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 submitted comments this week to the Bureau of Reclamation in opposition of the proposed Temperance Flat Dam slated for the San Joaquin River in California. The proposed dam would inundate a reach of river that the Bureau of Land Management recognized as suitable for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System for its cultral and scenic values. Temperance Flat Dam will have steep economic and resource costs while yeilding little water, and is not the solution to California's extreme drought.
The Forest Service is seeking comments on their Environmental Assessment and proposal to upgrade and designate the trails and access areas that paddlers and others use to access the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River. Comments are due by midnight, November 7, 2014. Your comments can help encourage high quality and sustainable hiking and paddling opportunities, and help clarify that no permit should be requied to paddle the Chattooga River upstream of Green Creek.
The Friendsville, Maryland paddler parking lot is being finished. This lovely town of 500 people, is doing what it can to accomodate the hundreds of paddlers who arrive here for summer releases on the Upper Youghiogheny River. The project owes much to the vision and leadership of long-time resident Jess Whittemore and the support of Mayor Spencer R. Schlosnagle and Town Council. American Whitewater helped paddlers raise $25,000 towards the lot and this "seed money" has helped attract over $200,000 in grants! We thank the town for their persistence, and their ongoing support for Upper Yough whitewater.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is proposing to build another large dam on California's San Joaquin River. If built, the Temperance Flat Dam would have significant impacts to the San Joaquin River Gorge, including drowning several Class III-V whitewater runs, such as Patterson Bend. The BOR took a major step forward in bringing the dam into reality when it released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project last month. You can stand up for the San Joaquin by attending a public hearing during the week of October 13th, or submitting public comment by October 27th.
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.
If you've enjoyed getting out on the water with more concern for your shuttle than whether the river you're paddling is polluted, you likely have the Clean Water Act to thank. Over the last eight years, there's been a lot of uncertainty about whether certain headwater streams and wetlands are covered by the Act. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are taking public comment through November 14th on a proposed rule that brings clarity to this issue. American Whitewater supports the proposed rule, and encourages you to weigh in!
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.
California's Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests are home to many rivers cherished by the whitewater community, including the Kern, Kings, and Merced Rivers and Dinkey Creek. On Monday, September 29th, American Whitewater asked the Forest Service to recognize the importance of these and other rivers for whitewater recreation activities, and to update and expand protections for them. Our comments come as the three forests begin the NEPA process for updating their forest management plans.
American Whitewater was recently notified that our appeals of the new Forest Plans for the Kootenai and Panhandle National Forests were successful. These forests, in northern Montana and Idaho respectively, contain incredible whitewater streams where paddlers might see grizzly bears, 10-foot white sturgeons, or even a caribou. The result of our successful appeals will almost certainly be the protection additional rivers and streams from hydropower dams and other threats.
American Whitewater congratulates the Garrett College Adventuresport Institute for managing another successful season of Savage River whitewater releases. The river, which hosted the 1989 World Slalom and Whitewater Championships, offers five miles of very continuous Class III-IV whitewater that's a joy to paddle. Program Director Mike Mike Logsden and other Garrett College personnel arranged parking, shuttle service, put-in and take-out access, release of liability for the stake-holders, and the removal of dangerous river debris. Takeout procedures this year were re-designed to avoid a dangerous road crossing. Expenses related to the shuttle service and strainer removal was paid by donations from participating boaters. If you enjoyed yourself, send a brief thank you to firstname.lastname@example.org
After an initial round of meetings, earlier in the summer, the Oregon State Marine Board has announced that they will be doing another round of meetings and will continue to seek feedback on the needs of the non-motorized boating community. We encourage those who paddle in Oregon to join the conversation and provide feedback through the meetings or an online survey.
This year's Sullivan Creek releases will begin September 3, and will continue each day for at least a couple months. These releases, the gage, and a related dam removal were the outcome of a collaborative negotiation between the regional Public Utility District that owns the dams, American Whitewater, and a suite of local, state, and national groups.
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.
On Monday, August 4th American Whitewater submitted testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks in support of three bills that, if passed, will protect important whitewater rivers in Colorado, Montana and Washington. These include the Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act (S. 1794), East Rosebud Creek Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (S. 2392), and the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Act (S. 2602). Our testimony follows the sub-committee hearing held on July 23, 2014.
American Whitewater is pleased to announce our April Volunteer of the Month, Jess Whittemore. For his leadership in securing additional boater access at the Upper Yough (MD) takeout Jess will be receiving a custom Kokatat Woolcore Shirt!
On Friday, March 14th, Yosemite National Park released their Final Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Final Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, announcing that boaters will have the opportunity to enjoy the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne by kayak on a trial basis. While we’re pleased that the Park has placed boating on equal footing for this reach, we're disappointed that the plan continues to prohibit boating on the rest of the river.
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.
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