September 19, 2017 – American Whitewater has released a new report, The Oroville Dam 2017 Spillway Incident: Lessons from the Feather River Basin, alongside Friends of the River, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and the South Yuba River Citizens League.
The Russell Fork (VA & KY) is one of the classic Class V creek runs in the United States. The river is run year round and relies on a combination of natural flow and dam release from the Flanagan Reservoir on the Pound River. The Russell Fork Rendezvous will be taking place on October 27 - 29. Proceeds from the event go to support American Whitewater river stewardship. T shirts are now available for purchase now.
American Whitewater is proud to recognize longtime Pacific Northwest paddling aficionado Christian Knight as our Volunteer of the Month for his efforts organizing an extremely successful clean-up at Eagle Falls on the Skykomish River in Washington state. While many members of the paddling community stepped up to assist, it would not have happened without his vision and determination to get it done.
Thanks to a volunteer effort, American Whitewater is launching an Android app utilizing river and gage information from our website. This is the same realtime data that populates our nation river database made easily available for Android devices.
Thanks to an organization wide effort to provide transparency and operate efficiently, Charity Navigator awarded American Whitewater with its eighth consecutive 4-star rating. Receiving four out of a possible four stars indicates that American Whitewater adheres to good governance and other best practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way. Only 2% of the nonprofits Charity Navigator rates have received eight consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that American Whitewater outperforms most other charities in America. This “exceptional” designation from Charity Navigator differentiates American Whitewater from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust and support.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has confirmed that they are changing the scheduled recreational flow days to 4 consecutive days starting Friday October 6 through Monday October 9.
Excavators are in place at Mill Pond Dam on Northeastern Washington's Sullivan Creek, poised to begin chipping away at the 50-foot tall dam on Tuesday, September 12th, 2017. Removing the concrete dam, and an older log-crib dam under the reservoir is expected to take a couple months. American Whitewater played a significant role in negotiating this dam removal, and we are excited to watch the progress this fall.
Each year the rangers and park staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area share an open letter with the boating community. The letter outlines new management actions being implemented on the Gauley River.
Kremmling, Colorado - The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review and comment a set of preliminary alternatives for managing about 40 miles of the Upper Colorado River between Parshall and State Bridge - including Gore Canyon and Pumphouse. This is your chance to weigh in on whether there should be a day-use permit; a camping permit with designated campsites in the popular stretch between Pumphouse and State Bridge; and expanding the developed Pumphouse Campground.
The Lochsa, Selway, Clearwater, and Salmon watersheds are special places for paddlers from around the world. These special rivers flow clean and cold, and boast thousands of miles of tributaries to explore. The Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests are writing a new Forest Plan and are asking the public to share thoughts on which rivers should be protected as "eligible" for future designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers. This is a terrific opportunity for paddlers to protect rivers by sharing comments and photos with the Forest Service, and it is really easy to do through the Agency's interactive map.
American Whitewater reached an important milestone this week in our efforts to restore flows and public access to the New River Dries. Earlier this summer American Whitewater appealed a State decision to provide only 3-4 paddling releases annually, and vehicular access that required a 1.2-mile hike to the put in at the dam. On Tuesday the State issued an improved decision following over a month of negotiations, and in exchange American Whitewater withdrew our appeal. The New River Dries is a big, beautiful, ancient river with vast recreational potential, and its fate is now in the hands of federal regulators at FERC.
Comments are needed in support of clean water and healthy rivers. The EPA is proposing to repeal their Clean Water Rule, leaving protections for the quality of water flowing from our headwaters uncertain. We made commenting easy, so take a couple minutes and stand up for clean rivers!
Not so long ago options for paddlers in the Pacific Northwest were rather limited while awaiting the return of fall rains, but we’re excited to highlight some great opportunities for boaters to get out and enjoy rivers this fall in the region. Class III on the Tieton River, Class IV on the North Fork Rogue, Class IV+ on the Upper Sultan River and Class V in the Chelan Gorge are all upcoming opportunities to get your paddle wet in the Northwest.
