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Skagit River Recreation Flow Survey (WA)

08/12/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

Seattle City Light is in the process of securing a new license to operate the Skagit Hydroelectric Project before the current licensee expires in 2025. As part of that process a number of studies are underway that include an assessment of the impacts of hydropower operations on recreation. To collect information from the public, Seattle City Light is conducting an online recreation flow survey for three river segments on the Skagit River. American Whitewater, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and North Cascades National Park participated in the development of this study plan. The purpose of this recreation flow survey is to gather information about recreation flow preferences for three river segments on the Skagit River along a 25.2-mile length from the Goodell Creek Boat Launch inside the Ross Lake National Recreation Area to Howard Miller Steelhead Park near Rockport.

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AW Wildfire Info Map Keeps Boater Updated on Rivers Affected by Fires

08/02/2022 - by Scott Harding

It's peak fire season in much of the country and active wildfires are currently burning along several whitewater rivers in the West. Be sure to check the American Whitewater Wildfire Information Map for the latest details on whether there's an active wildfire that could affect your boating trip or safety. It's the only map that combines detailed information on whitewater runs with constantly updated fire locations, air quality info, and more.

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AW Participates in EPA Roundtable on the Importance of Clean Water

06/09/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

On Tuesday, June 7, Kevin Colburn, American Whitewater’s National Stewardship Director, participated in a roundtable hosted jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Cahaba Brewing Co. on the importance of clean water protections in the Southeast. He joined stakeholders from a broad spectrum of land and water users who live or work in eleven Southeastern states, including a director of a water and sewer utility; general contracting and construction management executive; mitigation banker; faith leader; environmental justice advocates; farmers, including a Gullah-Geechee farmer; elected officials; representatives from conservation and environmental organizations; and clean water scientists.

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2022 Weber Releases Scheduled (UT)

05/27/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

Recreational flow releases have been scheduled on the Scrambled Eggs Section of the Weber River for June 4, June 18, July 2, and July 9 of this year, subject to change if unexpected conditions occur. These are the first releases of their kind on this reach, following years of negotiations and studies that led to the issuance of a new 40-year federal license for the hydropower project. Flows will unfortunately be lower volume than expected this year. American Whitewater advocated for these releases throughout the long and challenging dam relicensing process with the support of local volunteers. This article covers what you need to know to enjoy the releases. Enjoy the Weber! 

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Great Falls Catawba Releases Delayed Until Next Spring (SC)

05/10/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The start of flow releases on the Great Falls of the Catawba have unfortunately been delayed from this August to next spring. The pace and scale of work being done on the hydropower project and related lands to support releases is extraordinary, and while disappointed we are confident that the delay is merited. American Whitewater will continue to work with Duke Power and the community of Great Falls to be ready for releases next March. Starting in March releases will occur every week or two through October, at nearly 3000 cfs in each channel. 

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Weber Releases Get Green Light For This Summer! (UT)

05/09/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave the green light for recreational releases to begin on Utah’s Weber River this summer! The move came when the agency approved the Whitewater Boating Plan, which was a critical step prior to the flow restoration called for in the new license for the Weber Hydroelectric Project. American Whitewater recently requested that FERC expedite approval of the plan so the public could enjoy the Weber River this year and we are delighted that they did so! With the plan now accepted, American Whitewater will quickly work with the power company to analyze flow forecasts and schedule the four negotiated Saturday releases between late May and mid-July. American Whitewater has spent the past seven years negotiating these releases. We hope paddlers enjoy them this year and in the future!

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Nantahala Pisgah Forest Plan Released, Improvements Sought (NC)

03/24/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater has been actively working on the new Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest’s management plan for almost a decade. The plan covers 1.1 million acres of public lands in Western North Carolina and some of the finest whitewater paddling anywhere. Our goals for the new plan were to increase river protections, improve recreational management, and build broad support for future Congressional Wild and Scenic River designations. Along the way we made a lot of friends, including many Forest Service staff and all the members of the collaborative brain-trust that is the Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership. The new forest plan was released in late January, and it includes both triumphs and disappointments for river enthusiasts. Earlier this week, American Whitewater filed two pre-decisional appeals (called objections) of the proposed Forest Plan. 

