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Senators Merkley and Wyden Push to Expand Smith River National Recreation Area

05/07/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe

Senators Merkley and Wyden introduced legislation this week to expand the Smith River National Recreation Area into Oregon. In 1990, Congress enacted legislation to establish the Smith River National Recreation Area (NRA) to protect the watershed, but the boundary of the NRA stopped at the Oregon border, leaving the North Fork of the Smith River and its tributaries unprotected. The whitewater community knows how special the North Fork of the Smith River is for its unparalleled water quality and exceptional opportunities for whitewater boating. The NRA expansion by 58,000 acres would permanently withdraw the land from new mining claims, helping to protect this sensitive area from proposed nickel strip mines, and protect 74 miles of scenic rivers, including Baldface Creek, Chrome Creek, and nearby streams. In addition, the legislation would task the U.S. Forest Service with updating the recreation plan to reflect the new additions to the National Recreation Area, and produce a special study of streams, fens, wetlands, and potentially unstable and vulnerable aquatic habitat areas.

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Tonic of Wild – Online Event to Highlight Pacific Northwest Stewardship Issues

05/07/2021 - by Evan Stafford

Save the date! On May 26th, American Whitewater will be hosting a special night of speakers, film showings, games, prize drawings and more to raise awareness for river stewardship issues in the Pacific Northwest. A Tonic of Wild will take place at 7pm Pacific Time and will feature a special presentation on the Wild Olympics legislation from professional kayaker and photographer Chris Korbulic. You do not want to miss this. Soon we’ll have an online auction with tons of great items and you can be entered to win some other great gear in our membership drawings by joining American Whitewater today. 

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Mokelumne (CA) 2021 Scheduled Recreational Releases

05/07/2021 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

Annually, in accordance with the negotiated 2001 License Order and Settlement Agreement for the Mokelumne River Hydropower Project, American Whitewater coordinates recreational releases with Pacific Gas & Electric, the Ecological Resource Committee including the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. These annual releases are determined by the water year type which is predicated on the forecasted inflow into the downstream Pardee Reservoir. This year’s water year type is Critically Dry which allows for recreational flows on Tiger Creek and Electra in May & June.

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Annual Rec Flows Start this Spring Horseshoe Bend San Joaquin River (CA)

04/29/2021 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

Paddlers get your boating gear together for annual recreational flow releases on the Horseshoe Bend reach of the San Joaquin River. After nearly two decades of direct advocacy and engagement, American Whitewater is pleased to announce the fruits of our labor. In March 2021 Southern California Edison (SCE) announced they finally secured approval of Long Term Operating Rules for operation of the Big Creek 4 Hydroelectric Project on the San Joaquin River. These rules outline long awaited flow improvements that will begin this Spring. In a win for American Whitewater, managing agencies, and the North Fork Mono Tribe, SCE will now provide flow releases that restore more natural flow patterns that are both optimal for recreational paddling and protective of native aquatic species. 

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Take Action to Protect Water Quality in Colorado

04/28/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz

Colorado’s waters are at stake. From our high mountain streams to the backyard of urban communities, water quality is threatened state-wide. The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission has proposed a change to the antidegradation rule that would allow for more pollution into higher quality waters without review or justification. The proposed rule would go against the very premise of the Clean Water Act, which the Commission is tasked with implementing and overseeing in Colorado. Help us protect the antidegradation policy by signing on to this petition to the Water Quality Control Commission. 

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Final Bear River (ID) Release Moved to September

04/27/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

The final 2021 release on the Black Canyon of the Bear River has been rescheduled to September 11 and 12, 2021. This shift was made possible because the dam owner will be conducting maintenance work this summer and fall that will increase base flows in the river, which decreases ecological concerns with late season paddling releases. The same rescheduling occured last year as well. Our partners in managing the Bear River graciously supported this change, which was requested by American Whitewater and was popular with regional paddlers last year. 