Each year the folks at Clif provide support for grassroots river stewardship through the Clif Flowing Rivers Grant program. These are grants in support of American Whitewater Affiliate Clubs with local river stewardship issues where a small grant can make a big difference. This years grants go to the Upper Colorado River Private Boaters Association and Bluegrass Wildwater Association.
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests encompass 2.9 Million Acres of Colorado's Western Slope surrounding communities of Gunnison, Crested Butte, Paonia, Ouray, Ridgway, Montrose and Grand Junction. Some of our most loved rivers like Oh Be Joyful, Taylor River and San Miguel are affected by the new Forest Plan. Help us protect these places by attending a meeting, and filing comments on how you want these places managed in the future.
American Whitewater, along with Kayak and Canoe Club of New York and Appalachian Mountain Club, have joined with FERC in calling on Eagle Creek Renewable, owner and operator of three hydropower projects on the Mongaup River in New York, to conduct a whitewater boating study on section below the Rio Dam. The Mongaup is a scenic Class II/III river within easy reach of New York City and southern New England. Both whitewater groups and FERC are seeking to determine whether releasing flows into the natural river channel below the Rio Dam would provide new recreational boating opportunity at the Rio Project. The study will determine whether the whitewater boating run can be extended upstream to the Rio Dam. In addition, AW and its partners will be seeking additional whitewater boating release days through the relicensing process.
The Custer-Gallatin National Forest has proposed new protections for 18 outstanding streams in Montana through their forest planning process. The Forests propose to manage these streams as “eligible” for Wild and Scenic designation, along with 12 other rivers and streams previously determined to be eligible. The Forests’ analysis is solid in our view and merits appreciation from paddlers, though there is room for a bit of improvement. They are accepting comments through August 12, 2017.
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.
The July/August issue of the AW Journal is available in the "Library". This issue features ‘American Whitewater's 2016 Annual Report'. Read the issue now online or download your copy.
American Whitewater, San Joaquin Stakeholders and Agencies have negotiated with Southern California Edison to test better management of naturally occuring spill. During the last spill of this season SCE will test slowing down the rate of reducing flows. This more natural flow regime benefits the native aquatic species while still providing whitewater boating opportuniites and is referred to as spill cessation.
While we had hoped to see this test in August, mother nature had other plans! SCE has informed us that the last anticipated spill for the seasons is happening earlier than anticipated and they will start their test this week. So start making your boating plans now!
Please take this survey for a study of the economic impact of rock climbing, whitewater paddling, and mountain biking in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests! This is a partnership project between Outdoor Alliance, American Whitewater, IMBA, and Access Fund, and we'll use the data to advocate for recreation and good management of public lands in North Carolina.
Cody, Wyoming - This August 19 & 20 the Wild West Paddle Club is hosting the 2017 Wild West River Fest in Cody, Wyoming. In celebration of the beautiful Shoshone River, the Fest has events for everyone - Slalom Race, Class II Sprint, Shoshone Canyon Boater Cross, and many other fun activities for the whole family! Weekend festivities are free to the public, with the exception of race registration fees for competitors. You can find a full schedule here and all competitors need to register online in advance.
Take action today using our easy online form to protect National Monuments designated under the Antiquities Act! A public comment period began on May 12th and ends July 10th for an April 26th Executive Order which directed Interior Secretary Zinke to conduct a review of all Presidential designations over the past 21 years. A number of Monuments being reviewed are of significant interest to paddlers and provide protections for cherished whitewater stretches, including Bears Ears (Lower San Juan River, UT), Grand Canyon-Parashant (Colorado River, Grand Canyon, AZ), Giant Sequoia National Monument (Tule River, CA), Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (East Branch of the Penobscot River, ME), Rio Grande del Norte National Monument (Rio Grande, Taos Boxes, NM) and many more.
Attention all Dolores River Boaters!
Excited About Boating Colorado's Dolores River this year? American Whitewater and our partners are gathering your feedback on the 2017 boating releases from McPhee Dam. After your trip, Please Take Our Online Survey! Your participation will directly inform the next release from McPhee Dam. Make your voice heard!
