Draft Flathead River Management Plan Released for Comment (MT)
The Forest Service has released a Proposed Action which is essentially a partial draft management plan the forks of the Wild and Scenic Flathead River. The Proposed Action is available for public review and comment through September 13, 2019. The Forest Service proposed a number of management actions that would be triggered by encounter limits being reached, including new permit systems. We encourage Flathead River paddlers to give the agency some feedback on the encounter thresholds they propose, the proposed management actions, and the Proposed Action as a whole.
Russell Fork Release Study Open For Comment
The Army Corps of Engineers has shared their Environmental Assessment that considered four potential changes to the fall whitewater release program aimed at enhancing whitewater paddling opportunities. The Corps is planning on providing two additional Friday releases this fall as a result of the analysis. The EA is refreshingly succinct, and we encourage paddlers to give it a read and submit a comment if you are inspired to do so.
Harpers Ferry Access Study Reveals Need for New Approaches
The final Weverton Rail Crossing Feasibility Study was released this week, which considered two options for improving the crossing of CSX railroad tracks to provide safer public access to the Potomac River and the C&O Canal National Historical Park, and for use of the Appalachian Trail. The Report reveals insurmountable problems with the two proposed access solutions, but also highlights other possible paths forward.
Sierra & Sequoia National Forest Management Plans (CA)
The U.S. Forest Service recently released the revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Forest Plans (DFP) for the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. As part of this process, National Forests are required to identify the eligibility of rivers for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Once a river is found eligible it is managed to protect the values that support their inclusion. To that end, American Whitewater has identified recreation as an outstandingly remarkable value on many iconic whitewater rivers within the Sierra and Sequoia National Forest and is advocating for their inclusion into the inventory of eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers. Dinkey Creek Photo by Daniel Lundberg
Submit Your Best Images For the 2020 American Whitewater Calendar!
Submit your best photos for the American Whitewater Calendar! Many of the best whitewater rivers in this country are on public lands, but our rivers on public lands also face a number of challenges. For our 2020 calendar we're celebrating these incredible rivers that belong to all of us in an effort to encourage your enjoyment of them and their protection. Images that feature rivers on public lands will be given the highest consideration and bonus points for images that feature current, past or future American Whitewater projects.
AW Stewardship Assistant Job Announcement
American Whitewater is hiring! The Stewardship Assistant will be responsible for supporting American Whitewater's Regional Stewardship Directors in project-related analysis, research, and writing as well as communicating and advocating for our work to resource agencies, funders, elected officials, and our membership. The Stewardship Assistant position is an hourly 20hr/week contract position with potential for growth. Hourly contract pay is competitive and based on experience, without benefits or office space provided. The Stewardship Assistant location is flexible, and reports to the National Stewardship Director.
Gore Canyon Festival (CO) is coming up August 23rd-25th
American Whitewater is pleased to announce the 2019 Gore Canyon Festival taking place August 23-25th on the Upper Colorado River. As the leading representative of the river-recreation community on the Upper Colorado River, American Whitewater is deeply invested in creating opportunities to protect, restore, and enjoy whitewater paddling on the Colorado River. The Gore Canyon Festival is the perfect stage to celebrate the beautiful and iconic Colorado River, and an opportunity for our partners to engage the public in cooperative river management.
New Mexico Game Commission Halts Landowner Certification of Non-Navigable Waters
In 2017, the New Mexico Game and Fish Commission adopted a new rule allowing private landowners to apply to certify streams running through their property as "non-navigable" and subject to a trespass statute outlined in the new rule. The New Mexico Game Commission called for a 90-day moratorium on the rule at their meeting on Wednesday July 24th. During the 90-day period, the commission will not hear any new applications for non-navigable certification. American Whitewater joined forces with our affiliate club, Adobe Whitewater, the American Canoe Association, and the New Mexico Wildlife Federation to request that the newly instate game commission rescind the rule.
Russell Fork Releases Expanded (KY/VA)
The fall release schedule for the Russell Fork River was recently announced, and it includes two new Friday releases that will offer 3-day weekends of releases. While announced without explanation, the added released are presumably a result of a public process convened by the Army Corp of Engineers last spring to explore the possibility of an expanded release schedule. American Whitewater and many regional paddlers advocated for additional recreational releases throughout the public process. We conducted and shared a survey that indicated significant support for Friday releases. The new releases are listed as "tentative and subject to change," and hopefully if they go well additional releases will be scheduled in future years. Enjoy these new paddling opportunities!
The Forest Service Doesn’t Want Your Input
When American Whitewater goes to bat for river corridor protections, or to stop a dam or mining project before it starts, our main tool is the combined force of our voices giving public feedback on how these actions will positively or adversely affect the rivers we love and our enjoyment of them. Unfortunately, right now the Forest Service is set to make changes that would take away our right to have a say in how public lands and rivers are managed. We have until August 12 to comment on these changes to the public process that will potentially remove the public's voice from about 93% of all Forest Service projects. We need you to let them know removing the public's voice from Forest management is unacceptable. We've made it super easy with our simple comment submission form, but please personalize it if you have an extra moment.
