Upper Yough Access Depends on Everyone
Many thanks those who have contributed to AW's Sang Run Access Fund on line. We raised just under $300 last week, a great start! Our goal is $1000 to pay for the porta potty and gravel. Let's get it done! To donate, please go to https://www.americanwhitewater.org/conte…/Membership/donate/? and and write "Upper Yough Access" in the comment line. 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! The Upper Yough Race is July 27 this year.Be there! Jeff Macklin photo.
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).
Effort to Protect the Rogue Continues (OR)
At the end of last Congress, the House and Senate negotiated a public lands package that ultimately resulted in 256 new miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers for Oregon when the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act was signed into law on March 12th, 2019. While rivers like the Molalla and several tributaries of the Rogue were designated Wild and Scenic, the lands surrounding the immediate river corridor were left unprotected. With a commitment to finish the job, and building on the successful effort to move these initiatives out of committee with bipartisan support last Congress, Senator Wyden was joined by Senator Merkley in introducing the Oregon Recreation Enhancement Act (S. 1262) on May 1st, 2019. The bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on May 14th, 2019.
Senator Murray & Representative Kilmer Reintroduce Wild Olympics Bill (WA)
Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) reintroduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (S. 1382 and H.R. 2642) to permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries, a total of 464 river miles, as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests, clean water and salmon streams as well as enhance outdoor recreation, the legislation would set aside the first new wilderness on Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
Positive Outlook for Lower Dolores Flows This Spring!
The Dolores Water Conservation District recently put out their updated spill prediction based on the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center's May 1st inflow forecast. In addition to a positive forecast indicating a likely 3-4 week spill of boatable flows beginning before Memorial Day, low and middle elevation snowpack has raised McPhee water levels at approximately a foot per day. This lower elevation snow and May storm cycle have also helped in keeping fields wet and pushing back the start of irrigation season. One more benefit of the healthy low elevation snowpack was the flows downstream of McPhee reached boatable levels for over a week. Many regional boaters were out enjoying these natural flows and levels even reached 2,000 cfs for a period!
Land and Water Conservation Fund Secures Access to Upper Colorado River
A bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was introduced last month by Colorado Senator Cory Gardener and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and cosponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennett. If passed the bill would provide $900M annually for projects protecting natural, cultural and historic resources. Existing funding from the LWCF recently enabled the transfer of two important river access points on the Upper Colorado River. The State Bridge and Two Bridges parcels were owned by Eagle County and had been improved - boat ramps, parking, restroom/changing facilities - by the Eagle County Open Space program with coordination and management support from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This land transfer will protect public access at these locations in perpetuity.
Dolores River (CO) 2019 Spill Forecast Update
Dolores Water Conservation District put out their most recent predictions on April 23rd. More can be found on their website. We are expecting an updated forecast on May 6th and will be meeting with them on May 9th to begin discussions on how the recreational boating releases can align with other ecological goals. American Whitewater has developed a wide range of guidelines on how a spill can meet both recreation goals and goals to improve aquatic species and riparian health.
New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham Vetoes Gila Diversion Funding
In her campaign, newly elected Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham laid out a plan to end work on the Gila River Diversion Project. This past Friday she took great strides towards that promise by vetoing $1.698M in New Mexico Unit funding requested by the Interstate Stream Commission for Gila diversion planning and design.
NEW WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS SIGNED INTO LAW WITH PUBLIC LANDS PACKAGE!
With the President's signature today, 621 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers have been established through the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9). With strong bipartisan support, this legislation passed the House by a vote of 363-62 on February 26th. It passed the Senate by a vote of 92-8 on February 12th. Please reach out to your lawmakers in both the House and Senate to thank them for following through on this commitment, and we make it super easy through our easy action templated forms. A personalized touch will make sure your representatives read your thank you and the forms only take a moment to update with an individualized comment about why protecting wild rivers and the recreation opportunities they provide is important to you.
