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Washington Legislature Proposes Boater Education Card

02/02/2023 - 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. Various ideas have included a Boater Education Card, vessel registration, and mandatory requirements to wear a Personal Floatation Device. With a new session underway, Senator Van De Wege and Senator Lovick are back with SB 5597, legislation that would establish a new boater education card and $10 fee for paddlesports.

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Great Falls Catawba Update - See You in March!

01/10/2023 - by Kevin Colburn

Following 20 years of work, American Whitewater and our partners are in the final push to have the Great Falls of the Catawba ready for flow restoration and paddling this March. We are confident releases will start in March and conditions will be prime to visit the river thereafter. In the interim we ask that paddlers please refrain from paddling the river to allow for important work to happen in and around the river. In this article we'll share an update on where things stand in this unique river restoration project. 

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Lolo National Forest (MT) to Begin Planning - Explore the Web Map

01/05/2023 - by Kevin Colburn

The Lolo National Forest, which encircles Missoula, Montana is gearing up to revise their forest plan starting this spring. The new plan will take a fresh look at which rivers merit protection as potential (eligible) Wild and Scenic Rivers and set recreational and other goals for the next 20 or so years. The process takes around 3 years, and there will be ample opportunities to get involved. Paddlers are encouraged to participate, and share their knowledge of rivers and streams. In this article we share a data-rich web map for paddlers to explore and some tips for how to get involved. 

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New Clean Water Act Rule Released, Rivers Benefit

01/04/2023 - by Kevin Colburn

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency released a new final rule governing which streams and wetlands will be covered by the Clean Water Act. If this sounds familiar, it is for good reason: this issue has been the subject of perennial debate and changes made by various administrations and courts for at least the past two decades. But, for today, for rivers, it is time to celebrate! The new rule, which will likely take effect in 60 days, will restore protections for many of America’s wetlands and streams that had lost protection under the previous version of the rule. Desert rivers are particularly big winners under the new rule, as protections for many of these rivers were lost under the prior rule and will now return. 

 

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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. 

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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.

 

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American Whitewater Opposes Legislation to Undermine Clean Water Act

09/23/2022 - by Bob Nasdor

On September 21, Sen. Manchin (D-WV) released the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, long-anticipated legislation seeking to speed up environmental review and approval of energy projects under the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act. The proposed legislation would weaken Section 401 of the Clean Water Act undermining our ability to advocate for instream flows below hydropower dams.

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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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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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Volunteers Work Hard on Upper Yough Accesses

08/26/2022 - by Charlie Walbridge

Although a broken dam curtailed Upper Yough water releases this year, it's been a great season for American Whitewater volunteers. On the left, Jesse Shimrock is AW's new Upper Yough Access Manager. A lifelong resident of Garrett County, he learned to paddle here as a teen. After years on the freestyle circuit he built a house in Sang Run and is ready to look after the interests of river runners. AW has maintained the site for decades thanks to an agreement with Maryland State Parks. Jesse has plans for upgrades and improvements; if you want to help, contact him on FB. And don't forget reliable Don Millard, on the right, who has mowed the grass in both Sang Run and Friendsville for many years! He does a great job and saves AW thousands of dollars each year!


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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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Take Action: Provide Comment to Restore the Snake River

07/06/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

American Whitewater supports breaching the four lower Snake River Dams and believes the environmental and social justice costs of these dams outweigh the services and benefits they provide. In addition to benefits for salmon and steelhead, breaching these dams would open up a new segment of free-flowing river in a region where current demand for river-based recreation exceeds capacity. We also believe the removal of these dams is a more effective solution to address struggling salmon runs than limits that have been placed on recreational boaters. Governor Inslee and Senator Murray are currently soliciting public comment through July 11th on the Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report.

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Unprecedented Win for Water Quality in Colorado!

06/24/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz

On June 14, Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted 7-1 to protect 520 miles on 25 streams across Southwest Colorado, adopting the first proposal of its kind. American Whitewater and our partners have been hard at work over the past three years to prove that these high quality rivers and creeks deserve protection. Our proposal included beloved paddling segments like the headwaters of the Taylor River, Escalante Creek, Lime Creek, and many others that were acknowledged for their exceptional ecological and recreational attributes. Under the Clean Water Act, Outstanding Waters provide the highest level of water quality protections in Colorado. The designation acknowledges the high water quality that currently exists and ensures it is protected at that level for the future.

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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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2022 Recreational Releases for South Fork Silver Creek and Slab Creek (CA)

05/13/2022 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

Annually, American Whitewater and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) coordinate required recreational flows on South Fork Silver Creek below Icehouse Reservoir and South Fork American River below Slab Creek Reservoir.  The final water year forecast that will determine scheduled recreational flows will be released on May 9th. Recreational flows will vary depending on the final forecast which will either be a DRY or a BELOW NORMAL water year. 

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Great Falls Catawba Releases Delayed Until Next Spring (SC)

05/10/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The start of flow releases on the Great Falls of the Catawba have unfortunately been delayed from this August to next spring. The pace and scale of work being done on the hydropower project and related lands to support releases is extraordinary, and while disappointed we are confident that the delay is merited. American Whitewater will continue to work with Duke Power and the community of Great Falls to be ready for releases next March. Starting in March releases will occur every week or two through October, at nearly 3000 cfs in each channel. 

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Weber Releases Get Green Light For This Summer! (UT)

05/09/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave the green light for recreational releases to begin on Utah’s Weber River this summer! The move came when the agency approved the Whitewater Boating Plan, which was a critical step prior to the flow restoration called for in the new license for the Weber Hydroelectric Project. American Whitewater recently requested that FERC expedite approval of the plan so the public could enjoy the Weber River this year and we are delighted that they did so! With the plan now accepted, American Whitewater will quickly work with the power company to analyze flow forecasts and schedule the four negotiated Saturday releases between late May and mid-July. American Whitewater has spent the past seven years negotiating these releases. We hope paddlers enjoy them this year and in the future!

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Clackamas River Open for River Runners (OR)

05/01/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

We are pleased to report that the Clackamas River corridor is now open and available to the public. Oregon Highway 224 above Estacada was re-opened Sunday May 1st after a closure that was implemented in September 2020 following the Riverside Fire and lasted 20 months. While we are pleased that the river corridor has been re-opened, we believe the amount of tree removal was excessive, the length of the closure was longer than necessary, and the Forest Service did not appropriately engage the public. American Whitewater is actively coordinating with other user groups and will continue to explore potential administrative and legislative actions to provide greater accountability and transparency for how closures are implemented and communicated to the public. 

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Electron Dam Operator Signs Agreement to Protect Puyallup River (WA)

03/25/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

A coalition of conservation groups has reached an agreement with the operators of the Electron hydroelectric project on the Puyallup River to preserve safeguards for threatened Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. The groups had sued over the facility’s illegal killing of these imperiled fish. The agreement will keep the project from operating until and unless operators can address the project’s unacceptable impacts to federally protected native fish threatened with extinction.

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Klamath River Dam Removal Takes Important Step Forward (OR/CA)

02/28/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the proposed removal of four Klamath River dams, recommending that the dams be removed. FERC confirmed that dam removal will bring permanent and significant benefits to multiple resources, including fisheries, water quality, and recreation. This represents an important step for the project to move forward in 2023. The public is now invited to comment by April 18th [extended to April 25th] on the DEIS which describes the impacts and benefits of the project. 



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