Dam Repairs to Affect Flows in New River Gorge and Dries (WV)
01/21/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
The Bluestone Dam blocks the New River not far upstream of the popular New River Gorge and New River Dries, and is currently undergoing significant repairs. These repairs will keep 9 of the 16 gates out of service until 2027, allowing for total releases of around only 12,000cfs. This management will dampen high flows, resulting in longer and more moderate flows than naturally occur in the river. Intriguingly, these releases will regularly overwhelm the 10,000cfs maximum diversion of the Hawks Nest Hydroelectric Project, and result in more frequent and predictable spill releases into the New River Dries.
Comments Can Help Shape Summersville Lake Management (WV)
01/19/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
A new Draft Master Plan for Summersville Lake, which provides releases on the Gauley River, is open for public comment until February 16, 2021. The Draft Plan covers the significant public land surrounding the reservoir, including Battle Run Campground, several trails, numerous rock climbing areas, and boat ramps. Unfortunately the Plan does not cover water releases, which the Agency states are covered by a seperate plan. Paddlers that use these lands are encouraged to review and comment on the Draft Plan.
New Requirement to Carry a Boater Education Card Proposed for Washington State
01/19/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Legislation has been introduced in the Washington State legislature that would require operators of all boats and vessels that are human-propelled (e.g. kayaks, canoes, rafts, stand up paddle boards) to possess a boater education card providing evidence of completing a boating safety education program. A hearing has been scheduled in the House and we anticiapte a Senate hearing will be scheudled shortly. We encourage members of the paddling community to weigh in through a written comment or by testifying at the hearing.
New Fee Program Comes to Some Virginia Access Areas
01/15/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
Last year the Virginia Legislature passed a new law into effect that requires the public to pay a fee to use river access areas that are managed by the Department of Wildlife Resources. The new fees kicked in January 1, 2021, and the program is outlined in news articles as well as on the Department's website. If you do not have a fishing license, the fees are $23 for an annual pass or $4 per day for a day-pass. The legislation seems to have passed with little discussion or public outreach, and caught many paddlers off guard. American Whitewater conducted a mapping analysis of the effects of this new fee program, and found that it applies new fees to at least 67 public access areas located on whitewater runs. Paddlers are encouraged to let their state legislators know they feel about the newly legislated fee system.
Private Timberlands Bordering Classic Whitewater in Columbia Gorge For Sale
01/14/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
The pending sale of 101,000 acres of private timberland by SDS Lumber Company in Washington and Oregon represents an urgent, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conserve this vast landscape for wildlife, climate, recreation, and local communities. These lands include portions of the watersheds of the White Salmon, Little White Salmon, Klickitat, and Hood Rivers. American Whitewater is engaged with leaders in the local paddling community, conservation groups, and land trusts to prevent conversion and fragmentation of this landscape that could occur with a sale. Our preferred outcome is conservation of the most ecologically sensitive lands in the river corridor, uplands retained as working forest in a manner that provides economic and recreational benefits for the community benefits, formalization of river access sites that are open to the public, and recognition that these lands are within the Yakama Nation’s ceded area that presents opportunities for restorative justice.
Plan to Improve North Fork Nooksack River (WA) Finalized
01/14/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe
For the past several years American Whitewater has worked with the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program, American Rivers, Whatcom Land Trust, the Nooksack Tribe, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and Washington Department of Transportation to address serious safety issues associated with the primary take-out for the North Fork Nooksack River at milepost 27. While the run starts on National Forest Service lands, paddlers are left to find their own take-out along a river reach that flows through lands that are predominately owned by private landowners. We are pleased to report that we have developed a plan and are in the process of securing funding for a formal access in the vicinity of Maple Creek at milepost 27 that will provide parking and river acess off the highway.
States, Tribes, and Dam Owner Announce Agreement for Klamath River Dam Removal
12/10/2020 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom joined with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, leaders of the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, and Berkshire Hathaway-owned PacifiCorp in announcing an agreement to provide additional resources and support to advance the most ambitious salmon restoration effort in history. The project, when completed, will address declines in fish populations, improve river health, and renew Tribal communities and cultures. The restored river will also provide new opportunities for recreational boating.
What Makes a Boating Access Work (or Not)?
12/08/2020 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Confluence Research and Consulting has released a report highlighting examples of 269 boat launches from a wide range of locations, geographic settings, amounts and kinds of use, and types of facilities. "The Good, the Bad and the Unusual: What Makes a Boating Access Work (or Not)?" is the first of its kind and the first iteration of a national river access database. The database, report and photo gallery were developed by Confluence Research and Consulting in partnership with a team the National Park Service, River Management Society, and American Whitewater.
Weber River to Flow as Early as 2021 (UT)
12/08/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
The Federal government now has all the information it needs to issue a new 30 to 50 year license for the Weber River Hydroelectric Project. If they issue the license soon, recreational releases could begin in the early summer of 2021. Delays could push back releases to 2022, but either way, releases appear to be on the way. American Whitewater has spent several years negotiating modest flow restoration for this dewatered Class III-IV reach of the Weber River.
2021 Southeast Advanced Release Schedule Set!
11/24/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater and our affiliate clubs have spent the past 25 years working to restore flows to incredible Southeastern rivers impacted by dams. A lot of our work has focused on Class II and III rivers like the lower Nantahala, Tuckasegee, Hiwassee, and Catawba, but we also secured releases in some classic steeper reaches previously dewatered by hydroelectric diversions. Each year we meet with power companies and agencies to schedule future releases, review ongoing ecology studies, and discuss any issues with the release programs. We are happy to share the 2021 schedule!
