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Proposed Crazy Mountain Land Swap Open For Comment (MT)

12/20/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The Forest Service is considering a proposed land exchange in Montana that would trade away public lands along Big Timber and Sweet Grass creeks in the Crazy Mountains. The proposal appears unlikely to change paddling access or other values on Big Timber Creek, but access to Sweet Grass could be greatly reduced. This area is riddled with checkerboard ownership and has longstanding public access uncertainties. Hunters, anglers, and other backcountry enthusiasts have largely panned the proposal because it reduces public access. American Whitewater submitted a comment respectfully asking that the impacts to paddling be considered, and that the proposal be modified to improve rather than limit public access. Comments are due by December 23, 2022. 

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Trip Reports Offer Enhanced Sharing of River Trips

12/06/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater has revitalized the Trip Report option on our website, and we hope paddlers will take advantage of it! Trip Reports allow anyone logged into the American Whitewater website to tell the story of a river trip by sharing any combination of photos, text, date, and water levels. The most recent three reports are found at the bottom of every river page, and all reports are located on the Trip Report tab on river pages. We encourage paddlers to give it a try, and in this article we'll share a few suggestions on how we hope paddlers use the Trip Report option. 

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Comments Needed on Madison River Boating Limits (MT)

10/13/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

A Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks work group is proposing to recommend new fees, permits, and limits on Bear Trap Canyon and Quake Lake sections of the Madison River. Comments are due on October 14th, so write them a quick note! The work group recommendations have come out of left field for whitewater paddlers, since they were focused on the high-use sections of the Madison River frequented by anglers. Their solutions are not justified or warranted, and will not solve actual problems. To us, they read like non-solutions to non-problems written with little or no input from whitewater paddlers. 

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Supreme Court Dives Into Clean Water Act Scope

10/03/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning on a case that will likely shift the balance of which wetlands and perhaps streams are covered under the Clean Water Act. A permit is required to dredge, fill, or discharge pollutants into waters that are covered under the Act. Waters not covered under the Act lack this federal review. Now, just days from the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the Supreme Court considered this request to significantly weaken the effect of the landmark law that is largely responsible for the remarkable restoration of our Nation’s rivers. 

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2022 Gauley Season Details From The National Park Service

08/19/2022 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River for the 2020 season. Camping and other facets of Gauley season are returning to more normal operations following two years of Covid-related restrictions. As part of our agreement with the land owner, there is no camping allowed on the Legg field that American Whitewater leases for overflow parking. The letter from NPS follows:

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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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Take Action: Provide Comment to Restore the Snake River

07/06/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

American Whitewater supports breaching the four lower Snake River Dams and believes the environmental and social justice costs of these dams outweigh the services and benefits they provide. In addition to benefits for salmon and steelhead, breaching these dams would open up a new segment of free-flowing river in a region where current demand for river-based recreation exceeds capacity. We also believe the removal of these dams is a more effective solution to address struggling salmon runs than limits that have been placed on recreational boaters. Governor Inslee and Senator Murray are currently soliciting public comment through July 11th on the Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report.

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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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Middle Fork Feather & Four Other California Rivers Reopened

04/02/2022 - by Scott Harding

Great news out of California!

The Middle Fork Feather River's Devils Canyon run is open again after we succeeded in convincing the Plumas National Forest to end its two-year boating ban on that spectacular multi-day run, just in time for its prime spring season! Our members and supporters helped signficantly by sending in nearly 1,000 comments to the Forest Service.

We have also been working with the Eldorado National Forest to reopen access to rivers that had been closed since last summer's Caldor Fire, and we're happy to report that they just reopened access to 54 miles of whitewater on four different rivers.

All told, American Whitewater helped restore access to 88 miles of whitewater this week, covering nine runs on five different rivers!

MF Feather River photo by Carli Beisel.

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Electron Dam Operator Signs Agreement to Protect Puyallup River (WA)

03/25/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe

A coalition of conservation groups has reached an agreement with the operators of the Electron hydroelectric project on the Puyallup River to preserve safeguards for threatened Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. The groups had sued over the facility’s illegal killing of these imperiled fish. The agreement will keep the project from operating until and unless operators can address the project’s unacceptable impacts to federally protected native fish threatened with extinction.

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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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2022 North Fork Feather (CA) Releases and Opportunities

03/18/2022 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

American Whitewater is happy to confirm boating opportunities for the North Fork Feather River on the Rock Creek and Cresta Reach for 2022. These flows are a part of license operations and were included in the hydropower license order that American Whitewater helped negotiate with Pacific Gas & Electric. 

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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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