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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.


AW In My Backyard
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Stewardship News

Volunteer of the Month: Edgar Peck!

posted February 3, 2016
by Kevin Colburn
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We are pleased to recognize Edgar Peck as the Volunteer of the Month for February.  Edgar facilitated a successful effort to buy a new put-in on the classic Watauga River near Boone, North Carolina. Together with the take-out AW owns, the public is now guaranteed permanent access to the outstanding Watauga River. 

2016 Lehigh River Release Schedule Announced (PA)

posted February 1, 2016
by Kevin Colburn
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The U.S. Army Corps Engineers’ Philadelphia District released the 2016 Flow Management Plan for the Francis E. Walter Dam in White Haven, PA.  The whitewater release schedule includes 24 dates (4 of which are dependent on sufficient water storage and not including final October weekend).

Paddlers Speak Up for Maryland's Upper Yough

posted January 29, 2016
by Charlie Walbridge
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Paddlers made a strong showing at the January 28th Deep Creek Watershed Planning Meeting in McHenry, MD. Releases from Deep Creek Lake that support paddling on the Upper Youghioghenny River have been under attack by homeowners on backwater lots who are left high and dry during droughts. Friendsville town councilman Jess Whittemore and Upper Yough outfitter Roger Zbell have been ably representing whitewater paddlers for years. Jess told me that the presence of so many boaters, especially those who own property in Garrett County, made a strong impression on the County Commissioners. They were also impressed by the many thoughtful emails recieved from paddlers throughout the East. This will put us in a good position for the 2019 relicensing. Thanks to Friendsviller paddler and attorney Bob Allen for representing American Whitewater. Jeff Macklin photo.

Chetco and Molalla Rivers Designated State Scenic Waterways (OR)

posted January 28, 2016
by Thomas O'Keefe
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This week Governor Kate Brown designated Oregon’s first new State Scenic Waterways since 1988. Portions of the Chetco and Molalla Rivers highly valued by the whitewater boating community were chosen as rivers that meet the Scenic Waterways Act criteria for outstanding scenic, fish, wildlife, geological, botanical, cultural, and outdoor recreation opportunities.
 

Planning Effort Underway for Nooksack River Watershed (WA)

posted January 6, 2016
by Thomas O'Keefe
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The Washington Department of Natural Resources is embarking on a new planning project that will guide recreation on DNR-managed lands in the Nooksack River and Whatcom Lake watersheds for the next 10-15 years. The effort will kick off with two public open houses that will be scheduled for January.

Legislative Update - LWCF & Hydropower Bill

posted December 22, 2015
by Megan Hooker
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This month, American Whitewater supporters stepped up, took action, and made a difference on two important issues that have a big impact on river conservation and recreation. As Congress wraps up the session for 2015, here’s an update on where things stand with hydropower legislation and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

Paddlers Rally for River Protection in Western NC

posted December 17, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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This week marked a major milestone in our efforts to protect Western North Carolina streams using the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. American Whitewater and numerous paddlers wrote to the Forest Service to share the exemplary values of the region's whitewater gems and to argue for their full protection. We would like to thank all the paddlers that attended a public meeting or wrote an email to the Forest Service.

Hydropower Development at Ernies: Developer Continues to Pursue (WA)

posted December 11, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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On December 1st Black Canyon Hydro LLC filed its License Application for the Black Canyon Hydropower Project. If constructed, this project would involve dewatering Ernie’s Gorge and putting it in a pipe to generate hydropower. We expect that a public comment period will soon open providing an opportunity for feedback on their application.

Northeast Boaters Seek To Expand West River (VT) Boating

posted December 6, 2015
by Robert Nasdor
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In response to of the state’s draft basin plan for southern Vermont, American Whitewater and scores of boaters pressed the state to support the expansion of releases on the West River. Restrictions by the Corps of Engineers and Agency of Natural Resources have led to the elimination of nearly all scheduled boating opportunities on the West River over the past two decades, eliminating recreation opportunity and hurting the local economy. AW and its partners have been working to restore these releases.