This week the Environmental Protection Agency announced its intention to begin the process of repealing and replacing the Clean Water Rule of 2015. This is deeply troubling to us at American Whitewater. We invested considerable capacity in the development of this rule that reflected the input of the whitewater boating community. The Clean Water Rule clarified protections for headwater streams, which is where the majority of whitewater recreation takes place.
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.
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.
Our Stewardship work is possible only through your support, and your financial contribution plays a vital role in protecting and restoring the special rivers that you love. We are a lean and efficient organization-85 cents of every dollar goes directly to our river stewardship work. With your support, we will lean forward and meet the challenges ahead. Please take a moment to see what your contribution will support in our Spring Stewardship Update for 2017.
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.
On May 5th, 2017, the Department of the Interior announced that it would be reviewing millions of acres of public land protected as National Monuments under a piece of legislation called the Antiquities Act. All National Monuments are at risk, but the Department of the Interior has specifically identified public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Maine for review. One of these areas is the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument located in the North Maine Woods. The national monument was established by proclamation by President Obama in August 2016 following the donation and endowment of more than 87,000 acres adjacent to Mount Katahdin and includes a section of the East Branch of the Penobscot River.
The State of West Virginia today chose to pass on a major economic and environmental opportunity by issuing a water quality certificate that lacks vital restoration of flows to the New River Dries. The certificate outlines certain mandatory conditions that must be adopted by Federal regulators for the forthcoming 30 to 50 year license. The certificate requires the dam owner to release flows suitable for kayaking and rafting on an average of only 3 to 4 days each year.The State’s decision marks a major setback and hurdle in restoring the New River Dries, but may not be the final word on how the river will be managed. American Whitewater will keep working towards a healthy and accessible New River Dries.
Palisade, Colorado - Coordinated releases from a series of reservoirs in the Upper Colorado River Basin have been sheduled to provide peak run-off in early June. Flows in the Colorado River near Cameo (Big Sur) are anticipated to be approximately 14,000 – 17,000 cfs from June 7th through June 12th, with the highest flows on Thursday or Friday June 8th or 9th. Big Sur is unlikey to materialize this year.
Through a long standing partnership with Clif, American Whitewater offers affiliate clubs the opportunity to apply for two Clif Flowing Rivers grants each year. Grants will be distributed to affiliate clubs for projects that promote river stewardship, conservation, access and/or safety on rivers in the United States. American Whitewater and Clif are pleased to announce the Clif Flowing Rivers Campaign, pledging $2,500 to American Whitewater Affiliate Clubs for river stewardship work.
American Whitewater is governed by a 12 member Board of Directors. Directors are elected by the general membership and serve three year terms. American Whitewater’s Directors are the trustees of organization and act as fiduciaries for the members we serve. Serving as an American Whitewater Director is an exceptional opportunity to help foster the continued growth and development of a highly respected nonprofit organization. While serving as a Board Director requires both commitment and energy, it is a rewarding and fulfilling opportunity and a great way to give something back to the paddling and environmental community. In 2017, we have one Director seat being vacated and are searching for a candidate that represents the inter-mountain west, and Colorado specifically.
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.
News Release from the Chief Administrative Office El Dorado County: The County of El Dorado and a coalition comprising American Whitewater, El Dorado County residents and businesses, and other conservation and recreation organizations today announced an agreement assuring continued access to Mosquito Road Bridge aka “The Swinging Bridge” and the South Fork American River. In the Memorandum of Understanding reached on May 9, 2017, the County agreed to allow year-round, unencumbered pedestrian and vehicle access to the South Fork American River at the bridge dawn to dusk unless a closure is required for emergencies or maintenance.
Spring is in the air and as another great paddling season comes into focus, we hope that you'll consider making a contribution to American Whitewater on GiveBig Day – Wednesday, May 10. GiveBIG is a one day event through the Seattle Foundation that makes your donation to American Whitewater go further.
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.