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AW Volunteers of the Month Presented by Kokatat: Barry Grimes and Emily Grimes

04/26/2021 - by Bethany Overfield

American Whitewater is stoked to recognize Barry Grimes and Emily Grimes as our April Volunteers of the Month for their tremendous work with the National Paddling Film Festival (NPFF). NPFF has been going strong since 1984 but found itself in peril this year due to Covid restrictions and the inability to hold an in-person event. In an effort to keep the festival alive, Emily took over the reigns and launched the first-ever Virtual National Paddling Films Festival. Pulling off anything for the first time is hard as heck and Emily really stuck the landing!

Barry Grimes, Emily’s dad, was a founding father of the film festival and has worked tirelessly on pulling it off every year since its inception. Barry is humble about his efforts when it comes to the fest, but without him, the show would not go on. The folks with NPFF have donated a substantial amount of money over the years to AW and we know it takes an incredible amount of time and effort to pull these festivals off—we can’t thank the all-volunteer NPFF crew enough, but we’ll try!


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Moose/Beaver/Raquette (NY) 2021 Release Schedule

04/09/2021 - by Robert Nasdor

The General has coordiated with the hydropower dam operators to schedule the 2021 releases for the Moose, Beaver and Raquette. Looks to be a great year of paddling in the Adirondacks as we begin the dam relicensings this year for 21 dams on the Black, Beaver, and Moose rivers. 

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Get Notifications on Glenwood Canyon (CO) Closures

04/07/2021 - by Hattie Johnson

Photo: Rafters on the Colorado River shortly after the Grizzly Creek fire started. Credit - Whitewater Rafting LLC.

Last August, historic wildfires raged across Colorado, threatening homes, recreational sites, and transportation arteries. The Grizzly Creek Fire quickly spread throughout Glenwood Canyon, jumping both I-70 and the Colorado River in the first few days. The active fire closed down traffic on the interstate for an unprecedented two weeks, blocking important freight, residents and tourists. Many Glenwood Springs businesses were impacted by the road and recreation area closures. Damage to both water and power supplies at the rest areas have caused the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to keep them closed since August. Pending the delivery of a few generators and portapotties, however, the Grizzly Creek Rest Area and Shoshone Powerhouse exit will be open April 1 to boaters.

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Comments Needed on River Protection in the Arctic

04/06/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

A new proposed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) management plan for 55.7 million acres in Northern Alaska would fail to protect any of the 11 rivers their analysis finds to be eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. If you have paddled any of the affected rivers in this area we strongly encourage you to review the planning documents and submit comments in support of protection of Wild and Scenic River values in the Central Yukon Draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. Deadline is June 9, 2021.

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Black Canyon Put-In Closed for 2021 Season (CO)

04/06/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz

The National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation announced this week that the East Portal Road which serves as the put-in for the Black Canyon section of the Gunnison River will be closed for maintenance for the duration of the 2021 season. While the road closure is an unfortunate obstacle for many this season, the needed maintenance of the road will lead to fewer unexpected road closures due to rockfall and will improve access to the Black Canyon for the long term. American Whitewater will track the status of the road closure and we will share an update as soon as access to the Black Canyon is reopened.  

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Moose, Beaver (NY) Dam Relicensings Set to Begin

04/06/2021 - by Bob Nasdor

Federal relicensing of 21 hydropower dams in the Adirondacks begins this month on the Moose, Beaver, and Black rivers, home to iconic whitewater boating runs treasured by paddlers throughout the northeast. For the next six years, AW will be at fighting to protect and expand paddling opportunities on these rivers. To support our efforts to restore rivers and our opportunities to enjoy them, AW launched the Adirondacks River Restoration Campaign. To get involved, SIGN UP HERE.

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American Whitewater awarded eleventh Charity Navigator 4-star rating

04/06/2021 - by Mark Singleton

Charity Navigator, America's largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities, announced that American Whitewater has earned its eleventh consecutive 4-star (highest) 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. 

