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.
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.
Earlier this week we posted a quick article informing our community that American Whitewater would not pursue the Senate version of the River Paddling Protection Act, ending our exploration of a legislative solution to the management of paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. We’ve obviously gotten some questions about this decision and would like to offer a more robust explanation.
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.
A new version of the River Paddling Protection Act, HR 3492, was sent to the full House of Representatives yesterday when it passed in the House Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent. The bill will ultimately help thousands of Americans connect with the rivers flowing through Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in a healthy, low impact, and environmentally sustainable manner. We've included a list of Q&A's as a partial response to recent media articles.
Great News! Yesterday, Virginia's "Freedom to Float" bill passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources. The bill could now move to the full VA Senate for a vote as early as Tuesday of next week (1/28/14). It is more important than ever that every paddler that enjoys Virginia rivers contact state Senators.
Five days before Christmas, a Limited Liability Corporation initiated a lawsuit in South Carolina asking the court to declare a section of the South Fork of the Saluda River non-navigable. American Whitewater and the Foothills Paddling Club have filed a motion to intervene in the case to defend the public's right to paddle this river and others.
American Whitewater recently filed formal objections to proposed Forest Plans for the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, and the Kootenai National Forest in Montana. The objections assert that the Forest Service ignored their own policies and the facts before them when they determined many spectacular whitewater rivers are not eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. If successful, we'll bring vital protection to many awesome whitewater streams in the Northern Rockies.
American Whitewater has consistently worked to restore flows to rivers in the Southeast that were previously de-watered by hydropower operations. In addition to vast opportunities for beginners and intermediates, we have helped create an incredible series of advanced paddling opportunities on the Tallulah, Cheoah, Nantahala, and West Fork of the Tuckasegee. Check out the awesome schedule for 2014!
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