Deerfield River (MA) Flow Studies to Explore New & Improved Boating Opportunity

posted December 6, 2015
by Robert Nasdor
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In response to requests by American Whitewater, several affiliates, and other stakeholders, FERC directed Brookfield Renewable to study the impact of its hydropower operations on whitewater boating on the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts. Boating groups and our supporters are seeking to determine optimal whitewater boating flows from the Fife Brook Dam and whether changes in hydropower operations would enhance boating opportunities, access and navigation.

Southeast Advanced Release Schedule Set For 2016!

posted December 1, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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Tis the season when American Whitewater works with power companies and other groups to schedule the coming year's dam releases in the Southeast. In addition to hundreds of releases on Class I-III rivers like the Nantahala, Tuckasegee, and Catawba, we put together an outstanding integrated schedule of Class IV and V opportunities. Check it out!  

Help Protect Streams on Montana's Lewis and Clark National Forest

posted November 30, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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Montana's Lewis and Clark National Forest is updating the inventory of rivers they protect as eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. Paddler comments on these streams on the Rocky Mountain Front and other great parts of Montana can help protect some of the state's most outstanding streams from dams and other potential impacts. Comments are due by December 15th, and make great Christmas presents for Montana rivers!

TAKE ACTION: Bad Hydropower Legislation Vote Scheduled!

posted November 30, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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The House is expected to vote the week of November 30th on energy legislation (H.R. 8) that is really, really bad news for rivers. The bill comes as a response to the hydropower industry's efforts to weaken the authority of tribes and state and federal agencies to protect water quality, fish and wildlife, public lands and recreation. If passed, hydropower provisions of H.R. 8 would tip the balance in strong favor of the hydropower industry, and do so at the expense of the local communities that rely on rivers for their livelihoods. Paddler’s voices are important in the process and we encourage you to reach out to your member of Congress today!

Harpers Ferry Access Plan Completed (WV/MD/VA)

posted November 23, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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American Whitewater has worked with local paddlers and agency planners over the past year to create a river access plan for the Harpers Ferry, WV area. Two popular and scenic class III whitewater runs on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers converge in Harper's Ferry, yet there are only 3 public parking spaces at the take-out and the public put-ins are far upstream on both rivers. The plan is the result of an outstanding effort by our members and partners, and we are now working together to improve river access opportunities based on the plan.

AW Responds To Connecticut River Boating Study (MA)

posted November 18, 2015
by Robert Nasdor
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American Whitewater, along with other paddling groups and outfitters, filed comments with FERC responding to the Whitewater Boating Evaluation at Turners Falls on the Connecticut River. The study showed that there is strong demand for boating on this section of the Connecticut River if sufficient flows, scheduled releases, better access, and real-time information are provided. The groups filed the comments in order to provide additional information for the environmental review and to respond to the unsupported statements by FirstLight, the utility performing the study, claiming that there is little demand for boating at Turners Falls.

Brookfield, TransCanada Support #OptOutside on the Deerfield (MA)

posted November 17, 2015
by Robert Nasdor
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In a partnership between advocacy groups, outfitters, and hydropower utilities, Brookfield Renewable Energy and TransCanada Hydro Northeast announced support for #optoutside, a national campaign started by REI designed to encourage outdoor recreation rather than shopping mall exploration on Black Friday after Thanksgiving. In support of #OptOutside and at the request of American Whitewater, the utilities will provide whitewater flows on the Deerfield below the Fife Brook Dam between 11-1 on November 27th.

Great Opportunity to Protect NC Streams

posted November 9, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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Paddlers now have the chance to help protect Western North Carolina's best whitewater runs from dams and other impacts.  The Forest Service is accepting public comments in support of WNC rivers and creeks' eligibility for Wild and Scenic designation. No one knows our streams like paddlers, and our community is in a unique position to speak to what makes these streams special.  Explore a map of potentially eligible rivers, submit comments, and consider attending a public meeting.    

