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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.


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Stewardship News

Forest Service Supports Chattooga Trails (NC/SC/GA)

posted May 20, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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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.

Cedar River Corridor Plan: Opportunity for Public Input (WA)

posted May 18, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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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.

Flathead National Forest River Protections Open for Comment (MT)

posted May 8, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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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.  

Hydropower Industry Takes Aim on Rivers

posted May 4, 2015
by Megan Hooker
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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. 

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. 
 

New Parking Area Greets Upper Yough Paddlers

posted April 27, 2015
by Charlie Walbridge
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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.

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.

Department of Energy - Still Aiming to Dam Every River?

posted April 13, 2015
by Megan Hooker
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Last month Politico reported that top Department of Energy officials continue to push their ambitious goal to double hydropower production in the U.S. by 2030. Hydropower companies have taken note since the DOE first announced its goal last year, and they continue to gear up to help. American Whitewater is deeply concerned to see that this goal continues to be promoted as a viable possibility. With less than 2% of our rivers in the lower 48 left relatively undeveloped, the Department of Energy’s vision to dam every possible river to double hydropower production is not one that we can afford to see. 

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.

Holtwood Whitewater Park to Open this Month (PA)

posted March 5, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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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.

Yellowstone Paddling Legislation Reintroduced with NPS Input

posted February 17, 2015
by Kevin Colburn
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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. 

Bill Restricting Access to Washington's Rivers Introduced

posted January 24, 2015
by Thomas O'Keefe
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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.

Congress Passes River Conservation Bills

posted December 13, 2014
by Kevin Colburn
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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.

Hydropower Project Proposed for Talkeetna (AK)

posted October 7, 2014
by Thomas O'Keefe
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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.

Mining Water Right Denied–NF Smith Headwaters (CA/OR)

posted September 30, 2014
by Megan Hooker
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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 River (WV) Open Letter to Boaters 2014

posted August 15, 2014
by Mark Singleton
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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.

Avoiding Collisions on the Gauley River

posted September 21, 2010
by Charlie Walbridge
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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