AW VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH PRESENTED BY KOKATAT: Charlie Duffy
American Whitewater is pleased to recognize Charlie Duffy as our August Volunteer of the Month. Charlie is a long-time kayaker and swiftwater rescue instructor who has worked hundreds of hours to help AW improve the Accident Database. He has gone over every single entry, checking each for accuracy and adding more information as needed. In the process, he uncovered a number of bugs in the way the new website handles the database. These have been reported and corrected. He also prepared a series of useful charts to help us better understand the "lessons learned" from decades of tough experiences. He shared this data with Team River Runner and the Swiftwater Rescue Committee of American Canoe Association. Charlie has helped American Whitewater inform and elevate river safety as a core part of our mission.
Sultan River (WA) Summer Release Update
At American Whitewater we are always seeking opportunities to restore rivers while also enhancing recreational opportunities. Sometimes our initial ideas can be refined and improved upon and we recently had that experience on the Sultan River. We consistently received feedback from the paddling paddling community: "we have an abundance of boating options during winter storms and spring snow melt; can't we get an opportunity to enjoy the Sultan in the summer?" We sat down with the utility and took at look at the water budget. Ultimately we determined that instead of keeping water in our water budget to supplement natural flows in the dark winter months, we could take that water and use it to provide another opportunity in late summer. We sat down with resource agencies that manage fishery resources, the utility, and the Tulalip Tribe to see if we could make it work. After a few meetings and discussions we came to consensus that we could provide another opportunity in August-a time of year when boating opportunities in the Skykomish watershed are limited. The opportunity comes with a few caveats, the most significant being that we need sufficient water in the reservoir. The whitewater boating opportunities don't use much water and provide an ecological benefit but the water is also used for drinking water so that will be a consideration. Ultimately however we believe we will be able to provide this new summer opportunity in most years.
Upper Yough Access Depends on Everyone
Many thanks those who have contributed to AW's Sang Run Access Fund on line. We raised over $1200 to pay for the porta potty and gravel. Thanks to you, we've maintained this site for the State of Maryland for over 20 years! 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! Jeff Macklin Photo
Dolores River (CO) 2019 Release Season Recap
Releases from McPhee Reservoir into the lower Dolores River have come to an end for the 2019 season. American Whitewater is collecting feedback from paddlers who got out on the lower Dolores River this summer. Please follow this link to answer a few short questions about your experience. This feedback is incredibly helpful in our discussions with the reservoir operators and our conservation partners.
We did amazing work together in 2018! Check out our Annual Report
American Whitewater is an organization that prides ourselves on getting work done, both effectively and efficiently. Eighty-three cents of every dollar we see goes directly to our stewardship work, and in 2018 we succeeded in turning that work into favorable outcomes on projects across the country. For a concise and graphic look at the work we accomplished together last year, check out our 2018 Annual Report.
New Voices are Rising Students join American Whitewater on the Moke
A group of students participating in the Rose Foundation Project, New Voices are Rising based in Oakland, California recently spent a day learning about water issues and playing in the waters of the newly designated State Wild and Scenic Mokelumne River with American Whitewater staff and friends. California Stewardship Director Theresa Simsiman helped provide safety so the teens could enjoy swimming and wading in the Mokelumne, and gave a short talk on Pacific Gas & Electric's Mokelumne Hydropower Project. Theresa stressed the importance of balancing the impacts of removing water from our rivers to produce electricity with keeping water in our rivers for ecological and human benefits including whitewater recreation.
Public Comments Needed by July 29 to Secure Better Protections for CO Rivers
On June 17, the Forest Service released a Working Draft of the Revised Forest Plan for the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests. The Working Draft outlines broad management direction for the Forests and proposes new management areas including Wilderness to be Analyzed, high-use recreation areas, Roadless Areas, and more. We still need your help NOW to tell the Forest Service that we need better protections for rivers throughout the GMUG. Feedback on the Working Draft is due by July 29 and the Forest Service will use this feedback to inform the official Draft Plan. The most effective thing you can do as a paddler is to tell the Forest Service where you love to paddle on the Forest, what you value about the area (e.g., primitive surroundings, facilities, clean water, etc.), and what management improvements you want to see. You can submit comments here! Remember - the Forest Service loves photos.
Last Call to give for rivers and get a sweet Discount on KEEN shoes
KEEN has been a longtime supporter of our river stewardship work and if you need a new pair of KEENs now is the time to get them - use the code AMERICANWHITEWATER in the KEEN online store to receive $10 off and KEEN will kick $10 our way to continue our stewardship work for rivers. It's a win win and your feet will thank you! Our good friends at KEEN Footwear provide a tremendous amount of support for our American Whitewater river stewardship program and this is our last call to use this AMERICANWHITEWATER code.
Community Voices: Respect the River, River Surfers Should Wear PFDs
I can't keep my mouth shut any longer. I've been troubled the past couple weeks with the direction river surfing is going. I've been wrestling with bringing it up because I'm afraid of alienating myself and getting crucified online by the river surfing community. But this isn't about me, this is about the future of our sport and the lives of others.
I don't like surfing in the river alone. And lately, even with a 15 person deep line up at the wave I feel alone. I feel alone because I am one of maybe two or three there wearing a PFD, or sometimes the only one. I feel alone because if something were to happen, like getting knocked unconscious or my body cramping up, I don't have faith that the people in the line up could save me.
Congress to Take Up Wild and Scenic River Bills Covering Over 1000 River Miles
This week, the House Natural Resource Committee's Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands will hold a hearing on bills that would designate over 1000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. American Whitewater has brought the voice of the whitewater paddling community to the discussions that led to these legislative proposals with a goal of protecting rivers and the whitewater paddling experience.