This past fall American Whitewater met with Ohiopyle State Park managers to discuss possible updates to their whitewater paddling regulations. The first topic was to change the rules governing raft sizes at different water levels to recognize the capabilities of self-bailing rafts. Shorter self-bailing boats will now be allowed to run the river at high water. Some small changes to the regulations will make Ohiopyle Falls more accessible to paddlers. A change in the way the gauge is interpreted should make the falls "legal" on more days. Although whitewater paddlers are only one part of the vast public that visits the park, every effort was made to accommodate them while avoiding user conflicts and safety hazards. Special thanks goes to Ken Bisbee, Ohiopyle State Park Operations Manager and John Hallas, a former Ohiopyle State Park Operations Manager who is now Director of State Parks. Click here to read the updated Ohiopyle River Regulations:
Senator Stewart Greenleaf, a Pennsylvania State legislator known for his practical, problem solving approach to solving the State’s problems, has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018. Mr. Greenleaf, 78, was first elected to the Pennsylvania House in 1976 and has served in the Senate since 1978. He is a long time member of the Philadelphia Canoe Club and his work was directly responsible for fall and spring white water releases on Tohickon Creek (1977) and summer releases on the Lehigh River (1999). For a behind the scenes story of this and other work on behalf of paddlers and more information on his long career, please follow this link:
Federal regulators recently issued a new 46-year license for the Millville Dam on the Shenandoah River that includes a formal portage route sought by American Whitewater. The dam is just upstream of the popular Staircase section of the Shenandoah. Also included in the license is continued operation of several access areas up and downstream of the dam. While our requests for a serious analysis of dam removal were denied, we hope the dam owner considers removal in the future for this outdated dam.
It is looking like another great year to be a paddler in the Southeast! Over the past two decades American Whitewater has worked with affiliate clubs and partners to negotiate an awesome array of scheduled releases on river reaches previously dewatered by hydropower dams. Each year we are part of a process to schedule these releases in an integrated manner that aims to maximize their recreational value. Check out the outstanding line up for 2018.
River enthusiasts will soon have new paddling opportunities on West Virginia's New River. Federal regulators issued a new 47-year license for the dam that dewaters the spectacular 5.5-mile New River Dries in the final days of 2017. The license requires significant new recreational and environmental enhancements in a river reach that has suffered from water withdrawals for well over half a century. American Whitewater played an active and leading role in securing these outcomes.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has released their Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) for the future of the Ocoee River. The news is generally good. They support the continuation of the historic flow schedule on both the Middle and Upper Ocoee River, minus 5 September weekdays on the Middle. The DEA finds that the releases benefit the local economy and at least one rare plant living on rocks in the riverbed. File a comment or join TVA at a meeting next Monday if you would like to share your thoughts.
Paddlers might have noticed that flow releases on the Cheoah River were getting a bit skinny over the past couple years, until the juicy release this September. At the urging of American Whitewater, the dam owner had USGS come out and recalibrate the gage this July, and the results confirmed the dam owner had been under-releasing by approximately 100-150cfs. In our annual planning meeting last week, they committed to adjusting their releases to comply with their federal license, and actually began the new release protocols in September.
The Russell Fork (VA & KY) is one of the classic Class V creek runs in the United States. The river is run year round and relies on a combination of natural flow and dam release from the Flanagan Reservoir on the Pound River. The Russell Fork Rendezvous will be taking place on October 27 - 29. Proceeds from the event go to support American Whitewater river stewardship. T shirts are now available for purchase now.
American Whitewater reached an important milestone this week in our efforts to restore flows and public access to the New River Dries. Earlier this summer American Whitewater appealed a State decision to provide only 3-4 paddling releases annually, and vehicular access that required a 1.2-mile hike to the put in at the dam. On Tuesday the State issued an improved decision following over a month of negotiations, and in exchange American Whitewater withdrew our appeal. The New River Dries is a big, beautiful, ancient river with vast recreational potential, and its fate is now in the hands of federal regulators at FERC.
American Whitewater, along with Kayak and Canoe Club of New York and Appalachian Mountain Club, have joined with FERC in calling on Eagle Creek Renewable, owner and operator of three hydropower projects on the Mongaup River in New York, to conduct a whitewater boating study on section below the Rio Dam. The Mongaup is a scenic Class II/III river within easy reach of New York City and southern New England. Both whitewater groups and FERC are seeking to determine whether releasing flows into the natural river channel below the Rio Dam would provide new recreational boating opportunity at the Rio Project. The study will determine whether the whitewater boating run can be extended upstream to the Rio Dam. In addition, AW and its partners will be seeking additional whitewater boating release days through the relicensing process.
The time is here for you to submit your favorite river photos for the 2018 AW Calendar! You have until August 6th, 2017 to upload your best photos. We look forward to reviewing all kinds of great photos this year from across the United States, and will be giving special consideration of shots of Wild and Scenic Rivers since 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. If your photo is selected you'll get a free calendar, credit, fame, and you'll be supporting American Whitewater! Thanks from all of us at AW.
