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S. Rockies Stewardship Year End Review 2022

Posted: 12/02/2022
By: Hattie Johnson and Kestrel Kunz

At the end of another year, we like to look back on all we’ve achieved together. Your support and engagement in American Whitewater’s mission is what makes the stewardship work we do possible. Thanks for fighting for rivers with us! 



  • In June, we secured water quality protections for over 520 stream miles in Colorado. The Water Quality Control Commission’s 7-1 vote marked the largest successful community Outstanding Waters proposal in Colorado’s history. Newly protected streams include the Taylor River, Escalante Creek, and many others. 

  • The M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act, poised to protect over 440 river miles in New Mexico, achieved a key milestone in Congress. The bill passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support. We are working hard to get the bill signed into law by the New Year! 

  • We successfully secured a full environmental review for a proposed dam on the East Fork Virgin River in Southwest Utah. Dam proponents attempted to streamline project approval and we helped ensure that the project will undergo a full Environmental Impact Assessment, requiring more scrutiny and public input on this unjustified water development project. 

  • After years of negotiation and collaboration the Dolores River National Conservation Area legislation had a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on December 1st with the only question coming from Senator Heinrich, NM, asking about the best line at Snaggletooth Rapid.



  • We worked with 36 river-related businesses around Colorado to provide comments on the draft update to the Colorado Water Plan this fall. Those comments made an impact on the Colorado Water Conservation Board who is pushing for more substantial inclusion of river recreation issues in the final draft.

  • Another year of devastatingly low flows on the Upper Colorado made it hard to float boats and against Colorado Parks and Wildlife guidance to fish. On the Upper Colorado Wild and Scenic Stakeholder Group, American Whitewater advocated for collaborative releases to lower stream temperatures and boost flows. Streamflows were enhanced by 200 cfs for over two weeks as a result.

  • We wrapped up a project to score and prioritize low head dam structures around Colorado. The project identified structures that had the highest impact to safety, recreation and environment. The tool is designed to support decisions in finding projects with the highest return on investment in removing or retrofitting those structures.



  • In September, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued their full written decision reaffirming the longstanding right of the public to recreate on all streams of the state, including walking or wading on the streambeds.

  • We had a hugely enjoyable time at Gore Fest this year despite our inability to host the race. It was so lovely to see so many from the Southern Rockies community paddling the Upper Colorado River, enjoying the flow-protecting whitewater park, and having a great time camping together. You all are our energy and power!

Image credit: Mark Armistead

American Whitewater

Hattie Johnson

Phone: 970-456-8533
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