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Update on American Whitewater Events For 2021

07/20/2021 - by Evan Stafford

It’s been a tricky spring to plan events for American Whitewater but we are super excited to get back out on the water with you and to see you in person at a river in your region! All of our events will have a different flavor this year, but most importantly there will be water in the rivers and there will be paddlers enjoying themselves. Read on for the most current information on the Deerfield Fest, Gore Fest, Feather Fest, and Gauley Fest. 


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American Whitewater/Asian Pacific Islander Mental Health Day on the River

07/13/2021 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

Earlier in the year, American Whitewater Southern Rockies Stewardship Director, Hattie Johnson, reached out to check on my well-being in the wake of anti-Asian hate crimes. She wanted to help the community in any way she could and offered a trip on the river as a venue for healing.  It wasn’t long before our conversation turned into a plan for an American Whitewater/Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Mental Health Day on the river. It would be a day of connecting hearts and minds to our shared values of the outdoors and the rivers that run through them. 

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Annual Report 2020 – Team Work Made the Dream Work Last Year

07/13/2021 - by Evan Stafford

American Whitewater is an organization committed to benefitting rivers and river enthusiasts. Despite numerous challenges, we continued and strengthened our legacy of efficiency and success last year. Eighty-seven cents of every dollar we see goes directly to our stewardship work, and in 2020 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 in 2020, check out our Annual Report.

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Wild and Scenic Rivers Bill for Montana Re-introduced!

06/25/2021 - by Jim Hepburn

Earlier today, Montana Senator Jon Tester re-introduced of the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act, marking another major milestone in the ongoing and momentous journey towards designating many of the state’s most renowned waterways as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Senator’s office noted that this legislation would be the "most significant Wild and Scenic River designation in the state in nearly 45 years." The MHLA will protect 387 miles on 20 rivers and streams in the Greater Yellowstone and Upper Missouri Headwaters geographies as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The compilation includes a tried and true sampling of the essential Montana paddling experience, containing classic sections of the Yellowstone, Madison, Gallatin, Stillwater, and Boulder, all stacked between the ultra-scenic multi-day section of the Smith and an assortment of rugged and remote wilderness runs on their tributaries.

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Water Quality Rollback Stopped, Issues Unresolved (CO)

06/18/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz

At 5pm tonight, Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted not to rollback the antidegradation rule that has for decades helped to keep our rivers clean. However, they did uphold their ability to make arbitrary decisions on polluting Colorado’s waterways - like they did on the South Platte in 2020 - for the next ten years. The outcome followed a two-day hearing earlier this week, during which the antidegradation rule was discussed at length. While we still have a long road ahead, Coloradans were able to stop what would have been an atrocious rollback of protections for Colorado’s beloved streams. Thank you to those that stood up and took action to protect Colorado's water quality! 

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FERC Approves Transfer of Klamath Hydropower License (OR/CA)

06/17/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe

Earlier today the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the license transfer for the Lower Klamath Hydroelectric Project from PacifiCorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the states of Oregon and California, as co-licensees. In addition to approving license transfer for purposes of dam removal, the Commission also issued Scoping Document 1 and outlined a public process for environmental review of the plan to remove the Klamath River dams. American Whitewater has been working collaboratively with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the States of Oregon and California to better understand how whitewater boating opportunities will change following dam removal. A public comment period is now open through August 19, 2021.

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Comments Needed - New Flow Management Proposal on the Trinity River (CA)

06/16/2021 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

American Whitewater has taken the opportunity to gauge impacts of a proposal introduced by the Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP) known as the Winter Flow Variability Action. This new flow management proposal has the potential to impact summer recreational flows on 23 miles of the Trinity River including the Pigeon Point Run, Big Flat to Hayden Flat and Hayden to Cedar Flat. Overall, the main purpose of the new flow proposal is to help retore the fisheries of the Trinity River which have been severely degraded by dam construction and water diversions by mimicking a natural hydrograph. Based on this, American Whitewater finds merit in the Winter Flow Variability Action and encourages paddlers to weigh in as recreational stakeholders during the public scoping period so that the TRRP can better understand summer boating interests. Specifically, we encourage paddlers to highlight time spent on this section of the Trinity River during the summer and at what flow levels you enjoy measured at the Burnt Ranch Gorge gauge.


Photo of Theresa L. Lorejo-Simsiman on Hell Hole by Serendipty Snapshots  


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Whitewater Wars Tells how the Ocoee and Gauley Were Saved

06/10/2021 - by Charlie Walbridge

From 1980 to 1985 David Brown lead successful battles to secure recreational water releases on both the Ocoee and Gauley Rivers. These great victories are the subject of his new book "Whitewater Wars." Dave was hired by outfitters on both rivers, and his efforts took him from the edge of the river to the halls of congress. On the Gauley a small cadre of private paddlers - Pete Skinner, Mac Thornton, Pope Barrow, Steve Taylor, and Charlie Walbridge - played important roles and later became the nucleus of an American Whitewater board that guided the organization towards it's current position as a national leader in river access and conservation. Dave ran the first Gauleyfest to help build support for protecting the river, and was excited to get 500 attendees! After the Gauley was declared a National Recreation Area the festival was passed over to AW. And the rest is history! It's a great read!