Congress Fails to Renew Vital Program For River Access

posted October 2, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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American Whitewater is deeply disappointed to see Congress fail to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund ahead of its expiration on September 30. You can help us continue the push by contacting your member of Congress and highlighting the importance of this vital program that helps provide river access. If constituents speak up we can keep it near the top of the agenda and we will be able to get it reauthorized.

Federal Regulators Recommend Denial of License for New Bear River Dam (ID)

posted October 2, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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Citing a host of environmental concerns raised by American Whitewater and our partners, the federal government has recommended denial of an application seeking to build a 109-foot-tall hydroelectric dam on the Bear River in southeast Idaho. Federal regulators agreed with our view that the Oneida Narrows represents a regionally unique and important river recreational resource that would be destroyed by the proposed dam, for which mitigation is not possible.

2015 Clif Bar Flowing Rivers Campaign Announced

posted August 14, 2015
by Mark Singleton
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American Whitewater is proud to announce the two affiliate recipients of the 2015 Clif Bar Flowing Rivers Campaign. Each group will receive a $1,250 grant to go towards their respective stewardship projects. Thanks to the many affiliate groups who participated in this year's grant process. Most of all, a huge thanks goes out to Clif Bar for sponsoring this wonderful opportunity for river stewardship!

Help Save Vital River Access Funding

posted August 11, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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Since 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been a critical source of funding for important river access projects and other recreational pursuits across the country. This fund however is set to expire on September 30, 2015 unless Congress reauthorizes it. We’re calling on all paddlers to reach out to their Congressional representatives and ask them to reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Hydropower Industry Continues to Push Legislation Threatening Your Whitewater

posted July 17, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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The hydropower industry is pushing legislation that threatens your whitewater. We encourage paddlers to share their personal experience enjoying rivers where hydropower projects provide recreational flows. We oppose any bill that would undermine the public's ability to balance hydropower interests with non-power values like recreation, fish and wildlife.

Molalla State Scenic Waterway Public Meeting And Comment Opportunity (OR)

posted July 9, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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Last fall the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department solicited input on the designation of a segment of the Molalla River that includes the Three Bears run as a State Scenic Waterway. American Whitewater is actively supporting this designation. We encourage the paddling community to attend the meeting and file comments.

Bellows Falls (VT) Flow Study Reveals Hidden Whitewater

posted June 2, 2015
by Robert Nasdor
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A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy. 

Take Action: Hydropower Industry Legislation Hearing May 13th

posted May 8, 2015
by Megan Hooker
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On Wednesday, May 13th the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing about the draft "Hydropower Regulatory Modernization" Act, which proposes to gut important environmental and public interest protections in the Federal Power Act. These are the very tools that American Whitewater and our partners have used to put water back in rivers across the country that were once completely devastated by the impacts of hydropower. If passed, all of the whitewater and access gains we've made over the last 25+ years could easily become a thing of the past. We encourage everyone to contact their Representatives and make their voices heard.  

Nooksack Recreation Plan Completed (WA)

posted May 4, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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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.

Merced in Yosemite–Officially Open at Last!!

posted April 27, 2015
by Megan Hooker
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On Friday, April 24, 2015, the Merced River in Yosemite National Park was officially reopened to paddlers! Even though the new Wild and Scenic River Plan was finalized a year ago, the actual rules and regulations for the Park were finally updated on Friday. This marks the culmination of seven years of sustained engagement by American Whitewater with the National Park Service and other stakeholders. 
 

Ocoee River (TN) Needs Your Help

posted April 23, 2015
by Mark Singleton
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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.

Sultan River Whitewater Opportunities to Begin (WA)

posted April 1, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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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.

2015 Northeast Whitewater Release Schedule Set

posted March 27, 2015
by Robert Nasdor
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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

Deerfield River (MA) Hydro Relicensing: Building on Past Success

posted March 24, 2015
by Robert Nasdor
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Twenty years after reaching a historic settlement agreement on the Deerfield River hydropower relicensing that has transformed northeast paddling opportunities, we began another relicensing process this spring that will likely result in improvement in flows, access and facilities for boaters in the region.

Avoiding Collisions on the Gauley River

posted September 21, 2010
by Charlie Walbridge
article photo 1

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