American Whitewater at the North Fork Championships 2019!
Come join us at the North Fork Championship this weekend. Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director Thomas O'Keefe, Communications Director Evan Stafford, and Board Member Megi Morishita will be out for the event. The North Fork Championship is a great event that celebrates our sport and a reminder that the North Fork Payette was once proposed for hydropower development. A group of paddlers and river advocates fought to save this river. Through their efforts, Idaho Rivers United was born and in 1991 Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus signed the first version of the Payette River Plan, protecting the Payette River system from new dams and hydropower development. The action starts Tuesday evening (6/11) , 6pm at Payette Brewing in Boise with the NFC Wild Rivers Symposium which will feature speakers on river conservation issues, some entertainment, and food and drink.
Oregon Waterway Access Bill Set to Become Law
This week, Oregon House Bill 2835 re-passed the Oregon House on a 52-7 vote. Having earlier cleared the Senate, the bill now awaits a signature from the Governor to be signed into law. For decades, opportunities to protect and improve the ability of the public to access and legally use waterways for recreation have seen minimal progress, while efforts to severely limit access have been a consistent threat. Oregon House Bill 2835 is a pivotal piece of legislation in Oregon, and the first proactive waterway access bill in recent history to have made it through the state legislature.
Oh Be Joyful Race Back in Action June 22 (CO)
Come join American Whitewater at the 2019 Oh Be Joyful Creek Race in Crested Butte on June 22! "The World famous Oh Be Joyful Steep Creek Race is back on this year! Saturday, June 22nd is the day to come out and show your stuff on one of the steepest kayak races out there! Registration is now open, so sign up to race or just come out and watch one of the greatest shows on Earth!" - Paul Raymond, OBJ Race Director, says it all. Racers will get the chance to take two laps on the creek with their best time used for ranking purposes. Each racer will receive a swag bag with a Theracane! In the event of extreme high water, the race start will be postponed to allow levels to drop. The afterparty this year will be at the Talk of the Town in Crested Butte with beer provided by SKA and Eddyline and food provided by the Brick Oven Pizzeria in CB.
Support Improved Potomac River Access at Harpers Ferry (WV/VA/DC)
A local planning agency has championed a study of the Weverton access site just downstream of Harpers Ferry. This site is an important Potomac river put-in/takeout site for Shenandoah and Potomac River paddlers who have few access options in the area. At issue is an informal crossing of the two-track CSX railroad used by almost 27,000 paddlers, Appalachian Trail hikers, and visitors to the C&O Canal National Historical Park last year. The study outlines two options to formalize this access site and improve the safety of crossing the railroad tracks. Either option would be a big improvement, as would a standard road crossing, and paddlers are encouraged to submit a supportive comment by the June 15 deadline.
Dolores River (CO) 2019 Release Update
This spring in Colorado has been so cool and wet that the U.S. Drought Monitor has officially declared the state drought free. For paddlers this has meant a slow start to the boating season in a lot of places and excitement for the long season expected. For reservoir operators the delayed inflows mean more uncertainty. Starting yesterday, May 30th, flows began ramping down and will reach a level of 400 cfs by midnight the morning of Sunday June 2nd. With warm weather in the forecast however, the release will then ramp back up beginning the morning of Wednesday June 5th and will be up to 1,200 cfs by midnight the morning of Friday, June 7th. Flows will then remain at least 1,200 cfs until Sunday, June 23rd. Please see the Dolores Water Conservation District website's release page for details on these release changes. They will be posting weekly updates on Monday and Thursday, so continue to check back into their site for the most detailed operation plans.
American Whitewater Spring Website Update
Thanks to generous grants from the US Coast Guard and significant volunteer efforts American Whitewater has created a new modernized version of our website that works across mobile devices, has significantly updated programming systems, and works with our volunteer-created apps for both iOS and Android. We want to acknowledge that the new version of the site has had numerous bugs, and to share that we have worked to address them as quickly as possible. This work continues with a lean and dedicated team of volunteer and paid programmers.
Hanging Lake Exit Closed to Vehicles This Season (CO)
The Hanging Lake hiking trail, located in Glenwood Canyon (CO), has had issues with crowding, illegal parking, and degradation to the lake by the over 130,000 people that hike there every year. A stakeholder group including the City of Glenwood Springs, the Forest Service and Colorado Department of Transportation among others have been working on a plan to mitigate for these impacts to protect the iconic lake and prevent conflicts at the rest area. The only way to access the rest area between May 1st and October 31st is via shuttle buses provided by H2O Ventures located next to the Glenwood Springs Recreation Center.
UPDATE - FEE BOX AT SANG RUN PUT-IN BROKEN INTO!!
The hasp was broken in the last 24 hours. Please DO NOT PUT MONEY IN THE BOX UNTIL IT IS REPAIRED! To donate on line, please go to the American Whitewater Donate page and put "Upper Yough Access" in the comment box. Memorial Day Weekend is coming up, and Deep Creek Hydro on Maryland's famous Upper Youghiogheny River will release on Sunday, May 26th, and Monday, May 27th from 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM. This marvelous stretch of expert-level whitewater draws hundreds of paddlers from all over the country. American Whitewater has worked closely with the Town of Friendsville and the State of Maryland to make river access hassle-free. Please remember that we are guests of the town of Friendsville. Use the paddler parking lot off Maple Street; do not park or take out on Water Street or Morris Street without permission from local residents. Be discrete; use the change house to get ready for the river. Remember that public drinking and rowdy behavior is not appreciated by nearby residents. Upstream, the Sang Run Access is owned by the State of Maryland and has been maintained by American Whitewater volunteers for almost 20 years. The water has been running high for the past few weeks. Be careful and be safe!
Final Slate River Floating Management Plan Released (CO)
Crested Butte, CO - Increased user conflict on the Slate River has led to a Floating Management Plan that proposes a "voluntary no-float period" between March 15 and July 15 this season. Since our last news post in November, the Slate River Floating Management Plan has been updated and revised for the 2019 season. An open house will be held at The Depot in Crested Butte on Thursday, May 16 and it is critical that paddlers from the local community attend and engage in the conversation. (Photo courtesy of the Crested Butte Land Trust).
Effort to Protect the Rogue Continues (OR)
At the end of last Congress, the House and Senate negotiated a public lands package that ultimately resulted in 256 new miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers for Oregon when the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act was signed into law on March 12th, 2019. While rivers like the Molalla and several tributaries of the Rogue were designated Wild and Scenic, the lands surrounding the immediate river corridor were left unprotected. With a commitment to finish the job, and building on the successful effort to move these initiatives out of committee with bipartisan support last Congress, Senator Wyden was joined by Senator Merkley in introducing the Oregon Recreation Enhancement Act (S. 1262) on May 1st, 2019. The bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on May 14th, 2019.
Senator Murray & Representative Kilmer Reintroduce Wild Olympics Bill (WA)
Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) reintroduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (S. 1382 and H.R. 2642) to permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries, a total of 464 river miles, as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests, clean water and salmon streams as well as enhance outdoor recreation, the legislation would set aside the first new wilderness on Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
Positive Outlook for Lower Dolores Flows This Spring!
The Dolores Water Conservation District recently put out their updated spill prediction based on the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center's May 1st inflow forecast. In addition to a positive forecast indicating a likely 3-4 week spill of boatable flows beginning before Memorial Day, low and middle elevation snowpack has raised McPhee water levels at approximately a foot per day. This lower elevation snow and May storm cycle have also helped in keeping fields wet and pushing back the start of irrigation season. One more benefit of the healthy low elevation snowpack was the flows downstream of McPhee reached boatable levels for over a week. Many regional boaters were out enjoying these natural flows and levels even reached 2,000 cfs for a period!
Animas River Days Coming Up June 1!
Durango, CO - June is fast approaching and Animas River Days is not to be missed. On June 1, the Animas River in Durango, CO will be filled with kayakers, rafters, SUP boarders, and spectators celebrating healthy and safe rivers. Be sure to put this event on your calendar for fun and whitewater this summer! Check out the Event Schedule and don't forget to pre-register if you are planning on competing in any of the many events. Pre-registration ends on May 29th at midnight and athletes who pre-register get a FREE 6-pack from Ska Brewing and a $5 discount. Don't miss the Parade Viewing Party at Santa Rita Park that starts at 6pm after the events. We'll see you there! Come check out American Whitewater's booth at Animas River Days and learn about our projects in the area.
AW Journal - The May/June Issue Online Now!
The May/June issue of the AW Journal is available in our online "Library". This issue includes 'A Grand Revisitation to Powell's Wild West' along with much more. Read the issue online now or download your copy.
Land and Water Conservation Fund Secures Access to Upper Colorado River
A bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was introduced last month by Colorado Senator Cory Gardener and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and cosponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennett. If passed the bill would provide $900M annually for projects protecting natural, cultural and historic resources. Existing funding from the LWCF recently enabled the transfer of two important river access points on the Upper Colorado River. The State Bridge and Two Bridges parcels were owned by Eagle County and had been improved - boat ramps, parking, restroom/changing facilities - by the Eagle County Open Space program with coordination and management support from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This land transfer will protect public access at these locations in perpetuity.
Step Into Adventure, Give Something For Rivers With Discount 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!
Spring Stewardship Update 2019!
The Spring Stewardship Update for 2019 is here! This spring American Whitewater is working 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 on our public lands, and protect access to our favorite whitewater rivers - we're getting it done in 2019, 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.
Dolores River (CO) 2019 Spill Forecast Update
Dolores Water Conservation District put out their most recent predictions on April 23rd. More can be found on their website. We are expecting an updated forecast on May 6th and will be meeting with them on May 9th to begin discussions on how the recreational boating releases can align with other ecological goals. American Whitewater has developed a wide range of guidelines on how a spill can meet both recreation goals and goals to improve aquatic species and riparian health.
Play Hard & Leave Only Paddle Strokes
The rivers are rising and warming up, and if you are like us your calendar is filling up with river trips scattered around your region and beyond. One of the many cool things about paddling is how we can traverse natural landscapes without even leaving a footprint. While our paddle strokes disappear when their tiny whirlpools collapse, it’s still a good time of year to reflect on how we can be the best possible visitors to the special places we visit. Here are some tips and resources.
MAY VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH PRESENTED BY KOKATAT
For the month of May we celebrate a volunteer who exemplifies a solid stewardship ethic by leaving rivers in better shape than he found them. One of the first to step up to help with a river access project or river cleanup, Jerry Griffin is our May Volunteer of The Month.