Montana Agency Proposes Paddling Prohibition on Fish Creek
09/20/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
Earlier this week Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks proposed to prohibit paddling on the entire length of Fish Creek, located near the popular Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River downstream of Missoula. Their rationale is both flawed and concerning, and the proposal marks a significant shift for a state that has a long history of strongly supporting the public freedom to float rivers. Paddlers across the state are encouraged to speak out to stop this overbearing proposal, as part of a public comment period open until October 20, 2023.
Wins and Losses for Eastern Colorado Rivers
09/12/2023 - by Kestrel Kunz
American Whitewater is formally objecting to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed Final Plan for the Eastern Colorado Field Office. The planning area includes the majority of the Arkansas River and its key tributaries like Grape Creek. As part of the planning process the BLM is required to conduct a thorough review of which river segments are free-flowing and possess at least one Outstandingly Remarkable Value. These river segments should then be protected by the agency as eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers. However, in a practice that American Whitewater opposes at the national level, the BLM conducted an unnecessary “suitability” study on these rivers and is proposing to release many of them from protections.
Planning for Colorado River Basin Future Moves Forward
09/12/2023 - by Kestrel Kunz
In August, American Whitewater and many others submitted scoping comments on the complex planning process for Post-2026 Operations at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams on the Colorado River. The outcome of the multi-year process led by the Bureau of Reclamation will guide reservoir operations at both Glen Canyon Dam (Lake Powell) and Hoover Dam (Lake Mead) and has the potential to affect river recreation opportunities throughout the entire Colorado River Basin. American Whitewater will continue to ensure that our priorities are addressed in the planning process for operations at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams. As this effort progresses, we will need river enthusiasts to stand up and use their voice to help ensure the river itself is protected for future generations.
Uinta Basin Railway Must Assess Impacts to Colorado River
09/11/2023 - by Hattie Johnson
In August a D.C. Circuit Court vacated the Surface Transportation Board’s environmental review and directed further evaluation of the human and environmental impacts of a proposed segment of railway in the Uinta Basin in Utah. The new 88-mile track would provide for efficient export of waxy crude oil extracted from northeast Utah, along the Colorado River, to Gulf Coast refineries. Eagle County in Colorado sued the Transportation Board, indicating that both the up and downstream impacts - such as oil spills into the Colorado River or increased wildfire risk - were not sufficiently analyzed in the environmental impact statement completed on the project. American Whitewater has supported this litigation and advocated political leadership across Colorado to stop this project that would be harmful to our rivers.
Pit River (CA) Whitewater Boating Opportunities in September & October
09/04/2023 - by Scott Harding
Every late summer and early fall, it’s time for boating on California’s Pit River when the hydropower boating flow releases that American Whitewater has secured come into play. Here’s how it looks this season: there’s more whitewater than usual!
New EPA Rule Greatly Reduces Clean Water Act Protections
08/31/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
Earlier this week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new federal rule that eliminates protection for a majority of our nation’s wetlands and estimated totals of well over a million miles of streams. The rule aligns the law with a recent Supreme Court Case that limited the kinds of wetlands and streams that can be covered by the Clean Water Act. American Whitewater joined an amicus brief in that pivotal court case, advocating for the science-based protection of these streams and wetlands, but the Supreme Court ruled against us. American Whitewater and the paddling community have been stalwart advocates for the Clean Water Act through decades of various rules, legislation, and litigation. This will not change: we'll seek opportunities to restore river protections at the state and federal level in the months and years ahead following this setback.
National Park Service Shares 2023 Gauley Season Details (WV)
08/31/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater received the annual open letter to boaters from the great rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area and are happy to share it in this article. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River for the 2023 season. In addition, as part of our agreement with the land owner, there is no camping allowed on the Legg field that American Whitewater leases for overflow parking. As always, respect this and other private property. The 2023 release schedule for Gauley season is posted here.
Speak Up For Dam Removals On TN’s Little River
08/28/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
The Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to remove two low head dams on the Little River in Tennessee, and considered but passed on the removal of a third dam. These dam removals are located in scenic Class I-II reaches that are popular with beginner and local paddlers. Sadly, these two dams, called Rockford Dam and Peery’s Mill Dam, have been responsible for seven drownings in recent years. Dam removal would significantly benefit the many members of the public who enjoy paddling rivers in the region, and American Whitewater has submitted a comment letter fully supporting this proposed dam removal. Additional comments from the paddling community will help this exciting project move forward and succeed at meeting the public interest in river restoration, recreation, and safety.
AW Wildfire Info Map Keeps Boaters Updated on Rivers Affected by Fires
07/27/2023 - by Scott Harding
It's peak fire season in much of the country and active wildfires are currently burning along several whitewater rivers in the West. Be sure to check the American Whitewater Wildfire Information Map for the latest details on whether there's an active wildfire that could affect your boating trip or safety. It's the only map that combines detailed information on whitewater runs with constantly updated fire locations, air quality info, and more.
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.
Help Protect the Greater Grand Canyon Area!
07/10/2023 - by Kestrel Kunz
American Whitewater has joined a tribally led effort to protect 1.1 million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon as a National Monument. The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument would protect important landscapes and sensitive tributaries on the north and south rims. Use your voice now to help protect the Grand Canyon by signing this petition! Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer as a local advocate for this effort in the greater Grand Canyon region. We need dedicated advocates to attend public meetings, author letters in local papers, and contact elected officials.
American Whitewater Challenges Ashley National Forest Plan (UT)
07/05/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater recently filed a formal objection to the newly revised Ashley National Forest management plan. The objection challenges the Forest Service’s decision to permanently release 28 rivers and streams from protection as potential Wild and Scenic Rivers after previously finding them eligible for such protections. Only two eligible streams retained protected status in the plan. The Forest is the first to attempt this release of river protections under the 2012 planning rule, which requires protection of eligible streams. The Forest’s attempt at systematically foreclosing river protections could lead to a rapid erosion of our nation’s wildest public-land streams in Utah and beyond, at a time when cold and clean water is more important than ever.
Clackamas River Visioning Public Input Opportunity (OR)
06/22/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
In 2020, Mt. Hood National Forest and surrounding communities experienced catastrophic wildfire events that damaged recreational sites and transportation assets along the Clackamas River corridor and have impacted visitation to the forest. American Whitewater was invited to join a visioning workshop with Forest Service staff this past week and there will be additional opportunities for public input in the coming week. We encourage the paddling community to participate in developing a future vision for the river corridor.
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.
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.
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.