Earlier this month the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission unanimously voted to designate the waters of the North Fork Smith River in southwest Oregon as the first Outstanding Resource Waters in the Pacific Northwest.
The time is here for you to submit your favorite river photos for the 2018 AW Calendar! You have until August 6th, 2017 to upload your best photos. We look forward to reviewing all kinds of great photos this year from across the United States, and will be giving special consideration of shots of Wild and Scenic Rivers since 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. If your photo is selected you'll get a free calendar, credit, fame, and you'll be supporting American Whitewater! Thanks from all of us at AW.
Several newspapers reported this week that the Coast Guard is proposing to close a portion of a popular section of the Potomac River whenever high-ranking officials are playing golf at Trump National Golf Club. DC area paddlers quickly balked at the proposed new rule and Congressional leaders have joined them in pushing back against the proposal. The Coast Guard has posted their proposed closure rules, and an opportunity to comment online until August 9, 2017. Alternative approaches could allow both public use of the river and secure use of the private golf course.
Earlier today American Whitewater filed comments on the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) proposal to largely maintain the existing whitewater release schedule for the next 15 years. American Whitewater asks TVA in our comments to ensure that no net loss in releases occur and that no new fees be imposed on private boaters. We ask that they study the economic benefit of the Ocoee River release program, as well as consider the benefits the releases are known to have on a rare plant species. Lastly, we ask them to consider improved takeout facilities on the Middle Ocoee River and expanded put-in parking hours on the Upper Ocoee.
Maryland's mighty Upper Yough had releases on July 1 and 3 on this very popular holiday weekend. It's a good time to rememberAmerican Whitewater's volunteers, especially Don Millard, who mows the grass at both Sang Run and Friendsville. Without his work we would certainly be facing mandatory fees at both sites! AW provides a portable toilet and gravel, and needs your donations to pay for this. For those who've already donated, thank you! For the rest of us, in addition to using the Sang Run cash box you can make a "cashless" donation by phone using the QR code posted at the put-in! And please remember that we are guests in the beautiful town of Friendsville. Please drive respectfully, change clothes discretely, and behave like your mother was watching you!
The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests will hold open houses at district offices in June and July 2017 to provide the public with opportunities to talk with Forest staff about local issues, district project, and forest plan revision. We encourage paddlers to go chat up your local ranger at one of these meetings and offer your perspective. American Whitewater has been working with the US Forest Service (FS) and a diverse range of regional groups for the past 3 years to develop a new management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests in Western North Carolina. It is coming along well, and your involvement could help make it even better.
Earlier this year, Georgia Power cancelled two weekends of recreational releases on Tallulah Gorge because of emergency mechanical repairs required on the dam's gates. Representatives of the Atlanta Whitewater Club, American Whitewater, Georgia Canoeing Association, Georgia Power, and the Tallulah Gorge State Park met in May to discuss rescheduling the releases. Agreement was reached and recently finalized, based on a suite of constraints, to make the lost releases up on December 9 and 10, 2017 and April 21 and 22, 2018.
On Friday American Whitewater filed an appeal of the State of West Virginia’s flow and access prescriptions for the spectacular New River Dries. The State’s prescriptions would only restore an average of 3 or 4 days of flows sufficient for paddling as mitigation for the over 240 days lost to hydropower operations. In addition the state would require access 1.2 miles into the 5.4-mile run, foreclosing vehicle-based access on 22% of the run. The prescriptions will last for 30 to 50 years unless our appeal is successful.
TVA is seeking public input on a proposed management agreement that would provide recreational releases and management on the Ocoee River. Current agreements on flow releases and management expire at the end of 2018, and this effort aims to replace those agreements. The TVA proposes to continue the current schedule of releases on the Upper and Middle Ocoee except for a block of weekday Middle Ocoee releases in late September. The public comment period ends on July 19, 2017.
The Mystic Lake Dam began spilling yesterday which means we are entering the timeframe when whitewater releases are possible. The Mystic Lake Hydroelectric Project historically eliminated many natural paddling opportunities. American Whitewater and Beartooth Paddlers Society negotiated releases that bump up flows on weekends when flows are otherwise just below good paddling levels.
On June 13, 2017 the Rock Creek Bench river access site on the North Fork Feather River officially opened during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) constructed the site as part of a post FERC licensing agreement with American Whitewater and other members of the Ecological Resources Committee. This access provides a huge safety improvement over how paddlers have accessed this river reach, and marks the completion of the last major goal for American Whitewater in restoring this section of river.
