slope communities will have a chance to review and comment on the proposed project. The comment period has been extended until July 27, 2009 and two additional scoping meetings will be conducted in both Grand Junction and Craig, Colorado.
The 7th annual Goden Community Rodeo Series will kick off Wednesday, May 20th. The GCRS is a series of freestyle kayak competitions spread across four Wednesday evenings each summer. The event has become one of Colorado's premier opportunties to build commuity and business relationships between whitewater paddlers, spectators, the paddle sports industry and local businesses. American Whitewater is a happy to sponsor this years event.
Whitewater enthusiasts will descend onto the historic town of Buena Vista on the Upper Arkansas River May 22-25th, 2009 (Memorial Day Weekend) for a huge kickoff party to celebrate the start of the summer whitewater boating season. American Whitewater will be there again this year to give paddlers and river enthusiasts opportunities to learn about the issues facing Colorado’s iconic rivers, and what paddlers can do to protect and enjoy them.
We are excited to announce the 3rd annual South Platte River Cleanup on Sunday, April 26th in celebration of Earth Day in Denver, Colorado. This is an all volunteer event to pick up trash along the South Platte River and Bike Paths.
Last year, we saw over 200 rafters, kayakers, cyclists and pedestrians that successfully removed over 2 TONS of garbage from the river and bike path. This year we anticipate an even larger turnout. We have even more sponsors and prizes. This is a great way to give back to your community and take care of the river and bike path that wind through Denver.
Yesterday Montana Governor, Brian Schweitzer, signed into law a stream access bill that passed the Montana House and Senate with strong bipartisan support. The law recognizes that both rivers and roads are public highways and that the public can legally travel from one to the other. At the same time the law meets landowner interests of protecting their land and livestock through attaching access-friendly fences to county roads and bridges through the public easement.
Last week Senator Feingold (D-WI) reintroduced the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA), S. 787. This legislation will maintain the basic protection for rivers that we all appreciate and likely take for granted through restoring the reach of the Clean Water Act to headwater streams. We would like to thank Senator Feingold for looking out for one of our most basic human needs - clean water. Please call your Senator in the next week and voice your support.
Today, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Bill into law. This action officially designates 86 new Wild and Scenic Rivers and protects well over 350,000 acres of public lands. American Whitewater actively participated in the development of several of the individual Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River proposals that were part of the Omnibus Bill. We also advocated for the passage of the Omnibus Bill. This is truly a great day for rivers and wild places.
Green River, Wyoming - After much anticipation, the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) has announced the first set of public meetings on thecontroversial Regional Watershed Supply Project (RWSP)--also known as the Green River or Flaming Gorge Pumpback. The Project proposes to remove up to 250,000 acre-feet of water from the Green River at Flaming Gorge, sending it east through 500 miles of pipelines to Colorado's Front Range. The project also proposes two new reservoirs for Colorado's Front Range. The ACOE will be holding several meetings to describe the project, the NEPA process, and to solicit input on the issues and alternatives to be evaluated before permiting the RWSP.
The Idaho House of Representatives approved a bill yesterday that would require every boat on Idaho waters to bear an annually issued invasive species sticker. The stickers will cost $5 for each non-motorized boat and would be good for one year.The bill will immediately go to the Senate, where public input from the paddling community will immediately be essential.
Dolores River - Colorado
Here we are in mid-March
with the high elevation snow in the Dolores and San Miguel watersheds at about 106% of normal and
dropping daily. Therefore estimates for spring flows in the Lower
Dolores River below McPhee Reservoir are a little below normal. The first projections of this
years releases for the Lower Dolores are now available.
Utah House Bill 187, a recent bill that would have made it illegal to paddle all but a short list of rivers, was voted down last week in the Utah Legislature, reintroduced, and was voted down again. We would like to encourage continued participation in this important public debate and hopefully public access to public rivers can be protected.
The Utah state legislature is currently considering legislation that would radically limit the rights of the public to recreate on rivers and streams. River enthusiasts should call their representative in the Utah state House of Representatives to voice opposition to this bill as soon as possible.
