Dolores River (CO) 2019 Release Season Recap
Releases from McPhee Reservoir into the lower Dolores River have come to an end for the 2019 season. American Whitewater is collecting feedback from paddlers who got out on the lower Dolores River this summer. Please follow this link to answer a few short questions about your experience. This feedback is incredibly helpful in our discussions with the reservoir operators and our conservation partners.
We did amazing work together in 2018! Check out our Annual Report
American Whitewater is an organization that prides ourselves on getting work done, both effectively and efficiently. Eighty-three cents of every dollar we see goes directly to our stewardship work, and in 2018 we succeeded in turning that work into favorable outcomes on projects across the country. For a concise and graphic look at the work we accomplished together last year, check out our 2018 Annual Report.
New Voices are Rising Students join American Whitewater on the Moke
A group of students participating in the Rose Foundation Project, New Voices are Rising based in Oakland, California recently spent a day learning about water issues and playing in the waters of the newly designated State Wild and Scenic Mokelumne River with American Whitewater staff and friends. California Stewardship Director Theresa Simsiman helped provide safety so the teens could enjoy swimming and wading in the Mokelumne, and gave a short talk on Pacific Gas & Electric's Mokelumne Hydropower Project. Theresa stressed the importance of balancing the impacts of removing water from our rivers to produce electricity with keeping water in our rivers for ecological and human benefits including whitewater recreation.
Public Comments Needed by July 29 to Secure Better Protections for CO Rivers
On June 17, the Forest Service released a Working Draft of the Revised Forest Plan for the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests. The Working Draft outlines broad management direction for the Forests and proposes new management areas including Wilderness to be Analyzed, high-use recreation areas, Roadless Areas, and more. We still need your help NOW to tell the Forest Service that we need better protections for rivers throughout the GMUG. Feedback on the Working Draft is due by July 29 and the Forest Service will use this feedback to inform the official Draft Plan. The most effective thing you can do as a paddler is to tell the Forest Service where you love to paddle on the Forest, what you value about the area (e.g., primitive surroundings, facilities, clean water, etc.), and what management improvements you want to see. You can submit comments here! Remember - the Forest Service loves photos.
Last Call to give for rivers and get a sweet Discount on KEEN shoes
KEEN has been a longtime supporter of our river stewardship work and if you need a new pair of KEENs now is the time to get them - use the code AMERICANWHITEWATER in the KEEN online store to receive $10 off and KEEN will kick $10 our way to continue our stewardship work for rivers. It's a win win and your feet will thank you! Our good friends at KEEN Footwear provide a tremendous amount of support for our American Whitewater river stewardship program and this is our last call to use this AMERICANWHITEWATER code.
Community Voices: Respect the River, River Surfers Should Wear PFDs
I can't keep my mouth shut any longer. I've been troubled the past couple weeks with the direction river surfing is going. I've been wrestling with bringing it up because I'm afraid of alienating myself and getting crucified online by the river surfing community. But this isn't about me, this is about the future of our sport and the lives of others.
I don't like surfing in the river alone. And lately, even with a 15 person deep line up at the wave I feel alone. I feel alone because I am one of maybe two or three there wearing a PFD, or sometimes the only one. I feel alone because if something were to happen, like getting knocked unconscious or my body cramping up, I don't have faith that the people in the line up could save me.
Dolores River (CO) 2019 Releases Wrapping Up
As runoff begins to slow in the Dolores River Basin, releases from McPhee Reservoir are beginning to ramp down. After spiking Friday, cold weather brought inflows rapidly down. Releases are expected to remain at 1,200 CFS going into the week and remain there until Thursday June 27th. Flows are expected to remain at or above 1,000 CFS through next weekend, Sunday June 30th. Please continue to check in to the Dolores Water Conservation District's (DWCD) release page for details. Low boatable releases are 800 CFS - 1,900 CFS.
American Whitewater at the North Fork Championships 2019!
Come join us at the North Fork Championship this weekend. Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director Thomas O'Keefe, Communications Director Evan Stafford, and Board Member Megi Morishita will be out for the event. The North Fork Championship is a great event that celebrates our sport and a reminder that the North Fork Payette was once proposed for hydropower development. A group of paddlers and river advocates fought to save this river. Through their efforts, Idaho Rivers United was born and in 1991 Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus signed the first version of the Payette River Plan, protecting the Payette River system from new dams and hydropower development. The action starts Tuesday evening (6/11) , 6pm at Payette Brewing in Boise with the NFC Wild Rivers Symposium which will feature speakers on river conservation issues, some entertainment, and food and drink.
Oregon Waterway Access Bill Set to Become Law
This week, Oregon House Bill 2835 re-passed the Oregon House on a 52-7 vote. Having earlier cleared the Senate, the bill now awaits a signature from the Governor to be signed into law. For decades, opportunities to protect and improve the ability of the public to access and legally use waterways for recreation have seen minimal progress, while efforts to severely limit access have been a consistent threat. Oregon House Bill 2835 is a pivotal piece of legislation in Oregon, and the first proactive waterway access bill in recent history to have made it through the state legislature.
Oh Be Joyful Race Back in Action June 22 (CO)
Come join American Whitewater at the 2019 Oh Be Joyful Creek Race in Crested Butte on June 22! "The World famous Oh Be Joyful Steep Creek Race is back on this year! Saturday, June 22nd is the day to come out and show your stuff on one of the steepest kayak races out there! Registration is now open, so sign up to race or just come out and watch one of the greatest shows on Earth!" - Paul Raymond, OBJ Race Director, says it all. Racers will get the chance to take two laps on the creek with their best time used for ranking purposes. Each racer will receive a swag bag with a Theracane! In the event of extreme high water, the race start will be postponed to allow levels to drop. The afterparty this year will be at the Talk of the Town in Crested Butte with beer provided by SKA and Eddyline and food provided by the Brick Oven Pizzeria in CB.
