Comments Needed By Nov. 12 to Secure Protections for West Slope Rivers (CO)
10/22/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
In August, we announced the release of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison Draft Forest Plan. This plan will guide the management of over 3.2 million acres and thousands of river miles, including high-quality paddling streams like the Upper East and the Taylor rivers. The current plan is over 38 years old and is severely outdated. For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to effect change on our public lands and we need the paddling community to act now by submitting comments to the Forest Service. Make sure that you personalize your comments by sharing a photo or a personal experience about a river(s) on the Forests.
Tallulah Gorge Releases Return! (GA)
10/15/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
Tallulah Gorege releases are back! Following over a year in which releases were cancelled because of dam safety issues that required repairs to water release gates and because of Covid, releases will kick off again on the first three weekends in November. American Whitewater negotiated these releases back in the mid-nineties and they quickly became a centerpiece of Southeastern paddling. We are happy to share some updates on Tallulah Gorge releases, and advice on how to visit the river responsibly.
It’s Finally Time to Protect Colorado’s West Slope Rivers!
08/16/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
Today, the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest Unit announced the much-anticipated release of the Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The Draft Plan materials were released on Friday, August 13, initiating a 90-day review period. The GMUG National Forest is home to gems like Oh-Be-Joyful Creek, the Taylor River, Norwood Canyon on the San Miguel, and numerous others. Many of these rivers are free-flowing and offer outstanding values, including paddling, breathtaking scenery, fish habitat, and profound history and culture. This point in the plan revision process is the most important time for the river community to engage and speak up to protect our beloved West Slope rivers in Colorado!
Proposed Hydropower Dams on Little CO River Stopped (AZ)
08/03/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
This week, I returned from a 19-day Grand Canyon trip to learn that two proposed hydropower projects on the Little Colorado River had been formally abandoned. On July 26, Pumped Hydro Storage LLC officially surrendered their two preliminary permits for the Salt Trail Canyon and Little Colorado River Pumped Storage Projects. These two projects received preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2019 and if completed, would have inundated 4.5 miles of the Little Colorado and created 4 dams up to 240 feet high. American Whitewater and our members were among hundreds of commenters that opposed these hydropower projects, including multiple native tribes whose sacred lands would have been irrevocably destroyed.
Comment Opportunity on Deschutes River Business Plan
07/31/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
The Bureau of Land Management Prineville District's Deschutes Field Office is seeking public comment on a proposal to change the fee structure for the Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River. The proposed changes are intended to make fees more equitable for all users, including non-boating users, throughout the year and to account for rising operating costs and the need for year-round maintenance.
Whitewater Boating Opportunity on the Upper Sultan (WA)
07/30/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Snohomish PUD will be providing a whitewater boating opportunity on the Upper Sultan River on Sunday August 8th. Paddlers who plan to attend are asked to register on the Snohomish PUD website. We have been working for the past 3 years to provide this mid-summer opportunity. While we hoped to release a bit more water than the anticipated flow of 500-700 cfs, we agreed to this flow out of an abundance of caution to prevent impacts to fishery resources of the Skykomish River basin. With monitoring during this release, we hope to collect additional information that can inform future summer whitewater boating opportunities on the Sultan River.
Water Quality Rollback Stopped, Issues Unresolved (CO)
06/18/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
At 5pm tonight, Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted not to rollback the antidegradation rule that has for decades helped to keep our rivers clean. However, they did uphold their ability to make arbitrary decisions on polluting Colorado’s waterways - like they did on the South Platte in 2020 - for the next ten years. The outcome followed a two-day hearing earlier this week, during which the antidegradation rule was discussed at length. While we still have a long road ahead, Coloradans were able to stop what would have been an atrocious rollback of protections for Colorado’s beloved streams. Thank you to those that stood up and took action to protect Colorado's water quality!
FERC Approves Transfer of Klamath Hydropower License (OR/CA)
06/17/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Earlier today the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the license transfer for the Lower Klamath Hydroelectric Project from PacifiCorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the states of Oregon and California, as co-licensees. In addition to approving license transfer for purposes of dam removal, the Commission also issued Scoping Document 1 and outlined a public process for environmental review of the plan to remove the Klamath River dams. American Whitewater has been working collaboratively with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the States of Oregon and California to better understand how whitewater boating opportunities will change following dam removal. A public comment period is now open through August 19, 2021.
Whitewater Wars Tells how the Ocoee and Gauley Were Saved
06/10/2021 - by Charlie Walbridge
From 1980 to 1985 David Brown lead successful battles to secure recreational water releases on both the Ocoee and Gauley Rivers. These great victories are the subject of his new book "Whitewater Wars." Dave was hired by outfitters on both rivers, and his efforts took him from the edge of the river to the halls of congress. On the Gauley a small cadre of private paddlers - Pete Skinner, Mac Thornton, Pope Barrow, Steve Taylor, and Charlie Walbridge - played important roles and later became the nucleus of an American Whitewater board that guided the organization towards it's current position as a national leader in river access and conservation. Dave ran the first Gauleyfest to help build support for protecting the river, and was excited to get 500 attendees! After the Gauley was declared a National Recreation Area the festival was passed over to AW. And the rest is history! It's a great read!
