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Yellowstone Bill Hearing Goes Well

Posted: 11/22/2013
by Kevin Colburn

Last week the River Paddling Protection Act, HR 3492, was discussed in a hearing in the House of Representative's Natural Resources Committee.  This bill aims to lift a 60-year-old federal-level ban on paddling rivers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in favor of typical and more flexible Superintendent-level management decisions.  The hearing addressed several unrelated bills, with the discussion of HR 3492 coming near the end.  

Aaron Pruzan testified on behalf of conservation-oriented paddlers.  Aaron is a past American Whitewater board member, a founding board member of the Snake River Fund, and owner of Redezvous River Sports in Jackson, WY.  He was actively involved in the designation of 414 miles of the Snake River's headwaters as Wild and Scenic Rivers.  Aaron's oral and written testimony largely echoed American Whitewater's written testimony, and shared the impact these paddling bans have had on visitors and residents of the greater Yellowstone area for three generations.  

American Whitewater fully supports the elimination of the 60-year old paddling bans.  Our testimony voices this support, but with the caveats that the bill should explicitly leave the Park Service with the full suite of tools for managing paddling in an environmentally sustainable manner, in concert with other similar uses.  We also stress that the National Park Service is an outstanding partner and supports paddling across the US.  We are confident that the managers of Yellowstone and Grand Teton can protect the parks' natural resources and allow managed paddling just as other parks do.      

The bill's sponsor, Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), did a great job in the hearing of stressing the reasonable and responsible goals of the bill, and welcoming ideas for making the bill better reflect these goals.  Congressman Grijalva (D-AZ) asked some good questions and Aaron offered solid responses.  We will be following up with these and other congressional representatives in support of honing and moving forward with HR 3492.

Paddlers that are excited about this opportunity are encouraged to contact their Congressional representatives and voice support for HR 3492 and for responsible and sustainable enjoyment of the amazing rivers of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.   


Associated Projects

Yellowstone and Grand Teton
AW has advocated for opportunities to experience the incredible rivers of Yellowstone National and Grand Teton National Parks through paddling.

Associated News