Several newspapers reported this week that the Coast Guard is proposing to close a portion of a popular section of the Potomac River whenever high-ranking officials are playing golf at Trump National Golf Club. DC area paddlers quickly balked at the proposed new rule and Congressional leaders have joined them in pushing back against the proposal. The Coast Guard has posted their proposed closure rules, and an opportunity to comment online until August 9, 2017. Alternative approaches could allow both public use of the river and secure use of the private golf course.
Earlier today American Whitewater filed comments on the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) proposal to largely maintain the existing whitewater release schedule for the next 15 years. American Whitewater asks TVA in our comments to ensure that no net loss in releases occur and that no new fees be imposed on private boaters. We ask that they study the economic benefit of the Ocoee River release program, as well as consider the benefits the releases are known to have on a rare plant species. Lastly, we ask them to consider improved takeout facilities on the Middle Ocoee River and expanded put-in parking hours on the Upper Ocoee.
Maryland's mighty Upper Yough had releases on July 1 and 3 on this very popular holiday weekend. It's a good time to rememberAmerican Whitewater's volunteers, especially Don Millard, who mows the grass at both Sang Run and Friendsville. Without his work we would certainly be facing mandatory fees at both sites! AW provides a portable toilet and gravel, and needs your donations to pay for this. For those who've already donated, thank you! For the rest of us, in addition to using the Sang Run cash box you can make a "cashless" donation by phone using the QR code posted at the put-in! And please remember that we are guests in the beautiful town of Friendsville. Please drive respectfully, change clothes discretely, and behave like your mother was watching you!
On Friday American Whitewater filed an appeal of the State of West Virginia’s flow and access prescriptions for the spectacular New River Dries. The State’s prescriptions would only restore an average of 3 or 4 days of flows sufficient for paddling as mitigation for the over 240 days lost to hydropower operations. In addition the state would require access 1.2 miles into the 5.4-mile run, foreclosing vehicle-based access on 22% of the run. The prescriptions will last for 30 to 50 years unless our appeal is successful.
TVA is seeking public input on a proposed management agreement that would provide recreational releases and management on the Ocoee River. Current agreements on flow releases and management expire at the end of 2018, and this effort aims to replace those agreements. The TVA proposes to continue the current schedule of releases on the Upper and Middle Ocoee except for a block of weekday Middle Ocoee releases in late September. The public comment period ends on July 19, 2017.
May 6th will be the first Saturday Upper Yough release of the year, and if water levels cooperate hundreds of white water paddlers will converge on the small town of Friendsville, MD. It's time to remind everyone that we are guests in this beautiful town. Please be courteous when using the parking area. Don't drink alcohol in public, change clothes, or relieve yourself where others can see you. Use the change house and the porta john! Last weekend someone was wandering around the parking lot naked, prompting several calls to the Mayor. If you see this or other disrespectful behavior, please tell the offender to stop it immediately. Stay on the gravel in the parking lot as much as you can; the perimeter can be torn up after rainstorms. Don't park in residential areas along the river. Leave a few bucks at the Sang Run put-in to pay for the porta-potty and grass cutting. Have a great run, then take time to patronize the businesses in town who are eagerly awaiting your arrival.
A bill has been introduced in the Tennessee Legislature that aims to continue treasured recreational releases on the Ocoee River after current release agreements expire in March of 2019. The Ocoee River Recreation and Economic Development Fund Act would create a fund that would be used to pay the Tennessee Valley Authority for releases and to pay for other river management costs. Paddlers from TN can weigh in on the bill now, and all paddlers will have a chance to voice support or concerns with the TVA this spring or summer.
Federal decision makers are accepting comments on their plans for the New River Dries until January 8th. American Whitewater has proposed a schedule of 41 annual releases that will be great for the river, paddlers, and other stakeholders. Individuals are encouraged to comment, as are clubs and businesses.
It is looking like another great year to be a paddler in the Southeast! Over the past two decades American Whitewater has worked with affiliate clubs and partners to negotiate an awesome array of scheduled releases on river reaches previously dewatered by hydropower dams. Enjoy these incredible opportunities, and be safe out there!
American Whitewater "Ohiopyle Over the Falls Festival" will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Come on out and participate in the Falls Race, the Freestyle event, or just run laps on the falls!
The decades-old agreements between rafting outfitters and the Tennessee Valley Authority that provide for recreational water releases in the Upper and Middle Ocoee River will expire in 2018. TVA and the outfitters have been attempting to negotiate a new agreement for many months, and thus far no agreement has been reached. This week, American Whitewater and several regional affiliate clubs requested inclusion in those talks to represent our interests in the Ocoee River continuing to be a recreational treasure and economic boon to the region.
