American Whitewater Pledges to Support Public Lands - You Can Too
American Whitewater was founded in 1954 by a group of paddlers under the belief that we love the rivers we know, and the rivers we know we'll fight to protect. At that time, in the middle of the last century, many of our bedrock conservation laws did not exist and many rivers we now take for granted were threatened by dams, pollution, and resource extraction. These same issues still exist, but fortunately many of our most classic and favorite rivers to paddle are protected by surrounding public lands and special public lands designations such as Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Recreation Areas, National Monuments, and many others. That's why we strongly support protecting our federal public lands and waters, and also why we've signed, and strongly encourage you to sign the Outdoor Alliance Public Lands Pledge. American Whitewater is a member of the Outdoor Alliance, a coalition that unites the voices of the outdoor recreation community to conserve public lands and ensure those lands and rivers are managed in a way that embraces the human-powered experience.
American Whitewater is proud to support Outdoor Alliance's vision for our nation's public lands and rivers. It's an idyllic view of a country where you can paddle in every river and where access, water quality, and bountiful flow regimes are protected. Where rivers flow free, fed by snowfall and rain storms touching down in safeguarded headwaters. Our nation's public lands and waters are unique American treasures that represent one of our country's best and most popular ideas. More than 800 million people visit our nation's public lands and rivers each year (source), and the outdoor recreation economy supports 7.6 million jobs, contributing more than $887 billion to our nation's economy (source). These are our important places - they allow us to reconnect with nature and strengthen bonds with family and friends, and they're a huge part of what makes our communities healthy, enjoyable, and economically vibrant.
Did you know nearly half of all paddling in the United States takes place on public lands? That Middle Fork Salmon (ID) permit you've been lusting after - Salmon-Challis National Forest; Trip of a lifetime down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon (AZ) - Grand Canyon National Park, Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument; Out of the way creeking on Colorado's Escalante Creek - Escalante Recreation Area (Bureau of Land Management). Not just in the West too, did you know your favorite runs in the East are on public lands too? Classic class III/IV river running on the Nolichucky River (NC/TN) - Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests; Hucking your carcass down the quintessential low volume waterfalls and slides of the Raven Fork (NC) - Great Smoky Mountains National Park; Joining the party for a guaranteed whitewater release on the Gauley (WV) - Gauley River National Recreation Area (National Park Service). It's probably harder to come up with a single river you love to paddle that's not on public land, than trying to just come up with all your 'bucket list' rivers that are on public lands.
Sign the pledge, and let your representatives know how important public lands and rivers are to you ahead of the 2020 elections. Protecting public lands isn't a partisan issue - a large majority of ALL Americans care about public lands and rivers, and also support putting more resources towards caring for public lands. Politicians won't take action without hearing from you! Make your voice heard and sign the public lands pledge today. If you want to go further, here's a few more opportunities to speak up for public lands issues with a direct relationship to rivers we love to paddle: