Check Out the Deerfield Fest Virtual Edition 2020 Video
Northeast boaters came together to support American Whitewater at the (virtual) Deerfield Fest Membership Event on June 26th . The event celebrated 25 years of whitewater boating on the Deerfield River in Western Massachusetts and featured great music, local legends, awesome giveaways from our industry partners, and updates on our stewardship work in the region. Check out the archived event here.
Request for Proposals – AW Produced Short Films on Basic Whitewater Safety
With a recent grant from the United States Coast Guard, American Whitewater is launching a project to produce two films on basic whitewater safety. We are issuing this Request for Proposals for assistance in this effort. For details and to submit a proposal please see this document - RFP American Whitewater Basic Whitewater Safety Films 2020
Proposals are due September 11, 2020
Gore Fest 2020 Coming to Your Home on September 1
Gore Fest has the decades-long tradition of hosting one of Colorado's premiere downriver races. In the past five years it has expanded to include multiple events, bringing together kayakers, rafters, stand-up paddle boarders, families, and river enthusiasts from all over the region to celebrate a cornerstone river in the Colorado whitewater community. Unfortunately, due to concerns surrounding public safety because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have restructured the event to an online format. This decision was not an easy one to make, but we are excited for you to join the first-ever virtual Gore Fest! We have speakers, films, photo competitions, and prize drawings all to create an amazing event for everyone. The event will take place at 7 pm MST on Tuesday, September 1st. Attendance is free and to register follow this link.
SUBMIT YOUR BEST PHOTOS FOR THE AW CALENDAR BY AUGUST 14TH
Submit your best photos for American Whitewater's annual calendar! The deadline is August 14th, 2020. Use this online submission form and we look forward to seeing your entires. You'll get a free copy of the calendar if your photo is chosen, and you'll know you helped support AW's river stewardship projects as we sell these calendars as a fundraiser. Images that feature rivers with current, past or future American Whitewater projects, and images that represent a diversity in season, craft type, river trip length, river difficulty, and/or geography, will be given the highest consideration, but all compelling photos will be considered. Thank you!
Protect Flows at the New Fort Collins Whitewater Park (CO)
Take action to protect instream flows in the Poudre! The Larimer County Commissioners are reviewing the 1041 permit for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and accepting public comment right now. NISP will remove peak flows from the Poudre River for the next 20-30 years at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon, and disrupt invaluable ecological and recreational resources like the Poudre River Whitewater Park. In late 2019, the City of Fort Collins officially opened the Whitewater Park, and since then hundreds of people a day can be seen paddling and enjoying the access to the river the whitewater park provides. If NISP is approved, this brand new and highly popular recreational area will be rendered nearly useless for boaters, and would reduce the appeal of visiting the river district in general. Use this easy action form to let the Larimer County Commissioners know that they should vote to reject this permit and work towards a plan that protects recreational flows through the County.
**If you live in Larimer County, you should also consider providing testimony on this issue at the August 24th County Commissioners meeting. Thank you!
New Watauga River Put In Open! (NC)
Today marks the official opening of the new Guy Ford River Access Area on the Watauga River. The paddling community has long sought permanent public access to the classic Watauga River Gorge which serves as a staple for Class IV+ paddlers throughout the region. American Whitewater owns and manages the Sherwood Horine Takeout thanks to donations and volunteers, and worked closely with the many individuals and organizations that purchased and developed the new put in. We'd like to offer our special thanks to volunteer Edgar Peck for his role in facilitating the new access site, and to all the paddlers who donated funds for its purchase. Check out a great write up of the new access site, and enjoy using it!
Governor Inslee Directs State Agencies to Cease Chehalis Dam Efforts (WA)
This past week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee directed Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Chehalis Basin Board to cease planning efforts and environmental review of a proposed new dam on the Chehalis River and instead develop and present a basin-wide, non-dam alternative to flood damage reduction. American Whitewater appreciates the Governor's decision that is responsive to concerns we raised throughout the environmental review process.