The beloved Spokane River flows through the second largest city in Washington state and includes spectacular waterfalls and a deep gorge. In most summers, enough water flows in the River to support fishing, river rafting, and other outdoor recreation. River advocates are asking the Court to hold the Department of Ecology to its duty to protect fish and wildlife, scenic, aesthetic and recreational values, and navigation, when establishing the minimum summer flows allowable for the Spokane River.
On Sunday, nearly 50 people gathered on the banks of the St. Vrain River to pick up trash from the water and the shoreline. We started the day off with Hotbox Roasters coffee and donuts, and a few words about River Stewardship – the common cause that brought us all together. We found bedframes, rusty nails, lawn chairs, car doors, plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, fast food containers, and it doesn’t stop there. Our findings are likely a combination of leftover debris from the floods, illegal waste dumping along the river, and built up trash from years of careless passers-by. Thank you to all those that came out for the river cleanup! American Whitewater depends on our affiliate clubs, members, and dedicated volunteers in order to tackle our many River Stewardship projects.
Congress is currently considering several pieces of hydropower legislation that, in our analysis, would negatively impact rivers if passed in their current form. In our reading of the draft bills, they would undermine the existing balance balance between hydropower and all other river values, including recreation. As your Representative and Senators consider hydropower legislation, it’s critical that they hear from you about why protecting rivers is important. We've made it easy for you to reach out to them...read on to learn how.
Come one, come all! American Whitewater has teamed up with the CAN'd Aid Foundation and Avid4 Adventure to host a river float and cleanup along the St. Vrain during the 2017 Lyons Outdoor Games festival in Lyons, Colorado. Register online to volunteer @ http://bit.ly/2oQNcBv. Join us at Bohn Park at 9:30am for Hotbox Roasters coffee, donuts, and registration. After the cleanup, we'll head to Oskar Blues Grill & Brew for some brews and apps on the patio. Each volunteer will receive one FREE Oskar Blues Brewery core beer. See you there!
The EPA is asking the public which regulations they should repeal, replace, or modify. They were required to ask this question by a recent Executive Order. Here at American Whitewater we have a pretty simple response to which water quality regulations should be cut: "None." We hope you'll join us in telling the EPA to protect our health and our rivers by keeping water quality regulations strong and in place.
May 6th will be the first Saturday Upper Yough release of the year, and if water levels cooperate hundreds of white water paddlers will converge on the small town of Friendsville, MD. It's time to remind everyone that we are guests in this beautiful town. Please be courteous when using the parking area. Don't drink alcohol in public, change clothes, or relieve yourself where others can see you. Use the change house and the porta john! Last weekend someone was wandering around the parking lot naked, prompting several calls to the Mayor. If you see this or other disrespectful behavior, please tell the offender to stop it immediately. Stay on the gravel in the parking lot as much as you can; the perimeter can be torn up after rainstorms. Don't park in residential areas along the river. Leave a few bucks at the Sang Run put-in to pay for the porta-potty and grass cutting. Have a great run, then take time to patronize the businesses in town who are eagerly awaiting your arrival.
Earlier this year, two spillways at Oroville Dam on the Feather River in California became severely compromised, prompting the evacuation of approximately 188,000 people. The impact of the failure of these spillways continues to have a significant impact on the river and downstream communities. Those who live downstream of Oroville Dam–along with citizens across the country who live in the shadow of high-hazard hydropower dams–deserve to understand what happened, the full impacts, and what is being done about it. American Whitewater is joining with others to call for a Congressional hearing into these issues and ensure that the public has a voice in the process. Learn more about how you can help our efforts…
The spread of invasive aquatic plants and animals is an emerging threat on our rivers. To protect rivers from invasive species, and to avoid closures and limits, paddlers should make every effort to avoid transporting invasive species from one river to another. In this article we offer a friendly reminder to Clean, Drain, and Dry your boat and gear between rivers, and a cautionary tale from our nation's headwaters in Montana.
American Whitewater staff traveled to Green River, UT in late March to meet with private water users and state agencies, and to participate in the official opening of the new boat passage through the Green River Diversion (Tusher Dam). Completion of the boat passage has freed the Green River from its last in-stream obstruction between the Flaming Gorge Dam and the confluence with the Colorado River – over 400 floatable river miles through iconic canyons and historic landmarks. It has a been a long process, and our work isn’t over yet! As your boating representative, American Whitewater will continue to work closely with the dam operators and Utah’s Division of State Lands (FFSL) to ensure that the boat passage meets the needs of the public during its inaugural year.
