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Gauley Paddlers Encouraged to Step Up Safety

07/10/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

This year we want to encourage boaters to have a great time on the Gauley, but to also keep it classy and keep the safety of your group and others front of mind. Here are some tips, based on conversations with the National Park Service and our own recommendations as fellow paddlers. Every fall the predictable flows, sublime scenery, and powerful rapids of the Gauley bring boaters together from vast distances for something of an annual reunion in a National Park setting. Mixed into the roar of the rapids are the cheers of river runners celebrating each other’s good and bad lines, and at times the joy of the river and community fuels a party-like atmosphere on the river. At the same time, the Gauley River has significant hazards that claim lives with sobering regularity. 

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Take action! Ensure Impacts to Dolores River Are Fully Analyzed

07/10/2024 - by Hattie Johnson

Flows in the Dolores River below McPhee Dam depend on how its dam and irrigation infrastructure are operated. Since the construction of the dam, boatable flows are only available in years when the reservoir is overflowing. Native fish and a healthy and diverse riparian corridor are dependent on these wildly variable dam releases. Two agreements that direct the operations and water management for McPhee Dam are up for renewal in 2025. Flows have been less consistent over the past 24 years and have resulted in significant impacts to boaters, fish, and riparian habitat. We believe that an environmental analysis of those agreements must be updated before the current agreements are renewed, for the health of the river and to be legally compliant with the National Environmental Policy Act. Use this easy-action form to help us in asking the Bureau of Reclamation to fully analyze the impacts of future Dolores Project operations on environmental, cultural and recreational values.

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Gore Fest is ON! August 23-25

07/10/2024 - by Hattie Johnson

American Whitewater is hosting the festival at Pumphouse Recreation Area in partnership with Whitewater Racing LLC who will be bringing you the beloved race through Gore Canyon. We are grateful for them to host the big race. Please check their website for more race details. American Whitewater will be supporting the festivities and be there for you to join or renew your membership and learn more about our work in the region. Join us starting on Friday August 23rd and camp through the weekend at Pumphouse. Camping is on a first come first serve basis. 

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113 Miles of River Protections Finalized in Colorado!

07/09/2024 - by Kestrel Kunz

In June, we welcomed river protections for 22 new river segments across 113 river miles in Colorado’s western slope. American Whitewater has been advocating for durable river protections and smart recreation management on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) since 2016. We are happy to celebrate the end of the GMUG Forest Plan revision process with a number of hard earned wins. The success is in large part because of letters, stories, and photos that our members contributed to this effort. Photo by Dustin Brown, Scenic River Tours

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Legislation Seeks Study of Fees and Reservation Systems

07/01/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

New legislation being considered in Congress would require a federal inquiry into reservation systems being used by land managers to allocate recreational opportunities on public lands - most prominently The legislation, called the RESERVE Federal Land Act, which is short for ‘‘Review and Evaluation of Strategies for Equal Reservations for Visitor Experiences Federal Land Act,” seeks answers to some very good questions about transparency, equity, financial benefits, and best practices for allocating recreational use. Boaters are encouraged to use our easy-action form to contact your US Senators and share your views on this legislation. 

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Contested Case Closes Portion of Watauga River, AW Moves to Intervene (NC)

06/24/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater has requested intervention in a contested case pending in the Office of Administrative Hearings challenging the rights of the public to recreate on sections of the Boone Fork and Watauga River, located near Boone, North Carolina. Our intervention is intended to provide the tribunal with factual evidence that the rivers are regularly paddled, legally and physically navigable, and thus open to the public for paddling. Paddlers that have run these sections are encouraged to contact American Whitewater through this form to help us document paddling use of these streams.

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Fall River Dam Relicensing Kicks Off (ID)

06/18/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

The Fall River is home to a gem of a whitewater run flowing through a low canyon set in agricultural fields in Southeast Idaho, just west of Yellowstone National Park. A hydropower dam that regulates the flows in the whitewater run is up for relicensing starting this summer. The 5-year dam relicensing process will likely result in a new 30-50 year license for the dam in 2029. The new license could include improved instream flows and public access, and American Whitewater will be participating in the process with the help of local paddlers to seek such improvements. 


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2024 Southeast Advanced Release Calendar Announced!

11/20/2023 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater and our affiliate clubs have spent the past 25 years working to restore flows to incredible Southeastern rivers impacted by dams. A lot of our work has focused on releases and access on Class II and III rivers like the lower Nantahala, Tuckasegee, Hiwassee, and Catawba, but we also secured releases in some classic steeper reaches previously dewatered by hydroelectric diversions. Each year we meet with power companies and agencies to schedule future releases, review ongoing ecology studies, and discuss any issues with the release programs. We strive to create a schedule with minimal conflicts to maximize recreational value. In this article you'll find the 2024 dates for the Class IV/V Cheoah, Nantahala Cascades & Upper, West Fork Tuck, and Tallulah rivers. 

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10/11/2023 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman


Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) operates 22 hydropower projects on 500 river miles across California that American Whitewater has spent nearly 30 years of work to protect and restore. This includes whitewater reaches on the North Fork Feather, the Pit, the McCloud, Butte Creek, Fordyce, the South Yuba, the Bear, the Eel, the Mokelumne, the San Joaquin and the North Fork Kings. Now, in an application before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), PG&E is proposing to transfer all non-nuclear assets including these 22 hydropower projects to a new and separate subsidiary, Pacific Generation LLC (PacGen). American Whitewater, believes that the CPUC should not simply rubber stamp the largest, unprecedented, and “first of its kind” handover of hydropower assets. This asset transfer will impact dam safety and the operation and maintenance of multiple projects that restore ecological and recreational releases to our rivers. We need paddlers to help persuade the CPUC to take heed. Read on to learn more and find out how you can help!