Our nation's leaders are
currently considering the passage of a large economic stimulus package designed to put people to
work and stimulate the economy. All current versions of the package include significant
funding for construction and restoration projects on federal lands. American Whitewater has joined forces with other members of the Outdoor Alliance
to compile a list of infrastructure projects that are important to the active outdoor recreation
community. Please offer your suggestions through our easy online
In 2008 paddlers celebrated the restoration of pulse flows and awesome Class IV(V) boating opportunities to Idaho's Black Canyon of the Bear River. 2009 will offer paddlers four scheduled dates, and many more potential release dates from April through mid-July. AW negotiated these releases and is involved in their ongoing monitoring and management.
Yesterday the US Senate passed a bill that, if also passed by the House of Representatives, will protect millions of acres of public land and designate dozens of rivers as Wild and Scenic. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S. 22) is a collection of bipartisan and locally developed land and river protection bills that have been in the works for years. Swift passage in the House is expected, and President Obama may sign the bill into law as early as Tuesday.
One of the highlights of any Idaho river trip is the spectacular wildlife that paddlers glimpse
on their way down the river. An AW member recently shared with AW
that the US Forest Service is currently considering the fate of one species of wildlife, bighorn
sheep, in the infamous class III/IV Hells Canyon of the Snake. Learn more
about the issue, and send in some comments by March, 3rd.
A mining company has proposed
a large scale mining exploration operation 3 miles inside of the Frank Church River of No Return
Wilderness. The mining operation would take place in the Big Creek watershed, which enters
the Middle Fork Salmon at the beginning of Impassable Canyon. American Whitewater filed
preliminary comments on the proposal this month, and will alert paddlers to additional comment
opportunities later this spring.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the regulatory agency that manages many of the leases necessary to drill for oil and gas on public land, is planning an auction of parcels in southern Utah that has the potential to impact iconic southwestern rivers. American Whitewater has joined with the Utah Rivers Council, outfitters and other business owners to protest specific parcels scheduled for auction on December 19th.
Earlier today Governor Ritter announced that the State of Colorado secured a vital delay that prevents the Forest Service’s rush to implement a new management plan for the state’s pristine backcountry roadless areas. These landscapes represent some of the most outstanding recreational assets of the intermountain West attracting visitors from around the world. These areas include some spectacular whitewater destinations such as sections of the Animas and Poudre Rivers.
AW is asking that paddlers familiar with Washington State's Sullivan Creek fill out a short online survey. American Whitewater is actively working on a process to remove, transfer, or operate two dams in the Sullivan Creek Watershed. We have also created a video of the Gorge to share this inaccessible place with other stakeholders - enjoy!
On Thursday, October 16, 2008
the US Forest Service released the Idaho Roadless Rule, which provides management direction
regarding road building and resource extraction across 9.3 million acres of public roadless lands
in Idaho. The Rule replaces the more protective 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule as it
applied to Idaho’s roadless areas.
The Bureau of Reclamation has released the long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Windy Gap Firming Project. The Project, proposed by the Municipal Subdistrict of Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District would move the Colorado River another step closer to being a "flat lined" river, with flows perpetually at low flow levels. The Bureau of Reclamation has scheduled two public meetings where citizens can offer written and oral comments: one in Loveland on October 7 and one in Granby on October 9.
Right now there is a proposed national rulemaking to decide the fate of Colorado's backcountry roadless areas. Rivers flowing through Roadless areas in Colorado include the Los Pinos, Piedra, Hermosa Creek, Mad Creek, Saint Vrain River, Conejos River, and Lime Creek. Many additional rivers are bordered by Roadless areas that define their superb scenery and water quality. These include most notably the Upper Animas River, Cache la Poudre, Elk River, and the Taylor River. The Animas, Poudre, and Taylor Rivers are commercially rafted by large numbers of citizens, supporting significant regional economies. Your comments to the Forest Service are needed by October 23rd.