As we head towards Upper Yough Race Day (July 23rd) in Friendsville it's time to recognizesome people who make access to the river easier. Thanks to Jess Whittemore for visualizing the Friendsville Parking Lot and to Friendsville Town Council for following through and making it happen. Thanks to hundreds of paddlers who contributed money for the parking lot, who stay clear of residential areas on Water Street, and patronize local businesses. And a special thank you to Don Millard who mows the access areas in Friendsville and Sang Run to keep our access costs low. Don't YOU forget to put a few dollars in the donation box in Sang Run to pay for the portable toilet! Jeff Macklin Photo
American Whitewater is accepting photos for our 2017 Calendar now through August 1, 2016. Submitting photos through our online form is simple, and we can't wait to see your best shots. Thanks to all of our contributors!
Immediately downstream of the New River Gorge, a beautiful 5.5-mile section of the New River has been dewatered for generations. Paddlers call this reach the New River Dries, and know it for the huge surf waves that form at high water. The Hawks Nest hydroelectric project removes 10,000cfs from the Dries, leaving only 100cfs except when high flows overwhelm the dam. The relicensing of the dam offers a once-in a lifetime opportunity to restore flows to the New River. American Whitewater filed comments today with federal regulators outlining our vision.
Over the past couple years American Whitewater has been working with regional paddlers, the National Park Service, and other interested folks to improve river access on the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers near Harpers Ferry, WV. One outcome of that effort has been recognition of the parking, access, and shuttle services the rafting outfitters in the area offer provide. The outfitters worked with private boaters to share a fact sheet of the various services they offer, which you can download.
As the whitewater release season begins, it's time to celebrate our partnership with the town of Friendsville, MD, the takeout for the popular Upper Youghiogheny River. American Whitewater works closely with the town, negotiating the releases and managing parking and other issues. The new parking area is now entering its second season. Paddlers raised $25,000 in seed money and a $10,000 in-kind donation which in turn attracted $160,000 in grants to build it. Don Millard, a paddler from Fort Hill, PA, mows the grass here and at Sang Run. Thanks to his work river access fees are unusually low: The season opens on Friday, April 15 and every Friday thereafter. The first full weekend is May 6-9; Cheat Fest Weekend! Please observe the usual courtesies when in town: Use the rest rooms and change facilities at the parking area. Don't drink alcohol in public and avoid loud behavior that would disturb nearby residents. Never park in residential areas along the river. And take time to patronize the many businesses in town who are eagerly awaiting your arrival. Click through for more info on the river and the release schedule:
Dave Brown, the man behind Friends of the Ocoee and Citizens For Gauley River, has announced his intent to retire as executive director of America Outdoors, the national outfitters association. The team of lawyers and scientists he assembled in the early 1980's to keep the Upper Gauley from being dammed - Pete Skinner, Pope Barrow, Mac Thornton, and Steve Taylor - later became the core of a Board of Directors that revitalized American Whitewater. He also organized the first Gauley Festival, which would later be handed over to American Whitewater. Outfitters have been a vital part of the coalition seeking to protect whitewater rivers and Dave has been an outstanding leader in these fights. Click through for his refections on his remarkable career.
The U.S. Army Corps Engineers’ Philadelphia District released the 2016 Flow Management Plan for the Francis E. Walter Dam in White Haven, PA. The whitewater release schedule includes 24 dates (4 of which are dependent on sufficient water storage and not including final October weekend).
Paddlers made a strong showing at the January 28th Deep Creek Watershed Planning Meeting in McHenry, MD. Releases from Deep Creek Lake that support paddling on the Upper Youghioghenny River have been under attack by homeowners on backwater lots who are left high and dry during droughts. Friendsville town councilman Jess Whittemore and Upper Yough outfitter Roger Zbell have been ably representing whitewater paddlers for years. Jess told me that the presence of so many boaters, especially those who own property in Garrett County, made a strong impression on the County Commissioners. They were also impressed by the many thoughtful emails recieved from paddlers throughout the East. This will put us in a good position for the 2019 relicensing. Thanks to Friendsviller paddler and attorney Bob Allen for representing American Whitewater. Jeff Macklin photo.
In response to of the state’s draft basin plan for southern Vermont, American Whitewater and scores of boaters pressed the state to support the expansion of releases on the West River. Restrictions by the Corps of Engineers and Agency of Natural Resources have led to the elimination of nearly all scheduled boating opportunities on the West River over the past two decades, eliminating recreation opportunity and hurting the local economy. AW and its partners have been working to restore these releases.
American Whitewater has worked with local paddlers and agency planners over the past year to create a river access plan for the Harpers Ferry, WV area. Two popular and scenic class III whitewater runs on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers converge in Harper's Ferry, yet there are only 3 public parking spaces at the take-out and the public put-ins are far upstream on both rivers. The plan is the result of an outstanding effort by our members and partners, and we are now working together to improve river access opportunities based on the plan.
The 30th Anniversary of the Grest West Virginia "Election Day" flood is being remembered this November 5th and 6th. Massive rains (12 - 14"!) in the Cheat, Potomac, Tygart, and Greenbriar Headwaters caused unprecedented floods. The massive high water surge had tragic results: 40 dead, 2600 homeless, and over a half a billion dollars in damages. Many of our favorite runs saw huge changes. Click through for an article on the Cheat Canyon that was published in the Preston County Journal. For more stories, click here.
