New Water Quality Rule Reduces River Protections
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army released a new rule, called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, dictating which rivers, streams, and wetlands are covered by the Clean Water Act. The new rule will eliminate water quality protections for an estimated 18% of streams and a majority of our country's wetlands. The rule is final, and will be implemented in 60 days barring intervention by the courts. These changes pose major concerns for public health and safety, water-dependent recreation economies, the rights of downstream landowners, and of course the many animals and plants that depend on rivers, streams and wetlands for their habitat. It's important if you oppose this rule to contact your representatives and ask them to stand up for our nation's clean water and to do their job of oversight over these agencies. Us our super simple easy action form to contact your reps today!
Washington State Legislative Session Underway - Bills Affecting Paddlers
Three bills in the Washington State legislature have direct impacts to the whitewater paddling community: HB 2443 would require all boaters in the state, regardless of age, to wear a PFD on the water; HB 2444 would in its original form require regular renewal of boater education cards for motor boaters but is being considered for modification to require paddlers to also obtain a boater education card to use a human-powered craft; and SB 5613 would create new authority to vacate a county right of way that abuts a waterway. We encourage the paddling community in Washington State to review these bills and provide input to the legislature.
Tonto National Forest Draft Plan Open for Public Comment (AZ)
The Tonto National Forest is revising their forest-wide Management Plan for the first time since 1985. On December 13, 2019 they officially released the Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIS) for a 90-day comment period ending on March 12, 2020. Forest Plans are vitally important as they are the blueprint for resource management and they provide an opportunity to secure better protections for rivers and their surrounding landscapes. As part of the plan revision process, the Forest Service is required to rely on public input to inform management direction, plan components, and new designated areas. Read on to hear about the public meetings that are happening this week!
Gila National Forest Releases New Draft Plan, First in 34 Years (NM)
For the first time in 34 years, the Gila National Forest is revising their forest-wide Management Plan. On Friday, January 17 they officially released the Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIS) for a 90-day comment period ending on April 16. Forest Plans are vitally important as they are the blueprint for resource management and they provide an opportunity to secure better protections for rivers and their surrounding landscapes. As part of the plan revision process, the Forest Service is required to rely heavily on public input to inform management direction, plan components, and new designated areas. Read more for a complete schedule of Public Meetings that are happening this week!
New Mexico Stream Access Update
The new year has brought new obstacles in our efforts ensure public access to New Mexico's river and streams. On the last day of 2019, Joanna Prukop, the former NM Game Commission Chair, was informed by the Governor she would not be reappointed to her position. Former Chairwoman Prukop had added the stream access issue to last December's commission agenda. The Governor's office cited "policy and style" differences as the main influences of the Governors decision.
Forest Service continues move to strip protections of Lochsa Area streams
Just before the holidays this past December, the Forest Service released their Draft Forest Plan and accompanying analysis, which covers a whitewater and native-fish paradise in central Idaho. The Forest encompasses the Lochsa, Selway, Clearwater, and Potlatch watersheds, and also a portion of the Salmon River drainage. In the Draft Plan the Forest Service proposes to eliminate Wild and Scenic protections from most or all of the 89 streams they have found to be eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. The Forest Service cites political reasons for taking this step, and did not respond to American Whitewater's prior comments that stressed that such a move would be illegal and not in the public interest. You can help reverse this bad direction the Forest Service is heading in! Read on to see how.
AW Files Motion of Intervention - Slab Creek (CA)
American Whitewater's primary goal on the South Fork American River below Slab Creek is to ensure the enjoyment of the entire whitewater reach from Slab Creek Dam to the White Rock Powerhouse. However, after exhausting all the proper consultation channels with Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to bring to bear protections, mitigations and enhancements negotiated and conditioned in the 2007 Settlement Agreement and the 2014 Hydropower License order, AW and our colleagues have filed a Motion of Intervention with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The motion centers around SMUD's Streamflow Parking and Access Plan that is incomplete and proposes to cut off access to a third of the whitewater resources on Slab Creek. Specifically, SMUD is denying access and enjoyment to the Class II/III section of Slab Creek by blocking take-out access at White Rock Powerhouse.
AW Journal - The Winter Issue Online Now!
The Winter issue of the AW Journal is available in our online "Library". This issue includes 'Top 10 River Stewardship Issues for 2020' along with much more. Read the issue online now or download your copy.