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Mongaup River (NY) Settlement Agreement Expands Boating Opportunities

06/10/2021 - by Robert Nasdor

American Whitewater, reached a Settlement Agreement on the relicensing of three hydropower dams on the Mongaup River that will double scheduled whitewater boating releases below the Rio Dam in Forestburgh, New York. The agreement will expand recreational boating opportunities in the river and on reservoirs, protect instream flows for aquatic habitat, remove Black Brook Dam, protect endangered species, and protect flows on the Wild & Scenic Delaware River. The Settlement Agreement is the culmination of four years of advocacy as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing of the Mongaup River hydroelectric projects. “The Settlement Agreement is a big win for whitewater paddlers, anglers, lake owners, and everyone working to protect the river ecosystem,” according to Bob Nasdor, AW Northeast Stewardship & Legal Director. The Settlement Agreement will assure that the new FERC license for the projects will protect all river uses for the next 50 years. A huge win overall for the river and the community!

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American Whitewater Spring Stewardship Update 2021

06/10/2021 - by Evan Stafford

American Whitewater’s Spring Stewardship Update for 2021is here! We are working hard to protect water quality in our nation's rivers, designate new Wild and Scenic Rivers, restore flows to rivers affected by hydropower dams, promote outdoor recreation for all on our public lands, and protect access to our favorite whitewater rivers – but we can't do it without your help. This stewardship work is possible only through your support, and your financial contribution plays a vital role in our success. Watch our regional stewardship update videos to get a more in depth view of the work you'll be supporting throughout the rest of the year. 

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Tonic of Wild – Pacific Northwest Stewardship Event Wrap-Up

06/09/2021 - by Evan Stafford

On May 26th, 2021, we had an opportunity to gather the Pacific Northwest boating community online to celebrate American Whitewater’s river stewardship work in the region and build support for AW. Memberships and community support are essential to our organization and over the past year we’ve really had to get creative with ways to continue to engage paddlers in support of our mission. We’ve seen an incredible response and the Tonic of Wild event was a huge success. Thanks to all our sponsors, presenters and viewers! We signed up a ton of new members and raised a significant amount of funds towards our river stewardship program – a true testament to the community and big night for AW. If you weren't able to attend you can watch a recap of the night here. 

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New Mexico Access Update

06/08/2021 - by Hattie Johnson

In March of 2020, we updated our membership on a case our affiliate club, Adobe Whitewater Club of New Mexico, brought to the New Mexico Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the State Game Commission’s power to grant private landowners non-navigable certificates. At every level, the privatizing of streams and rivers in New Mexico has skirted due process, benefitted rich and largely out-of-state landowners, and is illegal.

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Moose/Beaver/Raquette (NY) 2021 Release Schedule

06/01/2021 - 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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Mokelumne (CA) 2021 Scheduled Recreational Releases

05/27/2021 - 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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Fordyce Creek (CA) Spring Boating Opportunity

05/27/2021 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

Pacific Gas and Electric reached out to American Whitewater with an opportunity for boating flows on Fordyce Creek. We took the chance to respond to PG&E and communicate preferred paddling flows.

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

05/26/2021 - by Evan Stafford

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. As a fundraiser for this event we're running an online auction with framed prints from the Olympic Peninsula from Chris Korbulic, framed prints of an awesome map of the Peninsula and tons of other great items from Kokatat, Hala Gear, Werner Paddles, AIRE, Immersion Research, Sierra Nevada, and American Whitewater shwag and pin kits too, so get your bids in now and bid often and early! You will also be entered to win some other great gear just by attending the event and you can join or renew your membership and type 'Tonic of Wild' in the Additional Comments field to be entered to win a Pyranha Ozone kayak size of choice in our membership drawing! Sign up for the event here and support river stewardship! 

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How to Enjoy the Upcoming Savage River Release (MD)

05/24/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

The Savage River releases are on the calendar for 2021 with some changes in how to enjoy them. Commercial shuttles are now a thing of the past on the Savage, and with that comes new responsibilities for paddlers. It is vitally important that paddlers visit the Savage River responsibly so these releases can continue. Enjoy!

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Paddle Wise – A Responsibility Code For River Runners

05/18/2021 - by Evan Stafford

Paddle Wise is a responsibility code for river runners developed by American Whitewater through a buildout and design partnership with NRS. The mission was to create a simple and shareable responsibility message for the increasing number of individuals participating in whitewater recreation. When you’re on the river you represent our community and your safe enjoyment of the river is in your hands. These helpful hints will not only make sure you represent the whitewater community well and enjoy the river safely, they’ll help protect, restore and maintain access to our rivers for everyone. Check out for more info and the full toolkit which you can use to help spread the stoke for paddling responsibly. 

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Explore Northern Rockies Rivers with Purpose This Year

05/14/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

Documenting your experiences on rivers in the Northern Rockies this summer could help secure lasting protections for those rivers. Several key landscapes are under review for protections by Congress and the US Forest Service, but we lack the kind of compelling descriptions and photos that can inspire and inform decision makers to offer rivers and their enjoyment key protections. So we need your help. As you explore rivers in the focal areas noted in this article, we encourage you to paddle with a purpose: take photos highlighting river values, take video, and take notes on recreational and ecological values - then share your content with American Whitewater. 

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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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