Paddlers planning on paddling the Dolores below Bedrock (Bedrock to Gateway stretch) between May 9 - May 19 need to be aware of intermittent river closures at the new Bedrock Bridge at Colorado Highway (CO) 90. CDOT and SEMA Construction will begin lifting large precast members for the bridge beginning Tuesday, May 9. River users will encounter intermittent half hour river closures at this location just north (downstream) of the Bedrock boat ramp.
The May/June issue of the AW Journal is available
in the "Library". This issue
features ‘As the Cherry Blossoms Bloom, American Whitewater Goes to Washington,
DC’. Read the issue now online or download your copy.
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.
This May 5-7th, 2017, American Whitewater will be at the 20th annual French Broad River Festival in Hot Springs, NC. Proceeds for the event get donated to American Whitewater and other non-profits. The French Broad River Fest has donated a huge amount to American Whitewater over the past 20 years so come on an out and have a great time showing your support!
The outdoor industry gathered in Washington DC for the annual Outdoor Industry Association Capital Summit event this week. American Whitewater joined our industry partners in support of important issues that impact public lands and waters. New economic impact data was released during the event, and it's HUGE! Americans spend $887 BILLION in consumer spending in outdoor goods and services.
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…
Dolores, CO - Releases into the lower Dolores River will begin to ramp down starting Sunday May 7 until minimal boating flows of 800 – 1200 CFS are reached. A high flow event of 4000 cfs is still planned for May 5th, but the duration of the event may be cut down to two or three days. Forecasts continue to drop and may not produce releases that reach into June.
California is officially in the wettest season on record giving the state a plethora of paddling choices throughout the year. Here are some of the paddling opportunities that American Whitewater helped negotiate and implement with hydropower projects across the state including the South Fork American below Slab Creek, South Fork Silver below Ice House, North Fork Feather Rock Creek and Pit 5.
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.
On Saturday, April 22nd, whitewater releases on the Schaghticoke Gorge section of the Hoosic River will resume after a long hiatus. The Schaghticoke consists of a Class V drop through the Gorge (for those into that kind of thing) followed by a friendly Class II/III section that can be accessed below the Gorge. Releases on the Hoosic are required under a settlement agreement with American Whitewater. Releases will resume on April 22nd from 1-4, and we need a good turnout from the boating community to increase the number of future releases.
Dolores, Colorado - The highly anticipated April 1st water supply forecast for the Dolores River has finally been released and for boaters, conditions are promising. With inflow into McPhee Reservoir forecast to be 142% of average, managed releases from McPhee Dam should provide 87 days of flows above 800 cfs, and 50 days above 2000 cfs. Releases have started - lets go boatin'!
Recently, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) made an unexpected move to advocate for policies that would undermine environmental protections in the Clean Water Act and the Federal Power Act. American Whitewater worked with SMUD and other stakeholders in negotiating a settlement agreement for the Upper American River Hydroelectric Project (UARP) that was signed by all parties in 2007. The final license for the project was issued in 2014 and included whitewater recreation flows to mitigate the impacts of its project.
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.
Dolores, Colorado - After a cold opening weekend, McPhee Dam will continue to release 1,200 CFS until the runoff starts climbing again later in April. A new forecast comes out this week that we will combine with the early runoff to craft a new operating plan. Expect a release of approximately 250,000 AF over approximately 60 days.
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.
Dolores, Colorado - A warm March has started the runoff early and driving McPhee Reservoir elevations up, approaching 6915 and rising. Therefore releases will start ramping up March 29, 2017. The forecast for the Dolores River has dropped since March 1, but still promises plenty of water for a recreational release from McPhee Reservoir.
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.
Cortez, Colorado - American Whitewater and local interests in Dolores Water sat down again this month with the most current snowpack, water supply, and McPhee Reservoir storage data, to determine how releases, if possible, can be timed to provide the best boating opportunities, while doing good things for fish, and the health of the River. Releases for the lower Dolores River will happen in 2017 and the forecast for great flows is looking very good right now!
