NEW WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS SIGNED INTO LAW WITH PUBLIC LANDS PACKAGE!
With the President's signature today, 621 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers have been established through the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9). With strong bipartisan support, this legislation passed the House by a vote of 363-62 on February 26th. It passed the Senate by a vote of 92-8 on February 12th. Please reach out to your lawmakers in both the House and Senate to thank them for following through on this commitment, and we make it super easy through our easy action templated forms. A personalized touch will make sure your representatives read your thank you and the forms only take a moment to update with an individualized comment about why protecting wild rivers and the recreation opportunities they provide is important to you.
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)
New Graphics Summarize 20 Years of Accident Data
Charlie Duffy has created a series of graphs summarizing the contents of the Accident Database over the last 20 years. Along the way, he searched our files for any errors and duplicates and corrected them. Click through to scroll through these fascinating charts or to download them for your use.
Support Colorado River Access on Colorado Gives Day!
Colorado Gives Day is on December 4 this year and is fast approaching! Go here to schedule your online donation to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. All donations made to American Whitewater on Colorado Gives Day (December 4) will be put towards our River Access Program in Colorado. American Whitewater works to improve river access and public safety throughout the state by working with landowners and managers, paddlers, law enforcement, and lawmakers to understand Colorado's river access laws and the ongoing threats to public safety. Thank you for your support!
American Whitewater Announces Endowment
American Whitewater is pleased to announce the creation of an endowment to promote safety education and outreach. The endowment will support “promoting whitewater safety, responsible on-river behavior, safety education and outreach, and maintenance of the American Whitewater Safety Code and Whitewater Accident Database.’ Anyone wishing to add to the fund can simply make a donation to American Whitewater here and include safety education in the comment field of the donation.
Apple and Android AW Apps Now Available!
American Whitewater is pleased to announce that a free iPhone App is now available that shares realtime details on the over 5,500 whitewater runs in our National Whitewater Inventory. The new location-enabled app allows paddlers to learn about nearby rivers within a selected distance or state, and safely pick trips that meet their group’s skill level, flow preferences, and timeframe. It offers enhanced mapping and links paddlers to the rich crowd-sourced information and river-related news on the American Whitewater website.
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:
American Whitewater Announces Safety Database Upgrade
After over a year's work American Whitewater has released an upgraded version of their Whitewater Accident Database. It's the largest collection of its kind in the world, with over 1600 fatalities and close calls dating back to 1972. Each report has been checked for accuracy and AW Webmaster Ryan Groth greatly improved the search capacity. You can now locate accidents by a dozen different categories and characteristics. Here's how this project came about, how it evolved, why American Whitewater reports accidents and how you can help us keep this project going in the coming years.
White Salmon Boaters: Use Caution Downstream of Powerhouse!
Kayaker Pinned on White Salmon Strainer: April 12, 2015
On April 12, 2015 a Canadian paddler visiting the US was killed on the Farmlands section of Washington's White Salmon River. Denis Brown, 63, flipped in "triple Drop" rapid, did not roll, and washed iunto a strainer on the river right bank. Mr. Brown came our of his kayak and pinned against the strainer, and his boat washed down and lodged against him. There is an excellent report of this and the vigorous rescue attempt available now in the AW Accident Database.
Kayaker Killed Running the Potomac's Great Falls: July 11, 2013
Shannon Christy, a charismatic young paddler, was killed in Great Falls of the Potomac River on July 11th, 2013. After bailing out below Grace Under Pressure, one of the center chutes, she washed over the notorious "Middle Finger" drop into the Subway, a deadly sieve. There is a full write-up of this fatality in the AW Accident Database. The photo shows Steve Fisher and Jason Beakes during the difficult body recovery.
Analysis of a Vertical Pin Fatality
On March 9, 2013 Dr. Jim McComb died after his kayak pinned vertically in a small ledge on Arizona's East Verde River. His friend Dr. Bill Langhoffer recently forwarded a detailed description of the pin along with several photos which may be useful to any paddler running difficult whitewater. Photo Caption: This view is from the top of the drop as we found the boat weeks later once the water had receded from 500 to 20 cfs, and had transformed from muddy to clear water. The piton rock can be seen (#2). This small rock at the base of the fall is what stopped his boat. The left slant in the rock at the base of the fall can be noticed (#4), with the boat still leaning in that direction. Once his boat sunk in the water it hit that slant and rotated the boat to the left.Jim was now pinned in the slot between the 2 rocks (Red/White and Black) on the river left (#5).The approximate water line at 500 cfs was drawn into the photo, water line.
Rescue Rodeo in Western North Carolina
Teams compete in river rescue skills for overall prizes. The event will be based out of Dillsboro River Company at the put-in to the Tuckasegee Gorge – Dillsboro, NC.
AW Partners with Dam Safety Researcher
American Whitewater's Accident Database contains more than 1000 fatal accidents and near misses reported over the last 35 years. We sometimes give qualified water safety researchers access to this material. Our latest research partner is Ed Kern, a Masters Degree candidate in civil engineering at Brigham Young University in Utah. Click through for more information and a link to his web site.
Detailed Report on 12/9/2012 Clear Creek Accident
American Whitewater just received an report on the death of Selby Arno on California's Clear Creek last December. It is very complete and well written; you can read the entire report by clicking on the link below:
Outstanding Rescue on the Upper Nantahala: Sept 30, 2012
A quick-thinking NOC bus driver saved a life during a scheduled September water release on North Carolina’s fast-moving Upper Nantahala River. A kayaker who pulled over above a downed tree didn’t realize that the current there was still powerful enough to cause trouble. Her boat was pushed into and under the log where both disappeared. Fortunately Rob Kelly, a whitewater guide, was driving shuttle bus and witnessed the entrapment. He pulled his bus over and started wading across the river. The rescue was caught by photographer Rick Thompson. To read Mr. Kelly's account, click the link below:
Little River Foot Entrapment: March 11, 2013
The Little River near Townsend, Tennessee is one of the nicest class III-IV roadside runs in Smokey Mountain National Park. On March 11th an open canoeist flipped in the first drop of "the Meanies" just above The Sinks and washed downstream over a 6' ledge. He was swimming on his back, feet first, lined up with the current when he washed into the backwash and did not reappear. The water "planted" him vertically in rocks below the drop, catching his foot. Many paddlers who were on the river that day participated in the rescue, eventially using a complex live bait system to pull the man free. Click through for a detailed account of what happened.
Yakama Nation Fisheries Boater Survey (WA)
American Whitewater is reaching out to our membership to encourage participation in a study of boating conditions and recreation safety conducted by consultants working with the Yakama Nation Fisheries program. The study reaches include Nason Creek, Twisp River, and Chewuch River. The overall purpose of the study is to identify known and anticipated river users and evaluate riverine hazards as habitat restoration projects are planned and implemented.
Charity Navigator Awards AW Third Consecutive 4-Star Rating
Charity Navigator has recognized our diligence in adhering to strict financial accountability for the third straight year (something that only happens to the top 9% of non profits they rate). It is an honor to receive this top rating three years in a row for our philanthropic efforts in river conservation. At American Whitewater, we strive to maintain the high standards set forth by Charity Navigator and work hard to earn the trust and respect of our members.
White Salmon River Homecoming Celebration (WA)
Removal of Condit Dam is nearing completion and we are getting ready to celebrate the moment on Saturday September 29th. Contractors still have equipment in and along the river that will be removed over the next couple weeks and a log jam resulting from the dam breach still needs to be addressed. It's important for paddlers to wait until this work is done and everyone considering this reach needs to understand the hazards associated with the class IV/V entrance drop into the Narrows.