New Hydropower Legislation; A Bad Deal For Rivers
The recently introduced "Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act" by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) represents a short-sighted effort that would roll back critical river and clean water protections, cut the public out of decision-making in hydropower licensing, and put whitewater rivers at risk. This legislation would undermine our ability to successfully restore river health and opportunities for whitewater recreation. It is counterproductive to finding collaborative solutions that meet our nation's energy needs in a manner that adequately considers environmental impacts of hydropower. We stand ready to work together with the hydropower industry but this legislation represents the wrong approach.
Bear River Releases Rescheduled for Late Summer (ID)
Recreational releases were cancelled on many rivers this spring due to Covid-related travel restrictions and concerns, including several releases on the Black Canyon of the Bear River in Idaho. American Whitewater has worked with the dam owner to reschedule Black Canyon releases for late summer, specifically August 29 & 30, and September 12 & 13. These releases offer paddlers a rare opportunity to enjoy the Bear River late in the recreation season. In addition, irrigation flows of approximately 200-500cfs are currently being delivered through the Black Canyon all summer, creating additional and rare lower-water paddling opportunities 24-hours a day for the rest of the summer through the second week of September.
New River Dries to Flow Free This Fall (WV)
The owners of Hawks Nest Dam on the New River Dries is undertaking a thorough inspection of the Hawks Nest Tunnel this fall, something that has not been done since completion of the tunnel over 85 years ago. This work, slated to begin on September 8, 2020 and last for 60 days, will require drawing down the reservoir 20+ feet and will result in 2 months of natural flows in the New River Dries. The drawdown may also expose seldom-seen rapids on the New River beneath the Hawks Nest Reservoir. Enjoy this special fall Dries season!
Piney River and Tributaries Designated Scenic Rivers (TN)
On June 22, 2020, the Piney River, Little Piney River, and Duskin Creek, located near Spring City, became Tennessee's newest Scenic Rivers when the Governor signed a related bill into law. These creeks flow from the Cumberland Plateau down into deep cliff-lined canyons that are traversed by hikers, paddlers, and anglers. The creeks join adjacent Soak Creek as recently designated Scenic Rivers. American Whitewater and other paddling groups actively supported protection of these streams. The move recognizes that Tennessee is home to unique rivers and creeks that are a source of pride and rejuvenation for Tennesseans and should be protected for future generations.
AW Challenges New EPA Rule Weakening States' Ability to Protect Rivers
American Whitewater, along with several other river conservation partners, filed litigation today challenging new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that would limit the ability of states to protect water quality at federlly-licensed hydropower projects. The new rule effectively sidelines the role the states and the public have long played in permitting decisions affecting clean water, undercutting the central role of the states in protecting water quality under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The new rule guts the Clean Water Act's Section 401 provisions, which for nearly 50 years have provided for states' and authorized Tribes' self-determination in permitting for a wide array of projects requiring federal approval within their borders. The rule also suppresses state and Tribal public participation processes that moor U.S. water policy in the harbor of democracy.
Custer-Gallatin Plan Contains New River Protections (MT)
Today, Montana's Custer-Gallatin National Forest became the most recent National Forest to release their new final management plan. American Whitewater engaged with our partners in Outdoor Alliance Montana, working with local volunteer Chris Ennis, to provide detailed information to the Forest Service on the recreational values and needs. Over the several year long process we shaped a vision for the Forest that was refined and presented to the Forest Service. A central part of that vision for paddlers was a request that several streams be granted new protections through deeming them eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. The new Forest Plan contains 30 eligible streams, 18 of which are newly protected in the plan, and many of which were requested and supported by American Whitewater and our partners in Outdoor Alliance Montana.