Last week at the Gauley River Festival, American Whitewater announced that Charlie Vincent was named the 2008 River Steward of the Year. American Whitewater annually awards this honor to a single volunteer who has shown exceptional dedication to our river stewardship mission, and who has recently reached a major milestone in their efforts. Charlie's decade of volunteer work on Idaho's Bear River successfully restored water to the river's Black Canyon this year.
The Tonto and Coconino National Forests announced earlier this month that due to continuing demolition efforts on the Childs-Irving Hydroelectric facilities, a temporary closure of Fossil Springs and Fossil Creek on the Tonto and Coconino national forests is in effect from Monday, Aug. 18, 2008 through Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009 (unless teminated sooner.)
An alternative to Wild and Scenic River Management is currently being developed for the Upper Colorado River, that would provide water for growing populations in Colorado, while permanently protecting the iconic river's threatened fish and wildlife habitat, riparian systems, and the world class whitewater from Gore Canyon to Glenwood Canyon. American Whitewater is working to ensure that environmental and recreational flow needs are protected under the new management alternative.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) has recently issued a draft rule for Colorado’s National Forests that weakens and removes existing protections for backcountry roadless areas. Starting Monday, August 18th in Pueblo, the USFS is hosting a series of Open Houses to discuss the proposed Rule and to hear your comments. American Whitewater has been working with our colleagues in the Outdoor Alliance to analyze the rule and we believe that the draft rule inadequately protects those remote areas with rugged terrain that provide the highest quality opportunities for human-powered recreation.
Colorado- While the US Army Corps of Engineers is drafting the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the enlargement of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County, Colorado, Denver Water is taking comments on their proposed changes to the reservoir's FERC license, including tree removal, relocating recreation facilities, and hydropower generation.
Comments on the FERC License amendment associated with Gross Reservoir Enlargement Project are due September 29th, 2008.
West Rosebud Creek will get a bump in flows this weekend (August 2nd and 3rd) that will bring the Class III-IV+ (V) creek into its optimal paddling range. These flows are designed to replace similar flows eliminated by the normal dam operations. American Whitewater has been working with the Beartooth Paddlers, the power company, and agencies for the past several years to negotiate and test this program.
The District Engineer from the US Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled an additional THIRD public hearing to be held in conjunction with the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Northern Integrated Supply Project.The public hearing will be held MONDAY, JUNE 16th in Fort Collins, Colorado at 425 West Prospect Road. The open house will start at 4:00 pm, hearing to begin at 6:00 pm.
AW is celebrating the first release on the Black Canyon of the Bear River, after over a decade of hard work. We have created a short video of the release, and want to make sure paddlers are aware of other opportunities to paddle the Bear this summer.
COLORADO - Effects of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, intended to provide front range cities with 40,000 acre-feet of new water from Colorado's Wild and Scenic Poudre River, are being analized by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The DEIS, which discloses the environmental impacts and provides information to decision-makers and the public, is available for comment. A set of open houses and public hearings on the project has been scheduled for this summer at which the public may provide oral or written comments. Any comments received by the Corps will be considered in determining whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for the Proposed Action.
American Whitewater urges paddlers to submit comments on the largest water project facing Colorado's Front Range in a quarter century.
Congratulations to Jeffrey Hatcher for winning the June pair of Smith Optics Sunglasses. With generous support from Smith Optics and Small World Adventures, American Whitewater is hosting a fundraising and membership drive ending on October 1, 2008. Steven Mills from Spring, TX was the winner of the April drawing for a pair of Smith Optics Sunglasses and Susan and Robert Glanville from Boston, NY were the winners of the May drawing.
Help AW protect rivers here in the states and you could win a trip with Small World Adventures in Ecuador. Join or donate to be entered in for the next pair of sunglasses and the trip in Ecuador with Small World Adventures. Anyone who joins or renews their AW membership or donates at least $10 to support our river stewardship efforts will be entered in a raffle to a week long trip in Ecuador with Small World Adventures and monthly prizes from Smith Sport Optics.