Defining the direction of Our Policy work in Colorado
Colorado's rivers are national treasures, feeding rivers and communities all across the country. AW's Colorado team is proud to share our new report, Colorado Policy Pathways, that will help chart our approach to protecting and restoring these beloved rivers. At American Whitewater, we know that water policy is a key ingredient in driving smart solutions for the future of our rivers. Colorado Policy Pathways, outlines our approach to addressing the changes and challenges that Colorado's rivers face as the state's population grows and the outdoor economy booms.
Army Corps Study Threatens Lehigh River Boating
Paddlers on the Lehigh River below the Francis E. Walter Dam and Reservoir are concerned that a planned study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection will lead to a reduction in whitewater boating opportunities on the Lehigh. The study will evaluate the feasibility of various alternatives to optimize project operation. Aside from the project's authorized primary missions of flood risk management and recreation, the study will also consider water supply and water quality, to identify possible improvements to the existing structure, infrastructure, and operations that will support current and future demands within the region. The Army Corps is holding a public meeting on January 9, 2020 at the Mountain Laurel Resort in White Haven, PA from 6-8 p.m. to explain the study and hear public comments. American Whitewater, Appalachian Mountain Club, and other organizations are expected to file comments with the Army Corps prior to the September 29th deadline in order to share our concerns about the study and potential impacts on boating, the outdoor recreation economy, and the Delaware RIver Basin. We encourage our members to attend the public meeting to voice their concerns.
Stewardship Highlights 2019 by Region
Our stewardship team got it done for whitewater rivers in 2019 and we wanted to share our top three project highlights, nationally and for every region we work in. Check out this article to see the breadth of our work across the country and find your region for an overview of some of our most important stewardship work local to you - Stewardship Highlights 2019: American Whitewater a Year in Review.
AW Submits Weber River Safety and Access Proposal (UT)
During the ongoing dam relicensing process for the Weber Hydroelectric Project, stakeholders reached an agreement for the provision of four annual whitewater boating releases. Stakeholders agreed that American Whitewater would propose a safe and legal plan for river access for consideration in response to specific concerns voiced by the Forest Service. Releases will begin following a Forest Service determination that the proposed access is appropriate for public use, and the issuance of the Federal dam license which is expected any day now. American Whitewater has spent the past several months conducting legal and safety analysis, and last week we submitted our proposal that documents that recreational releases and public use on the Weber River are legal, reasonably safe, and appropriate.
Southeast Advanced Release Dates for 2020
American Whitewater and our affiliate clubs have spent the past 25 years working to restore flows to incredible Southeastern rivers impacted by dams. A lot of our work has focused on Class II and III rivers like the lower Nantahala, Tuckasegee, Hiwassee, and Catawba, but we also secured releases in some classic steeper reaches previously dewatered by hydroelectric diversions. Each year we meet with power companies and agencies to schedule future releases, review ongoing ecology studies, and discuss any issues with the release programs. In this post we are pleased to share the 2020 dates for the Class IV/V Cheoah, Nantahala Cascades & Upper, West Fork Tuck, and Tallulah rivers.
JOIN AMERICAN WHITEWATER ON THE WILD AND SCENIC ROGUE RIVER (OR) IN 2020
For the past few years, the staff of America Whitewater has joined with a number of our members to participate in a four-day float trip on the Rogue River in southern Oregon. This trip has been a great opportunity to connect with members in ways that build a lasting understanding of the role of recreation in fostering a stewardship ethic. As one of the original eight Wild and Scenic Rivers in the country, the Rogue is an outstanding classroom for American Whitewater's river stewardship program. Trip dates are June 18-21, 2020.
Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, dies
Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, died on November 20th, 2019. He was 83. A microbiologist by training, Terry began paddling in the mid-1960's while a professor at Emory University. He took to whitewater readily, and it became an important focus of his life. In 1969 he met veteran paddler Doug Woodward, and in 1971 the two became the technical advisers for the movie "Deliverance." Afterwards, Terry and Woodward purchased the rafts Warner Brothers used in filming and bought 19 acres near the river. This became Southeastern Expeditions, one of the Southeast's first whitewater outposts on the Chattooga. In 1974, Terry took then-Gov. Jimmy Carter on three trips on the Chatooga River, totaling 57 miles. This inspired Carter to get the Chattooga included in the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and influenced later decisions protecting rivers across the U.S."Terry adopted me as one of his students," Carter told Outside Online in a 2017 interview. "it opened my eyes to the relationship between a human being and a wild river that I never had contemplated before that. When I got to be president I vetoed 16 different dam projects all over the United States." Terry eventually quit his Emory University job and started full time career in environmental advocacy, including founding American Rivers, a principal U.S. conservation group. For the next 30 years he specialized in environmental projects involving rivers and wetlands and later, when he became a board-certified toxicologist, he developed an expertise in hazardous waste cleanups. He was an active paddler until sidelined by Parkinson's Disease. A passionate teacher and advocate, he is sorely missed by all who knew him. Click through for an excellent obituary and a photo of Terry taking Governor Carter over Bull Sluice!