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Opportunity to Speak up for Water Quality on the Pigeon River (NC/TN)

04/05/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

Blue Ridge Paper operates a paper mill on the banks of the Pigeon River in Canton, NC, that for generations has provided valued local jobs but also had negative impacts on the water quality of the river. Over the past few decades water quality has improved significantly, fishing has improved, and paddling use has skyrocketed. With this said, the river's water quality has a lot of room for improvement while supporting the mill's continued operation, and new permit requirements are a good way to get that work underway. The State however has proposed a new permit that relaxes certain requirements of the old permit, and fails to address new challenges. The state will host a public hearing on April 14, and accept comments through April 30. Paddlers are encouraged to get involved and learn more.

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NF Feather Cresta April 2021 Releases (CA)

04/02/2021 - by Theresa Simsiman

Throughout the pandemic American Whitewater, managing agencies and Pacific Gas & Electric have been following a collaborative COVID protocol for scheduled recreational releases taking the lead from the local counties.  We are happy to report Plumas County supports moving forward with planned boating flows for the NF Feather below Cresta provided paddlers continue to follow COVID guidelines.  


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New AW Membership and Donation Forms; Membership Cards go Digital

03/30/2021 - by Bethany Overfield

We're pleased to announce that we have a new Membership Join/Renew form as well as a new Donation form . We also have a brand new Affiliate Club Membership Join/Renewal Form.  We've spent the last several months switching to a more robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to better meet the needs of our membership base and to funnel your information into our membership database more efficiently. Additionally, we've gone green with new Digital AW Membership cards!

Some highlights/changes include......(click 'Read More' below)

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Train Operations in Eagle and Arkansas Corridors to Require Full Review (CO)

03/25/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz

This morning, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) made a much-anticipated decision on the revival of the Tennessee Pass Rail Line - a 160-mile rail line that follows the Eagle and Arkansas Rivers between Sage and Parkdale, Colorado. The STB formally rejected Colorado, Midland and Pacific Railway’s (CMPR) request to be exempt from oversight and regulation of their proposed operation on the line, which would be leased under an agreement with Union Pacific. This decision comes nearly three months after CMPR filed a notice of exemption on December 31, 2020, as people were bringing in the new year. 

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Upper American River Project (CA) Scheduled Recreational Flow Days Confirmed

03/25/2021 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

American Whitewater has confirmed scheduled recreational flow days with Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and the managing agencies. Each year we have license required consultations with SMUD starting in February of each year to collaboratively schedule tentative dates and proactively address management issues such as COVID 19. 2021 is forecasted to be a DRY water year type which means a mixed bag of news for flow days on the Upper American River Project.

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Whitewater Flows Secured in New Weber River Dam License! (UT)

03/24/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

A new 40-year license for a dam on Utah's Weber River includes four Saturday paddling releases each year prior to July 15, as well as flow information, accesss, and fish passage enhancements. This outcome is the result of American Whitewater staff and volunteers collaborating with the power company and other stakeholders over the past several years. The releases will provide relatively rare paddling opportunities near Ogden, Utah, in a region where dams and diversions have limited or eliminated many paddling opportunities. The new license requires a recreation plan be developed and other measures that will delay the initiation of releases until 2022. Big thanks to all our partners on the Weber, our lead volunteer Charlie Vincent, and the numerous volunteers who helped us collect data and solve legal and other challenges over the years! See you on the Weber next year! 

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2021 American Whitewater Freeflow Institute Scholarship Opportunity

03/18/2021 - by Evan Stafford

How will your voice contribute to the conversation around the importance of wild spaces? American Whitewater is proud to announce our 2021 Freeflow Institute scholarship opportunity for up to two emerging outdoor communicators. The winning applicant(s) will demonstrate a capacity to research and craft a compelling story with the goal of enhancing and expanding public awareness of an issue facing a particular watershed or landscape; igniting public dialog; and encouraging citizens to celebrate, experience, and protect the rivers of our country. A successful applicant will demonstrate talent in storytelling in one or more forms of media, will be familiar with the visions of Freeflow Institute and American Whitewater, and will submit a exciting pitch for an original creative project that is, at its essence, the product of the Freeflow experience.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!