If you would like to see flows restored to the New River Dries, now is a very important time for you to let federal regulators (FERC) know your thoughts. The power company has proposed zero releases, and no vehicular access to the top of the run in their Draft License Application. American Whitewater is asking for releases and access, but it is important for individual paddlers to make their voices heard too. Send your comments in no later than 10/31/15.
The last 2015 whitewater release on the Savage River in Western Maryland will be on Saturday, September 26th from 10 AM to 4 PM. This is a lively, continuous Class III-IV run in a beautiful valley. Because of landowner requirements at the takeout EVERYONE needs to sign the waiver and use the shuttle provided by Garrett College Adventuresports Institute. They did a great job with the shuttle on the other releases and the river is a hoot! Be ready to pay a few bucks to cover expenses. Many thanks to Mike Logsdon and his GC crew for making this happen!
Virginia officials have confirmed that they consider Johns Creek and several other whitewater streams navigable and public unless proven otherwise. This is a common sense approach that respects the rights of citizens that own property adjacent to rivers, as well those who wish to rightfully enjoy those public rivers and streams. Legal challenges are possible though, and we encourage caution, discretion, and respect within the paddling community as this exciting development plays out.
American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. The letter outlines important river information for upcoming fall releases.
The "Ohiopyle Over the Falls Festival" will be held on Saturday, August 22, 2015. Come on out and participate in the Falls Race, the Free Style event, or just run laps on the falls! Additional activities will include a Silent Auction and Town Party at 7:30pm featuring The Mavens at the Steward on the Green Community Park in Ohiopyle.
Yesterday, the power company that de-waters the New River Dries with the Hawks Nest Dam proposed zero dam releases to mitigate their impacts on whitewater recreation and naturally variable flow patterns. American Whitewater will be offering a balanced response to this extreme proposal that outlines the value and potential for restoring significant recreational and ecological values to the New River.
Late last week, the Commonwealth of Virginia took a great step forward in enhancing public access to rivers and streams. Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a memorandum of understanding that directs three state agencies to work together to identify new potential public-access projects, particularly at bridge crossings and roads. American Whitewater applauds the efforts of Governor McAuliffe to keep Virginia residents and visitors alike connected to the Commonwealth's outstanding rivers and streams.
American Whitewater is accepting photos for our 2016 Calendar now through August 1, 2015. Submitting photos through our online form is simple, and we can't wait to see your best shots. Thanks to all of our contributors!
Two Savage River recreational whitewater releases are sponsored by the Adventuresport Program at Garrett College in McHenry, MD this year: Sunday, July 5 and Saturday, September 26. Permission to use the take-out over VERSO property for future events depends on paddlers utilizing the shuttle, so please participate in this great service. Come visit the Savage and find out what the excitement is about!
A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.
On Friday, June 5th 2015 at 8:30 - 10:30pm join Mark Singleton, Executive Director of American Whitewater, and DC boaters for a fundraiser in support of American Whitewater’s river stewardship program that supports efforts to keep rivers free, clean, and flowing.
May 2nd will be the first Saturday Upper Yough release of the year, and hundreds of white water paddlers will converge on the small town of Friendsville, MD. After $25,000 in paddler-donated seed money and $160,000 in grants raised by the Town the new parking area is complete and awaiting final approval. We hope the parking will be open, but please park on the side of the road if it isn't. Please observe the usual courtesies when in town: don't drink alcohol in public, change clothes or relieve yourself where others can see you, or park in residential areas along the river. And do take time to patronize the businesss in town who are eagerly awaiting your arrival.
The schedule for the first year of operation of the Holtwood Whitewater Park has been posted on the dam owner's website. American Whitewater and our local partners negotiated the construction of the park and 264 hours of releases annually as mitigation for impacts of the Holtwood Hydroelectric Project. The first scheduled release is on Saturday March 14, 2015.
Earlier this month American Whitewater and the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program (RTCA) hosted a series of meetings and site visits in the Harper's Ferry, WV area. We met with roughly 35 interested groups and individuals, including 18 leaders from the paddling community, and visited over 20 river access sites. The meetings kicked off a collaborative effort to create and implement a river access Plan for the Harper's Ferry area, and were highly successful.
Anticipation was running high for the first public dam releases on the newly constructed Holtwood Whitewater Park this fall, however the final round of testing in early October revealed more work was needed before opening the park. Testing and modifications are ongoing, and we'll release a schedule of releases early next year. The good news is that the waves are going to be incredible.
The Friendsville, Maryland paddler parking lot is being finished. This lovely town of 500 people, is doing what it can to accomodate the hundreds of paddlers who arrive here for summer releases on the Upper Youghiogheny River. The project owes much to the vision and leadership of long-time resident Jess Whittemore and the support of Mayor Spencer R. Schlosnagle and Town Council. American Whitewater helped paddlers raise $25,000 towards the lot and this "seed money" has helped attract over $200,000 in grants! We thank the town for their persistence, and their ongoing support for Upper Yough whitewater.
