Green River, UT – American Whitewater staff traveled to Green River, UT in late March to meet with private water users and state agencies, and to participate in the official opening of the new boat passage through the Green River Diversion (Tusher Dam). Completion of the boat passage has freed the Green River from its last in-stream obstruction between the Flaming Gorge Dam and the confluence with the Colorado River – over 400 floatable river miles through iconic canyons and historic landmarks. Since the original diversion structure was damaged in the 2010-2011 floods, American Whitewater has worked with state and federal agencies, private water users, the local boating community, and dedicated AW volunteers to secure safe passage for boaters and fish through the new diversion structure. During the final stages of construction, AW continued to closely follow the project, addressing concerns from local boaters and working with the appropriate stakeholders to ensure that the boat passage is safe and open to the public. The official opening of the boat passage is a tribute to our efforts, and those of the many others involved. It has a been a long process, and our work isn’t over yet! As your boating representative, American Whitewater will continue to work closely with the dam operators and Utah’s Division of State Lands (FFSL) to ensure that the boat passage meets the needs of the public during its inaugural year.
To achieve this, we have been working directly with the FFSL to improve the representation of boaters in the management and operation of the Green River Diversion Structure. The FFSL helped coordinate Friday’s meeting to connect American Whitewater staff with the President of the Green River Canal Company (GRCC). Prior to the meeting, Eli Tome (FFSL), reported that the President of the GRCC is “really excited to meet people that boat the river, and understand more what the boating community needs in terms of dam maintenance and operations.” American Whitewater is equally excited to maintain a continued partnership with the GRCC, and believes that the interests of the dam operators and the boating community can coexist on the Green River. Friday’s meeting helped to solidify a communication strategy between American Whitewater, the GRCC, and the FFSL. We’ll be the first to know if there is a problem with the boat passage, or if there must be a temporary closure. While the boat passage is engineered to provide safe passage through the diversion structure at a range of flows, there are still inherent risks involved in navigating any manmade structure and AW encourages boaters to use appropriate caution in their assessment and approach.
We have updated the river beta page for section 4 and section 5 of the Green River to include a description of the new boat passage, boater warner signs, and portage trail. If you have any concerns about the safety or function of the boat passage, including debris obstructing the passage, please contact Eli Tome (FFSL) directly at (435) 210-0362.
American Whitewater would also like to thank the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) for responding to our Letter of Inquiry that we submitted on December 16, 2016, expressing our concerns over the delayed construction and lack of boater representation in the final phase of the project. The NRCS’ response was consistent with information provided by the FFSL, and after Friday’s meeting and the opening of the passage, our initial concerns have been addressed. We look forward to the first paddling season (in over 100 years) of safe navigation through the Green River Diversion!
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