Encourage Dam Removal Study on Chattooga River (GA/SC)
11/23/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
Tugalo Dam was built 100 years ago. For the past hundred years it has inundated four miles of the Chattooga River and two miles of the Tallulah River beneath a reservoir along the South Carolina and Georgia border. The dam owner has recently proposed to spend roughly $25 Million to upgrade their generators to last another two generations or more. American Whitewater and our partners are asking federal regulators to take a hard look at dam removal as an alternative to re-investing in this old dam that has buried two iconic rivers for a century. Thoughtful letters from paddlers describing the impacts of Tugalo Dam and the likely benefits of removal will help us make the case for a robust dam removal analysis.
Forest Service Proposes Expansive Post-Fire Tree Removal Project in California
11/23/2021 - by Scott Harding
The US Forest Service has recently proposed an expansive project that will cut and remove fire-killed or damaged trees across nine national forests in California. While targeted at roads, the project proposes to cut and remove fire-killed or damaged trees up to 300 feet away from roads. For roadside rivers, this could mean that trees will be cut right to the water's edge and there are numerous whitewater runs and Wild and Scenic rivers that could be impacted. American Whitewater has been tracking this project and recently submitted scoping comments to the Forest Service, encouraging the protection of streams and rivers.
Skagit River Recreation Flow Survey (WA)
11/12/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Seattle City Light is in the process of securing a new license to operate the Skagit Hydroelectric Project before the current licensee expires in 2025. As part of that process a number of studies are underway that include an assessment of the impacts of hydropower operations on recreation. To collect information from the public, Seattle City Light is conducting an online recreation flow survey for three river segments on the Skagit River. American Whitewater, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and North Cascades National Park participated in the development of this study plan. The purpose of this recreation flow survey is to gather information about recreation flow preferences for three river segments on the Skagit River along a 25.2-mile length from the Goodell Creek Boat Launch inside the Ross Lake National Recreation Area to Howard Miller Steelhead Park near Rockport.
American Whitewater Succeeds in Protecting Rivers and Fighting Climate Change
11/10/2021 - by Evan Stafford
In a big win for river restoration and investment in public lands, the House passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (H.R. 3684), as amended by the Senate, late last Friday, November 5. This legislation will now be sent to the President’s desk. American Whitewater staff have worked with our partners over the past several months on a few key sections of the bill that keep more water in rivers and protect water quality. The bill includes an unprecedented $2.3 billion (yes, billion!) for environmental and recreation enhancements around and below dams (read: restoration of streams and recreation access upgrades), dam removal, and dam safety improvements. As part of a broad coalition of stakeholders in the future of hydropower dams, and in our capacity as leaders in the Hydropower Reform Coalition, we reached out directly to the White House, congressional members and their staff to request funding for these dam related priorities. We played a significant role in directing, what is in our estimation, the most money ever federally appropriated for the removal of dams, dam safety, and environmental restoration of dam affected rivers in the history of the United States.
2021 BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION - CURRENT MEMBERS PLEASE VOTE NOW!
11/10/2021 - by Evan Stafford
Each year American Whitewater's membership ratifies Board of Director members to serve three-year terms. These candidates volunteer to serve on the American Whitewater Board. Current American Whitewater members can cast their votes through Midnight Pacific Time, December 10th. Currently, American Whitewater has four Director Nominees to fill four open seats for election, you may vote for up to four candidates on the slate. The ballot for our Board of Directors election is placed online here.
Comments Needed By Nov. 26 to Secure Protections for West Slope Rivers (CO)
11/09/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
In August, we announced the release of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison Draft Forest Plan. This plan will guide the management of over 3.2 million acres and thousands of river miles, including high-quality paddling streams like the Upper East and the Taylor rivers. The current plan is over 38 years old and is severely outdated. For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to effect change on our public lands and we need the paddling community to ACT NOW by submitting comments to the Forest Service. Make sure that you personalize your comments by sharing a photo or a personal experience about a river(s) on the Forests.
South Platte (CO) Recreational Flow Study Released – please respond!
11/09/2021 - by Hattie Johnson
Earlier this year, AW received a grant to complete a flow preference and boatable days study on the segments within the study area to understand a baseline of recreational opportunity. Our investigation will look at whether those recreational opportunities have changed over time. The resulting data will be used by the SPEB to monitor the health of the recreational outstandingly remarkable value. Your feedback is necessary to complete this study. Please complete this survey and share with your paddling partners.
Let's Chat About the Wild & Scenic NF Kern River (CA)
11/08/2021 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman
Paddlers are invited to join American Whitewater and the National Park Service for a Zoom Listening Session to share recreational interests for the Wild and Scenic North Fork of the Kern River. Specifically, the reaches below Fairview Dam to Riverside Park that are included within the boundaries of the Kern River No. 3 Hydroelectric Project owned by Southern California Edison (SCE). In September, SCE filed a Notice of Intent and a Pre-Application Document to officially start the process to relicense this project. This relicensing process provides opportunities for stakeholders to protect and enhance recreational, biological, and cultural resources on the Kern River.
Opportunity to Provide Input on Washington State Recreation Planning
11/05/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Every 5 years Washington State updates their State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). All states must have such a plan that is required to receive federal recreation dollars from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The process is currently underway to update Washington State's SCORP for 2023-2027 and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office is soliciting input through a survey. In addition they are providing an opportunity to upload a photo and narrative description of a special place. Input from the whitewater paddling community will demonstrate our community's interest in river access and conservation and help American Whitewater to be more effective in advocating for our community's interests in statewide recreation planning.