American Whitewater congratulates the Garrett College Adventuresport Institute for managing another successful season of Savage River whitewater releases. The river, which hosted the 1989 World Slalom and Whitewater Championships, offers five miles of very continuous Class III-IV whitewater that's a joy to paddle. Program Director Mike Mike Logsden and other Garrett College personnel arranged parking, shuttle service, put-in and take-out access, release of liability for the stake-holders, and the removal of dangerous river debris. Takeout procedures this year were re-designed to avoid a dangerous road crossing. Expenses related to the shuttle service and strainer removal was paid by donations from participating boaters. If you enjoyed yourself, send a brief thank you to email@example.com
Gauley season is just around the corner and in preparation for fall releases American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area informing boaters of planning efforts for this season.
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the Deerfield Fest, an annual celebration of boating on the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts. The festival is an opportunity to come together with your paddling friends and listen to live music, check out the festival vendors, and maybe win a boat and other gear at the silent auction.
The Town of Friendsville, MD asks that everyone running the Upper Yough on Friday and Saturday over 4th of July weekend park in the field next to the liquor store just off Maple Avenue. This is the site of the parking lot that will be developed later this summer. Your cooperation will help reduce congestion in town. Please enter the lot from the main road. Don't forget to stay clear of residential areas along Water Street and Morris Avenue unless invited bu local residents or patronizing a business. And please contribute to American Whitewater's fee box at the Sang Run put-in to help maintain the site. Thank you!
Jamie McEwan, the whitewater canoe racer whose skill inspired a generation of paddlers, lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, June 14th. He was 61. In 1972 Jamie, then 19, won a bronze medal in C-1 Slalom at the Olympic games in Munich, Germany. That medal, the first won by an American, inspired many younger paddlers (including several future medalists) to train hard and become champions. Twenty years later, he teamed up with partner Lecky Haller to finish 4th in C-2 Slalom at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. His astonishing career continued when, in 2001, he made the U.S. Whitewater Team paddling C-2 with his son Devin. He also participated in serious river expeditions to Mexico, British Columbia, Bhutan, and Tibet. Recently he helped create the Whitewater Slalom Foundation, which supports for a network of Regional Junior Whitewater Teams to encourage youth participation in the sport. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
The first Saturday release on Maryland's busy Upper Youghiogheny River is on May 3. The takeout town of Friendsville, Maryland doubles its population on release weekends, so paddlers need to do all they can to minimize their impact. Please park respectfully on Maple Avenue and don't block traffic. Avoid the riverfront (Morris Avenue or Water Street) unless you have an invitation from a property owner or business. Public drinking and nudity are offensive to local residents so please use the change areas provided. American Whitewater will maintain the put-in facility in Sang Run for the 11th consecutive year. We encourage paddlers to make donations towards upkeep expenses: we suggest $2 per visit or $20 for the season.
Dates for the New River Dries Paddling Flow Study have been confirmed for May 6 and 7, 2014. Volunteer paddlers with suitable (Class IV) skills are encouraged to participate in the study, and to RSVP.
American Whitewater congratulates Friends of the Cheat as it celebrates its 20th anniversary at the annual Cheat River Festival on May 3rd. The organization, founded by a group of whitewater paddlers and local residents, has been a driving force in the river’s rapidly improving water quality. The river, which was badly polluted when the group was founded, recently passed a significant milestone: the lower 26 miles of the Cheat River main were removed from the state’s list of acid-impaired waters in 2012! In addition, FOC maintains four paddling access areas on the Cheat and Big Sandy Rivers. American Whitewater worked closely with FOC in developing these sites. For more information on this year's CheatFest use this link: http://www.cheat.org/our-work/cheat-river-festival/.
Thanks to the tireless work of The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund over 3,800 acres of the Cheat River Canyon were recently protected. The acquisition covers a 7 mile stretch of the Cheat River between Albright and the high bridge at Jenkinsburg, the famous “Cheat Canyon” whitewater run. Great news for the Cheat!
American Whitewater is pleased to announce our April Volunteer of the Month, Jess Whittemore. For his leadership in securing additional boater access at the Upper Yough (MD) takeout Jess will be receiving a custom Kokatat Woolcore Shirt!
Paddlers that run the New River Dries (WV) between now and July 31, 2014 are encouraged to fill out a flow study survey after each day on the water. Submitting surveys will add important data to the Extended Whitewater Evaluation Study and will greatly help American Whitewater and others negotiate improved flows for the New River Dries.
Great News! Yesterday, Virginia's "Freedom to Float" bill passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources. The bill could now move to the full VA Senate for a vote as early as Tuesday of next week (1/28/14). It is more important than ever that every paddler that enjoys Virginia rivers contact state Senators.