A bill has been introduced in the Tennessee Legislature that aims to continue treasured recreational releases on the Ocoee River after current release agreements expire in March of 2019. The Ocoee River Recreation and Economic Development Fund Act would create a fund that would be used to pay the Tennessee Valley Authority for releases and to pay for other river management costs. Paddlers from TN can weigh in on the bill now, and all paddlers will have a chance to voice support or concerns with the TVA this spring or summer.
After over a year's work American Whitewater has released an upgraded version of their Whitewater Accident Database. It's the largest collection of its kind in the world, with over 1600 fatalities and close calls dating back to 1972. Each report has been checked for accuracy and AW Webmaster Ryan Groth greatly improved the search capacity. You can now locate accidents by a dozen different categories and characteristics. Here's how this project came about, how it evolved, why American Whitewater reports accidents and how you can help us keep this project going in the coming years.
Southern Company announced today that they are cancelling (eg postponing) the spring recreational releases on the Tallulah Gorge. The cancellation occured because they decided to conduct emergency maintenance work on a spillway gate atop their 103 year old dam. Southern Company is required to reschedule these releases as soon as practicable by their federal license and the related settlement agreement with American Whitewater and other groups.
We have put together a schedule of whitewater festivals and events for the 2017 paddling season in Colorado. Get your calendars out, because this season is going to be one to remember! In addition to the many whitewater festivals that American Whitewater partners with in Colorado, we are excited to announce that AW is hosting Gore Fest again this year! We hope to see you at Rancho Del Rio on August 25 - 27! Stay tuned for more details on race registration, entertainment, and volunteer opportunities.
March is the new June in Idaho, and early snowmelt has river flows booming. The dam that normally diverts almost all the water from the Black Canyon of the Bear River has begun to spill and boatable flows are likely for for the next couple weeks. Flows are likely to reach or exceed 1,500cfs which means a rare chance to experience the Bear at big Class V flows.
American Whitewater California staff Dave Steindorf will testify before a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives at 1:15pm on Wednesday, March 15th, on behalf of the Hydropower Reform Coalition. The hearing will explore the opportunities and challenges of expanding hydropower generation in the US. Dave has over 20 years of experience negotiating environmental and recreational improvements at existing hydropower dams on behalf of the paddling community. Click through to watch the hearing.
Idaho Power announced today that "flows of 10,000 cfs or greater in the Class V whitewater Milner Gorge Reach (Milner Mile) below Milner Dam on the Snake River are likely to be available during April 2017." In most years the hydropower project removes so much water from the Milner Gorge that whitewater paddling is not possible at any time. In high water years like this one though, the power company must release flows into the big, powerful Class V run known to paddlers as the Milner Mile.
Yesterday, President Trump issued an order to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to review and replace a federal rule that protects our rivers from pollution. This action will start a multi-year public rulemaking process that will decide the safety and health of our nation’s waterways. Paddlers will have an important role to play in speaking up for the value of clean water and healthy rivers.
The Oregon State Marine Board proposal to establish a Non-Motorized Boating Program is moving through the state legislature and is set for a hearing on March 1st. We encourage our Oregon members to share their thoughts with their representatives in the state legislature.
Cortez, Colorado - Last week, American Whitewater met with local water managers, fisheries biologists, an other interests in Dolores River water, to start negotiating releases from McPhee Dam - like we do every spring. This year, things are looking very good for the Dolores...
Eagle, Colorado - The new Eagle River Park, “connecting the heart of Eagle to the soul of the river”, aims to improve river recreation opportunities for local Eagle residents, as well as visitors from around the nation. After a year of working on the design of the whitewater features, S20 design and the Town of Eagle released updates on the plan yesterday. The updates include a photo album of Existing Conditions at the Eagle River Park site, new descriptions of the four whitewater features, and a recap of the latest Steering Committee meeting, including the guiding principles for the park design.
PG&E announced on February 2, 2017 that it was withdrawing its application to relicense the DeSabla – Centerville Hydroelectric Project on Butte Creek and the West Branch Feather River. PG&E engaged in a fifteen year relicensing process, spent tens of millions, only to determine that the energy from this project has been replaced by solar power.
With so much news and change coming out of Washington DC over the past week, we put together a quick recap of recent actions that we think will affect whitewater rivers. We also put together some options for sharing your opinions on these issues with lawmakers.