How to Enjoy the Upcoming Savage River Release (MD)
05/24/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
The Savage River releases are on the calendar for 2021 with some changes in how to enjoy them. Commercial shuttles are now a thing of the past on the Savage, and with that comes new responsibilities for paddlers. It is vitally important that paddlers visit the Savage River responsibly so these releases can continue. Enjoy!
Explore Northern Rockies Rivers with Purpose This Year
05/14/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
Documenting your experiences on rivers in the Northern Rockies this summer could help secure lasting protections for those rivers. Several key landscapes are under review for protections by Congress and the US Forest Service, but we lack the kind of compelling descriptions and photos that can inspire and inform decision makers to offer rivers and their enjoyment key protections. So we need your help. As you explore rivers in the focal areas noted in this article, we encourage you to paddle with a purpose: take photos highlighting river values, take video, and take notes on recreational and ecological values - then share your content with American Whitewater.
Take Action to Protect Water Quality in Colorado
04/28/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
Colorado’s waters are at stake. From our high mountain streams to the backyard of urban communities, water quality is threatened state-wide. The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission has proposed a change to the antidegradation rule that would allow for more pollution into higher quality waters without review or justification. The proposed rule would go against the very premise of the Clean Water Act, which the Commission is tasked with implementing and overseeing in Colorado. Help us protect the antidegradation policy by signing on to this petition to the Water Quality Control Commission.
Final Bear River (ID) Release Moved to September
04/27/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
The final 2021 release on the Black Canyon of the Bear River has been rescheduled to September 11 and 12, 2021. This shift was made possible because the dam owner will be conducting maintenance work this summer and fall that will increase base flows in the river, which decreases ecological concerns with late season paddling releases. The same rescheduling occured last year as well. Our partners in managing the Bear River graciously supported this change, which was requested by American Whitewater and was popular with regional paddlers last year.
Comments Needed on River Protection in the Arctic
04/06/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
A new proposed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) management plan for 55.7 million acres in Northern Alaska would fail to protect any of the 11 rivers their analysis finds to be eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. If you have paddled any of the affected rivers in this area we strongly encourage you to review the planning documents and submit comments in support of protection of Wild and Scenic River values in the Central Yukon Draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. Deadline is June 9, 2021.
Black Canyon Put-In Closed for 2021 Season (CO)
04/06/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
The National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation announced this week that the East Portal Road which serves as the put-in for the Black Canyon section of the Gunnison River will be closed for maintenance for the duration of the 2021 season. While the road closure is an unfortunate obstacle for many this season, the needed maintenance of the road will lead to fewer unexpected road closures due to rockfall and will improve access to the Black Canyon for the long term. American Whitewater will track the status of the road closure and we will share an update as soon as access to the Black Canyon is reopened.
Moose, Beaver (NY) Dam Relicensings Set to Begin Again
04/06/2021 - by Robert Nasdor
Federal relicensing of 21 hydropower dams in the Adirondacks begins this month on the Moose, Beaver, and Black rivers, home to iconic whitewater boating runs treasured by paddlers throughout the northeast. For the next six years, AW will be at fighting to protect and expand paddling opportunities on these rivers. To support our efforts to restore rivers and our opportunities to enjoy them, AW launced the Adirondacks River Restoration Campaign. To get involved, SIGN UP HERE.
Opportunity to Speak up for Water Quality on the Pigeon River (NC/TN)
04/05/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
Blue Ridge Paper operates a paper mill on the banks of the Pigeon River in Canton, NC, that for generations has provided valued local jobs but also had negative impacts on the water quality of the river. Over the past few decades water quality has improved significantly, fishing has improved, and paddling use has skyrocketed. With this said, the river's water quality has a lot of room for improvement while supporting the mill's continued operation, and new permit requirements are a good way to get that work underway. The State however has proposed a new permit that relaxes certain requirements of the old permit, and fails to address new challenges. The state will host a public hearing on April 14, and accept comments through April 30. Paddlers are encouraged to get involved and learn more.
Train Operations in Eagle and Arkansas Corridors to Require Full Review (CO)
03/25/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
This morning, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) made a much-anticipated decision on the revival of the Tennessee Pass Rail Line - a 160-mile rail line that follows the Eagle and Arkansas Rivers between Sage and Parkdale, Colorado. The STB formally rejected Colorado, Midland and Pacific Railway’s (CMPR) request to be exempt from oversight and regulation of their proposed operation on the line, which would be leased under an agreement with Union Pacific. This decision comes nearly three months after CMPR filed a notice of exemption on December 31, 2020, as people were bringing in the new year.
Whitewater Flows Secured in New Weber River Dam License! (UT)
03/24/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
A new 40-year license for a dam on Utah's Weber River includes four Saturday paddling releases each year prior to July 15, as well as flow information, accesss, and fish passage enhancements. This outcome is the result of American Whitewater staff and volunteers collaborating with the power company and other stakeholders over the past several years. The releases will provide relatively rare paddling opportunities near Ogden, Utah, in a region where dams and diversions have limited or eliminated many paddling opportunities. The new license requires a recreation plan be developed and other measures that will delay the initiation of releases until 2022. Big thanks to all our partners on the Weber, our lead volunteer Charlie Vincent, and the numerous volunteers who helped us collect data and solve legal and other challenges over the years! See you on the Weber next year!