Relicensing of Montreal River Hydropower Projects Begins (WI)
In December 2019 Northern States Power submitted their Notice of Intent and Preliminary Application Document to relicense both the Saxon Falls and Superior Falls Hydroelectric Projects. These two projects regulate flows on the West Branch Montreal and Montreal Canyon. Both of these runs are enjoyed by paddlers from across the Midwest and offer opportunities that are unique to the region. American Whitewater will be filing formal comments and a study request within the next week requesting an evaluation of flow needs for whitewater boating and adequacy of accommodations for public access to the river. Paddlers in the region who know the river can help by filing personal comments.
National Forest Protects 360 Miles of Streams in Montana
In a big win for rivers, the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest released their new Forest Plan this month. The Forest includes the classic Multi-day section of the Smith River, the headwaters of the Blackfoot River, and the rugged and beautiful Rocky Mountain Front region of Montana. The new Forest Plan offers interim protection for 360 miles of incredible rivers by finding them eligible for Wild and Scenic designation - triple the river miles protected under the old plan. A full 250 of the protected river miles are on whitewater rivers. American Whitewater and the paddling community has offered support for this decision since at least 2014, and the Forest Service has done a great job.
Today is Colorado Public Lands Day!
As paddlers, we appreciate the mental and physical health benefits of outdoor recreation. A beautiful day on the river with friends is often what makes us feel like ourselves again. Access and use of our public lands right now seems more precious than ever. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult to watch river gages around that state rise and be unable to travel and visit these places we love due to state and local closures. Read more for an update on the Jefferson County closure of Clear Creek and check out a few opportunities to celebrate today in the interest of the health of your family and those around you.
Senator Wyden Introduces Legislation to Invest in Public Lands
As the impacts of COVID-19 ripple through the economy, Members of Congress are seeking ideas for what economic recovery looks like. Several Congressional offices have reached out to American Whitewater to solicit ideas for projects and initiatives that would benefit public lands and outdoor recreation while putting people to work. Over the past two weeks we have been working with our colleagues at Outdoor Alliance to develop some specific proposals. We are thrilled to report that Senator Wyden from Oregon has taken some our ideas and stepped up in a big way to make investment in public lands and the outdoor recreation economy a personal priority.
NM Senators Introduce Wild and Scenic River Legislation - Help us thank them!
We are celebrating a great win today after New Mexico Senators Udall and Heinrich announced the introduction of the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act. The Act, officially introduced on May 8, would protect over 440 miles of free-flowing rivers and streams in the Gila and San Francisco watersheds. If passed, the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and their tributaries would receive permanent protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - the strongest protection a river can receive. While the Gila legislation gives flexibility to existing uses and landowners, the free-flowing nature and outstanding values of these rivers and streams would be protected now and for future generations to enjoy. The main stem Gila and San Francisco Rivers offer some of the most remote and wild paddling opportunities in New Mexico and have been explored and loved by paddlers for decades. Please help us thank the Senators for their commitment to protect these rivers by filling out this super easy form!
Flow Survey Announced for Cache La Poudre River (CO)
American Whitewater needs your help to define stream flows that support the full range of recreational boating opportunities on the Poudre River in Northern Colorado. Information collected by this study will be used to understand existing use patterns on the river, quantify acceptable flows at the new whitewater park in Fort Collins, and assist in defining the economic impact river recreation has on the region. Please fill out the survey today!
New Mexico Senators provide strong support for protecting access to rivers
On May 5th, Senator Udall and Senator Heinrich of New Mexico conditionally filed a proposed Memorandum Brief as Amici Curiae, or "friend of the court", in strong support of the case Adobe Whitewater Club brought against the Governor and Game Commission in the New Mexico Supreme Court. The Senator's beautifully describe the value of preserving constitutionally defined public access to the state's rivers and streams. Read the full brief here.
Keep It Local – Paddling in a Pandemic Refined
For many boaters, our lives have been built around an ability to visit rivers as frequently as possible. And if they're not, we're probably dreaming about being able to do so. Unfortunately, paddling responsibly during COVID-19 has made visiting rivers difficult for many of us. Responses to the pandemic vary regionally and in some areas paddling opportunities are beginning to open back up. Most of the places where restrictions are being loosened, local leaders have made clear that this is not a return to normal and that continued access to outdoor recreation is contingent on the ability of the public to follow physical distancing practices and keep it local. We're all in this together and we all want to paddle, so let's work to make our communities response a model of how to recreate in a pandemic. Read on for some simple guidelines on if, how, when and where paddling is a good idea right now.
PG&E Considers Recreational Flows Below Chili Bar During COVID-19 (CA)
Good news as we navigate our lives with COVID-19, American Whitewater received word that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has made the decision NOT to cancel scheduled recreational flows on the South Fork American River. Wait what? Yes, you read correct a paddling staple we take for granted below Chili Bar was on the verge of being curtailed in the midst of a public safety emergency.
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 report on the introduction of the "Great American Outdoors Act' along with much more. Read the issue online now or download your copy.
Colorado State Policy May Update
The Colorado State Legislature has come to a halt for the past 6 weeks, counties are adjusting their restrictions, and the spring is in full bloom. There is a lot going on in Colorado, and as the state continues to adjust to life during COVID-19, there are a handful of topics that you may want to be aware of. In this month's update, you'll hear about how the state legislature is going to find the time to pass the budget, be provided some new resources to start building relationships with elected officials, and as always find some resources to help grow your abilities as an advocate.