The Bureau of Land Management is currently accepting public comment on a proposal to protect the Methow Headwaters from an industrial-scale copper mine above the town of Mazama. The proposed mine would negatively impact the incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Methow Valley. A strong show of public support will be required to secure protection for this river valley.
We have a once in a generation opportunity to restore one of the greatest river systems of the
world–the Columbia and the Snake–by removing four outdated and expensive dams on
the lower Snake River. Federal agencies are accepting public comment on the future of the
Columbia and Snake River dams through February 7th, 2017, and your voices are important to this
process! Unlocking the lower Snake River is not only the single most effective thing that we can
do to restore wild salmon runs, but it will also restore whitewater opportunities on the mainstem
Snake and enhance them in key upper tributaries.
There is only one more day left to share what you value most in the Browns Canyon National Monument planning area! The Bureau of Land Management, U.S Forest Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working together to develop a Coordinated Management Plan for Browns Canyon National Monument. In order to design a plan that most benefits citizens and visitors of Colorado, the agencies designed an Online Survey and Mapping Tool to understand how the public interacts with the Browns Canyon planning area and what aspects of the area are most important to the public.
On January 12, 2017, the BLM and Forest Service announced a 20-year halt to new mining activities in the watersheds of the North Fork Smith, Illinois, Pistol River and Hunter Creek in Oregon. American Whitewater celebrates this important milestone with the conservation and recreation partners that we've worked with, and thanks Representatives DeFazio and Huffman and Senators Wyden and Merkley for their dedication to protecting this place. And we thank YOU too for standing up for these wild rivers!
Colorado - American Whitewater has released a new study on whitewater recreation in the San Miguel River Basin. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) requested that Montrose County consult with American Whitewater on recreational needs and future impacts for the San Miguel River. Montrose County acquired conditional water rights to the San Miguel River in hopes of building multiple new reservoirs on BLM land. American Whitewater worked with Montrose County’s agents to assess the impact its conditional storage proposals would have on existing recreational opportunities.
Federal decision makers are accepting comments on their plans for the New River Dries until January 8th. American Whitewater has proposed a schedule of 41 annual releases that will be great for the river, paddlers, and other stakeholders. Individuals are encouraged to comment, as are clubs and businesses.
It is looking like another great year to be a paddler in the Southeast! Over the past two decades American Whitewater has worked with affiliate clubs and partners to negotiate an awesome array of scheduled releases on river reaches previously dewatered by hydropower dams. Enjoy these incredible opportunities, and be safe out there!
This past week Washington Governor Jay Inslee released his state budget, including a $100 million commitment to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. As a kayaker and outdoor enthusiast himself, the Governor recognizes that investment in outdoor recreation is good for the state economy, promotes a healthy active lifestyle, and is a defining character of the quality of life we enjoy in Washington State. Earlier this year American Whitewater joined with our partners in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition to request $120 million for this program and the Governor's budget represents a strong commitment towards our aspirational ask.
The Green River, from the Flaming Gorge Dam to its confluence with the Colorado River, is known for its beautiful and iconic multiday paddling trips enjoyed by boaters and anglers. For as long as any of us can remember, the only man-made obstruction to boaters and fish on this stretch has been the Green River Diversion Dam (i.e., Tusher Dam), located just over 6 miles upstream of the town of Green River, UT and more than 120 miles above its confluence with the Colorado River. Since it was first built in 1913, the Tusher Dam and the keeper hydraulic it created forced boaters to either portage around it or run the unsafe hazard, while negatively affecting fish migration patterns.
For the past five years the Oregon State Marine Board has been engaging with the non-motorized boating community to learn how the Marine Board can better meet the needs of the community. The state's Non-Motorized Boating Advisory Committee made a unanimous recommendation to institute a Non-Motorized Boating Program that includes elements to address access, safety, education and funding. As an outcome of this process the Marine Board is proposing legislation for the 2017 legislative session that includes a new fee for paddlesports. We are seeking paddler input on this proposal.
Last year our friends at REI started a movement for people to reconnect outdoors over the holidays. At American Whitewater we enthusiastically join our partners at REI in the belief that A Life Outdoors Is a Life Well Lived. We encourage all our members to join in building on the momentum of #OptOutside to start a new tradition the day after Thanksgiving.
Northeast boaters can celebrate that another beloved whitewater gem has been protected. Paddlers on the Winnipeseaukee River are now assured that the put-in on the Lower Winni in Northfield, NH will be forever protected thanks to the donation of a parcel from Gloria Blais in memory of her husband Roger. Gloria donated the land to the Town of Northfield for the purpose of assuring that future generations of boaters will have access to the river. Protecting river access to the Winni is part of an ongoing effort by AW in the northeast region to protect river access.