We would like to recognize Violet Jakab for being a vocal community advocate in our efforts to save Mosquito Road Bridge. No stranger to adversity, as a young woman, Violet escaped communist rule in Romania in the back of a refrigerator truck. She immigrated to the United States and worked hard for a Master of Science in Civil Engineering, Hydraulics at California State University, Long Beach. When not boating, Violet can be found with Yinky and Maggie her German Shepherds that serve as certified therapy dogs spreading joy among young and old alike.
Originally built in 1867 the “Swinging Bridge” a.k.a. Mosquito Road Bridge over the South Fork American River has long served as a crucial intersection for avid recreationalists. Yet a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) recommended removing access at the river and demolishing the bridge once a new $65 million bridge replacement project was completed. Never a debate of either a new Mosquito Road Bridge or the old Swinging Bridge a coalition of recreational stakeholders dared to ask the question why not both?
The State Highway 49 Bridge over the South Fork American River in Coloma is set to be replaced during construction of a $22 million Caltrans project in partnership with the El Dorado County Transportation Commission. Construction for this project will begin on March 8, 2017 and will continue through Spring of 2019. For paddlers, this bridge is one of the few remaining free public access sites to the river. American Whitewater worked through the stakeholder process to preserve public access once the new bridge is complete.
The Wild Olympics Coalition, a locally-based coalition that includes American Whitewater, cheered the reintroduction of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer 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.
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.
The state of Utah is currently proposing to eliminate their current rule that allows boaters to bring a throw bag on trips instead of a throwable personal flotation device. Federal Coast Guard rules require that all boats greater than 16 feet in length contain a throwable PFD. American Whitewater would like to see the state of Utah and the Coast Guard work together to change the Coast Guard's rules as they relate to river travel in order to allow for a throw bag to be carried instead of a throwable PFD. Utah's existing policy seems like a superior one to us, and we'd like to see it adopted nationally rather than eliminated.
Our colleagues at Tuolumne River Trust along with Groveland USFS, local outfitters and local volunteers are working together to implement long overdue improvements at the put-in for the Wild & Scenic Tuolumne River at Meral's Pool.
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.
Gateway, Colorado - Last month, American Whitewater, in partnership with local property owners, conservation and wildlife agencies, kicked off a multi-phase project to remove and rehabilitate a low-head diversion structure on the Dolores River. The Project, funded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, will improve boater safety and enhance fish and riparian habitats along one of the mosty highly valued rivers in the Southern Rockies.
Dotsero, Colorado - A key river access point on the Upper Colorado river, once threatened with closure, has now been permanently protected through a partnership between BLM and Eagle County.
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.
For 35 years the National Paddling Film Festival has been hosting a competition to determine the best in paddle sport videos and images. Come see American Whitewater and the year's best photos and videos at the National Paddling Film Festival (NPFF)! This year's NPFF will be held on February 17-18 in Frankfort, KY at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Tickets are $20 online or $25 at the door.
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.
The AW Journal wants YOU to send us your river stories in 2017!
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!
After several years of implementing interim management measures, the Coconino and Tonto National Forests are preparing a Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) for Fossil Creek. The CRMP will provide detailed direction, implementation actions, and monitoring to protect and enhance river values. A preliminary comment opportunity is open through Friday January 27th (recently extended from January 13th) on alternatives the Forest Service is considering.
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.
The State of Colorado is asking lawmakers to approve $25 million for developing Stream Management Plans around the State to protect environmental and recreational values while providing for our increasing water needs. The funding proposal will be reviewed on Wednesday, January 11th, and there will be opportunities for YOU to support this important work to save our rivers.
As re-construction of the Tusher Dam and boat chute on Utah's Green River comes to a close this month, American Whitewater is working with the State of Utah and US Natural Resources Conservation Serivice to provide updates on the Project. Here's the latest news on installation of boater warning signs, and the ‘Flow Allocation Agreement’ which commits flows for recreation at the boat chute.
In June 2017, American Whitewater members will have an opportunity to join American Whitewater staff and board members for an exclusive trip on Oregon's Rogue River. We invite you to come learn more about what we're up to while having a great time enjoying one of our nation's first Wild and Scenic Rivers.