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Georgians Ask Your Legislators to Affirm the Right to Float

02/22/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

The Georgia General Assembly is considering legislation that would subtly shift the rights of the public to navigate and otherwise enjoy the state’s rivers. This is the second such bill in as many years, and more legislative action is anticipated on the topic. The legislature is hearing from special interest groups that seek exclusive private rights to Georgia’s rivers, and they also need to hear from the public that is concerned for their basic rights to paddle the state’s rivers. Learn more and take action in this article! 

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State Legislation Threatens Spring Upper Yough Releases (MD)

02/22/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

New legislation is threatening spring releases on the Upper Youghiogheny, and we encourage Maryland residents to reach out to your state House and Senate legislators to share your concerns. The bill aims to subvert the state permit for the dam that was crafted through a science-based and balanced public process, and deliver benefits to reservoir-side homeowners at the expense of downstream river users. Specifically the bill would require the power company to expand their winter drawdown of the reservoir, jeopardizing spring releases that require a full reservoir. 

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West Virginia Bill Would Improve River Access At Bridges

02/13/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

A new bill in the West Virginia legislature aims to ensure public access to the state’s rivers and streams for recreational purposes. Specifically, the proposed West Virginia Public Waterway Access Act would require river access be provided as part of bridge construction or substantial repairs if it is safe and practical to do so. The result of this bill would be a gradual improvement to river access throughout the state over many years to come, increasing safety for both paddlers and drivers, and ensuring the economic and health benefits of river recreation will be a secure part of West Virginia’s future. We make it simple for West Virginia residents to reach out to their state senator and support this bill, SB 425 using our easy-action form.

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Uinta Basin Railway Permit Withdrawn, Colorado River Protected!

02/08/2024 - by Evan Stafford

A court finding overturned the Surface Transportation Board’s approval of the Uinta Oil Train Project, leading the Forest Service to withdraw the Project’s Special Use Permit. This permit removal protects the Colorado River and the classic whitewater of places like Gore Canyon (pictured), Glenwood Canyon, Westwater Canyon and so many more – for now. This is a moment for celebration! As well as a moment to commit to vigilance in protecting and stewarding the Colorado River through what is likely to be a time of significant threats. We applaud the Forest Service for withdrawing this permit and the Congresspeople who stepped up to help protect the river, and we thank the coalition of local governments in Colorado that led the lawsuit asserting their concerns about unaddressed risks to the Colorado River, increased wildfire danger, and climate impacts.

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American Whitewater Appeals Bad Forest Plan in Idaho

02/08/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

Last week, American Whitewater, along with several other national and regional organizations, filed a formal appeal of the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest’s new management plan. The new plan took well over a decade for the Agency to produce, and included an unprecedented reduction in river protections. These streams offer vast habitat for salmon and steelhead shortly upstream of the Snake River dams, and are recreational treasures for paddlers and other river enthusiasts from around the Country. The Forest Service is clear that they are releasing streams from both long-held and promised protections so that they can conduct logging and other projects on the Forest without the need to protect river values while they do it. 

Our objection now goes to the Regional Forester, Leanne Marten, who will decide the fate of these 70+ rivers and streams. There are no more official public comment periods for this process. With that said, river enthusiasts are encouraged to respectfully email Regional Forester Marten with personal stories about these streams and their importance, and with requests to protect them as “eligible” and/or “suitable” for Wild and Scenic designation. Her email address is: leanne.marten@usda.gov

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This Valentine’s Day, help protect the Dolores River! (CO)

02/08/2024 - by Kestrel Kunz

This year, American Whitewater is pulling out all the stops to ensure that the Dolores River is protected now and for our future generations. We are working closely with our partners and local stakeholders to ask our congressional leaders and the Biden Administration to protect the Dolores River Canyons. We need your help to tell decision makers why the Dolores River in southwest Colorado is so special and that it is worth protecting. For this Valentine’s Day, we are asking you to write a love letter to the Dolores River. Our staff will compile all the love letters and deliver them to your congressional representatives and the administration. You can use this easy form to craft your love letter and submit it to American Whitewater. We’ve included template language that you can use for inspiration, but make sure that your letter is unique! You can include stories from the river, whether it’s about the scenery, rapids, or the people that made a trip special. 

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Wild & Scenic Tuolumne River (CA) - Access Update

02/08/2024 - by Jeff Venturino

American Whitewater has been actively working to help restore public access to the Wild & Scenic Tuolumne River following extensive 2023 storm damage to two key access points, Lumsden Road and Wards Ferry Road. Repair of these roads is vital to the recreation economy in the area and each additional season without access to the river has a significant impact on whitewater paddlers. The extreme damage to these roads will require coordinated efforts to ensure they are funded and repaired for the long haul and not just patched for the next atmospheric river to take them out, again! The unfortunate news is that full traditional access will not be restored before the spring and summer of 2024. Access on an interim road is still available for the public and Outfitters. American Whitewater is working with other stakeholders to explore every viable interim solution. This update provides the most recent information regarding road repairs and access to the Tuolumne.

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Idaho and Utah National Forests Block 983 Miles of River Protections

01/11/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

Late last year the US Forest Service released two new national forest management plans that deny protections for a total of 983 miles of streams that they had deemed eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. Federal law and policy requires them to protect these rivers for potential congressional designation, but instead they released the streams from protection. They released the protections to grant themselves greater flexibility to conduct logging and other activities in the river corridors, and for political reasons. American Whitewater filed a formal appeal of the Ashley plan that was denied late last year, and will file an appeal of the Nez Perce Clearwater plan in late January that is likely to meet a similar fate. With almost 1,000 miles of our nation’s finest rivers cued up to lose protection, we are working with our partners in the region to explore all of our options to protect these streams. 

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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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Index-Galena Road Providing North Fork Skykomish Access Repaired! (WA)

11/06/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe

Nearly 20 years ago, the Index-Galena Road which provides access to the North Fork Skykomish River sustained heavy damage in a high water event that washed away portions of the road between milepost 6 and 7. The onset of fall rains coincided with the opening of the new road this past weekend and whitewater boaters have been among the first recreational users to get out and enjoy the restored access. We are pleased that the sustained efforts of our members and many partners helped keep this project on track.

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PG&E PROPOSAL IMPACTS 500 MILES OF CA RIVERS

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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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!

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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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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.

 

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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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