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Washington Legislature Proposes Boater Education Card

01/30/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe

For the past several years the Washington State legislature has had an interest in improving paddlesports safety and reducing fatalities. It’s a good thing to have the legislature interested in boating safety and we are pleased that it has helped raise the profile of Washington State’s Boating Safety Program. The program has done a great job of acknowledging the needs of the paddlesports community. While the interest in boating safety is appreciated, the specific legislative proposals introduced over the past few years have had issues and not advanced out of committee. Various ideas have included a Boater Education Card, vessel registration, and mandatory requirements to wear a Personal Floatation Device. With a new session underway, Senator Van De Wege and Senator Lovick are back with SB 5597, legislation that would establish a new boater education card and $10 fee for paddlesports.

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Great Falls Catawba Update - See You in March!

01/10/2023 - by Kevin Colburn

Following 20 years of work, American Whitewater and our partners are in the final push to have the Great Falls of the Catawba ready for flow restoration and paddling this March. We are confident releases will start in March and conditions will be prime to visit the river thereafter. In the interim we ask that paddlers please refrain from paddling the river to allow for important work to happen in and around the river. In this article we'll share an update on where things stand in this unique river restoration project. 

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Lolo National Forest (MT) to Begin Planning - Explore the Web Map

01/05/2023 - by Kevin Colburn

The Lolo National Forest, which encircles Missoula, Montana is gearing up to revise their forest plan starting this spring. The new plan will take a fresh look at which rivers merit protection as potential (eligible) Wild and Scenic Rivers and set recreational and other goals for the next 20 or so years. The process takes around 3 years, and there will be ample opportunities to get involved. Paddlers are encouraged to participate, and share their knowledge of rivers and streams. In this article we share a data-rich web map for paddlers to explore and some tips for how to get involved. 

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New Clean Water Act Rule Released, Rivers Benefit

01/04/2023 - by Kevin Colburn

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency released a new final rule governing which streams and wetlands will be covered by the Clean Water Act. If this sounds familiar, it is for good reason: this issue has been the subject of perennial debate and changes made by various administrations and courts for at least the past two decades. But, for today, for rivers, it is time to celebrate! The new rule, which will likely take effect in 60 days, will restore protections for many of America’s wetlands and streams that had lost protection under the previous version of the rule. Desert rivers are particularly big winners under the new rule, as protections for many of these rivers were lost under the prior rule and will now return. 

 

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Proposed Crazy Mountain Land Swap Open For Comment (MT)

12/20/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The Forest Service is considering a proposed land exchange in Montana that would trade away public lands along Big Timber and Sweet Grass creeks in the Crazy Mountains. The proposal appears unlikely to change paddling access or other values on Big Timber Creek, but access to Sweet Grass could be greatly reduced. This area is riddled with checkerboard ownership and has longstanding public access uncertainties. Hunters, anglers, and other backcountry enthusiasts have largely panned the proposal because it reduces public access. American Whitewater submitted a comment respectfully asking that the impacts to paddling be considered, and that the proposal be modified to improve rather than limit public access. Comments are due by December 23, 2022. 

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Trip Reports Offer Enhanced Sharing of River Trips

12/06/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater has revitalized the Trip Report option on our website, and we hope paddlers will take advantage of it! Trip Reports allow anyone logged into the American Whitewater website to tell the story of a river trip by sharing any combination of photos, text, date, and water levels. The most recent three reports are found at the bottom of every river page, and all reports are located on the Trip Report tab on river pages. We encourage paddlers to give it a try, and in this article we'll share a few suggestions on how we hope paddlers use the Trip Report option. 

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Southeast 2023 Advanced Release Schedule Announced!

11/25/2022 - 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 releases and access 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 strive to create a schedule with minimal conflicts to maximize recreational value. Below are the 2023 dates for the Class IV/V Cheoah, Nantahala Cascades & Upper, West Fork Tuck, and Tallulah rivers. 

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Comments Needed on Madison River Boating Limits (MT)

10/13/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

A Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks work group is proposing to recommend new fees, permits, and limits on Bear Trap Canyon and Quake Lake sections of the Madison River. Comments are due on October 14th, so write them a quick note! The work group recommendations have come out of left field for whitewater paddlers, since they were focused on the high-use sections of the Madison River frequented by anglers. Their solutions are not justified or warranted, and will not solve actual problems. To us, they read like non-solutions to non-problems written with little or no input from whitewater paddlers. 

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Supreme Court Dives Into Clean Water Act Scope

10/03/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning on a case that will likely shift the balance of which wetlands and perhaps streams are covered under the Clean Water Act. A permit is required to dredge, fill, or discharge pollutants into waters that are covered under the Act. Waters not covered under the Act lack this federal review. Now, just days from the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the Supreme Court considered this request to significantly weaken the effect of the landmark law that is largely responsible for the remarkable restoration of our Nation’s rivers. 

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American Whitewater Opposes Legislation to Undermine Clean Water Act

09/23/2022 - by Bob Nasdor

On September 21, Sen. Manchin (D-WV) released the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, long-anticipated legislation seeking to speed up environmental review and approval of energy projects under the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act. The proposed legislation would weaken Section 401 of the Clean Water Act undermining our ability to advocate for instream flows below hydropower dams.

