After years of wondering if it would ever get underway (the six-year deadline has already passed), PacifiCorp has finally begun construction on the new access improvements at the Yale Bridge take-out for Canyon Creek. That's the good news. The bad news is they let the project slip into the fall boating season and have offered no accommodations for access after this weekend until the project is done.
A couple of weeks ago AW staff and several like-minded river folks attended the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) meeting in Glenwood Springs. We joined together to let the board know that the upcoming state water plan must ensure that healthy rivers (and the communities that depend on them) are treated fairly in the plan. Sounds pretty non-controversial, right? Wrong.
The first three weekends in November mark classic boating in the southeast with releases on the Tallulah River. Release weekends are November 1 & 2, 8 & 9, and 15 & 16. The river flows through Tallulah Gorge State Park, the Park has specific regulations for visitors.
Stream access in Virginia is one of American Whitewater’s Top 10 River Stewardship Issues this year, as it has been in many years past. The public right to enjoy rivers in the commonwealth is less than clear, leading to confusion and differences of opinion. A legislative fix is possible, but we'll need a broad coalition of support. Start this conversation in your networks, and join the Virginia Freedom to Float facebook page to keep in the loop.
The Friendsville, Maryland paddler parking lot is being finished. This lovely town of 500 people, is doing what it can to accomodate the hundreds of paddlers who arrive here for summer releases on the Upper Youghiogheny River. The project owes much to the vision and leadership of long-time resident Jess Whittemore and the support of Mayor Spencer R. Schlosnagle and Town Council. American Whitewater helped paddlers raise $25,000 towards the lot and this "seed money" has helped attract over $200,000 in grants! We thank the town for their persistence, and their ongoing support for Upper Yough whitewater.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is proposing to build another large dam on California's San Joaquin River. If built, the Temperance Flat Dam would have significant impacts to the San Joaquin River Gorge, including drowning several Class III-V whitewater runs, such as Patterson Bend. The BOR took a major step forward in bringing the dam into reality when it released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project last month. You can stand up for the San Joaquin by attending a public hearing during the week of October 13th, or submitting public comment by October 27th.
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.
If you've enjoyed getting out on the water with more concern for your shuttle than whether the river you're paddling is polluted, you likely have the Clean Water Act to thank. Over the last eight years, there's been a lot of uncertainty about whether certain headwater streams and wetlands are covered by the Act. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are taking public comment through November 14th on a proposed rule that brings clarity to this issue. American Whitewater supports the proposed rule, and encourages you to weigh in!
October's Volunteers of the Month are Neal Dana, Jim Patterson, Paul Araujo, and Jerry Stehman! Gauley Fest came close to having no electricity this year, but thanks to their cool heads and skillful efforts, American Whitewater's largest annual fundraiser and party went smoothly! In recognition for their service to AW and everyone at Gauley Fest, they will each receive a Kokatat Woolcore shirt!
Make your online shopping mean something for the rivers you love. American Whitewater is participating in the Amazon Smile program. With each purchase through Amazon Smile a small percentage is passed through to American Whitewater supporting river stewardship.
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.
California's Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests are home to many rivers cherished by the whitewater community, including the Kern, Kings, and Merced Rivers and Dinkey Creek. On Monday, September 29th, American Whitewater asked the Forest Service to recognize the importance of these and other rivers for whitewater recreation activities, and to update and expand protections for them. Our comments come as the three forests begin the NEPA process for updating their forest management plans.
American Whitewater was recently notified that our appeals of the new Forest Plans for the Kootenai and Panhandle National Forests were successful. These forests, in northern Montana and Idaho respectively, contain incredible whitewater streams where paddlers might see grizzly bears, 10-foot white sturgeons, or even a caribou. The result of our successful appeals will almost certainly be the protection additional rivers and streams from hydropower dams and other threats.
At the last meeting of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, outdoor business leaders, advocates like Annie Henderson of the Upper Colorado River Private Boaters Association, realtors and concerned citizens gathered to urge the Board to make sure that river-based recreation receives equal consideration in the upcoming Colorado Water Plan.
American Whitewater congratulates the Garrett College Adventuresport Institute for managing another successful season of Savage River whitewater releases. The river, which hosted the 1989 World Slalom and Whitewater Championships, offers five miles of very continuous Class III-IV whitewater that's a joy to paddle. Program Director Mike Mike Logsden and other Garrett College personnel arranged parking, shuttle service, put-in and take-out access, release of liability for the stake-holders, and the removal of dangerous river debris. Takeout procedures this year were re-designed to avoid a dangerous road crossing. Expenses related to the shuttle service and strainer removal was paid by donations from participating boaters. If you enjoyed yourself, send a brief thank you to email@example.com
After an initial round of meetings, earlier in the summer, the Oregon State Marine Board has announced that they will be doing another round of meetings and will continue to seek feedback on the needs of the non-motorized boating community. We encourage those who paddle in Oregon to join the conversation and provide feedback through the meetings or an online survey.