Adirondack Whitewater Release Schedule Announced
Northeast boaters will again have the opportunity to boat in the Adirondacks this year on the Moose, Raquette, and Beaver rivers. Be sure to mark your calendars for these releases and join us for the Moosefest and Beaver River Rendezvous this year
Help Protect Crested Butte Area Rivers and Creeks under Wild and Scenic Act
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) are conducting a Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Evaluation as part of the current Forest Plan Revision process. While the Forest Service is mandated to conduct an Eligibility Study as part of the Plan Revision process, this opportunity only happens every 15-20 years and we need to ensure that the Study is comprehensive and robust. We need YOU to share your love and knowledge of these rivers with the Forest Service! We've put together an easy-to-use tool for you to submit comments here. Please consider personalizing your comments and take the time to review the Forest Service's Story Map of the Eligibility Evaluation.
Southern Rockies Stewardship Director Job Opening
American Whitewater is hiring a new Southern Rockies Stewardship Director, following the announcement of the previous director moving on to a new role with the State of Colorado. The Director represents American Whitewater in strategically selected regional river conservation and access issues. These issues include water supply and demand management, public land and river management, community planning / river access, and policy issues that affect the region.
Green River Appeal Heads to the VT Supreme Court
A Wild and Scenic Coalition is Born
In 2018, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Wild and Scenic River System. In the wake of the impressive anniversary successes, however, one might ask, “So, now what?” Luckily, the rivers community asked that question some time ago. As with conservation innovations of the past, a group of river advocates and concerned citizens united to ensure that the rivers anniversary wasn’t simply a one-time party. And so, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition was born at River Rally 2018 from the power of the unprecedented national-level cooperation undertaken during the anniversary. American Whitewater has been a leading proponent of forming a Wild and Scenic River Coalition for the past several years and we have long worked nationally with a group of partner organizations on Wild and Scenic issues. We are now thrilled be a founding and active member of this new coalition that has a bright future.
Welcome to the New National Whitewater Inventory!
American Whitewater has worked with an outstanding team of website designers and programmers over the past two years to redesign our National Whitewater Inventory (NWI). The NWI provides high quality information for a growing list of 5,760 whitewater river reaches across the United States. Each year this online guide helps almost 1,000,000 paddlers avoid hazards and match their skill level to the right rivers at the right flows. Like a Wikipedia of whitewater rivers, the Inventory is a dynamic crowd-sourced collection of river descriptions, locations, hazards, photos, and flow recommendations organized by a powerful database. This project was funded by a generous grant from the US Coast Guard, based on the NWI’s vital river safety value. We are actively fixing bugs and enhancing the user experience of the new design, so expect improved performance in the coming weeks.
Clackamas River flow information survey
As a part of Portland General Electric’s (PGE) license for its hydroelectric project along the Clackamas River, PGE follows a Recreation Resource Management Plan that directs the Company towards recreation projects along the Clackamas. PGE is currently seeking feedback from the whitewater community on the flow resources along the Upper Clackamas River through a short 8 question online survey.
Dates Scheduled for First New River Dries Releases (WV)
Last week, the first ever pulse flow releases were scheduled on the New River Dries, located near Gauley Bridge, WV. These releases were designed to support intermediate level whitewater paddling and to restore natural flow variability to a river reach that has been largely dewatered by the Hawks Nest Hydropower Project for generations. The releases are a requirement of the new 47-year federal dam license issued in late 2017. The releases will occur in March, June, July, and possibly August of this and future years. American Whitewater played a lead role in negotiating these releases.
Weber River Agreement Calls For New Flows & Access (UT)
American Whitewater has spent the past three years participating in the relicensing of a hydropower dam on Utah's Weber River that dewaters a stretch of whitewater known as the Scrambled Eggs run. Last year, we reached an agreement with all parties calling for improved take-out access, as well as four pulse flow releases each year that will support whitewater paddling and the river's ecology. This agreement is core to the dam owner's 2018 federal dam license application, which we recently supported in formal comments.