PG&E Considers Recreational Flows Below Chili Bar During COVID-19 (CA)
Good news as we navigate our lives with COVID-19, American Whitewater received word that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has made the decision NOT to cancel scheduled recreational flows on the South Fork American River. Wait what? Yes, you read correct a paddling staple we take for granted below Chili Bar was on the verge of being curtailed in the midst of a public safety emergency.
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 report on the introduction of the "Great American Outdoors Act' along with much more. Read the issue online now or download your copy.
Colorado State Policy May Update
The Colorado State Legislature has come to a halt for the past 6 weeks, counties are adjusting their restrictions, and the spring is in full bloom. There is a lot going on in Colorado, and as the state continues to adjust to life during COVID-19, there are a handful of topics that you may want to be aware of. In this month's update, you'll hear about how the state legislature is going to find the time to pass the budget, be provided some new resources to start building relationships with elected officials, and as always find some resources to help grow your abilities as an advocate.
CRUSHING IT FROM HOME
Despite the current public health crisis, the fight for wild rivers continues and American Whitewater is well positioned to play a major role in protecting and enhancing what makes wild rivers special. Here is what staff are doing now to protect rivers. Thank you for being a part of this awesome river community. Please stay safe and healthy.
2020 Deerfield Fest Membership Form
We're so bummed to have to cancel Deerfield Fest! But we still need your support!
American Whitewater's stewardship projects are funded through your memberships.
Join or Renew and win some rad swag!
Advocate From Home With These Resources
In order to be the strongest advocate out there, you're gonna need tools. Written tools, visual aids, citations, factoids, and anything else you can use at your disposal. We try and make things as seamless as possible for the river community, but occasionally, you need to go that extra mile. For those instances, we've created this page as an easy place that you can turn to. Resources, wisdom, and information can be found on issues taking place across the country through this page. By utilizing information that our partners provide, you can now come back to this page to find new issues Outdoor Alliance is focusing on, discover areas that Conservation Alliance is seeking to protect, and connect to tons of educational material to help share with you and other folks in your community.
Kayakers assist the WV-DNR on a Recovery
On February 9th, 2020 kayaker Jamie Gray was killed on the Middle Fork of the Tygart river in West Virginia. The next day the state DNR closed the river while they searched a large undercut rock where she was last seen. When that effort was unsuccessful, DNR officer Chris Evans coordinated with local kayakers to do a thorough downstream search. They found her body on the Main Tygart a mile downstream, just above S-Turn Rapid. A full description of the search and the recovery can be found in the American Whitewater Accident Database: https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Accident/detail/accidentid/76310
Good Article on Flush Drowning from Outside Magazine
An interesting article in Outside Magazine, based on a research paper done with information stored in the American Whitewater Accident Database. Certainly cold water plays a big role in a flush drowning death, especially when the swimmer has inadequate thermal protection. In addition to cold water shock, a few drops of cold water down the throat can cause laringospasm, which narrows the trachea and can make breathing very difficult. But in my opinion, the relentless, fast moving character of Western rivers is the main reason that flush drownings are more common there. With the exception of the Cheoah and flood-stage runs, few Southeastern rivers can compare to an average Western Class IV. Here's the link: https://www.outsideonline.com/2411473/flush-drowning-whitewater-deaths-study?fbclid=IwAR2-blIEjgNu7tFBgXxT4ozlyfNw0Yc6yt41pao9daWRdmGvloxpqyb3ovQ
New Dam Proposed for Chehalis River (WA): Take Action and Comment
The Chehalis River has one of Washington state's longest continuous sections of Class III whitewater, yet it remains relatively unknown to many paddlers due to access issues involving restrictive policies of a private timber company. A new flood control dam proposal would eliminate 14 miles of this wild and free-flowing Class III whitewater (West Fork to Pe Ell), forever keeping paddlers from discovering this underused trove of quality whitewater in southwestern Washington. Paddlers and other river enthusiasts have an opportunity to provide input on the fate of the Chehalis River by submitting a comment on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Take this opportunity to comment and help protect this free-flowing river today! Take Action Today
Help get new river access and flow info for the Kaweah River (CA)
The Kaweah River is one of the crown jewels of southern Sierra whitewater. Flowing out of Sequoia National Park, the river and its forks offer challenging, non-stop whitewater through golden granite canyons. But despite its grandeur and popularity, boaters have long been challenged by inadequate public river access and a lack of real-time flow information for the Middle Fork and East Fork Kaweah rivers.