Support Improved Potomac River Access at Harpers Ferry (WV/VA/DC)
A local planning agency has championed a study of the Weverton access site just downstream of Harpers Ferry. This site is an important Potomac river put-in/takeout site for Shenandoah and Potomac River paddlers who have few access options in the area. At issue is an informal crossing of the two-track CSX railroad used by almost 27,000 paddlers, Appalachian Trail hikers, and visitors to the C&O Canal National Historical Park last year. The study outlines two options to formalize this access site and improve the safety of crossing the railroad tracks. Either option would be a big improvement, as would a standard road crossing, and paddlers are encouraged to submit a supportive comment by the June 15 deadline.
Dolores River (CO) 2019 Release Update
This spring in Colorado has been so cool and wet that the U.S. Drought Monitor has officially declared the state drought free. For paddlers this has meant a slow start to the boating season in a lot of places and excitement for the long season expected. For reservoir operators the delayed inflows mean more uncertainty. Starting yesterday, May 30th, flows began ramping down and will reach a level of 400 cfs by midnight the morning of Sunday June 2nd. With warm weather in the forecast however, the release will then ramp back up beginning the morning of Wednesday June 5th and will be up to 1,200 cfs by midnight the morning of Friday, June 7th. Flows will then remain at least 1,200 cfs until Sunday, June 23rd. Please see the Dolores Water Conservation District website's release page for details on these release changes. They will be posting weekly updates on Monday and Thursday, so continue to check back into their site for the most detailed operation plans.
American Whitewater Spring Website Update
Thanks to generous grants from the US Coast Guard and significant volunteer efforts American Whitewater has created a new modernized version of our website that works across mobile devices, has significantly updated programming systems, and works with our volunteer-created apps for both iOS and Android. We want to acknowledge that the new version of the site has had numerous bugs, and to share that we have worked to address them as quickly as possible. This work continues with a lean and dedicated team of volunteer and paid programmers.
Hanging Lake Exit Closed to Vehicles This Season (CO)
The Hanging Lake hiking trail, located in Glenwood Canyon (CO), has had issues with crowding, illegal parking, and degradation to the lake by the over 130,000 people that hike there every year. A stakeholder group including the City of Glenwood Springs, the Forest Service and Colorado Department of Transportation among others have been working on a plan to mitigate for these impacts to protect the iconic lake and prevent conflicts at the rest area. The only way to access the rest area between May 1st and October 31st is via shuttle buses provided by H2O Ventures located next to the Glenwood Springs Recreation Center.
Final Slate River Floating Management Plan Released (CO)
Crested Butte, CO - Increased user conflict on the Slate River has led to a Floating Management Plan that proposes a "voluntary no-float period" between March 15 and July 15 this season. Since our last news post in November, the Slate River Floating Management Plan has been updated and revised for the 2019 season. An open house will be held at The Depot in Crested Butte on Thursday, May 16 and it is critical that paddlers from the local community attend and engage in the conversation. (Photo courtesy of the Crested Butte Land Trust).
Effort to Protect the Rogue Continues (OR)
At the end of last Congress, the House and Senate negotiated a public lands package that ultimately resulted in 256 new miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers for Oregon when the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act was signed into law on March 12th, 2019. While rivers like the Molalla and several tributaries of the Rogue were designated Wild and Scenic, the lands surrounding the immediate river corridor were left unprotected. With a commitment to finish the job, and building on the successful effort to move these initiatives out of committee with bipartisan support last Congress, Senator Wyden was joined by Senator Merkley in introducing the Oregon Recreation Enhancement Act (S. 1262) on May 1st, 2019. The bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on May 14th, 2019.
Senator Murray & Representative Kilmer Reintroduce Wild Olympics Bill (WA)
Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) reintroduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (S. 1382 and H.R. 2642) to permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries, a total of 464 river miles, as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests, clean water and salmon streams as well as enhance outdoor recreation, the legislation would set aside the first new wilderness on Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
Positive Outlook for Lower Dolores Flows This Spring!
The Dolores Water Conservation District recently put out their updated spill prediction based on the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center's May 1st inflow forecast. In addition to a positive forecast indicating a likely 3-4 week spill of boatable flows beginning before Memorial Day, low and middle elevation snowpack has raised McPhee water levels at approximately a foot per day. This lower elevation snow and May storm cycle have also helped in keeping fields wet and pushing back the start of irrigation season. One more benefit of the healthy low elevation snowpack was the flows downstream of McPhee reached boatable levels for over a week. Many regional boaters were out enjoying these natural flows and levels even reached 2,000 cfs for a period!
Animas River Days Coming Up June 1!
Durango, CO - June is fast approaching and Animas River Days is not to be missed. On June 1, the Animas River in Durango, CO will be filled with kayakers, rafters, SUP boarders, and spectators celebrating healthy and safe rivers. Be sure to put this event on your calendar for fun and whitewater this summer! Check out the Event Schedule and don't forget to pre-register if you are planning on competing in any of the many events. Pre-registration ends on May 29th at midnight and athletes who pre-register get a FREE 6-pack from Ska Brewing and a $5 discount. Don't miss the Parade Viewing Party at Santa Rita Park that starts at 6pm after the events. We'll see you there! Come check out American Whitewater's booth at Animas River Days and learn about our projects in the area.
AW Journal - The May/June Issue Online Now!
The May/June issue of the AW Journal is available in our online "Library". This issue includes 'A Grand Revisitation to Powell's Wild West' along with much more. Read the issue online now or download your copy.