Changes to Upper Yough Permit Yield April Saturday Releases (MD)
11/09/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
The State of Maryland issued a new permit for the Deep Creek Hydroelectric Project earlier this fall that offered the river and its visitors some incremental enhancements to the flow release program. The State hosted several public meetings during 2020 and considered public comments to help shape the new permit, which typically lasts for roughly a decade. The most important change for paddlers is that moving forward, recreational releases in April will be on Saturdays rather than Fridays. Big thanks to paddlers who attended meetings and submitted comments, and to the State of Maryland for keeping the Upper Yough awesome.
Whitewater Wars Tells how the Ocoee and Gauley Were Saved
10/15/2020 - 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!
New USGS Gage Installed on Wild and Scenic Wilson Creek! (NC)
09/28/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater is pleased to announce the installation of a new online U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gage on Wilson Creek, one of North Carolina's five federally-designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. The new stream gage is the result of a partnership between American Whitewater, Duke Energy and the USGS, and is expected to provide significant public safety and recreational benefits. American Whitewater would like to thank Duke Energy and the USGS, on behalf of the paddling community, for this great investment in the safe enjoyment of Wild and Scenic Wilson Creek.
AW Objects to Brookfield Refusal to Reschedule Cheoah Releases (NC)
09/17/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
The owner of Santeetlah Dam, Brookfield, has refused requests to reschedule eight spring releases on the Cheoah River that were cancelled because of Covid-19. Today, American Whitewater filed a request asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require Brookfield make up at least half of the cancelled releases later this year. The request comes after Brookfield delayed a meeting to reschedule releases for three months and then flatly refused to provide any make-up releases. Similar releases on nearby dams operated by other owners were rescheduled willingly and without issue, and offered the public valuable late summer and early fall paddling opportunities.
Improved Flow Releases Begin on Sullivan Creek (WA)
09/03/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
Releases from Sullivan Lake will begin ramping Sullivan Creek flows up to boatable levels immediately following Labor Day next week, and will maintain elevated flows for much of the fall. Historic fall drawdown releases were modified to be earlier in the fall, colder, at lower flows, and to have a slower ramp-up through a 2010 Settlement Agreement that American Whitewater worked on extensively. These changes make the draw-down releases better for fish, better for paddling, and more valuable to downstream water users and the local utility and rate-payers. The removal of Mill Pond Dam required the negotiated flow schedule be delayed for several years following approval. With the dam now removed, the new flows will begin.
Gauley Season 2020
08/21/2020 - by Mark Singleton
While Gauley Fest has moved to a virtual format for 2020 due to Covid-19 and social distancing concerns, releases on the Gauley River will still take place. American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This information will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River for the 2020 season.
Upper Nantahala and WF Tuck Releases Rescheduled (NC) (CORRECTION)
08/19/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
This spring many dam releases had to be cancelled across the country due to Covid-19 related travel and staffing restrictions, including several releases on the West Fork of the Tuckasegee and Upper Nantahala. American Whitewater has worked with Duke Energy and other stakeholders to reschedule these releases for this fall! There will be rescheduled Upper Nantahala releases August 29 and September 12, and rescheduled West Fork Tuck releases October 17 and 25. Enjoy!
Rattlesnake Creek Dam Removed!
08/14/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
Rattlesnake Creek starts high in its namesake Wilderness, flows for miles through scenic backcountry, and then through city parks and occasional back yards as it makes its way through one of Missoula, Montana's quieter neighborhoods. A dam blocked the stream where it emerges from the National Forest since 1904, until this summer. In a project led by Rob Roberts at Trout Unlimited the dam has been removed and the river channel is being restored. When flows come back up in the spring paddlers will be able to float from the National Forest to the Clark Fork River without needing to portage the dam for the first time in over a century, and fish will be able to move freely up and downstream. Learn more, and enjoy the newly free flowing Rattlesnake Creek.
New Watauga River Put In Open! (NC)
08/10/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
Today marks the official opening of the new Guy Ford River Access Area on the Watauga River. The paddling community has long sought permanent public access to the classic Watauga River Gorge which serves as a staple for Class IV+ paddlers throughout the region. American Whitewater owns and manages the Sherwood Horine Takeout thanks to donations and volunteers, and worked closely with the many individuals and organizations that purchased and developed the new put in. We'd like to offer our special thanks to volunteer Edgar Peck for his role in facilitating the new access site, and to all the paddlers who donated funds for its purchase. Check out a great write up of the new access site, and enjoy using it!
Bear River Releases Rescheduled for Late Summer (ID)
07/23/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
Recreational releases were cancelled on many rivers this spring due to Covid-related travel restrictions and concerns, including several releases on the Black Canyon of the Bear River in Idaho. American Whitewater has worked with the dam owner to reschedule Black Canyon releases for late summer, specifically August 29 & 30, and September 12 & 13. These releases offer paddlers a rare opportunity to enjoy the Bear River late in the recreation season. In addition, irrigation flows of approximately 200-500cfs are currently being delivered through the Black Canyon all summer, creating additional and rare lower-water paddling opportunities 24-hours a day for the rest of the summer through the second week of September.