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Protection for the Headwaters of the Illinois and North Fork Smith Rivers (OR)

07/27/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe

We are pleased to report that Representative Val Hoyle, the new representative for Oregon's 4th Congressional District has reintroduced the Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act (SOWSPA) as her first piece of conservation legislation. This legislation will permanently protect the headwaters of Southwest Oregon’s outstanding collection of wild rivers—including the National Wild and Scenic Illinois and the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith, plus Pistol River and Hunter Creek—from the threat of mining in the headwaters.

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Local Coalition Celebrates Commission Ruling to Protect Colorado's Waters

09/09/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz

During this year’s World Water Week, a coalition including community members, anglers, recreation groups, and conservation organizations are celebrating the finalization of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission’s decision to designate over 520 miles on 25 streams across Southwest Colorado as Outstanding Waters. The coalition came together from across the state, dedicating three years to demonstrating that these streams have high water quality, exceptional recreational and ecological values, and that they warrant protection. The Commission’s designation of these waterways marks the adoption of the largest community proposal for Outstanding Waters in Colorado’s history.

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A Big Win for Rivers in the Sierra & Sequoia National Forests (CA)!

07/25/2022 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

The Sierra and Sequoia National Forests have released final forest land management plans containing protections for 498 miles of rivers found eligible for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Since 2013, American Whitewater has been engaged in this forest planning process with the goal of getting California's whitewater resources included in the eligibility inventory and recognized for their outstandingly remarkable values. As a tenet of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, managing agencies like the Forest Service (USFS) provide interim protections for eligible river's free flowing character and outstandingly remarkable values until they can be designated by Congress. 


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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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It’s Finally Time to Protect Colorado’s West Slope Rivers!

08/16/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz

Today, the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest Unit announced the much-anticipated release of the Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The Draft Plan materials were released on Friday, August 13, initiating a 90-day review period. The GMUG National Forest is home to gems like Oh-Be-Joyful Creek, the Taylor River, Norwood Canyon on the San Miguel, and numerous others. Many of these rivers are free-flowing and offer outstanding values, including paddling, breathtaking scenery, fish habitat, and profound history and culture. This point in the plan revision process is the most important time for the river community to engage and speak up to protect our beloved West Slope rivers in Colorado!

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Black Canyon Put-In Closed for 2021 Season (CO)

04/06/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz

The National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation announced this week that the East Portal Road which serves as the put-in for the Black Canyon section of the Gunnison River will be closed for maintenance for the duration of the 2021 season. While the road closure is an unfortunate obstacle for many this season, the needed maintenance of the road will lead to fewer unexpected road closures due to rockfall and will improve access to the Black Canyon for the long term. American Whitewater will track the status of the road closure and we will share an update as soon as access to the Black Canyon is reopened.  

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Train Operations in Eagle and Arkansas Corridors to Require Full Review (CO)

03/25/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz

This morning, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) made a much-anticipated decision on the revival of the Tennessee Pass Rail Line - a 160-mile rail line that follows the Eagle and Arkansas Rivers between Sage and Parkdale, Colorado. The STB formally rejected Colorado, Midland and Pacific Railway’s (CMPR) request to be exempt from oversight and regulation of their proposed operation on the line, which would be leased under an agreement with Union Pacific. This decision comes nearly three months after CMPR filed a notice of exemption on December 31, 2020, as people were bringing in the new year. 

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Help Protect Colorado’s Western Slope Rivers this Valentine’s Day

02/09/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz

American Whitewater is asking the paddling community to step up this Valentine’s Day to help protect rivers like the Taylor, Oh-Be-Joyful, and San Miguel rivers in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) in Colorado. This Valentine’s Day and for the whole month of February we are collecting LOVE LETTERS from you to your favorite river in the Gunnison and Uncompahgre National Forests. We want to hear directly from you about why you love these rivers and why they are worth protecting. We have made this easy-to-use form to submit your letter to us! 

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Urgent: Help Protect Browns Canyon and the Arkansas and Eagle River Valleys

01/21/2021 - by Hattie Johnson

It’s hard to imagine what it would be like if up to 10 trains full of heavy crude oil and hazardous chemicals were rumbling by while paddling the Arkansas or Eagle Rivers. It would, without question, change the experience in negative ways, including opening up the opportunity for the major disturbances associated with any kind of derailment and spill of hazardous materials into the river.  We need your help today to protect these incredible places. This past New Year’s Eve, Colorado Midland and Pacific Railway filed a notice of exemption for lease and operations of the Tennessee Pass line that runs through the Eagle and Arkansas Valleys to Parkdale. You have two options to make your voice heard. We have created a sign on letter to be submitted along with American Whitewater’s’s technical comments. However, if you’ve got the time to go the extra mile, we’ve included detailed directions below to submit your own filing directly to the Surface Transportation Board. Please follow these directions carefully and copy if you decide to file your own comments. Comments are due by January 22 - please take action today! 

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Gauley Season 2020

08/21/2020 - by Mark Singleton

While Gauley Fest has moved to a virtual format for 2020 due to Covid-19 and social distancing concerns, releases on the Gauley River will still take place. American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This information will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River for the 2020 season.

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