A Victory for the San Joaquin River Gorge
American Whitewater efforts, funded by a Conservation Alliance grant, to protect the San Joaquin River Gorge received a big boost with news that the proposed Temperance Flat Dam is effectively dead due to its exorbitant cost. This dam proposal threatened to drown 18 miles of river including the entire San Joaquin River Gorge. Proponents of this project had to provide final costs as a condition of receiving $171 million in funds necessary to initiate the project from the Proposition One, Water Storage Investment Program. A recently-completed draft analysis for the Temperance Flat Authority pegged the cost of water provided by a new dam at $9000 per acre-foot of water over the 50-year capital cost repayment period. To compare, when this new dam was first conceived water in California was estimated to cost an average of $70 per acre-foot. Overall, this cost analysis backs up statements made by American Whitewater in the 2018 film You Can't Dam Your Way to Paradise - "All the dams that make sense to be built on the San Joaquin River Gorge have already been built. If they were economically viable, they would have been built a long time ago."
With Your Support we did great work in 2019! CHECK OUT OUR ANNUAL REPORT
American Whitewater is an organization that prides ourselves on getting work done, both effectively and efficiently. Eighty percent of every dollar we see goes directly to our stewardship work, and in 2019 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 2019 Annual Report.
Wild and Scenic with a Local Touch: Protecting the Upper Colorado River
After 12 years of hard work, the Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Alternative Management Plan was finalized and formally accepted by the BLM and USFS to protect and enhance the flow related values - like recreational boating - of the Upper Colorado River.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife to Require Hunting or Fishing License at River Access
In an unexpected and strategic move by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), a Colorado hunting or fishing license will now be required to access State Wildlife Areas and CPW-leased State Trust Lands (effective July 1, 2020). Many of these affected areas have historically been used for paddling, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, and other non-consumptive recreation uses. CPW's press release stated that "This rule is aimed at curtailing non-wildlife-related use of these properties", and while we understand the need to increase revenue to support management of these areas, we have a few concerns with this strategy. On July 1, American Whitewater, Colorado Mountain Club, and multiple other organizations submitted a joint letter to CPW Commissioners requesting that they reconsider the new Rule and find a more practicable and sustainable method for collecting fees for these areas.
HELP US STOP HYDRO DEVELOPMENT ON BIG CANYON (AZ)
In the ongoing saga of hydro dam developments proposed within striking distance of Grand Canyon National Park, American Whitewater is asking for help from the paddling community to stop a development that would impact the greater Grand Canyon area and its tributaries. Back in October 2019, we wrote an article outlining the proposal submitted by Phoenix-based hydroelectric company Pumped Hydro LLC to place two dams on the Little Colorado River, a tributary of the Colorado River's mighty Grand Canyon. This proposal was met with a large amount of pushback for the cultural impact on indigenous tribes, ecological impacts, and water use. To address these concerns, Pumped Hydro decided to file an alternative (yet equally problematic) proposal for a hydro development on Big Canyon, a tributary of the Little Colorado River. The Big Canyon project permit application has been accepted into the Federal Energy Regulation Commission's (FERC) registrar, initiating a public comment period on the project ending August 1 and we need members of the paddling community to step up and make their voices heard!
We Need your Help to Protect Paddlers’ Access to New Mexico Rivers and Streams
Rivers once promoted by the New Mexico State Parks Division in their publication "New Mexico Whitewater - A Guide to River Trips" are now being blocked by private landowners with barricades, cables and No Trespassing signs. This includes upper Chama and Pecos river segments. Privatizers have filed additional applications that would close several other river segments in New Mexico, and their lawyers are threatening an "immense wave" of constitutional "litigation" in the event that "any action by the Court, the Legislature, the Department, or the Commission… restrict[s] landowners' rights to prevent the public from using their streambeds underlying public waters." American Whitewater has been working with our local partners in New Mexico to ensure that this new Rule is rescinded. We need your support to win this battle. If you're in a position to contribute, doing so will help us with legal expenses for our partners and outreach.