Gila Wild and Scenic River Bill Reintroduced and Gaining Speed (NM)
11/03/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
Today, Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján reintroduced the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act. The Act, officially reintroduced on November 2, is poised to protect over 440 miles of free-flowing rivers and streams in the Gila and San Francisco watersheds in New Mexico. The success of this campaign wouldn’t be possible without the support of our local partners that have championed this effort and our dedicated members. Over the past couple years, thousands of paddlers and river lovers have voiced their support for protection of the Gila watershed by writing directly to our legislators, signing petitions, and sharing personal stories of the Gila. Your voices have been heard and securing permanent protection for the Gila and its tributaries is nearing the finish line. While the reintroduction of this bill comes as a great win, there is still lots of work to ensure that the legislation is passed through Congress. We will be working to get this across the finish line - for good. Please take a moment to thank the Senators for their hard work and dedicated to protect the Gila River!
Tallulah Gorge Releases Return! (GA)
10/15/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
Tallulah Gorege releases are back! Following over a year in which releases were cancelled because of dam safety issues that required repairs to water release gates and because of Covid, releases will kick off again on the first three weekends in November. American Whitewater negotiated these releases back in the mid-nineties and they quickly became a centerpiece of Southeastern paddling. We are happy to share some updates on Tallulah Gorge releases, and advice on how to visit the river responsibly.
American Whitewater Statement on Pending Sale of SDS Lands
10/06/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
This past week a consortium that includes Twin Creeks Timber, The Conservation Fund, and WKO announced plans to acquire SDS Lumber and Timber Companies. This acquisition includes significant land holdings in the White Salmon River watershed as well as adjoining lands in the Little White Salmon, Klickitat, and Hood River watersheds that are critical to the health of these spectacular rivers. These lands also represent the traditional territory of the Yakama Nation ceded to the federal government in the treaty of 1855. For years the local paddling community has accessed the White Salmon River across SDS lands with the Green Truss put-in being used as the traditional dividing point between the Farmlands and Green Truss runs on the White Salmon River. In partnership with Outdoor Alliance and the local paddling community, American Whitewater has published a Story Map that highlights the lands that are part of this transaction and the values they hold: https://arcg.is/SePWP
Court Restores Pre-2020 Clean Water Act Protections
08/31/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
Yesterday, in a big win for rivers, a US District Court in Arizona tossed out a 2020 federal rule that had dramatically reduced the number of waterways covered under the Clean Water Act. The court decision wiped the 2020 rule off the books because the rule was based on significant errors and posed a serious risk of harm to the public and the environment. Effective immediately, the more protective 1988 rule governing the Clean Water Act is back in place. The administration is currently working on a new rule, and paddlers are encouraged to learn more and send in comments by September 3rd supporting broad protections for rivers, and all those who live and recreate downstream.
Paddle Wise – A Responsibility Code For River Runners
08/19/2021 - by Evan Stafford
Paddle Wise is a responsibility code for river runners developed by American Whitewater through a buildout and design partnership with NRS. The mission was to create a simple and shareable responsibility message for the increasing number of individuals participating in whitewater recreation. When you’re on the river you represent our community and your safe enjoyment of the river is in your hands. These helpful hints will not only make sure you represent the whitewater community well and enjoy the river safely, they’ll help protect, restore and maintain access to our rivers for everyone. Check out www.paddlewise.org for more info and the full toolkit which you can use to help spread the stoke for paddling responsibly.
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!
Proposed Hydropower Dams on Little CO River Stopped (AZ)
08/03/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
This week, I returned from a 19-day Grand Canyon trip to learn that two proposed hydropower projects on the Little Colorado River had been formally abandoned. On July 26, Pumped Hydro Storage LLC officially surrendered their two preliminary permits for the Salt Trail Canyon and Little Colorado River Pumped Storage Projects. These two projects received preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2019 and if completed, would have inundated 4.5 miles of the Little Colorado and created 4 dams up to 240 feet high. American Whitewater and our members were among hundreds of commenters that opposed these hydropower projects, including multiple native tribes whose sacred lands would have been irrevocably destroyed.
Comment Opportunity on Deschutes River Business Plan
07/31/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
The Bureau of Land Management Prineville District's Deschutes Field Office is seeking public comment on a proposal to change the fee structure for the Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River. The proposed changes are intended to make fees more equitable for all users, including non-boating users, throughout the year and to account for rising operating costs and the need for year-round maintenance.
Whitewater Boating Opportunity on the Upper Sultan (WA)
07/30/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Snohomish PUD will be providing a whitewater boating opportunity on the Upper Sultan River on Sunday August 8th. Paddlers who plan to attend are asked to register on the Snohomish PUD website. We have been working for the past 3 years to provide this mid-summer opportunity. While we hoped to release a bit more water than the anticipated flow of 500-700 cfs, we agreed to this flow out of an abundance of caution to prevent impacts to fishery resources of the Skykomish River basin. With monitoring during this release, we hope to collect additional information that can inform future summer whitewater boating opportunities on the Sultan River.
Water Quality Rollback Stopped, Issues Unresolved (CO)
06/18/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
At 5pm tonight, Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted not to rollback the antidegradation rule that has for decades helped to keep our rivers clean. However, they did uphold their ability to make arbitrary decisions on polluting Colorado’s waterways - like they did on the South Platte in 2020 - for the next ten years. The outcome followed a two-day hearing earlier this week, during which the antidegradation rule was discussed at length. While we still have a long road ahead, Coloradans were able to stop what would have been an atrocious rollback of protections for Colorado’s beloved streams. Thank you to those that stood up and took action to protect Colorado's water quality!