American Whitewater has reached an aggreement with Sportsman's Paradise, granting paddlers access to Wildcat Canyon. Historically, the act of floating through club property to access Wildcat Canyon has resulted in harassment by landowners, physical assault on paddlers and criminal prosecution. The new agreement secures permission for paddlers to enter and cross club property via vehicle, in order to access public lands to the north of Sportsman's Paradise property. The agreement will undergo a trial run this season, with the goal of formalizing the arrangement for 2009; ensuring many years of fantastic paddling through Wildcat Canyon.
Comments are need by May 1 on a massive, 3-decades-long, gas drilling project proposed for Desolation and Gray Canyons. This proposed project would impact the first thirty four miles of Desolation Canyon, an area renowned for its remoteness, its unimpaired beauty and its wilderness characteristics. The BLM anticipates major impacts if the project moves forward.
Since 2007 the US Forest Service has been conducting a statewide study of all rivers in Utah’s National Forests to decide which are suitable to become Wild and Scenic Rivers. In the fall of 2008 the Forest Service is planning to release a Final Environmental Impact Statement, which will include the Forest Service’s recommendation on which of all the rivers in Utah’s National Forests the Forest Service recommends should become Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Between now and the fall of 2008 the Forest Service will be creating that list, so now is the time to add your name in support of Utah’s Renowned Rivers.
On Friday, March 28th, hundreds of people gathered to watch the breaching of Milltown Dam just upstream of Missoula, MT. AW staff and friends were there to video the breach and celebrate the rebirth of a great river. For the first time in a century the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers have a riverine confluence, and flow free. Learn more about this historic event and watch the video.
AW is pleased to announce the schedule for new whitewater pulse flows on the Black Canyon of the Bear River in Southeastern Idaho. At the same time we would like to recognize the volunteer largely responsible for these releases. Sixteen whitewater pulse flows could begin as early as the first weekend in April.
Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission overturned a previous decision they had made that would have allowed the owner of the dams, flumes, and powerhouse on Sullivan Creek to simply abandon the project. The ruling came in response to rehearing challenges filed by American Whitewater, the United States Forest Service, and the State of Washington. The decision will likely lead to the removal of at least one severely outdated dam.
Montana's Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers are scheduled to flow free later this month for the first time since 1908, when Milltown Dam was first built. The removal of Milltown Dam is a project of epic scale, that will have massive benefits to the rivers and those who enjoy them. The week of March 24th, the coffer dam upstream of the old powerhouse site will be breached and the Clark Fork River will once again be a freeflowing river.
The bridge at the takeout for Idaho's Lolo Creek has been replaced since the 2007 paddling season. The construction eliminated historical parking areas adjacent to the bridge, and also remove the USGS staff gage used by paddlers to determine the flow. The BLM and USGS are working to remedy both of these issues, and access is now available.
American Whitewater and Clif Bar are pleased to announce the 6th annual Clif Bar Flowing Rivers Campaign, pledging $2,500 to American Whitewater Affiliate Clubs for river stewardship work. Funding for this very effective program is provided by Clif Bar. American Whitewater Affiliate Clubs have the opportunity to apply for one of two $1,250 grants. Grants will be distributed to clubs for projects that promote river stewardship, conservation, access and/or safety education on our nation’s rivers.
The US Forest Service is conducting a statewide suitability study to determine which of the
outstanding rivers in Utah’s National Forests should be protected as Wild and Scenic
Rivers. The Forest Service is recommending that 24 of the 86 rivers
that have been identified as eligible for designation should be formally recommended for Wild and
Scenic designation. Let them know what you think by February
Seven years ago, citizens from across the nation flooded the U.S. Forest Service with public comments in support of protecting at-risk backcountry roadless areas – the last pristine but unprotected lands in the Forest System. With new plans for roadless area management in Colorado and Idaho up for review, a national coalition of climbers, hikers, paddlers, mountain bikers, and backcountry skiers, is speaking out for systematic protection of roadless areas as a vital component of federal public lands policy.