If you want to help improve the stream access situation in Virginia, here is your chance! Virginia Senator David W. Marsden (D) has introduced a stream access bill, SB 629, with broad support from the paddling community. Call or email the Senators on the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources as soon as possible. This bill could see a hearing as soon as Thursday of this week (1/23), so time is of the essence.
Paddlers from throughout New England converged on Jamaica State Park in southern Vermont last weekend for the annual release on the West River. The annual one day release, held the last weekend in September, is the only remaining scheduled release by the Army Corps of Engineers from the Ball Mountain Dam. Spirits were running high as approximately 800 boaters and an additional 300 commercial rafters enjoyed the warm fall day. In past years when there were two day releases, the number paddlers coming up to the West Fest was double the number who come out for single day release. AW is continuing its efforts to restore releases to the West River.
American Whitewater, with the help of Merrimack Valley Paddlers and local boaters, has completed its effort to acquire, protect and donate property along the Contoocook River. AW has long been involved with the Contoocook and was active in the sucessful effort in 2004 that resulted in the removal of a dam that extended the whitewater section of the river near the takeout. The recent acquisition of land at the put-in will assure that paddlers will continue to have access to the Class III/IV section of the river which is a popular run in southern New Hampsire for paddlers throughout New England.
Eighteen months ago whitewater paddlers raised over $20,000 for off-road parking in Friendsville, Maryland. This small riverside town sees a large influx of paddlers running the Upper Youghiogheny on summer weekends. Work continues despite unexpected challenges that have greatly increased costs, but the town remains committed to the project. Click through to get the latest details:
The first of a series of flow study dates have been rescheduled for 28 and 29, 2013 due to excessive flows predicted this week. The study aims to assess the recreational flow needs for whitewater paddling on the New River Dries in West Virginia. This flow study was requested by American Whitewater and other stakeholders, as part of the relicensing of the Hawks Nest Hydroelectric Project. Paddlers with suitable skills are encouraged to sign up to participate.
It's time for Friendsville Days and the Upper Yough Race on Saturday July 27, 2013! An extra long release leaves lots of time for river runners to enjoy the river. It's going to be a busy day in town, but the Boater Parking Area will be open to relive congestion. Please approach the town from the West and enter the parking lot by the liquor store. Do not try to get there by way of Water Street! Click the link for full information on what to expect.
David Hill has represented paddlers interests and helped drive the City of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio effort to decommission two dams located in the Upper Gorge of the Cuyahoga River. In recognition of David's efforts to decommission these two dams he will be receiving a Kokatat WoolCore shirt!
The town of Friendsville will welcome paddlers to Maryland’s Upper Yough this Fourth of July Weekend. If water levels cooperate this will be a busy day on the river. For Friendsville, MD (population 491) the influx of hundreds of whitewater paddlers is not without its problems. Plan to minimize your impact on the town by driving safely, being discrete while changing clothes, and by being careful when carrying boats along busy Maple Avenue. Remember that the town requests that paddlers not park along Water Street or Morris Avenue (the two riverside streets) unless you are patronizing local businesses. It’s not strictly illegal, but it’s the kind of neighborly consideration that country people expect.! Those invited by local residents on these streets to take out on their property should park completely off the street. American Whitewater maintains the put-in at Sang Run; our suggested donation, $2 per visit or $20 for the season, remains unchanged. For an update on the planned boater parking lot, click the link below.
May 4th (CheatFest Weekend) is the first scheduled Saturday release on Maryland’s Upper Yough! If water levels cooperate this will be a busy day on the river. For Friendsville, MD (population 491) the influx of hundreds of whitewater paddlers can cause problems. Minimize your impact on the town by driving safely, being discrete while changing clothes, and by being careful when carrying boats along busy Maple Avenue. Remember that there is no parking along Water Street or Morris Avenue (the two riverside streets) unless you are patronizing local businesses. Those invited by local residents to take out on their property should park completely off the street. American Whitewater takes care of the put-in at Sang Run; our suggested donation, $2 per visit or $20 for the season, remains unchanged. For an update on the planned boater parking lot, click the link below.
The annual Cheat River Festival is Friends of the Cheat's annual celebration of spring. This year's festival is dedicated to Bob Burrell, a well-known paddler, conservationist, and guidebook writer based in Morgantown, WV. There will be a kayak race, great food, terrific vendors, and outstanding music. Friends of the Cheat is a long-time partner of American Whitewater; they manage many useful projects watershed incuding four river access sites. Two of these were developed working closely with AW. The place is Albright, West Virginia; the date is Saturday, May 4th, 2013 from 12 noon to 11 pm. For more information click the link below:
In a bipartisan effort last month, the Senate introduced the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2013 (S.338). The Land and Water Conservation Fund has supported many projects that provide access and protect important rivers, including the White Salmon (WA), New and Gauley (WV), Illinois (OR) and Snake (ID). If passed, the bill will reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund and support similar projects into the future.
