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Russell Fork Meeting Scheduled to Consider Releases

Posted: 03/15/2019
by Kevin Colburn

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced a second public meeting to inform the public and seek input regarding proposed changes to the fall release schedule. The meeting will be held at the Breaks Interstate Park Conference Center at 627 Commission Circle, Breaks, Va., on April 2, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. Paddlers are encouraged to attend. 

The Corps has identified four possible alternatives with the objective to optimize the winter drawdown process at John W. Flannagan Dam in order to facilitate enhanced downstream recreation on the popular Russell Fork River:

- Four day weekend high volume release throughout October. (a gain for paddlers from the current 2-day releases)

- Fourteen consecutive days of high volume release from the 3rd Monday to the last Sunday of October. (a loss of 2 weekends of releases for paddlers, but a gain of several mid-week days)

- Seventeen consecutive days of high volume release from the 2nd Saturday to the last Monday of October. (a loss of 1 weekend of releases for paddlers, but a gain of several mid-week days)

- No action – no change from current existing conditions.

The stated objective of the study is to balance the needs of whitewater recreation with fishing in Flannagan Reservoir and downstream in the Russell Fork River. Paddlers need to voice the benefits of enhanced flows given how this issue is being framed. Time to speak up! 

American Whitewater conducted a survey of paddlers regarding the Russell Fork that was shared with the Corps in December. Our community sees significant potential for enhancing recreation on the Russell Fork. Respectful comments in the meeting or in writing explaining a preference for one or more alternatives will be most helpful. In addition, explaining your spending patterns when in the area and your anticipated use of the releases will help convey the economic benefits of the releases. 

Respectful written comments may be sent to Jami Buchanan at

Kevin Colburn
Asheville, NC

Associated Rivers