Comments Needed to Support Upper Yough Releases (MD)
The 12-year state permit that governs the releases from Deep Creek Lake into the Upper Youghiogheny is up for renewal, and decision-makers would benefit from hearing from paddlers. Three public meetings and significant discussions have led to broad agreement on some minor changes that are important to the paddling community, and other important issues remain unresolved. Your comment letters could help ensure the Upper Yough is managed in a responsible manner for years to come.
Ashley National Forest (UT) Information Needed
The Ashley National Forest is in the process of updating its land management plan-something that hasn't happened since 1986. This creates an opportunity to advocate for better protection of streams and rivers across the 1.4 million-acre National Forest, which spans from the Uinta Mountains to Flaming Gorge. Right now, American Whitewater needs your help updating the National Whitewater Inventory to include better information on the rivers within the Ashley National Forest. We ask that paddlers familiar with this area add photos and descriptions to the NWI, check out our recent comments, and consider sending a comment letter to the Forest.
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.
AW Launches Hiwassee Dries (TN/NC) Flow Survey
American Whitewater has long had an interest in restoring flows to the 13-mile long, biologically diverse Hiwassee River Dries. American Whitewater is gathering information on the recreational, hydrological, and ecological attributes of the river in order to create a science-based vision for a restored Hiwassee Dries. We have created an online survey to hone in on the recreational flow preferences of paddlers who have run the river. Ultimately this will help us create proposals for flow restoration that meet ecological and recreational goals in an integrated manner. If you have paddled the Dries, please take just a few minutes and fill out this survey.
Cheoah River Survey Responses Needed (NC) (Update - Results)
American Whitewater was a lead negotiator of the releases on the Cheoah River back in the early 2000's and we now collaboratively review and schedule the releases each year. Paddler attendance at releases in 2019 was significantly lower than in prior years, and we'd like to better understand and share with our partners why that was the case. If you paddled the Cheoah River in the past 2-3 years please take this quick 3-5 minute survey to help ensure we are doing everything we can do to make the Cheoah an awesome resource.
EPA Proposing to Weaken State’s Ability to Protect Clean Water and Recreation
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing new regulations that would weaken the ability of states to protect clean water at hydropower dams and other federally-licensed energy projects. Under the Clean Water Act, states must certify that these projects comply with state water quality standards before they can receive a 30-50 year federal license. For American Whitewater, these changes would hamstring our ability to restore flows to dewatered river sections, ensure access for boating, and secure scheduled boating releases like the ones we enjoy on so many rivers across the country, such as the Beaver and Moose in New York, the Gauley in West Virginia, the Tallulah in Georgia, and the North Fork Feather in California. To take action on this issue, go here and let the EPA know that you do not agree with this rule change and that taking away state's rights to protect their water quality is unacceptable. Comments are due October 21, 2019.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden Calls for More Wild and Scenic Rivers
Oregon is home to some of our nation's most amazing and scenic rivers. From the Illinois to the Umpqua, the Owyhee to the Santiam, we have an impressive diversity of majestic waterways that provide an abundance of opportunities for whitewater recreation. Oregon is blessed with 110,994 miles of major rivers and streams but only 2173 miles are protected as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Many additional miles for river protection remain and Senator Ron Wyden is aiming to seize this opportunity! This past week, Senator Wyden announced a nomination process to designate new Wild and Scenic Rivers in Oregon. Make your voice heard and take action to nominate your favorite rivers today.
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.
Upper Yough Hearing To Focus On New Dam Permit
The 2011 state permit that requires and governs the dam releases on the Upper Yough is up for renewal. Unlike most hydropower dams, the Deep Creek Project is not regulated by a Federal license, however the state permit fills a similar role as a Federal license would. The permit renewal creates opportunities to modify the terms of the permit in ways that could benefit or impact whitewater paddling, river ecology, and other values. A hearing is scheduled for October 15th, 2019 at Garrett College that will focus on potential changes in the new permit.
AW Launches Adirondacks River Restoration Campaign
American Whitewater is launching the Adirondacks River Restoration Campaign to restore and improve river flows for aquatic ecosystems and to improve recreation opportunities across the region. Over the next 10 years, more than 50 hydroelectric dams in New York are scheduled to get new 30 to 50-year federal licenses, creating a once in a generation opportunity to improve river conditions. In the Black River Basin alone, there are more than 20 hydropower dams on the Black, Beaver, and Moose rivers that will begin the relicensing process in the next year, and American Whitewater will need to participate with other partners in order to mitigate project impacts and achieve river restoration goals. Through these efforts, we will restore flows to dewatered river reaches, improve existing flows, enhance public access, and benefit communities throughout the region.
