National Forest Protects 360 Miles of Streams in Montana
In a big win for rivers, the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest released their new Forest Plan yesterday. The Forest includes the classic Multi-day section of the Smith River, the headwaters of the Blackfoot River, and the rugged and beautiful Rocky Mountain Front region of Montana. The new Forest Plan offers interim protection for 360 miles of incredible rivers by finding them eligible for Wild and Scenic designation - triple the river miles protected under the old plan. A full 250 of the protected river miles are on whitewater rivers. American Whitewater and the paddling community has offered support for this decision since at least 2014, and the Forest Service has done a great job.
Today is Colorado Public Lands Day!
As paddlers, we appreciate the mental and physical health benefits of outdoor recreation. A beautiful day on the river with friends is often what makes us feel like ourselves again. Access and use of our public lands right now seems more precious than ever. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult to watch river gages around that state rise and be unable to travel and visit these places we love due to state and local closures. Read more for an update on the Jefferson County closure of Clear Creek and check out a few opportunities to celebrate today in the interest of the health of your family and those around you.
Senator Wyden Introduces Legislation to Invest in Public Lands
As the impacts of COVID-19 ripple through the economy, Members of Congress are seeking ideas for what economic recovery looks like. Several Congressional offices have reached out to American Whitewater to solicit ideas for projects and initiatives that would benefit public lands and outdoor recreation while putting people to work. Over the past two weeks we have been working with our colleagues at Outdoor Alliance to develop some specific proposals. We are thrilled to report that Senator Wyden from Oregon has taken some our ideas and stepped up in a big way to make investment in public lands and the outdoor recreation economy a personal priority.
NM Senators Introduce Wild and Scenic River Legislation - Help us thank them!
We are celebrating a great win today after New Mexico Senators Udall and Heinrich announced the introduction of the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act. The Act, officially introduced on May 8, would protect over 440 miles of free-flowing rivers and streams in the Gila and San Francisco watersheds. If passed, the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and their tributaries would receive permanent protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - the strongest protection a river can receive. While the Gila legislation gives flexibility to existing uses and landowners, the free-flowing nature and outstanding values of these rivers and streams would be protected now and for future generations to enjoy. The main stem Gila and San Francisco Rivers offer some of the most remote and wild paddling opportunities in New Mexico and have been explored and loved by paddlers for decades. Please help us thank the Senators for their commitment to protect these rivers by filling out this super easy form!
Flow Survey Announced for Cache La Poudre River (CO)
American Whitewater needs your help to define stream flows that support the full range of recreational boating opportunities on the Poudre River in Northern Colorado. Information collected by this study will be used to understand existing use patterns on the river, quantify acceptable flows at the new whitewater park in Fort Collins, and assist in defining the economic impact river recreation has on the region. Please fill out the survey today!
New Mexico Senators provide strong support for protecting access to rivers
On May 5th, Senator Udall and Senator Heinrich of New Mexico conditionally filed a proposed Memorandum Brief as Amici Curiae, or "friend of the court", in strong support of the case Adobe Whitewater Club brought against the Governor and Game Commission in the New Mexico Supreme Court. The Senator's beautifully describe the value of preserving constitutionally defined public access to the state's rivers and streams. Read the full brief here.
Keep It Local – Paddling in a Pandemic Refined
For many boaters, our lives have been built around an ability to visit rivers as frequently as possible. And if they're not, we're probably dreaming about being able to do so. Unfortunately, paddling responsibly during COVID-19 has made visiting rivers difficult for many of us. Responses to the pandemic vary regionally and in some areas paddling opportunities are beginning to open back up. Most of the places where restrictions are being loosened, local leaders have made clear that this is not a return to normal and that continued access to outdoor recreation is contingent on the ability of the public to follow physical distancing practices and keep it local. We're all in this together and we all want to paddle, so let's work to make our communities response a model of how to recreate in a pandemic. Read on for some simple guidelines on if, how, when and where paddling is a good idea right now.
PG&E Considers Recreational Flows Below Chili Bar During COVID-19 (CA)
Good news as we navigate our lives with COVID-19, American Whitewater received word that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has made the decision NOT to cancel scheduled recreational flows on the South Fork American River. Wait what? Yes, you read correct a paddling staple we take for granted below Chili Bar was on the verge of being curtailed in the midst of a public safety emergency.
AW Journal - The May/June Issue Online Now!
The May/June Issue of the AW Journal is available in our online "Library". This issue includes a report on the introduction of the "Great American Outdoors Act' along with much more. Read the issue online now or download your copy.
Colorado State Policy May Update
The Colorado State Legislature has come to a halt for the past 6 weeks, counties are adjusting their restrictions, and the spring is in full bloom. There is a lot going on in Colorado, and as the state continues to adjust to life during COVID-19, there are a handful of topics that you may want to be aware of. In this month's update, you'll hear about how the state legislature is going to find the time to pass the budget, be provided some new resources to start building relationships with elected officials, and as always find some resources to help grow your abilities as an advocate.
