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Mission

Founded in 1954, American Whitewater is a national non-profit organization (Non-profit # 23-7083760) with a mission “to conserve and restore America's whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.” American Whitewater is a membership organization representing a broad diversity of individual whitewater enthusiasts, river conservationists, and more than 100 local paddling club affiliates across America. The organization is the primary advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States, and connects the interests of human-powered recreational river users with ecological and science-based data to achieve the goals within its mission.

River Stewardship

bypass.jpgAmerican Whitewater works to protect and restore rivers, maintains a national inventory of whitewater rivers, monitors potential threats to whitewater river resources, publishes information on river conservation, works with government agencies to protect the ability of the public to have a voice in the management of rivers, advocates for legislation protecting our rivers and their aquatic resources, and provides technical advice to local groups regarding river conservation and management.

American Whitewater is working full-time to assure protection of whitewater rivers and the ability of the public to enjoy clean, free-flowing rivers. This includes our access program that focuses on protecting navigability on our nation's waterways and acquisition of lands that provide public access to rivers. To learn more about our river stewardship program go to the stewardship page.

Accomplishments

American Whitewater has worked on whitewater rivers throughout the country of all sizes and challenges. Here are just a few things that we don't mind braggin' about:

  • AW members proposed some of the initial concepts for protection of Wisconsin's waterways that Senator Gaylord Nelson incorporated into the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This legislation was passed in 1968 and we continue to use this important tool for protecting some of our nation's most spectacular rivers.
  • AW has represented the public interest at over 100 federally-licensed hydropower projects restoring flows on rivers that have been dewatered for decades
  • AW has worked with a variety of agencies to remove over a dozen dams on rivers and we have several more scheduled for removal including some major projects in the West
  • AW was a founding member of the Hydropower Reform Coalition, now comprised of well over 100 organizations that represent the public interest in hydropower relicensing. Our coalition has significantly enhanced the ability of the public to have a voice in management of rivers impacted by hydropower development for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and people.
  • AW was a founding member of the Outdoor Alliance. The six membership groups of Outdoor Alliance have a long tradition of preserving public access to America’s Outdoors - making sure people have trails to hike, waters to paddle, mountains to ski and crags to climb.

Our network of volunteers under the direction of our small river stewardship staff is working on well over 100 rivers across the nation. In addition we are working at the state and federal level to protect our bedrock environmental laws and preserve the ability of the public to safely enjoy clean, free-flowing rivers. To find out more information about our work in your back yard click on your region's page:ausable.jpg

Safety

safety_cards.jpgAmerican Whitewater promotes paddling safety, publishes reports on whitewater accidents, and maintains the internationally recognized American Whitewater Safety Code. This safety code includes the International Scale of Whitewater Difficulty, the class I-V rating system for whitewater rivers that was developed by our membership in the 1950's. Today this system is widely used by paddlers and safety personnel throughout the world. For important safety updates and additional safety resources check out our safety page.

Outreach

American Whitewater reaches, serves and engages members, volunteers, sponsors and organizational partners in a variety of ways. The bi-monthly journal has been our primary communication tool and member benefit since the organization’s inception. The journal has recently been augmented by our website, now seeing 70,000 page views daily.

American Whitewater events are coordinated and organized as grass roots platforms on which to raise awareness, volunteerism and funds for river conservation and access. Since 1986, American Whitewater has hosted the annual Gauley River Festival in Summersville, West Virginia, the largest gathering of whitewater boaters in the nation. American Whitewater also plays a lead role in the Potomac Whitewater Festival (MD), the Deerfield River Festival (MA), Ohiopyle Falls Race (PA), and Feather River Festival (CA). Our events page has all your up to date information on your local river festivals at the events page.

Organizational History

oldshuttle.jpgThe American White Water Affiliation (AWWA) was formed in 1954, and incorporated in 1961 when it became known officially as the American Whitewater Affiliation (AWA). The name was later shortened to American Whitewater (AW). Upon its founding the purpose of American Whitewater was to:

  • Encourage the exploration, enjoyment, and preservation of America’s recreational waterways for human-powered craft;
  • Protect the wilderness character of waterways through conservation of water, forests, parks, wildlife, and related resources;
  • Promote and celebrate safety, proficiency and responsibility in all aspects of whitewater activities such as the navigation of moving water, teaching, teamwork, leadership, and equipment design, by publishing and demonstrating our support for instructional development in these and related fields;
  • Promote appreciation and respect for the value of wilderness activity and whitewater sports.

We continue our work to meet the objectives our founding members had when local paddling clubs from across the country came together to form a national organization to promote safe enjoyment and protection of our nation's whitewater resources. To learn more about American Whitewater's storied history browse through our complete online Journal Archive from 1956 to today in our online journal archive.

Funding

To finance its projects, American Whitewater seeks memberships, member gifts, corporate and foundation support. In addition, revenue from events, advertising and branded products support stewardship efforts. Individual memberships are crucial to American Whitewater and our goal is to remain an organization of whitewater enthusiasts funded by and ultimately representative of the interests of those to whom the health and enjoyment of our nation’s rivers is a priority. Currently American Whitewater receives support from over 5,000 dues paying member and 100 affiliate paddling clubs.

American Whitewater was incorporated under Missouri non-profit coporation laws in 1961 and is tax exempt under section 501c(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Annual Reports and IRS 990 Forms

Annual ReportIRS 990
2013 Annual Report2013 Form 990
2012 Annual Report2012 Form 990
2011 Annual Report2011 Form 990

Audited financial statements for 2013 are available for download at:2013 Audit Report.

Get Involved

How can you help American Whitewater fight for river access and conservation?

  • Follow issues that are important to you and the places you enjoy, write a letter to support our work or attend a meeting, and encourage your friends to take an interest also.
  • Most importantly be a river steward yourself! It's easier that you would think, here are just a few of the ways you can act as a steward of your rivers:
    • Treat our natural resources with respect
    • Pick up litter that you find on local waterways
    • Attend a local river cleanup and restore your river's natural beauty
    • Be mindful of local residents and their community
    • Use good judgment, paddle with safety as a focus

Organizational Governance

AW’s day to day operations are led and managed by an Executive Director, who reports to the Board of Directors. In addition to the Executive Director we currently have 9 full-time and 2 part-time professional staff members including a national stewardship director, regional stewardship directors, and administrative staff.

American Whitewater is governed by a 12 member Board of Directors. The Board provides strategic direction, fiduciary oversight and governance of the organization’s operations. Directors are elected by the general membership. American Whitewater’s President, Vice President and other Board Officers are elected by the Board.

American Whitewater’s Bylaws and Constitution empowers the organization’s Board of Directors to provide ongoing governance and leadership.