Draft Flathead River Management Plan Released for Comment (MT)
The Forest Service has released a Proposed Action which is essentially a partial draft management plan the forks of the Wild and Scenic Flathead River. The Proposed Action is available for public review and comment through September 13, 2019. The Forest Service proposed a number of management actions that would be triggered by encounter limits being reached, including new permit systems. We encourage Flathead River paddlers to give the agency some feedback on the encounter thresholds they propose, the proposed management actions, and the Proposed Action as a whole.
Russell Fork Release Study Open For Comment (VA/KY)
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.
Harpers Ferry Access Study Reveals Need for New Approaches (MD/WV)
The final Weverton Rail Crossing Feasibility Study was released this week, which considered two options for improving the crossing of CSX railroad tracks to provide safer public access to the Potomac River and the C&O Canal National Historical Park, and for use of the Appalachian Trail. The Report reveals insurmountable problems with the two proposed access solutions, but also highlights other possible paths forward.
AW Stewardship Assistant Job Announcement
American Whitewater is hiring! The Stewardship Assistant will be responsible for supporting American Whitewater's Regional Stewardship Directors in project-related analysis, research, and writing as well as communicating and advocating for our work to resource agencies, funders, elected officials, and our membership. The Stewardship Assistant position is an hourly 20hr/week contract position with potential for growth. Hourly contract pay is competitive and based on experience, without benefits or office space provided. The Stewardship Assistant location is flexible, and reports to the National Stewardship Director.
Russell Fork Releases Expanded (KY/VA)
The fall release schedule for the Russell Fork River was recently announced, and it includes two new Friday releases that will offer 3-day weekends of releases. While announced without explanation, the added released are presumably a result of a public process convened by the Army Corp of Engineers last spring to explore the possibility of an expanded release schedule. American Whitewater and many regional paddlers advocated for additional recreational releases throughout the public process. We conducted and shared a survey that indicated significant support for Friday releases. The new releases are listed as "tentative and subject to change," and hopefully if they go well additional releases will be scheduled in future years. Enjoy these new paddling opportunities!
Upper Yough Access Depends on Everyone
Many thanks those who have contributed to AW's Sang Run Access Fund on line. We raised over $1200 to pay for the porta potty and gravel. Thanks to you, we've maintained this site for the State of Maryland for over 20 years! Let's also give a special shout out to Don Millard, who has cut the grass in both Friendsville and Sang Run for many years to keep our access costs low. If not for him you might see a parking fee of $5 a head at both ends! Jeff Macklin Photo
Congress to Take Up Wild and Scenic River Bills Covering Over 1000 River Miles
This week, the House Natural Resource Committee's Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands will hold a hearing on bills that would designate over 1000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. American Whitewater has brought the voice of the whitewater paddling community to the discussions that led to these legislative proposals with a goal of protecting rivers and the whitewater paddling experience.
Oregon Waterway Access Bill Set to Become Law
This week, Oregon House Bill 2835 re-passed the Oregon House on a 52-7 vote. Having earlier cleared the Senate, the bill now awaits a signature from the Governor to be signed into law. For decades, opportunities to protect and improve the ability of the public to access and legally use waterways for recreation have seen minimal progress, while efforts to severely limit access have been a consistent threat. Oregon House Bill 2835 is a pivotal piece of legislation in Oregon, and the first proactive waterway access bill in recent history to have made it through the state legislature.
Support Improved Potomac River Access at Harpers Ferry (WV/VA/DC)
A local planning agency has championed a study of the Weverton access site just downstream of Harpers Ferry. This site is an important Potomac river put-in/takeout site for Shenandoah and Potomac River paddlers who have few access options in the area. At issue is an informal crossing of the two-track CSX railroad used by almost 27,000 paddlers, Appalachian Trail hikers, and visitors to the C&O Canal National Historical Park last year. The study outlines two options to formalize this access site and improve the safety of crossing the railroad tracks. Either option would be a big improvement, as would a standard road crossing, and paddlers are encouraged to submit a supportive comment by the June 15 deadline.
Final Slate River Floating Management Plan Released (CO)
Crested Butte, CO - Increased user conflict on the Slate River has led to a Floating Management Plan that proposes a "voluntary no-float period" between March 15 and July 15 this season. Since our last news post in November, the Slate River Floating Management Plan has been updated and revised for the 2019 season. An open house will be held at The Depot in Crested Butte on Thursday, May 16 and it is critical that paddlers from the local community attend and engage in the conversation. (Photo courtesy of the Crested Butte Land Trust).