Montana Agency Proposes Paddling Prohibition on Fish Creek
09/20/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
Earlier this week Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks proposed to prohibit paddling on the entire length of Fish Creek, located near the popular Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River downstream of Missoula. Their rationale is both flawed and concerning, and the proposal marks a significant shift for a state that has a long history of strongly supporting the public freedom to float rivers. Paddlers across the state are encouraged to speak out to stop this overbearing proposal, as part of a public comment period open until October 20, 2023.
Wins and Losses for Eastern Colorado Rivers
09/12/2023 - by Kestrel Kunz
American Whitewater is formally objecting to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed Final Plan for the Eastern Colorado Field Office. The planning area includes the majority of the Arkansas River and its key tributaries like Grape Creek. As part of the planning process the BLM is required to conduct a thorough review of which river segments are free-flowing and possess at least one Outstandingly Remarkable Value. These river segments should then be protected by the agency as eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers. However, in a practice that American Whitewater opposes at the national level, the BLM conducted an unnecessary “suitability” study on these rivers and is proposing to release many of them from protections.
Planning for Colorado River Basin Future Moves Forward
09/12/2023 - by Kestrel Kunz
In August, American Whitewater and many others submitted scoping comments on the complex planning process for Post-2026 Operations at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams on the Colorado River. The outcome of the multi-year process led by the Bureau of Reclamation will guide reservoir operations at both Glen Canyon Dam (Lake Powell) and Hoover Dam (Lake Mead) and has the potential to affect river recreation opportunities throughout the entire Colorado River Basin. American Whitewater will continue to ensure that our priorities are addressed in the planning process for operations at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams. As this effort progresses, we will need river enthusiasts to stand up and use their voice to help ensure the river itself is protected for future generations.
Uinta Basin Railway Must Assess Impacts to Colorado River
09/11/2023 - by Hattie Johnson
In August a D.C. Circuit Court vacated the Surface Transportation Board’s environmental review and directed further evaluation of the human and environmental impacts of a proposed segment of railway in the Uinta Basin in Utah. The new 88-mile track would provide for efficient export of waxy crude oil extracted from northeast Utah, along the Colorado River, to Gulf Coast refineries. Eagle County in Colorado sued the Transportation Board, indicating that both the up and downstream impacts - such as oil spills into the Colorado River or increased wildfire risk - were not sufficiently analyzed in the environmental impact statement completed on the project. American Whitewater has supported this litigation and advocated political leadership across Colorado to stop this project that would be harmful to our rivers.
Pit River (CA) Whitewater Boating Opportunities in September & October
09/04/2023 - by Scott Harding
Every late summer and early fall, it’s time for boating on California’s Pit River when the hydropower boating flow releases that American Whitewater has secured come into play. Here’s how it looks this season: there’s more whitewater than usual!
New EPA Rule Greatly Reduces Clean Water Act Protections
08/31/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
Earlier this week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new federal rule that eliminates protection for a majority of our nation’s wetlands and estimated totals of well over a million miles of streams. The rule aligns the law with a recent Supreme Court Case that limited the kinds of wetlands and streams that can be covered by the Clean Water Act. American Whitewater joined an amicus brief in that pivotal court case, advocating for the science-based protection of these streams and wetlands, but the Supreme Court ruled against us. American Whitewater and the paddling community have been stalwart advocates for the Clean Water Act through decades of various rules, legislation, and litigation. This will not change: we'll seek opportunities to restore river protections at the state and federal level in the months and years ahead following this setback.
National Park Service Shares 2023 Gauley Season Details (WV)
08/31/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater received the annual open letter to boaters from the great rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area and are happy to share it in this article. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River for the 2023 season. In addition, 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. As always, respect this and other private property. The 2023 release schedule for Gauley season is posted here.
Speak Up For Dam Removals On TN’s Little River
08/28/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
The Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to remove two low head dams on the Little River in Tennessee, and considered but passed on the removal of a third dam. These dam removals are located in scenic Class I-II reaches that are popular with beginner and local paddlers. Sadly, these two dams, called Rockford Dam and Peery’s Mill Dam, have been responsible for seven drownings in recent years. Dam removal would significantly benefit the many members of the public who enjoy paddling rivers in the region, and American Whitewater has submitted a comment letter fully supporting this proposed dam removal. Additional comments from the paddling community will help this exciting project move forward and succeed at meeting the public interest in river restoration, recreation, and safety.
North Fork French Broad Wild and Scenic Storymap Available!
08/24/2023 - by Grace Hassler
The North Fork of the French Broad, a class IV+ creeking destination in western North Carolina, is now eligible for National Wild and Scenic River designation! More work is needed to help this river gain its well-deserved Wild and Scenic status. Once designated, the North Fork of the French Broad will forever be protected from development projects like dams - a huge victory for a river that was almost lost to them twice in the last 60 years. Explore this interactive storymap to learn more about the North Fork of the French Broad’s history, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and how you can support the river’s journey toward Wild and Scenic River status.Don’t forget to show your support for a Wild and Scenic North Fork of the French Broad by signing on to our petition at the bottom of the storymap page.
Recreation Roundtable on the Wild & Scenic Tuolumne River (CA)
08/22/2023 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman
American Whitewater, Outdoor Alliance California, Tuolumne River Trust and the Tuolumne River Outfitters spearheaded a recreation roundtable to highlight recreation and access issues on the Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River with Congressman Tom McClintock and his senior staff. Our goal for the two-day event was to build appreciation for this iconic stretch of river among all the stakeholders who manage, recreate, and depend on it for the local economy. We also wanted to call attention to last winter’s atmospheric rivers which damaged and closed key access roads and severely impacted whitewater recreation and visitation to the Tuolumne River.