Public Scoping Hearings have been scheduled this fall in Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and Montana to discuss the fate of Snake River Dams and their impact on salmon resources in the Snake River Watershed. We are encouraging the paddling community to engage in this public process which has implications for the overall health of the Snake River ecosystem and tributaries like the Lochsa, Selway, and Salmon River.
Snohomish County Public Works has published the long-awaited Environmental Assessment for repairs on the Index-Galena Road that historically provided access to the North Fork Skykomish River for whitewater boaters. Public input will be considered in agency decision making on whether repair of this important access road will move forward. The deadline for comments is October 31, 2016.
Next month marks the 40th anniversary of the designation of Montana's four Wild and Scenic Rivers (3 Flathead Forks + the Missouri). We now have a once-in-a-generation chance to expand on that incredible legacy of river conservation in Montana. Take action to support new river protections on the Flathead National Forest this week!
Earlier this year, Oregon Governor Kate Brown designated portions of the Molalla and Chetco Rivers as the state’s first new State Scenic Waterways since 1988. Now, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is developing rules that will apply to how the rivers are managed. The agency is seeking public comment on their proposed rules through 5 p.m. on Friday, September 30th. The whitewater paddling community highly values the Chetco and Molalla Rivers, and we encourage you to weigh in on this final step of the process!
The Oregon Water Resources Department recently proposed a new rule that will protect the instream uses of the Smith River and its tributaries. The rule is a critical step in proactively safeguarding the fish, wildlife, and recreation uses of the waters of the Smith River watershed in Oregon from ill-advised water development such as large-scale mining proposals. The agency is requesting public comment by 5 p.m. on October 28th, and we encourage you to weigh in!
The decades-old agreements between rafting outfitters and the Tennessee Valley Authority that provide for recreational water releases in the Upper and Middle Ocoee River will expire in 2018. TVA and the outfitters have been attempting to negotiate a new agreement for many months, and thus far no agreement has been reached. This week, American Whitewater and several regional affiliate clubs requested inclusion in those talks to represent our interests in the Ocoee River continuing to be a recreational treasure and economic boon to the region.
This summer the Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo National Forests are seeking feedback from the public on their update and revisions to Forest Management Plans. These plans set the stage for how the forest will be managed for the next 20 years. Unfortunately, the agency's draft analysis on Wild and Scenic Rivers has largely neglected whitewater recreation values of classic whitewater rivers, including Dinkey Creek. Paddler's voices are important in this process! The deadline to comment is August 25th.
As we head towards Upper Yough Race Day (July 23rd) in Friendsville it's time to recognizesome people who make access to the river easier. Thanks to Jess Whittemore for visualizing the Friendsville Parking Lot and to Friendsville Town Council for following through and making it happen. Thanks to hundreds of paddlers who contributed money for the parking lot, who stay clear of residential areas on Water Street, and patronize local businesses. And a special thank you to Don Millard who mows the access areas in Friendsville and Sang Run to keep our access costs low. Don't YOU forget to put a few dollars in the donation box in Sang Run to pay for the portable toilet! Jeff Macklin Photo
Paddlers have successfully helped to defend the public right to float rivers and streams in South Carolina. In a decision released late last week, a South Carolina court rejected an attempt to privatize a section of the South Fork of the Saluda River known as Blythe Shoals. The Court ruled that the entire river – rapids and all – is navigable and shall remain open to recreational paddling. This is great news for South Carolina river enthusiasts!
American Whitewater is accepting photos for our 2017 Calendar now through August 1, 2016. Submitting photos through our online form is simple, and we can't wait to see your best shots. Thanks to all of our contributors!
This week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioned (FERC) issued a final order denying a license for the Twin Lakes Canal Company’s proposal to build a 109-foot-tall hydroelectric dam on the Bear River in southeast Idaho. American Whitewater and our partners have worked diligently for over 14 years to protect the Oneida Narrows section of the Bear River, and we’re celebrating this final decision, which will keep this section of river freely flowing!
Negotiations on an Energy Bill are about to get underway and the hydropower industry wants a piece of the action. Under the guise of "modernizing" hydropower and "reducing costs," the hydropower industry is working feverishly to get a free pass on environmental regulations that help us restore flows to rivers. If they are successful, it will damage our work to restore flows and enhance whitewater recreation downstream of hydropower projects. Take action today to help us restore rivers and keep them flowing.
