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K.M. Collins: Volunteer of the Month, Presented by Kokatat

06/30/2022 - by Bethany Overfield

Writer and raft guide, Krystal Marie Collins (K.M. Collins) is our American Whitewater June Volunteer of the Month. K.M. was American Whitewater’s lead volunteer event organizer at our recent Bend Community Reception in May and we couldn't have done it without her. She’s also helped us out with a signage project, and she’s done publicity work for Aboriginal Outfitters and their efforts to remove Enloe Dam and restore the Similkameen River.

We want to take a moment to spotlight her enthusiasm and to say ‘Hey! Thanks” by honoring her as our June AW Volunteer of the Month presented by Kokatat.

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Addressing public safety at low head dams

06/28/2022 - by Hattie Johnson

American Whitewater’s database of whitewater accidents and fatalities, maintained since 1972, documents that 10% of river fatalities nationwide are a result of individuals getting caught in a low head dam hydraulic. These dams are generally defined as a manmade structure, up to about 25 feet in height, built across a river or stream channel from bank to bank. Powerful hydraulics and hard to see horizon lines create a dangerous hazard. Most paddlers have had a run in with a low head dam in some capacity, whether is a nasty surf, a tough portage or worse. American Whitewater has been working at the local, state and federal level to address this public safety issue. Understanding the location, utility, public safety hazard, and ownership of these structures can not only better inform recreationists, but also help to better identify structures for removal or retrofit.

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Unprecedented Win for Water Quality in Colorado!

06/24/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz

On June 14, Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted 7-1 to protect 520 miles on 25 streams across Southwest Colorado, adopting the first proposal of its kind. American Whitewater and our partners have been hard at work over the past three years to prove that these high quality rivers and creeks deserve protection. Our proposal included beloved paddling segments like the headwaters of the Taylor River, Escalante Creek, Lime Creek, and many others that were acknowledged for their exceptional ecological and recreational attributes. Under the Clean Water Act, Outstanding Waters provide the highest level of water quality protections in Colorado. The designation acknowledges the high water quality that currently exists and ensures it is protected at that level for the future.

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American Whitewater Prevails in Case to Protect the Tuolumne River

06/21/2022 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

In a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, American Whitewater and our allies prevailed to uphold the Clean Water Act in protection of the Tuolumne River. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act which requires that any utility applying for a hydropower license that may discharge pollutants into waters of the United States must receive state certification ensuring the project complies with all state standards for beneficial use, water quality, and anti-degradation of the waterway. The case brought forth by the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts (the Districts) challenged a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order upholding California’s clean water certification for the Don Pedro and La Grange Hydropower Projects located on the Tuolumne River. 

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May/June AW Journal now available

06/10/2022 - by Bethany Overfield

The May/June AW Journal is hot off the press! In this issue we focus on Executive Director Mark Singleton’s legacy as he transitions away from AW. A few other highlights include:

-Access areas in California that were recently reestablished after significant action from our community
-An inspiring plan for a 1000+ mile journey tracing the Salmon River from its source to the sea
-First descent account from the Upper Little North Santiam in Oregon
-A safety reminder on the dangers of wood

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American Whitewater Announces New Executive Director, Clinton Begley

06/09/2022 - by Bethany Overfield

After conducting a nationwide search and interviewing several highly qualified candidates, American Whitewater announced today that Clinton Begley will be its new Executive Director. The Team at American Whitewater, including our Board of Directors and Staff, were recently able to meet the finalists for the position, including Begley, and there was unanimous support for his selection. Clinton will begin his Executive Director role on August 1st and plans to travel to American Whitewater events this summer and fall to meet up with our staff, volunteers, members and supporters in their home regions. Stay tuned for more information on his professional and personal background in coming weeks. We’re all excited to welcome Clinton aboard and are looking forward to working with him!

Read more below.