CRUSHING IT FROM HOME
Despite the current public health crisis, the fight for wild rivers continues and American Whitewater is well positioned to play a major role in protecting and enhancing what makes wild rivers special. Here is what staff are doing now to protect rivers. Thank you for being a part of this awesome river community. Please stay safe and healthy.
Deerfield Fest Canceled for 2020
One thing that unites boaters is our passion for rivers, and the sometimes overflowing passion with which we celebrate our whitewater rivers at spring and summer festivals across the country. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus we've had to make the tough decision to cancel American Whitewater's first festival of the 2020 season, Deerfield Fest in Charlemont, Massachusetts, June 26-28. If you normally renew your membership at Deerfield, please consider renewing it again this year at this special Deerfield Fest Membership link. We'll put your name in a hat for some fun prizes and get you the beta on upcoming Deerfield news.
2020 Deerfield Fest Membership Form
We're so bummed to have to cancel Deerfield Fest! But we still need your support!
American Whitewater's stewardship projects are funded through your memberships.
Join or Renew and win some rad swag!
Advocate From Home With These Resources
In order to be the strongest advocate out there, you're gonna need tools. Written tools, visual aids, citations, factoids, and anything else you can use at your disposal. We try and make things as seamless as possible for the river community, but occasionally, you need to go that extra mile. For those instances, we've created this page as an easy place that you can turn to. Resources, wisdom, and information can be found on issues taking place across the country through this page. By utilizing information that our partners provide, you can now come back to this page to find new issues Outdoor Alliance is focusing on, discover areas that Conservation Alliance is seeking to protect, and connect to tons of educational material to help share with you and other folks in your community.
Kayakers assist the WV-DNR on a Recovery
On February 9th, 2020 kayaker Jamie Gray was killed on the Middle Fork of the Tygart river in West Virginia. The next day the state DNR closed the river while they searched a large undercut rock where she was last seen. When that effort was unsuccessful, DNR officer Chris Evans coordinated with local kayakers to do a thorough downstream search. They found her body on the Main Tygart a mile downstream, just above S-Turn Rapid. A full description of the search and the recovery can be found in the American Whitewater Accident Database: https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Accident/detail/accidentid/76310
Good Article on Flush Drowning from Outside Magazine
An interesting article in Outside Magazine, based on a research paper done with information stored in the American Whitewater Accident Database. Certainly cold water plays a big role in a flush drowning death, especially when the swimmer has inadequate thermal protection. In addition to cold water shock, a few drops of cold water down the throat can cause laringospasm, which narrows the trachea and can make breathing very difficult. But in my opinion, the relentless, fast moving character of Western rivers is the main reason that flush drownings are more common there. With the exception of the Cheoah and flood-stage runs, few Southeastern rivers can compare to an average Western Class IV. Here's the link: https://www.outsideonline.com/2411473/flush-drowning-whitewater-deaths-study?fbclid=IwAR2-blIEjgNu7tFBgXxT4ozlyfNw0Yc6yt41pao9daWRdmGvloxpqyb3ovQ
New Dam Proposed for Chehalis River (WA): Take Action and Comment
The Chehalis River has one of Washington state's longest continuous sections of Class III whitewater, yet it remains relatively unknown to many paddlers due to access issues involving restrictive policies of a private timber company. A new flood control dam proposal would eliminate 14 miles of this wild and free-flowing Class III whitewater (West Fork to Pe Ell), forever keeping paddlers from discovering this underused trove of quality whitewater in southwestern Washington. Paddlers and other river enthusiasts have an opportunity to provide input on the fate of the Chehalis River by submitting a comment on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Take this opportunity to comment and help protect this free-flowing river today! Take Action Today
Help get new river access and flow info for the Kaweah River (CA)
The Kaweah River is one of the crown jewels of southern Sierra whitewater. Flowing out of Sequoia National Park, the river and its forks offer challenging, non-stop whitewater through golden granite canyons. But despite its grandeur and popularity, boaters have long been challenged by inadequate public river access and a lack of real-time flow information for the Middle Fork and East Fork Kaweah rivers.
American Whitewater is working to resolve these issues through the hydropower relicensing process for Southern California Edison's Kaweah Hydroelectric Project, and we need your help. Please read more and take a few minutes to send online comments supporting improved access and flow info.
Photo by Darin McQuoid (East Fork Kaweah River)
Keep it in Your Zip Code – How to Paddle in a Pandemic
Our friends at Outdoor Alliance recently released How to Get Outside (during a pandemic), a set of guidelines for recreating in the most responsible way possible. We borrowed their considerations and added some paddling specific ideas. This is an important time for paddlers to be a part of the solution to both help slow the spread of COVID19 and advance stewardship efforts for your favorite rivers. The first step is simple - stay in your zip code. A short abstinence from paddling outside your neighborhood can save lives and keep the delicate balance that ensures enough water to boat and river access in many rural communities from shifting in the wrong direction. Maintaining constructive relationships with communities where we recreate is in our long-term interest as we work with them to improve the health of rivers and our opportunities to enjoy them.