Immediately downstream of the New River Gorge, a beautiful 5.5-mile section of the New River has been dewatered for generations. Paddlers call this reach the New River Dries, and know it for the huge surf waves that form at high water. The Hawks Nest hydroelectric project removes 10,000cfs from the Dries, leaving only 100cfs except when high flows overwhelm the dam. The relicensing of the dam offers a once-in a lifetime opportunity to restore flows to the New River. American Whitewater filed comments today with federal regulators outlining our vision.
The Flathead National Forest is a treasure trove of whitewater paddling thanks to the three forks of the Wild and Scenic Flathead River, the Swan River, and many robust tributaries. Today, the Forest released their new inventory of streams they intend to protect as eligible for future Wild and Scenic designation. The inventory includes 22 outstanding streams, 10 of which are new eligible streams totalling 125 river miles. These streams were recommended for protection by American Whitewater, our partners in Montanans for Healthy Rivers, and citizens from across the state and country.
Over the past couple years American Whitewater has been working with regional paddlers, the National Park Service, and other interested folks to improve river access on the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers near Harpers Ferry, WV. One outcome of that effort has been recognition of the parking, access, and shuttle services the rafting outfitters in the area offer provide. The outfitters worked with private boaters to share a fact sheet of the various services they offer, which you can download.
American Whitewater is pleased to announce the successful completion of the Green River Dam rehabilitation project. This is a big win for the Green River and we want to thank our partners at the NRCS for their role.
Please take a second to sign our thank-you letter and tweet your thanks for a successful project!
The relicensing of 5 hydropower projects along the Connecticut River is moving closer to conclusion with the release of the whitewater boating study report for Bellows Falls and Sumner Falls (NH/VT). American Whitewater and its affilliates filed comments today in support of the study conclusion that valuable whitewater boating opportunities exist at both locations. AW and its partners also recently filed comments in response to the Draft License Application filed by FirstLight for the Turners Falls and Northfield Mountain (MA) hydropower projects, demanding restoration of flows to the natural river channel.
Cortez, CO - Over the past several months, AW and agencies in the Dolores River basin have been studying anticipated runoff and inflows into McPhee Reservoir in Southwest Colorado, and negotiating how best to provide optimal paddling conditions on the lower Dolores River. The most recent forecast was released today...
PacifiCorp is hosting a whitewater focus group for the Weber River Hydroelectric Project. Focus group participants will help provide an understanding of the whitewater boating opportunities and use patterns on the reach of the Weber River downstream of the Project diversion. Environmental Resources Management will be conducting the focus group. Your input is needed on whitewater boating opportunities, use patterns, flow preferences, and access in the Scrambled Eggs run.
Soak Creek has been named Tennessee's newest Scenic River—the first to earn the designation in 15 years. A tributary of the Piney River, this free-flowing creek serves as critical habitat for the iconic species of the Cumberland Plateau and provides a wide range of outdoor opportunities for all ages as it winds through a scenic gorge and along the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park. The designation helps to formalize the work local landowners, nonprofit groups and state agencies have done to ensure the public has access to this pristine natural treasure for generations to come.
Forty three percent of paddling in the United States is on public lands. These shared lands form the backbone of our access to wild rivers, they are our American inheritance, and they are under attack. Last year congress passed a resolution that paved the way for our forests, wilderness areas and parks to be put up for sale.
As the whitewater release season begins, it's time to celebrate our partnership with the town of Friendsville, MD, the takeout for the popular Upper Youghiogheny River. American Whitewater works closely with the town, negotiating the releases and managing parking and other issues. The new parking area is now entering its second season. Paddlers raised $25,000 in seed money and a $10,000 in-kind donation which in turn attracted $160,000 in grants to build it. Don Millard, a paddler from Fort Hill, PA, mows the grass here and at Sang Run. Thanks to his work river access fees are unusually low: The season opens on Friday, April 15 and every Friday thereafter. The first full weekend is May 6-9; Cheat Fest Weekend! Please observe the usual courtesies when in town: Use the rest rooms and change facilities at the parking area. Don't drink alcohol in public and avoid loud behavior that would disturb nearby residents. Never park in residential areas along the river. And take time to patronize the many businesses in town who are eagerly awaiting your arrival. Click through for more info on the river and the release schedule:
The North Fork of the Feather River will be boatable every day for the rest of 2016! Flows will increase because of a revised flow schedule and the wet year we are having in California. Almost twenty years ago, American Whitewater made it our goal to restore the North Fork Feather River and this new flow regime is a testament to our success.
Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission is considering whether to protect the North Fork Smith and its tributaries under the Clean Water Act's highest type of water quality protection. The river is threatened by a nickel strip mine proposal in its headwaters, and you can help protect the North Fork Smith and its tributaries by weighing in.
Dave Brown, the man behind Friends of the Ocoee and Citizens For Gauley River, has announced his intent to retire as executive director of America Outdoors, the national outfitters association. The team of lawyers and scientists he assembled in the early 1980's to keep the Upper Gauley from being dammed - Pete Skinner, Pope Barrow, Mac Thornton, and Steve Taylor - later became the core of a Board of Directors that revitalized American Whitewater. He also organized the first Gauley Festival, which would later be handed over to American Whitewater. Outfitters have been a vital part of the coalition seeking to protect whitewater rivers and Dave has been an outstanding leader in these fights. Click through for his refections on his remarkable career.
The Forest Service has been managing the Upper White Salmon River (upstream of Farmlands) as a Wild and Scenic River since it was designated by Congress in 2005. The Forest Service has schedulded a public listening session for April 28th to solicit feedback on the development of a river managment plan.
California is emerging from a multi-year drought and numerous dam proposals threaten rivers throughout the state. These proposals do little to address the state's water concerns and come with a hefty price tag. American Whitewater is focusing efforts to stop these unnecessary surface storage projects.
This morning, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer from Oregon released the Recreation Not Red Tape (RNR) Act, which is an effort to recognize the importance of recreation on public lands and waters.
Thanks to a turbine replacement project requiring a hydropower diversion to be shut down for much of 2016, paddlers will get a longer and better season on the Malad River this year. Have fun and be safe out there!
Every spring paddlers in the Midwest make their annual pilgrimage to enjoy a few weeks of great whitewater on the creeks that flow into Lake Superior. One of these creeks is the Yellow Dog in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve is working to purchase private forest land along the river and make it a Community Forest. The goal is within reach and the paddling community can make a critical contribution.
The National Park Service is celebrating its Centennial this year (2016) and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act’s 50th anniversary is coming up in 2018. We encourage the paddling community to get out there, take photos, and enjoy rivers while finding your park! You can help tell the story of these rivers which supports their conservation and stewardship by sharing your photos.
American Whitewater joined in petitioning the Washington Department of Ecology to amend its inadequate flow rule for the Spokane River. In setting the rule, the state agency ignored all public comments in support of protecting the Spokane River, and adopted a flow rule of 850cfs, a flow that is too low and jeopardizes the health of the Spokane River and public uses that include whitewater recreation. We are seeking a minimum summertime flow of 1,800 – 2800cfs to support fisheries and recreation, and protect higher flows for recreation when available.
We are pleased to recognize Edgar Peck as the Volunteer of the Month for February. Edgar facilitated a successful effort to buy a new put-in on the classic Watauga River near Boone, North Carolina. Together with the take-out AW owns, the public is now guaranteed permanent access to the outstanding Watauga River.
The U.S. Army Corps Engineers’ Philadelphia District released the 2016 Flow Management Plan for the Francis E. Walter Dam in White Haven, PA. The whitewater release schedule includes 24 dates (4 of which are dependent on sufficient water storage and not including final October weekend).
Paddlers made a strong showing at the January 28th Deep Creek Watershed Planning Meeting in McHenry, MD. Releases from Deep Creek Lake that support paddling on the Upper Youghioghenny River have been under attack by homeowners on backwater lots who are left high and dry during droughts. Friendsville town councilman Jess Whittemore and Upper Yough outfitter Roger Zbell have been ably representing whitewater paddlers for years. Jess told me that the presence of so many boaters, especially those who own property in Garrett County, made a strong impression on the County Commissioners. They were also impressed by the many thoughtful emails recieved from paddlers throughout the East. This will put us in a good position for the 2019 relicensing. Thanks to Friendsviller paddler and attorney Bob Allen for representing American Whitewater. Jeff Macklin photo.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources is embarking on a new planning project that will guide recreation on DNR-managed lands in the Nooksack River and Whatcom Lake watersheds for the next 10-15 years. The effort will kick off with two public open houses that will be scheduled for January.