New AW Signature Klean Kanteen Thermos and Travel Mug in Store Now!
We're proud to now offer American Whitewater signature Klean Kanteen items for your holiday shopping or personal gifting pleasure! Keep that hot drink hot and that cold drink cold well into your paddling adventure with either the AW Klean Kanteen Travel Mug or Insulated Thermos. Stick'em in your boat and strap'em to your SUP. Be the hero who shares a hot beverage with your peeps during a frozen day on the water. Or just use one to drink your daily cup o'Joe and keep it toasty all morning long while displaying your support for AW. Either one will make a well appreciated holiday gift and both items support our river stewardship program so you'll know you've given yourself the gift of protecting rivers and your ability to enjoy them too!
American Whitewater Releases New River Access Planning Guide
In a joint project with the River Management Society, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service (USFS), and National Park Service (NPS), American Whitewater has published the River Access Planning Guide. American Whitewater is regularly called upon to assist with river access projects. Some are a spectacular success, while others are a disappointment. Over the past three years, American Whitewater has been working with the NPS Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs to better understand how success comes about when a river access project is developed and provide guidance for a step-by-step process that leads to projects that meet user needs and are sustainable both ecologically and financially.
AW VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH PRESENTED BY KOKATAT: Priscilla Macy
American Whitewater is proud to recognize Priscilla Macy of Salem, OR as our December Volunteer of the Month. Last month we celebrated the passage and signing of a bill that greatly improves access for Oregon river runners, which Priscilla played a vital role in. HB 2835 requires any future waterway access closure on state lands to undergo a public process. This allows the opportunity for waterway users, organizations and communities to provide input on proposed actions. The bill was promoted by recreational advocates like AW and Oregon Outdoors and is the first proactive waterway access bill in recent history to have made it through the Oregon Legislature. But it was the relentless effort from Prisiclla, navigating a delicate political climate and finding a collaborative pathway forward that really made this new law a reality. Prisiclla held countless meetings with a wide array of stakeholder groups including state agencies, private landowners, local governments and parks districts to bring forward a bill that worked for everyone. Excellent work Priscilla! As Volunteer of the Month, Kokatat will be hooking Priscilla up with some world class gear, and we hope you'll extend her a hearty thank you when you see her on the river.
River Safety Signage Project RFP
As the recognized expert in whitewater safety for over 60 years and publisher of the Whitewater Safety Code, American Whitewater is often called upon to provide input on safety messaging for signage at river access points. Requests for assistance come from river managers (e.g. federal agencies including Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service; state agencies; and local counties and municipalities), hydropower operators (many hydropower facilities are required to provide signage and safety information as part of mitigation requirements for water-based recreation at their facilities), and our affiliate clubs (our members and local clubs have sites that are directly managed by the whitewater paddling community--e.g. Watauga, Upper Yough, etc.). We are requesting proposals for a project to develop an open-source toolbox that includes text (e.g. standard language describing river difficulty ratings, PFD use and wear, safe boating practices, etc.), vector-graphic illustrations (e.g. river signals and iconography), and guidance on how to use the elements. Our ultimate objective is to improve river safety by providing necessary information to those engaging in river recreation. We will accomplish this by applying our knowledge and expertise in river safety to development of nationally-standardized materials and educational resources that are widely used and understood.
AW VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH PRESENTED BY KOKATAT: Jack Henderson
American Whitewater is proud to recognize Jack Henderson of Brevard, NC as our December Volunteer of the Month. Jack is a dedicated paddler in the southeast and has volunteered many of his great photographs and beta for American Whitewater use for a long time, along with partnering with AW through his day job at the River Management Society, but we're recognizing him this month in particular for his work to help designate the Nolichucky River as Wild and Scenic. He produced an incredible Nolichucky River Wall Map and he has been selling them through our webstore, printing and shipping them off himself, and donating all of the proceeds to our efforts for a Wild and Scenic Noli. And these things are a hot item, raising a significant amount of dollars for our campaign. Great work Jack! As Volunteer of the Month, Kokatat will be hooking up Jack with some world class gear, and we hope you'll extend Jack a hearty thank you when you see him on the river.