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American Whitewater & Freeflow Institute Storytelling Program Scholarships

03/15/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater and Freeflow Institute are offering competitive $1000 scholarships for up to THREE emerging outdoor communicators in 2022. Applicants may be students or educators, aspiring storytellers in any medium, or professional journalists or environmental communicators. Past recipients have deeply valued the experiences of these river-trip based writing and storytelling workshops tought by leading professionals in the field.  The winning applicant(s) will demonstrate capacity to research and craft an excellent story. The story should be developed to meet the following goals: enhance and expand public awareness of an issue facing the particular watershed or landscape; ignite public dialog; and encourage citizens to celebrate, experience, and protect the rivers of our country. We are thrilled to be able to offer these scholarships to empower a cadre of artistic people to elevate and celebrate rivers. 

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Expect Atypical Nantahala Flows This Spring and Possibly Longer (NC)

03/14/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

Duke Energy has announced that they can only generate power and release water from the powerhouse at 50% of their normal capacity on the Nantahala River due to the failure of a transformer. The powerhouse is now capable of releasing 315 cfs versus the typical 630 cfs, and these conditions are likely to persist through May, and possibly considerably longer. Duke Energy will be releasing flows from the dam into the Upper Nantahala, which is normally bypassed by a tunnel between the dam and the powerhouse, in order to maintain reservoir levels and meet downstream recreational release requirements.

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AW Weighs in On NPS Potomac Access Area Closure Proposal

03/08/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The National Park Service recently announced a proposal to permanently close the Maryland Heights parking area, which is one of several small takeouts used by paddlers on the Needles section of the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Paradoxically they are proposing to close the parking area in large part because it is too popular among hikers, climbers, and paddlers. American Whitewater responded with comments asking that the parking area remain open, and pointing out that the Park Service has closed other access areas that should be re-openned if Maryland Heights is closed.

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Ask the National Forest Not To Pass on Davidson River Dam Removal (NC)

03/03/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The Forest Service is proposing to rebuild and enlarge the existing Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery along the Davidson River without removing the dam that diverts water into the facility. American Whitewater and many partner groups (including angling groups) believe that there are water withdrawal options that do not require a dam on the Davidson River, and would like to see the dam removed as part of the renovations. We encourage regional paddlers to submit a comment on this project requesting that dam removal occur as part of this project. 

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Ashley National Forest Proposes To Roll Back Required River Protections (UT)

03/03/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The Ashley National Forest is a 1.4 million-acre National Forest in Utah that spans from the Uinta Mountains to Flaming Gorge. The Forest released their draft management plan late last year which, when finalized, will guide Forest management for the next 15-20 years. Unfortunately, the Forest’s draft plan proposes to strip protections from 26 of 28 streams they have deemed eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. American Whitewater recently filed comments on the draft plan alerting the Forest to their flawed approach. The Agency often takes a year to release the final plan following the release of the draft plan, after which plans are subject to administrative and legal challenges.

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Take Action: Clackamas Fires Roadside Danger Tree Assessment Comment Opportunity

02/03/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

The Clackamas River, one of the most important paddling resources for the Pacific Northwest, remains closed several months after wildfires that occurred in September 2020. Currently the Forest Service is in the process of developing an Environmental Assessment to evaluate the status of National Forest System roads and danger trees within the areas affected by the 2020 wildfires, which include the Riverside, Lionshead, and Bull Complex Fires. The agency is soliciting public input through February 6, 2022 and we encourage the paddling community to provide comment.

