May/June American Whitewater Journal hot off the press!
06/06/2023 - by Bethany Overfield
The newest edition of the American Whitewater Journal is now available online. If you're an American Whitewater member that receives the print version of our journal, it should have landed in your mailbox last week (if not, it'll be there soon!).
We have a wonderful team of talented folks that work on publishing this journal five times a year, but at its heart the American Whitewater Journal is a volunteer publication that relies on community members to submit their stories, photos, art and other contributions that make up its content. This is OUR journal!
If you're interested in submitting your work for publication, you can easily do so via our Journal Submission Form.
2023 Gauley Fest Vendor Registration is Live
06/06/2023 - by Bethany Overfield
We’re excited to kick start 2023 Gauley Fest planning! Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world. The Gauley Fest vendor marketplace is second to none for reaching the whitewater boating and outdoor community in the US.
The 2022 Festival will take place from September 13th through September 17th. We’ll be posting more details in the coming weeks, but Vendors can register for booth space now!
Four Available spots on American Whitewater Rogue River (OR) Trip
06/05/2023 - by Bethany Overfield
Four spots on our four-day float trip on the lovely Rogue River in southern Oregon just opened up. Trip dates are June 20th – 23rd. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy one of the country's first Wild and Scenic Rivers with American Whitewater staff and similar likeminded river lovers.
You will have the option of bringing your own boat, renting a boat, or joining as a passenger on one of the rafts. The price for the trip is $1395 with a portion of the trip proceeds going to American Whitewater to support our work, thanks to our friends and supporters at the Northwest Rafting Company.
For more information and to nab these open spots, head here.
Check Out These Colorado River Events!
06/01/2023 - by Kestrel Kunz
Put these events on your calendar this June because you won’t want to miss these fun river gatherings where you can meet up with American Whitewater staff! American Whitewater only has two Stewardship Program staff in Colorado and we love connecting with the river community whenever we can. Come find us at one of these river events to learn more about what we’re working on, become a member, and best of all have fun on the river with your friends. We have a packed schedule this month and we are excited to celebrate rivers with our partners across Colorado.
Walt Havest, Legendary California Kayaker, Dies
06/01/2023 - by Charlie Walbridge
Walt Harvest, a leading California kayaker in the ‘60s and ‘70’s died on May 10, 2023. He was 85. Walt built his first kayak with his father back in the 50’s when kayaks were a real novelty. He was one of the strongest kayakers in the country and a leader of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter River Touring Section on many of the early runs of now-classic rivers. Twice a national champion slalom kayaker (‘63 and ’65), he was mentioned often in AW Journals during the '60's.
North Chickamauga Becomes TN’s Newest Scenic River
06/01/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
We are pleased to report that North Chickamauga and Cain creeks became Tennessee’s most recent state Scenic Rivers on May 18th, 2023. This state designation follows several other designations over the past few years on streams like Soak Creek and the Piney River. The designation effort was led by the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy and drew broad support from many groups, including American Whitewater. This state designation signals a bright future for these streams, which are home to classic whitewater runs.
Federal Debt Ceiling Legislation Bad Deal for Rivers
05/31/2023 - by Bob Nasdor
Legislation raising the federal debt ceiling includes unrelated provisions weakening the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by limiting environmental reviews of federally permitted activities. NEPA is a critically important safeguard that ensures that federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of hydropower dams, pipelines, mining projects, public access enhancements, and other activities when issuing permits. The deal between the White House and House leadership would limit the scope of environmental reviews and seeks to fast track energy projects that have the potential to harm rivers. The legislation also specifically directs federal agencies to approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline project that will cross more than a thousand streams, creeks, rivers, and wetlands, including numerous whitewater rivers like the Gauley and the Kanawha, to transport carbon-polluting natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia. The law would prevent any meaningful review of the effects of this project on rivers and climate change by either land management agencies or the courts.
Year Two of Releases on Utah's Weber River Set
05/30/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
This year marks the second year of recreational releases on the Scrambled Eggs section of the Weber River in Utah! American Whitewater negotiated these releases over the past few years and is excited to celebrate year two, and wow what a different year it is! Unlike last year when getting a minimum paddling flow on release days was a minor miracle, this year release days could be quite high, after a long season of high flows. This year’s releases will be June 10 & 17 and July 1 & 15, between 10 and 2 pm. Enjoy!
Supreme Court Narrows Clean Water Act
05/25/2023 - by Robert Nasdor
The Supreme Court today issued a decision that significantly narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act protection of wetlands adjacent to rivers. The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency that only wetlands that have a “continuous surface connection” to a river are subject to the Clean Water Act. The decision effectively prevents the EPA from requiring a permit for filling, dredging, or polluting wetlands that are next to a river and hydrologically connected.