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AW Participates in EPA Roundtable on the Importance of Clean Water

06/09/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

On Tuesday, June 7, Kevin Colburn, American Whitewater’s National Stewardship Director, participated in a roundtable hosted jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Cahaba Brewing Co. on the importance of clean water protections in the Southeast. He joined stakeholders from a broad spectrum of land and water users who live or work in eleven Southeastern states, including a director of a water and sewer utility; general contracting and construction management executive; mitigation banker; faith leader; environmental justice advocates; farmers, including a Gullah-Geechee farmer; elected officials; representatives from conservation and environmental organizations; and clean water scientists.

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Over 50 Paddlers Enjoy Inaugural Weber River Releases (UT)

06/09/2022 - by Evan Stafford

This past Saturday, June 4, was the first of four negotiated Saturday releases that will occur annually between May-July for the Scrambled Eggs section of the Weber River (UT), a 1.8-mile roadside run south of the cty of Ogden. The release day was well attended and critically restored river flows to a region severely impacted by dams and diversions. American Whitewater has spent the past seven years working towards these releases and we hope paddlers enjoy them this year and into the future! Remaining release days for this year are June 18, July 2, and July 9, subject to change if unexpected conditions occur.

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Sign Petition to Protect Water Quality in Colorado’s Rivers!

05/18/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz

Sign here to protect water quality in Colorado’s exceptional rivers and creeks! American Whitewater and our partners are working to protect water quality in 26 creeks and rivers in Colorado. The designation of Outstanding Waters provides the highest level of water quality protections in Colorado. In order to qualify for Outstanding Waters designation, rivers must have existing high water quality, have exceptional ecological or recreational significance, and constitute a need for additional protection. These rivers include the Upper Taylor River, Escalante Creek, Lime Creek, Wolf Creek, and Roubideau Creek. We are also looking for members of the paddling community to provide written or oral testimony to the Water Quality Control Commission at the June 13 and 14 hearing. Please email Kestrel directly at kestrel@americanwhitewater.org to sign up to give testimony. 

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2022 Recreational Releases for South Fork Silver Creek and Slab Creek (CA)

05/13/2022 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

Annually, American Whitewater and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) coordinate required recreational flows on South Fork Silver Creek below Icehouse Reservoir and South Fork American River below Slab Creek Reservoir.  The final water year forecast that will determine scheduled recreational flows will be released on May 9th. Recreational flows will vary depending on the final forecast which will either be a DRY or a BELOW NORMAL water year. 

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Great Falls Catawba Releases Delayed Until Next Spring (SC)

05/10/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The start of flow releases on the Great Falls of the Catawba have unfortunately been delayed from this August to next spring. The pace and scale of work being done on the hydropower project and related lands to support releases is extraordinary, and while disappointed we are confident that the delay is merited. American Whitewater will continue to work with Duke Power and the community of Great Falls to be ready for releases next March. Starting in March releases will occur every week or two through October, at nearly 3000 cfs in each channel. 

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Weber Releases Get Green Light For This Summer! (UT)

05/09/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave the green light for recreational releases to begin on Utah’s Weber River this summer! The move came when the agency approved the Whitewater Boating Plan, which was a critical step prior to the flow restoration called for in the new license for the Weber Hydroelectric Project. American Whitewater recently requested that FERC expedite approval of the plan so the public could enjoy the Weber River this year and we are delighted that they did so! With the plan now accepted, American Whitewater will quickly work with the power company to analyze flow forecasts and schedule the four negotiated Saturday releases between late May and mid-July. American Whitewater has spent the past seven years negotiating these releases. We hope paddlers enjoy them this year and in the future!

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Clackamas River Open for River Runners (OR)

05/01/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

We are pleased to report that the Clackamas River corridor is now open and available to the public. Oregon Highway 224 above Estacada was re-opened Sunday May 1st after a closure that was implemented in September 2020 following the Riverside Fire and lasted 20 months. While we are pleased that the river corridor has been re-opened, we believe the amount of tree removal was excessive, the length of the closure was longer than necessary, and the Forest Service did not appropriately engage the public. American Whitewater is actively coordinating with other user groups and will continue to explore potential administrative and legislative actions to provide greater accountability and transparency for how closures are implemented and communicated to the public. 

