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.
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.
The Forest Service released their decision yesterday to formalize roughly 1.5 miles of existing undesignated trails and build less than 1000 feet of new trails to improve access to the Upper Chattooga River for all visitors. This step is well within their normal range of management actions and begins the process of bringing the trail system in the river corridor up to modern standards.
Please save the date of Monday, June 15th, from 5:30-8:00 PM for a Cedar River Recreation Workshop. King County is developing the Cedar River Corridor Plan to address multiple objectives related to floodplain management and salmon recovery including consideration of impacts and opportunities for recreation in the corridor. Input from paddlers is important.
The Flathead National Forest has released the list of streams they propose to protect as “eligible” for Wild and Scenic designation in their forthcoming revised Forest Plan. Paddlers with opinions on the list are encouraged to send the Forest an email or letter before the May 15, 2015 comment deadline. Your comment could help protect spectacular rivers and streams.
U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) has released a discussion draft of a bill that is, by far, the most dangerous piece of hydropower legislation for rivers that we've seen in over a decade. The proposed "Hydropower Regulatory Modernization Act of 2015" would take the hydropower industry back to the days that brought about massive hydropower development during the last century, where developers could dam a river, take out all of the flow and barely give a second thought to the fish, wildlife, habitat or the recreation economies that depend on them.
Following a two and a half year process, the Upper Nooksack River Recreation Plan, has been finalized. This new, comprehensive plan will help guide the management of recreation and natural resources along the upper Nooksack River system in Washington state. The plan recognizes and supports the economic and health benefits of recreation, along with protection and restoration of the natural and cultural values of the upper river basin.
May 2nd will be the first Saturday Upper Yough release of the year, and hundreds of white water paddlers will converge on the small town of Friendsville, MD. After $25,000 in paddler-donated seed money and $160,000 in grants raised by the Town the new parking area is complete and awaiting final approval. We hope the parking will be open, but please park on the side of the road if it isn't. Please observe the usual courtesies when in town: don't drink alcohol in public, change clothes or relieve yourself where others can see you, or park in residential areas along the river. And do take time to patronize the businesss in town who are eagerly awaiting your arrival.
The current agreement for water in the Ocoee River with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) expires in 2018. A new agreement is needed. TVA is exempt from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s requirements because of its uniques structure as a quasi federal agency. Write your representatives today supporting a legislative solution that would require water for releases.
On Saturday April 25th, Snohomish PUD will be providing a whitewater recreational opportunity on the Upper Sultan River. This class IV gorge is a great piece of whitewater in a spectacular setting. If you wish to check it out, be sure to sign up with Snohomish PUD.
Northeast boaters are celebrating the end of a long, cold and snowy winter and are making boating plans for the year. Here is the 2015 Northeast Release Schedule
The schedule for the first year of operation of the Holtwood Whitewater Park has been posted on the dam owner's website. American Whitewater and our local partners negotiated the construction of the park and 264 hours of releases annually as mitigation for impacts of the Holtwood Hydroelectric Project. The first scheduled release is on Saturday March 14, 2015.
Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis introduced legislation last week that will require the National Park Service to study and reconsider their management of non-commercial paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The legislation is the result of significant dialog among the Parks, conservation-oriented paddlers, Representative Lummis, and others.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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