Tow Tether Danger Highlighted by Recent Accident
Nancy Kell, a very experienced Mid-States kayaker, died on February 24th after flipping in a Class II rapid on West Virginia's Red Creek. There were a number of strainers in the vicinity above and below the water. One of them snagged her tow tether, pulled her out of her boat, and held her under water. She was with a very experienced crew but they could not reach her quickly enough. Equipment snags are a real risk. In the light of this accident I strongly urge anyone using a cowtail, pigtail, or tow tether to recheck your setup, and to consider whether wearing a tow tether makes sense. Be certain that your tether releases cleanly at both ends. Do not attach the front carabiner to a non-releasable point, like a pocket or strap. Ms. Kell did this, and it may have been a contributing factor. Apparently many current rescue PFD designs to not feature a front release point! Do not attach a tether to the rear of your PFD with a non-locking carabiner, as that may inadvertently clip into a rope. The tether should fit very snugly, without sagging, but as the photo shows Ms. Kell did that, and it did not protect her! The harness release should be quick and foolproof. Practice harness releases under pressure before using it on the river. Finally, remember that any additional strap is a potential snag hazard. Ask yourself if the usefulness of a tow tether is worth the risk, especially on small, strainer infrested creeks. Carry it in a PFD pocket or dry bag if necessary. Click for a link to the report in the AW Accident Database. (Jeff Macklin Photo)
Dates Scheduled for First New River Dries Releases (WV)
Last week, the first ever pulse flow releases were scheduled on the New River Dries, located near Gauley Bridge, WV. These releases were designed to support intermediate level whitewater paddling and to restore natural flow variability to a river reach that has been largely dewatered by the Hawks Nest Hydropower Project for generations. The releases are a requirement of the new 47-year federal dam license issued in late 2017. The releases will occur in March, June, July, and possibly August of this and future years. American Whitewater played a lead role in negotiating these releases.
AW Russell Fork Survey Results Shared (KY/VA)
Last fall a diverse range of agencies and organizations expressed interest in enhancing the dam releases on the Russell Fork River, located on the border of Kentucky and Virginia. American Whitewater worked with local partners to craft a survey to inform the decision-making process and support releases that maximize benefits for paddlers and local businesses. We are pleased to share the full results of the survey, which were appreciated by the river managers.
Upper Yough Access Fundraiser a Big Success
Tonight American Whitewater presented the Town of Friendsville, Maryland with a $5000 check towards the extension of the Upper Yough Access Parking Area. This, combined with a $1000 donation from Keelhaulers Canoe Club, made a strong statement of how much paddlers value the river and the town! Under the leadership of Mayor Spencer Schlosnagle and long time paddler and Friendsville resident Jess Whittemore the town raised $7 in additional funding for every dollar paddlers donated - just like they did on the initial construction! This makes these gifts a great value for the whitewater community. A big shout out and thank you to ALL who donated!
AW Presents Lower Yough Survey Results To Managers (PA)
Earlier this month American Whitewater conducted an online survey of the paddling community regarding the management of the Lower Youghiogheny River in Western Pennsylvania. The Lower Yough is a classic whitewater river with a long season, summer dam releases, and wonderful scenery protected by Ohiopyle State Park. American Whitewater has provided the full survey results to State Park river managers to help inform their decisions. Nearly 600 paddlers completed the survey.
Share Your Opinions on Lower Yough Management (PA)
Take Russell Fork Survey on Additional Releases (VA/KY)
This year, the Army Corps of Engineers has added Russell Fork releases on the first two weekends of November as a pilot program, in addition to the standard four October weekends. Additional changes to the release program are under consideration. American Whitewater has worked with local partners to craft a survey to inform the decision-making process and support releases that maximize benefits for paddlers and local businesses. Click through to take the survey.
AW Wins Court Battle Protecting Green River (VT) Boating
The Vermont Superior Court sided with American Whitewater in a long-running dispute with the state over whitewater boating on the Green River in Morrisville. The Court overturned state restrictions that would have eliminated any meaningful opportunity for boaters to enjoy this extraordinary river and required scheduled releases in a ground breaking decision.
Upper Yough Access Depends on Everyone!
As we head towards Upper Yough Race Day (July 29th) in Friendsville it's time to recognize some people who make access to the river easier. Thanks to Jess Whittemore the Town of Friendsville for creating the parking lot. Thanks to hundreds of paddlers who stay clear of residential areas on Water Street, patronize local businesses, and contribute to AW's Access Fund in Sang Run or on line. And a special thank you to Don Millard who has mowed the access areas in both Friendsville and Sang Run to keep our access costs low. If not for him you'd probably see a parking fee of $5 a head at both ends! Keep the good times coming! Don't forget to contribute!! Jeff Macklin photo.
Upper Yough Season Begins!
May 5th is Cheatfest Weekend; it's also the first Saturday Upper Yough release of 2018. If water levels coopperate hundreds of white water paddlers will converge on this fabulous class IV-V run and the small town of Friendsville, MD. American Whitewater maintains access points at Sang Run and Friendsville to make getting on the water easy. We 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! If you witness 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. And contribute to our access work by leaving a few bucks at the Sang Run collection box to pay for the porta-potty and grass cutting. Have a great run and take time to patronize the businesses in town who are eagerly awaiting your arrival.
Ohiopyle State Park Updates River Regulations
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, Friend of Whitewater, Prepares to Retire
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:
Portage Trail Secured At Millville Dam on Shenandoah
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.
2018 Advanced Southeast Release Schedule Set!
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.
Decision Reached on Restoration of the New River Dries! (WV)
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.
Good News on the Ocoee + a Public Meeting
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.
Cheoah Flows to Get a Bump (NC)
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.
Russell Fork T Shirts Available
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.
AW Secures Improved State Permit for New River Dries, Now Up to Feds (WV)
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.
AW, FERC Call for Mongaup (NY) Boating Study
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.