In response to calls by American Whitewater, New England FLOW and the Appalachian Mountain Club, FERC today ordered FirstLight and TransCanada to study the potential for whitewater boating on the Connecticut River at Turner's Falls and Bellows Falls. The companies are seeking to relicense their projects at the Wilder, Bellows Falls, and Vernon dams in New Hampshire and Vermont, and at the Northfield Pumping Station and Turner’s Falls Dam in Massachusetts.
The U.S. Army Corps Engineers' Philadelphia District will host a meeting to announce the 2013 Francis E. Walter Dam recreation program on March 7 in White Haven, PA. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Mountain Laurel Resort off of Pennsylvania Route 940. The Water goes through the Class II-III Lehigh River Gorge, one of the most popular intermediate runsin the Mid-States. Paddlers in the area should support these releases by attending the meeting.For more information, visit the USACE Philadelphia District web site or the Francis E. Walter Dam Facebook page.
Yesterday a landmark stream recreation bill for the commonwealth of Virginia was reported out of subcommittee and will now go to the full Senate for a vote. The vote could come as early as next week, and supportive paddlers are encouraged to call their Senators as soon as possible. This is the closest the public has come to gaining clarity on our rights to float down Virginia's rivers in a very long time.
Western Maryland is home to the Marcellus Shale formation, now infamous for burgeoning natural gas production accomplished by a controversial technique known as hydaulic fracturing or "fracking." Currently no permits for fracking have been issued in Maryland, and state legislators will soon be introducing an official legislative moratorium that will restrict permit issuance of permits until up to 14 studies are funded and completed.
The lack of clarity regarding the rights of residents and visitors to paddle Virginia's certain rivers and streams has long been an unnecessary source of conflict. Virginians are now ready to change that by clarifying that in Virginia people have the widely supported right to float down rivers. Thanks to this grassroots effort, a new stream access bill has recently been introduced in the state legislature that needs your support.
On December 19th I represented American Whitewater at the annual meeting of their Whitewater Advisory Committee for Summersville Dam . The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the project, has worked closely with whitewater interests for many years. Their management plan takes into account both lake and downstream recreation (and their associated businesses) as well as lake and downstream fisheries, power generation, flow augmentation, and other matters. This year's realeases were very successful, and we're looking for another great season in 2013. For information on river gauge changes, fisheries management, and other matters please click the link below:
AW is pleased to announce that Bob Nasdor has accepted our offer to become American Whitewater’s Northeast Stewardship Director. Bob is based out of Massachusetts and has been an avid paddler of the rivers of the Northeast for the past 10 years. Bob brings a wealth of experience to the position from his 20-year career as a public interest attorney.
On Friday, American Whitewater formally requested several studies as part of the relicensing of the Hawks Nest Dam, which significantly de-waters the New River Dries in West Virginia. In addition to our study requests, we offered evidence of the hydropower project's significant effects on whitewater recreation.
The 4th ANNUAL YOUGH DEFENSE PARTY will be held on Thursday, November 15th at Wilderness Voyageur's Falls City Pub in Ohiopyle, PA starting at 4:30 pm. - The event features live music by Meadow Run (5:00 pm) & the Ferncliff Collective (9:00 pm ). Food and drink will be served after 6:00 pm. A great silent auctiom begins at 5:00 pm; the first phase ends at 8:15 pm, and the second phase ends at 8:45 pm. There will be 20 Special edition 2012 Yough Party t-shirts... first come, first served! And 100% of your $20.00 entry donation supports Yough Defense Fund, which monitors water quality and other threats within the Yough corridor.
Keith Backlund, a master woodworker who created canoe and kayak paddles of unmatched quality, died on the evening of October 25th. He was 60 years old. Born in the Pocono Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania, he grew up making many of the things he needed. An interest in whitewater lead him to concentrate on wood paddle making and he soon became expert at both. Although he started two mainstream paddle companies, Woodlight and Viking, his first love was building custom paddles. He rarely built more than 200 per year. His many apprentices, including Phil Coleman, Jim Snyder, and Jess Whittemore, credit him with being "a catalyst for excellence" that helped them develop the focus and craftsmanship they needed to produce outstanding work. His legacy remains in the hands of many paddlers each time they run a river.
The Tohickon Creek is a favorite run for many mid-states paddlers. Every Fall and Spring there are 750 cfs releases from Lake Nockamixon on the first weekend of November. The river is about an hour north of Philadelpia and empties into the Delaware River. Water arrives at Ralph Stover Park around 9:00 am; the five miles below here are playful Class III. The take out is at Point Pleasant Canoe and Tube. The $5 per vehicle parking fee is a fundraiser for the Point Pleasant Fire Department. Paddlers are asked to be patient, as there will be a lot of people on shuttle roads and access points. For info on the history of the event, click here.
The National Park Service (NPS) has released for public comment a Study Report of Wild and Scenic River designation of Connecticut's lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook. Your comments filed before the October 17 deadline will help secure lasting protection for these rivers.