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Nolichucky River Wild and Scenic Designation Update (NC/TN)

01/12/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

What’s up with the Nolichucky? We get this question a lot here at AW, and it’s a good one. As recent news articles have reported, regional efforts to designate the 7.2 mile Nolichucky River Gorge as the region's next Wild and Scenic River are currently stalled at the county level. Right now county leaders are neutral and support is vast among regional citizens. We remain hopeful that these counties and others in Western North Carolina will honor and celebrate rivers like the Noli that paddlers know deserve Wild and Scenic status. Here at American Whitewater we’ll keep working with local leaders and citizens to protect some of the region’s best whitewater rivers, including the Noli.

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Prep-Work is Underway on Great Falls Catawba Restoration (NC/SC)

12/07/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

Nearly 20 years ago American Whitewater started working on new licenses for the chain of hydropower dams on the Catawba River, which spans North and South Carolina, with a special emphasis on restoring flows to the dewatered Great Falls of the Catawba. Hundreds of hours of negotiations and studies led to a settlement agreement in 2006, though the federal license was delayed until 2015 by litigation and other factors. Now, after six years of planning, Duke Energy is in the midst of a massive construction project aimed at bringing our two-decade old creative vision for this special place to life. 

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2022 Advanced Southeast Release Schedule Set!

12/06/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater and our affiliate clubs have spent the past 25 years working to restore flows to incredible Southeastern rivers impacted by dams. A lot of our work has focused on Class II and III rivers like the lower Nantahala, Tuckasegee, Hiwassee, and Catawba, but we also secured releases in some classic steeper reaches previously dewatered by hydroelectric diversions. Each year we meet with power companies and agencies to schedule future releases, review ongoing ecology studies, and discuss any issues with the release programs. We strive to create a schedule with minimal conflicts to maximize recreational value. Read on for the 2022 dates for the Class IV/V Cheoah, Nantahala Cascades & Upper, West Fork Tuck, and Tallulah rivers. 

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Encourage Dam Removal Study on Chattooga River (GA/SC)

11/23/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

Tugalo Dam was built 100 years ago. For the past hundred years it has inundated four miles of the Chattooga River and two miles of the Tallulah River beneath a reservoir along the South Carolina and Georgia border. The dam owner has recently proposed to spend roughly $25 Million to upgrade their generators to last another two generations or more. American Whitewater and our partners are asking federal regulators to take a hard look at dam removal as an alternative to re-investing in this old dam that has buried two iconic rivers for a century. Thoughtful letters from paddlers describing the impacts of Tugalo Dam and the likely benefits of removal will help us make the case for a robust dam removal analysis. 

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Tallulah Gorge Releases Return! (GA)

10/15/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

Tallulah Gorege releases are back! Following over a year in which releases were cancelled because of dam safety issues that required repairs to water release gates and because of Covid, releases will kick off again on the first three weekends in November. American Whitewater negotiated these releases back in the mid-nineties and they quickly became a centerpiece of Southeastern paddling. We are happy to share some updates on Tallulah Gorge releases, and advice on how to visit the river responsibly.

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Whitewater Boating Opportunity on the Upper Sultan (WA)

07/31/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe

Snohomish PUD will be providing a whitewater boating opportunity on the Upper Sultan River on Sunday August 8th. Paddlers who plan to attend are asked to register on the Snohomish PUD website. We have been working for the past 3 years to provide this mid-summer opportunity. While we hoped to release a bit more water than the anticipated flow of 500-700 cfs, we agreed to this flow out of an abundance of caution to prevent impacts to fishery resources of the Skykomish River basin. With monitoring during this release, we hope to collect additional information that can inform future summer whitewater boating opportunities on the Sultan River.

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Comment Opportunity on Deschutes River Business Plan

07/31/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe

The Bureau of Land Management Prineville District's Deschutes Field Office is seeking public comment on a proposal to change the fee structure for the Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River. The proposed changes are intended to make fees more equitable for all users, including non-boating users, throughout the year and to account for rising operating costs and the need for year-round maintenance.

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