Grand Canyon Flow Management Delayed Again (AZ)
05/25/2023 - by Kestrel Kunz and Hattie Johnson
On May 22, the federal government announced it was postponing planning efforts for the Colorado River basin in order to assess a new proposal brought forward by the lower Colorado River Basin states. This is a big turn of events since we reported on this two weeks ago and called you all to take action. While it’s important that consensus was made to reduce consumptive use by the lower basin states, there are a lot of unanswered questions and much more work to be done. The best thing that you can do is to be ready to continue to engage on this when the next draft plan is released and help ensure the voice of river enthusiasts is heard loud and clear.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Proposing to Restrict Access at State Wildlife Areas
05/24/2023 - by Hattie Johnson
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission will consider public comments submitted by May 24th about a proposed change to regulations on use of state wildlife areas (SWA). The proposed changes would restrict the use of any vessel on state wildlife area property to ones being actively used for hunting or fishing. This would affect river access such as the Granite SWA property that includes access to Pine Creek on the Arkansas. Please provide your comments by signing up and submitting through the online portal at engagecpw.org.
Image: Rio Grande Box Canyon
Take Action to Protect Grand Canyon Flows
05/10/2023 - by Kestrel Kunz and Hattie Johnson
On April 14, 2023, the Bureau of Reclamation released a three-alternative plan for the short-term management of the Colorado River at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams, and in doing so, initiated a 45-day public comment period. This is the most important and impactful time to engage on the near-term future of the Colorado River between now and 2026. We need your voice to speak up for the Colorado River itself and ensure the river isn’t just treated as a system of pipelines. We have made it super easy for you to make your voice heard using this easy action form here. Adding your personal stories and thoughts is incredibly impactful and important here, please use the bullets in the action form to guide your personalization. Comments are due on May 30, 2023.
Colorado Stream Access Oral Arguments May 2, 2023
05/09/2023 - by Hattie Johnson
American Whitewater, along with Colorado River Outfitters Association and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, filed an amicus brief to the Colorado Supreme Court on a case the State of Colorado asked the high court to weigh in on determining an angler’s ability to wade fish in a section of the Arkansas River. The case has wound its way through state and federal courts discussing the anglers ability, or standing, to bring the lawsuit against the landowners who harassed him by throwing rocks and threatening arrest while he fished in the river that ran through their property. American Whitewater was eager to engage in this stage of the case as the key question raised was whether a member of the public could question Colorado’s restrictive river access laws. The following paragraphs are a summary of the case and oral arguments that took place on May 2nd, 2023 from our pro-bono attorneys on the case, Samantha Caravello and Lori Potter of Kaplan, Kirsch, and Rockwell.
American Whitewater Opposes Brookfield Effort to Weaken Clean Water Act
05/09/2023 - by Robert Nasdor
American Whitewater has intervened in a legal appeal brought by Great Lakes Hydro (GLHA), a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable, challenging state authority to protect rivers at Shawmut Hydroelectric Project in Maine. GLHA's appeal in the Shawmut case is the first time a hydro dam owner has challenged a state's certification denial under new EPA rules that significantly weakend state authority to protect rivers from the harmful effects of hydropower dams. American Whitewater is committed to protecting the ability of states to assure that hydropower dams meet state water quality standards.
Washington Legislature Paddlesports Education Program Shelved (updated)
02/17/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
For the past several years the Washington State legislature has had an interest in improving paddlesports safety and reducing fatalities. It’s a good thing to have the legislature interested in boating safety and we are pleased that it has helped raise the profile of Washington State’s Boating Safety Program. While the interest in boating safety is appreciated, the specific legislative proposals introduced over the past few years have had issues and not advanced out of committee and that was again the case this session. Various ideas have included a Boater Education Card, vessel registration, and mandatory requirements to wear a Personal Floatation Device. With a new session underway, the legislature came back with SB 5597 and HB 1781, legislation that would establish a new boater education card and $10 fee for paddlesports that effectively represents a license to paddle
Southeast 2023 Advanced Release Schedule Announced!
11/25/2022 - 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. Below are the 2023 dates for the Class IV/V Cheoah, Nantahala Cascades & Upper, West Fork Tuck, and Tallulah rivers.
Water Right Modifications Threaten the South Fork American River (CA)
10/14/2022 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman
Please take the time to protect flows on the South Fork American River. Use this easy Action Alert here to tell the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) Board that changing water diversion points along one of the most popular rivers in California is a bad idea.
EID has a new point of diversion proposal for Water Right Permit 21112 and is asking for public comment by October 20, 2022. This current proposal still has the potential to impact over 50 miles of whitewater recreational flows on the South Fork American River one of the premier and most used year-around whitewater recreation waterways in the United States. Changes in flow levels could reduce opportunities to paddle reaches like the easily accessible Kyburz section or the iconic Golden Gate section. It could also impact scheduled recreational flows required by the hydropower licenses for Slab Creek and the year around recreational flows below Chili Bar.
American Whitewater Opposes Legislation to Undermine Clean Water Act
09/23/2022 - by Bob Nasdor
Local Coalition Celebrates Commission Ruling to Protect Colorado's Waters
09/09/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz
Klamath River Dam Removal Takes an Important Step Forward (OR/CA)
08/27/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has just released a final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) which recommends the removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. This is the final step of analysis, and a federal decision to authorize removal of the dams is expected later this year, with dam removal taking place in 2024. This would be the largest dam removal project in the world.
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