Deerfield Fest Canceled for 2020
One thing that unites boaters is our passion for rivers, and the sometimes overflowing passion with which we celebrate our whitewater rivers at spring and summer festivals across the country. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus we've had to make the tough decision to cancel American Whitewater's first festival of the 2020 season, Deerfield Fest in Charlemont, Massachusetts, June 26-28. If you normally renew your membership at Deerfield, please consider renewing it again this year at this special Deerfield Fest Membership link. We'll put your name in a hat for some fun prizes and get you the beta on upcoming Deerfield news.
New Dam Proposed for Chehalis River (WA): Take Action and Comment
The Chehalis River has one of Washington state's longest continuous sections of Class III whitewater, yet it remains relatively unknown to many paddlers due to access issues involving restrictive policies of a private timber company. A new flood control dam proposal would eliminate 14 miles of this wild and free-flowing Class III whitewater (West Fork to Pe Ell), forever keeping paddlers from discovering this underused trove of quality whitewater in southwestern Washington. Paddlers and other river enthusiasts have an opportunity to provide input on the fate of the Chehalis River by submitting a comment on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Take this opportunity to comment and help protect this free-flowing river today! Take Action Today
Great American Outdoors Act Introduced
It's been a wild ride this past week for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Restore Our Parks Act all initiated by a tweet from the President that began with these words: "I am calling on Congress to send me a Bill that fully and permanently funds the LWCF and restores our National Parks." We just got back from a week in DC working to make it happen and all indications are that we are on the cusp of getting legislation passed that directly benefits and provides resources for river access. The bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, introduced yesterday by 55 Senators, combines the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act and Restore Our Parks Act with some key changes and additional funding we requested. Use our easy action form to reach out your representatives today and help us make sure this incredible opportunity for funding river recreation and conservation does not pass us by!
Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, dies
Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, died on November 20th, 2019. He was 83. A microbiologist by training, Terry began paddling in the mid-1960's while a professor at Emory University. He took to whitewater readily, and it became an important focus of his life. In 1969 he met veteran paddler Doug Woodward, and in 1971 the two became the technical advisers for the movie "Deliverance." Afterwards, Terry and Woodward purchased the rafts Warner Brothers used in filming and bought 19 acres near the river. This became Southeastern Expeditions, one of the Southeast's first whitewater outposts on the Chattooga. In 1974, Terry took then-Gov. Jimmy Carter on three trips on the Chatooga River, totaling 57 miles. This inspired Carter to get the Chattooga included in the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and influenced later decisions protecting rivers across the U.S."Terry adopted me as one of his students," Carter told Outside Online in a 2017 interview. "it opened my eyes to the relationship between a human being and a wild river that I never had contemplated before that. When I got to be president I vetoed 16 different dam projects all over the United States." Terry eventually quit his Emory University job and started full time career in environmental advocacy, including founding American Rivers, a principal U.S. conservation group. For the next 30 years he specialized in environmental projects involving rivers and wetlands and later, when he became a board-certified toxicologist, he developed an expertise in hazardous waste cleanups. He was an active paddler until sidelined by Parkinson's Disease. A passionate teacher and advocate, he is sorely missed by all who knew him. Click through for an excellent obituary and a photo of Terry taking Governor Carter over Bull Sluice!
American Whitewater Releases New River Access Planning Guide
In a joint project with the River Management Society, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service (USFS), and National Park Service (NPS), American Whitewater has published the River Access Planning Guide. American Whitewater is regularly called upon to assist with river access projects. Some are a spectacular success, while others are a disappointment. Over the past three years, American Whitewater has been working with the NPS Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs to better understand how success comes about when a river access project is developed and provide guidance for a step-by-step process that leads to projects that meet user needs and are sustainable both ecologically and financially.
Owyhee Canyonlands Legislation Introduced (OR)
This week's introduction of the Malheur County Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act (S. 2828) represents a historic move to protect over 1.1 million acres of public lands as wilderness in Malheur County centered around the Owyhee Canyonlands. The legislation also includes protection for an additional 14.7 miles of the Owyhee River as Wild and Scenic.
Recreation Not Red Tape Act: a bill to benefit outdoor recreation
For the past several years American Whitewater has worked with our partners on the Recreation Not Red Tape Act (H.R. 3458/S.1967). This is among the most important piece of positive policy we expect to see this Congress in terms of improving outdoor recreation and our access to rivers on public land. Senator Wyden originally approached us on the idea of a bill to benefit outdoor recreation to encourage sustainable use and enjoyment of public lands and waters. Learn more and take action to join us in supporting this legislation.