Eagle Falls Graffiti Scrub and Clean Up, Saturday 8/26 (WA)
08/20/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Back in 2017 the local whitewater paddling community rallied to clean up Eagle Falls on the Skykomish River. Ongoing stewardship of the site is necessary and this August American Whitewater is supporting a volunteer-led effort to remove graffiti and clean up the site on Saturday August 26th at 8am. We have recruited a team to operate a blaster to remove graffiti but additional volunteers to help move equipment, blasting media, and assist with general site clean up are welcome. Bring your gloves, trash bags, and sturdy footwear. A couple ladders will also likely be useful. Be sure to bring water and snacks.
New Access Completed on North Fork Feather River
08/15/2023 - by Dave Steindorf
As part of the Poe hydropower license on the North Fork Feather River, Pacific Gas and Electric company was required to build a new trail from the Cresta Powerhouse house parking lot, down to the Poe Reservoir. This trail now provides much improved takeout access for the lower section of the Class II/ III Cresta run. Previously, taking out at the Cresta Powerhouse required paddlers to climb a steep scree slope that was challenging with kayaks and nearly impossible with rafts. Additionally, this trail now provides access to Poe Reservoir for flatwater kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and canoeing. While this reservoir is immediately adjacent to highway 70, it has been virtually inaccessible to the public for recreation.
Southern Rockies Regional Program Leadership Update
08/10/2023 - by Hattie Johnson and Kestrel Kunz
We are so pleased to announce that our regional program in the Southern Rockies is now going to be co-lead by Kestrel Kunz and Hattie Johnson. This shared leadership approach allows each of us to take on a more focused aspect of American Whitewater’s mission. Kestrel will now be the Director of Protection and lead our work on proactive management and policy that will protect the rivers in the Southern Rockies as they are now. Hattie will be the Director of Restoration, working to repair damage done on our rivers by restoring flows and function.
Volunteers Needed! Gauley Fest 2023 w/ 40th Anniversary 80s Party
08/10/2023 - by Evan Stafford
Come Celebrate Gore Fest August 25-26
07/31/2023 - by Hattie Johnson
On August 25-26, American Whitewater will be gathering our community on the Colorado River at Pumphouse Rec Area to celebrate our work in the southern Rockies. While we won’t be hosting an official race through Gore this year, we still will gather and enjoy river time together as another river season is closing out in Colorado. Join us to camp, renew your membership and have a chance to win some awesome prizes. And we won’t let you go without another year of a sweet Gore Fest t-shirt.
AW Wildfire Info Map Keeps Boaters Updated on Rivers Affected by Fires
07/27/2023 - 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.
Protection for the Headwaters of the Illinois and North Fork Smith Rivers (OR)
07/27/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
We are pleased to report that Representative Val Hoyle, the new representative for Oregon's 4th Congressional District has reintroduced the Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act (SOWSPA) as her first piece of conservation legislation. This legislation will permanently protect the headwaters of Southwest Oregon’s outstanding collection of wild rivers—including the National Wild and Scenic Illinois and the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith, plus Pistol River and Hunter Creek—from the threat of mining in the headwaters.
Washington State Opens Public Comment for Outstanding Resource Waters
07/25/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Washington State Department of Ecology has initiated a rulemaking process to establish the first Outstanding Resource Waters in the State. In 2022 American Whitewater joined other river conservation groups in the state in nominating the state’s first Outstanding Resource Waters: the Cascade (Skagit watershed), Green (Toutle watershed), and Napeequa (Wenatchee) rivers. The Washington State Department of Ecology has opened a 60-day public comment period to establish the level of public support for these designations and your voice is important. Take Action Today!
Connecticut River (MA) Settlement Expands Boating Opportunities
07/13/2023 - by Robert Nasdor
After a decade of advocacy to restore a section of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts and expand whitewater boating opportunities, American Whitewater signed a settlement agreement with FirstLight Power as part of the FERC relicensing of the Turners Falls and Northfield Mountain hydropower projects. American Whitewater was joined by affiliates Appalachian Mountain Club and New England FLOW along with supporting outfitters Zoar Outdoor and Crab Apple Whitewater in achieving this historic agreement.
River Permit Survey Results Preview
07/12/2023 - by Kelsey Phillips
Back in December of 2022, American Whitewater shared a survey to gather paddlers’ opinions on the permit systems that are used to manage use on multi-day river trips. This survey was designed to investigate both satisfaction with, and preference for various permitting systems in the U.S., as well as specific attitudes towards these systems. A huge number, 1,261 paddlers, were able to fully respond to the survey, answering both general questions regarding permitting systems as well as specific questions about a river of their choice. The lottery system with the lowest levels of dissatisfaction is a weighted one; 34% of those who have entered the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon’s cancellation lottery were somewhat or very dissatisfied with the lottery, versus the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, where 69% of those who have entered were somewhat or very dissatisfied. When asked about their most preferred method for awarding permits, a weighted lottery by number of failed attempts was the favorite at 56%, in contrast to the alternatives: a lottery weighted by number of years not on a river (25%), a lottery with equal odds (10%), a first-come, first-served system (5%), and a waitlist (4%). While a full write-up of these results will be presented in an upcoming American Whitewater Journal, some of the topline results are presented in this article.