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Russell Fork Release Study Open For Comment (VA/KY)

Posted: 08/22/2019
by Kevin Colburn

The Army Corps of Engineers has shared their Environmental Assessment that considered four potential changes to the fall whitewater release program aimed at enhancing whitewater paddling opportunities. The Corps is planning on providing two additional Friday releases this fall as a result of the analysis. The EA is refreshingly succinct, and we encourage paddlers to give it a read and submit a comment if you are inspired to do so. 

First and foremost it is awesome that the Corps is considering and implementing enhancements to the flow regime. Paddlers have been actively seeking such changes for many years, and we view this EA and the related changes as a milestone in collaborating on the management of the Russell Fork. Please thank the Corps for striving to meet paddlers' interests. 

American Whitewater conducted an online survey of the paddling community to help inform our comments and the Corps decision. The hard trade offs in the EA are reflective of the priorities that the paddling community voiced through the survey and many public comments. The Corps selected our preferred alternative, and then trimmed release days to reduce impacts on river anglers in a way that retained the most important additional days for paddling. While the enhancement is only two additional days, they are two days that work well for paddlers. 

We are hopeful that this is the first step of ongoing adaptive management of flows on the Russell Fork. We feel that there may be significant opportunities for additional lower flow releases throughout the year that benefit paddlers and perhaps anglers as well, as well as additional higher flows. 

Thanks to all the paddlers who took our survey, filed comments, and attended public meetings! 

Comments on the EA are being accepted through the end of August, and may be mailed to emailed to:

Mr. Charles Goad

Community Planner

US Army Corps of Engineers

Huntington District

Planning Branch

502 Eighth Street

Huntington, WV 25701

Kevin Colburn
Asheville, NC