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Local Coalition Celebrates Commission Ruling to Protect Colorado's Waters

09/09/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz

During this year’s World Water Week, a coalition including community members, anglers, recreation groups, and conservation organizations are celebrating the finalization of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission’s decision to designate over 520 miles on 25 streams across Southwest Colorado as Outstanding Waters. The coalition came together from across the state, dedicating three years to demonstrating that these streams have high water quality, exceptional recreational and ecological values, and that they warrant protection. The Commission’s designation of these waterways marks the adoption of the largest community proposal for Outstanding Waters in Colorado’s history.

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Klamath River Dam Removal Takes an Important Step Forward (OR/CA)

08/27/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has just released a final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) which recommends the removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. This is the final step of analysis, and a federal decision to authorize removal of the dams is expected later this year, with dam removal taking place in 2024. This would be the largest dam removal project in the world.

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Volunteers Work Hard on Upper Yough Accesses

08/26/2022 - by Charlie Walbridge

Although a broken dam curtailed Upper Yough water releases this year, it's been a great season for American Whitewater volunteers. On the left, Jesse Shimrock is AW's new Upper Yough Access Manager. A lifelong resident of Garrett County, he learned to paddle here as a teen. After years on the freestyle circuit he built a house in Sang Run and is ready to look after the interests of river runners. AW has maintained the site for decades thanks to an agreement with Maryland State Parks. Jesse has plans for upgrades and improvements; if you want to help, contact him on FB. And don't forget reliable Don Millard, on the right, who has mowed the grass in both Sang Run and Friendsville for many years! He does a great job and saves AW thousands of dollars each year!


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2022 Gauley Season Details From The National Park Service

08/19/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River for the 2020 season. Camping and other facets of Gauley season are returning to more normal operations following two years of Covid-related restrictions. As part of our agreement with the land owner, there is no camping allowed on the Legg field that American Whitewater leases for overflow parking. The letter from NPS follows:

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Skagit River Recreation Flow Survey (WA)

08/12/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

Seattle City Light is in the process of securing a new license to operate the Skagit Hydroelectric Project before the current licensee expires in 2025. As part of that process a number of studies are underway that include an assessment of the impacts of hydropower operations on recreation. To collect information from the public, Seattle City Light is conducting an online recreation flow survey for three river segments on the Skagit River. American Whitewater, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and North Cascades National Park participated in the development of this study plan. The purpose of this recreation flow survey is to gather information about recreation flow preferences for three river segments on the Skagit River along a 25.2-mile length from the Goodell Creek Boat Launch inside the Ross Lake National Recreation Area to Howard Miller Steelhead Park near Rockport.

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AW Wildfire Info Map Keeps Boater Updated on Rivers Affected by Fires

08/02/2022 - by Scott Harding

It's peak fire season in much of the country and active wildfires are currently burning along several whitewater rivers in the West. Be sure to check the American Whitewater Wildfire Information Map for the latest details on whether there's an active wildfire that could affect your boating trip or safety. It's the only map that combines detailed information on whitewater runs with constantly updated fire locations, air quality info, and more.

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Take Action: Provide Comment to Restore the Snake River

07/06/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

American Whitewater supports breaching the four lower Snake River Dams and believes the environmental and social justice costs of these dams outweigh the services and benefits they provide. In addition to benefits for salmon and steelhead, breaching these dams would open up a new segment of free-flowing river in a region where current demand for river-based recreation exceeds capacity. We also believe the removal of these dams is a more effective solution to address struggling salmon runs than limits that have been placed on recreational boaters. Governor Inslee and Senator Murray are currently soliciting public comment through July 11th on the Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report.

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Unprecedented Win for Water Quality in Colorado!

06/24/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz

On June 14, Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted 7-1 to protect 520 miles on 25 streams across Southwest Colorado, adopting the first proposal of its kind. American Whitewater and our partners have been hard at work over the past three years to prove that these high quality rivers and creeks deserve protection. Our proposal included beloved paddling segments like the headwaters of the Taylor River, Escalante Creek, Lime Creek, and many others that were acknowledged for their exceptional ecological and recreational attributes. Under the Clean Water Act, Outstanding Waters provide the highest level of water quality protections in Colorado. The designation acknowledges the high water quality that currently exists and ensures it is protected at that level for the future.

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AW Participates in EPA Roundtable on the Importance of Clean Water

06/09/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

On Tuesday, June 7, Kevin Colburn, American Whitewater’s National Stewardship Director, participated in a roundtable hosted jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Cahaba Brewing Co. on the importance of clean water protections in the Southeast. He joined stakeholders from a broad spectrum of land and water users who live or work in eleven Southeastern states, including a director of a water and sewer utility; general contracting and construction management executive; mitigation banker; faith leader; environmental justice advocates; farmers, including a Gullah-Geechee farmer; elected officials; representatives from conservation and environmental organizations; and clean water scientists.

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2022 Weber Releases Scheduled (UT)

05/27/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

Recreational flow releases have been scheduled on the Scrambled Eggs Section of the Weber River for June 4, June 18, July 2, and July 9 of this year, subject to change if unexpected conditions occur. These are the first releases of their kind on this reach, following years of negotiations and studies that led to the issuance of a new 40-year federal license for the hydropower project. Flows will unfortunately be lower volume than expected this year. American Whitewater advocated for these releases throughout the long and challenging dam relicensing process with the support of local volunteers. This article covers what you need to know to enjoy the releases. Enjoy the Weber! 


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