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Middle Fork Feather & Four Other California Rivers Reopened

04/02/2022 - by Scott Harding

Great news out of California!

The Middle Fork Feather River's Devils Canyon run is open again after we succeeded in convincing the Plumas National Forest to end its two-year boating ban on that spectacular multi-day run, just in time for its prime spring season! Our members and supporters helped signficantly by sending in nearly 1,000 comments to the Forest Service.

We have also been working with the Eldorado National Forest to reopen access to rivers that had been closed since last summer's Caldor Fire, and we're happy to report that they just reopened access to 54 miles of whitewater on four different rivers.

All told, American Whitewater helped restore access to 88 miles of whitewater this week, covering nine runs on five different rivers!

MF Feather River photo by Carli Beisel.

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Mokelumne River (CA) 2022 Recreational Releases

04/01/2022 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

American Whitewater worked with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Ecological Resource Committee for the Mokelumne River Hydropower Project to confirm recreational releases for 2022.

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Electron Dam Operator Signs Agreement to Protect Puyallup River (WA)

03/25/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

A coalition of conservation groups has reached an agreement with the operators of the Electron hydroelectric project on the Puyallup River to preserve safeguards for threatened Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. The groups had sued over the facility’s illegal killing of these imperiled fish. The agreement will keep the project from operating until and unless operators can address the project’s unacceptable impacts to federally protected native fish threatened with extinction.

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Nantahala Pisgah Forest Plan Released, Improvements Sought (NC)

03/24/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater has been actively working on the new Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest’s management plan for almost a decade. The plan covers 1.1 million acres of public lands in Western North Carolina and some of the finest whitewater paddling anywhere. Our goals for the new plan were to increase river protections, improve recreational management, and build broad support for future Congressional Wild and Scenic River designations. Along the way we made a lot of friends, including many Forest Service staff and all the members of the collaborative brain-trust that is the Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership. The new forest plan was released in late January, and it includes both triumphs and disappointments for river enthusiasts. Earlier this week, American Whitewater filed two pre-decisional appeals (called objections) of the proposed Forest Plan. 

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2022 North Fork Feather (CA) Releases and Opportunities

03/18/2022 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

American Whitewater is happy to confirm boating opportunities for the North Fork Feather River on the Rock Creek and Cresta Reach for 2022. These flows are a part of license operations and were included in the hydropower license order that American Whitewater helped negotiate with Pacific Gas & Electric. 

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Executive Director Mark Singleton to Transition From American Whitewater

03/14/2022 - by Mark Singleton

Back in 2004, several of the American Whitewater Board members I knew recruited me for the position of Executive Director and I accepted. If I had known what kind of financial shape AW was really in when the job was offered I would have thought twice about taking the position, but I did accept. And in doing so, I have experienced one of the greatest career opportunities of my life. In those early years at American Whitewater we struggled just to keep the lights on. The organization owed more money than it had in the bank and even though we had recently celebrated our 50th Anniversary, the American Whitewater job was like taking on a struggling 50 year-old start up. Today, American Whitewater is in a remarkable position. By any measure the organization is stronger than it has ever been, with an awesome staff team in place. The bench strength of the AW team runs deep and staff know how to punch way above their weight. The right time for a leadership transition is when an organization is at the top of its game, and American Whitewater is clearly there. At the end of June, I plan to transition out of the executive director role. This will provide our Board with a long runway to find the next leader to head the organization. I will be working closely with the Board to make this a smooth and thoughtful transition. The job of executive director is both challenging and highly rewarding, for the right person it is a dream job.

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Expect Atypical Nantahala Flows This Spring and Possibly Longer (NC)

03/14/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

Duke Energy has announced that they can only generate power and release water from the powerhouse at 50% of their normal capacity on the Nantahala River due to the failure of a transformer. The powerhouse is now capable of releasing 315 cfs versus the typical 630 cfs, and these conditions are likely to persist through May, and possibly considerably longer. Duke Energy will be releasing flows from the dam into the Upper Nantahala, which is normally bypassed by a tunnel between the dam and the powerhouse, in order to maintain reservoir levels and meet downstream recreational release requirements.



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