The public review and comment period for the draft Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan has been extended until September 14, 2012. The plan was developed in response to an Executive Order signed by President Obama, and aims to increase public access to the Bay and tributaries by adding 300 new public access sites by 2025.
The rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area have provided the boating community with a letter outlining what's in store for this year's Gauley season. As in previous years and to help with boater parking at Mason’s Branch, American Whitewater has leased the Legg field for additional space.
For two decades, American Whitewater has worked hard representing boater interest for access to Ohiopyle Falls. Over The Falls Festival celebrates our 2010 access agreement with Ohiopyle State Park for private boater access to Ohiopyle Falls. This years Ohiopyle Falls Festival will be on Saturday Aug 18, 2012.
Earlier this week the owner of the Holtwood Hydroelectric Project on the Susquehanna River (PA) initiated a construction process that will result in two sizeable whitewater waves at the base of a defunct fish ladder on the west side of the dam. Once completed, the waves will be activated by 264 hours of scheduled water releases each year as well as by significant periods of spill. The waves will provide for high quality freestyle kayak surfing opportunities. Construction is anticipated to be complete by year end, and releases should begin no later than the summer of 2013.
Although the drought eliminated the regular Friday and Monday whitewater releases on the Upper Yough, locals know that shorter releases are being made regularly to protect the river's trout fishery. These "fish releases" are almost as good as the regular whitewater releases! To help out-of-town paddlers make plans, thirty-year Upper Yough outfitter Roger Zbel and Friendsville Town Councilman Jess Whittemore will predict the probability of "fish releases" on Thursday for the coming Friday and other Fridays in the future. Click through to get their latest prediction!
This year's Upper Yough Race is scheduled for July 28th. Weather and water permitting there will be an extra-long release that day. Registration will be from 9-12 AM at the Wilderness Voyageurs store in town on the day of the race. Cost is $30. Start time is 4:00 PM at Gap Falls.Do not park on the road; use the field off Church ST. Follow directions for access. This is the same weekend as Friendsville Days! Stay around for great music and food at the town park. Stay tuned to the AW Mid-States Page for Further Developments.
Western Maryland has experienced a long period of unusually dry weather, and today the Deep Creek Lake level dropped .5" below the "Lower Rule Band". To comply with the agreement negotiated between lake, fishing, and paddling users all Friday and Monday Upper Yough whitewater releases have been cancelled.. Brookfield Power, the dam owner, believes that it will take a very significant rain event (2"+) to bring lake levels back up so that these releases can resume. Saturday releases are still "on" and will continue unless the lake level drops a foot below the lower rule band. Boatable "fish releases" are likely on hot, sunny days, click through for more information.
American Whitewater requested that Ohiopyle Falls Access Guidelines be updated for the current year. We are also waiting for a response to our request to increase the Falls season through the autumn Launch Booth closure date of Sunday October 7, 2012.
Invasive aquatic alga known as didymo, or “rock snot,” has been found in the Youghiogheny River (PA). The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is reminding anglers and boaters that cleaning their gear is the easiest, most effective means of preventing its spread to other rivers.
The Mayor and Town Council of Friendsville, Maryland recently sent AW an open letter of thanks in response to an outpouring of donations and support for their development of a new public take-out for the Upper Youghiogheny River in their Town. AW helped collect donations from the paddling community, and we are pleased to pass this thank-you on to the many paddlers that contributed to this cause - your donations were greatly appreciated!
American Whitewater is pleased to announce the hiring of Alan Panebaker as our new Northeast Stewardship Director. In this position Alan will oversee American Whitewater’s regional stewardship projects including playing various roles in dam releases, state and federal policy affecting rivers, public land management, and community recreation planning.
New York State Electric and Gas opened their gate to the Ausable River on May 25, 2012, and will continue to provide access through October 31, 2012. Public access to this natural wonder is the direct result of a decade advocacy by American Whitewater and Adirondack Mountain Club.
The Upper Potomac River Commission has announced three recreational whitewater releases from Savage River Reservoir in Western Maryland this summer. The releases, based on water availability, will take place June 3, July 1 and Sept. 29. The river, which hosted the 1989 World Slalom and Whitewater Championships, offers five miles of very continuous Class III-IV whitewater. Adventure Sports International has been working with a variety of agencies to manage the difficulties challenging access issues connected with the release. They are running a shuttle service on release days. Their work deserve the support of all Savage River paddlers; please check in with them and contribute generously to their shuttle operations.
2012 marks the first year of scheduled releases on Pennsylvania's Class III+ Stonycreek River. The releases, in concert with a new whitewater park, and significant water quality and ecological recovery efforts welcome paddlers to enjoy a great recreational opportunity on the extremely fun Stonycreek River this year and for years to come.
The Upper Youghiogheny River has some of the East's finest expert-level summer whitewater. Memorial Day Weekend is the first of many busy release weekends which create crowded conditions on and off the river. For the past four decades the paddling community has done a good job managing themselves. Here are some things you can do to help your trip run more smoothly.