This month, American Whitewater supporters stepped up, took action, and made a difference on two important issues that have a big impact on river conservation and recreation. As Congress wraps up the session for 2015, here’s an update on where things stand with hydropower legislation and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
This week marked a major milestone in our efforts to protect Western North Carolina streams using the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. American Whitewater and numerous paddlers wrote to the Forest Service to share the exemplary values of the region's whitewater gems and to argue for their full protection. We would like to thank all the paddlers that attended a public meeting or wrote an email to the Forest Service.
On December 1st Black Canyon Hydro LLC filed its License Application for the Black Canyon Hydropower Project. If constructed, this project would involve dewatering Ernie’s Gorge and putting it in a pipe to generate hydropower. We expect that a public comment period will soon open providing an opportunity for feedback on their application.
In response to of the state’s draft basin plan for southern Vermont, American Whitewater and scores of boaters pressed the state to support the expansion of releases on the West River. Restrictions by the Corps of Engineers and Agency of Natural Resources have led to the elimination of nearly all scheduled boating opportunities on the West River over the past two decades, eliminating recreation opportunity and hurting the local economy. AW and its partners have been working to restore these releases.
In response to requests by American Whitewater, several affiliates, and other stakeholders, FERC directed Brookfield Renewable to study the impact of its hydropower operations on whitewater boating on the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts. Boating groups and our supporters are seeking to determine optimal whitewater boating flows from the Fife Brook Dam and whether changes in hydropower operations would enhance boating opportunities, access and navigation.
Tis the season when American Whitewater works with power companies and other groups to schedule the coming year's dam releases in the Southeast. In addition to hundreds of releases on Class I-III rivers like the Nantahala, Tuckasegee, and Catawba, we put together an outstanding integrated schedule of Class IV and V opportunities. Check it out!
Montana's Lewis and Clark National Forest is updating the inventory of rivers they protect as eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. Paddler comments on these streams on the Rocky Mountain Front and other great parts of Montana can help protect some of the state's most outstanding streams from dams and other potential impacts. Comments are due by December 15th, and make great Christmas presents for Montana rivers!
The House is expected to vote the week of November 30th on energy legislation (H.R. 8) that is really, really bad news for rivers. The bill comes as a response to the hydropower industry's efforts to weaken the authority of tribes and state and federal agencies to protect water quality, fish and wildlife, public lands and recreation. If passed, hydropower provisions of H.R. 8 would tip the balance in strong favor of the hydropower industry, and do so at the expense of the local communities that rely on rivers for their livelihoods. Paddler’s voices are important in the process and we encourage you to reach out to your member of Congress today!
American Whitewater has worked with local paddlers and agency planners over the past year to create a river access plan for the Harpers Ferry, WV area. Two popular and scenic class III whitewater runs on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers converge in Harper's Ferry, yet there are only 3 public parking spaces at the take-out and the public put-ins are far upstream on both rivers. The plan is the result of an outstanding effort by our members and partners, and we are now working together to improve river access opportunities based on the plan.
American Whitewater, along with other paddling groups and outfitters, filed comments with FERC responding to the Whitewater Boating Evaluation at Turners Falls on the Connecticut River. The study showed that there is strong demand for boating on this section of the Connecticut River if sufficient flows, scheduled releases, better access, and real-time information are provided. The groups filed the comments in order to provide additional information for the environmental review and to respond to the unsupported statements by FirstLight, the utility performing the study, claiming that there is little demand for boating at Turners Falls.
In a partnership between advocacy groups, outfitters, and hydropower utilities, Brookfield Renewable Energy and TransCanada Hydro Northeast announced support for #optoutside, a national campaign started by REI designed to encourage outdoor recreation rather than shopping mall exploration on Black Friday after Thanksgiving. In support of #OptOutside and at the request of American Whitewater, the utilities will provide whitewater flows on the Deerfield below the Fife Brook Dam between 11-1 on November 27th.
Paddlers now have the chance to help protect Western North Carolina's best whitewater runs from dams and other impacts. The Forest Service is accepting public comments in support of WNC rivers and creeks' eligibility for Wild and Scenic designation. No one knows our streams like paddlers, and our community is in a unique position to speak to what makes these streams special. Explore a map of potentially eligible rivers, submit comments, and consider attending a public meeting.
If you would like to see flows restored to the New River Dries, now is a very important time for you to let federal regulators (FERC) know your thoughts. The power company has proposed zero releases, and no vehicular access to the top of the run in their Draft License Application. American Whitewater is asking for releases and access, but it is important for individual paddlers to make their voices heard too. Send your comments in no later than 10/31/15.