American Whitewater is working to resolve these issues through the hydropower relicensing process for Southern California Edison's Kaweah Hydroelectric Project, and we need your help. Please read more and take a few minutes to send online comments supporting improved access and flow info.
Photo by Darin McQuoid (East Fork Kaweah River)
Keep it in Your Zip Code – How to Paddle in a Pandemic
Our friends at Outdoor Alliance recently released How to Get Outside (during a pandemic), a set of guidelines for recreating in the most responsible way possible. We borrowed their considerations and added some paddling specific ideas. This is an important time for paddlers to be a part of the solution to both help slow the spread of COVID19 and advance stewardship efforts for your favorite rivers. The first step is simple - stay in your zip code. A short abstinence from paddling outside your neighborhood can save lives and keep the delicate balance that ensures enough water to boat and river access in many rural communities from shifting in the wrong direction. Maintaining constructive relationships with communities where we recreate is in our long-term interest as we work with them to improve the health of rivers and our opportunities to enjoy them.
Colorado State Policy April Update
Spring has sprung in Colorado, but these uncertain times have seen unprecedented change at the state level of government. This months Colorado Policy update highlights important water policy that has already been passed through both chambers of the Colorado State Legislature, and have either been signed, or are waiting to be signed by the Governor. Along with an update on legislation that has already been passed, you can get an update on the closure of the State House during these uncertain times, and find out a bit more about the question that is currently facing the Colorado Supreme Court about how the legislature will be able to move forward with its traditional calendar. Lastly, as always, there are a handful of resources that are here for you to be able to utilize during this time at home.
Lochsa Area Streams Need Your Help Again (ID)!
The Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests are taking another big step toward eliminating protections from most or all of 89 outstanding whitewater streams in the Lochsa, Selway, and Clearwater watersheds. These rivers have been found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation and should be protected through the Forest Planning process. Instead, the Draft Forest Plan proposes to remove those protections for political reasons through a misapplied process they call "suitability." Maybe you are one of hundreds of paddlers that sent a letter on this issue in the last stage of the Forest Planning process. Over 99% of public comments supported protection for all 89 streams. The Forest Service ignored these letters. The most protective alternative they considered protects less than half of these streams. We need to speak up again as a community at this last critical public input opportunity.
A Note from our Membership Director
If your membership is up for renewal and you've lost your job or your income has been greatly diminished, we will extend a complimentary basic membership for a year. We don't want to lose touch with you! Many of you have supported us for decades and some for less than that, but we need all of your support to continue our mission. Reach out to me and I'll set you up! Shoot me an email or give me a call (866.262.8429). We only ask that you stay engaged with us and with our work. We'll continue to send pleas out for help-whether in the form of volunteerism or the submission of comments to make sure our collective voice is heard. Click below to read more....
Nantahala-Pisgah Forest public meetings and comment period delayed
The much-anticipated Draft Forest Plan for the 1.1 million-acre Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest was released in February, but the public meetings and comment period are being delayed because of COVID-19. We are grateful for the pause in the process to allow the public time to give the new Forest Plan the attention it deserves. We'll be taking the extra time to review the plan with our collaboration partners in great detail. We'll let paddlers know when it's time to attend a public meeting and submit comments, and we will as usual offer advice on how those comments can be the most helpful.
Green River Release Schedule Set for 2020 (NC)
Last year, Northbrook Energy purchased the Tuxedo Hydropower Project from Duke Energy. This hydropower project provides the flows for the Class III+ Upper Green, the Class V Narrows, and the Class II Lower Green - all of which are popular whitewater runs. As the sale was underway, American Whitewater and others advocated for assurances in the contract that recreational releases would continue to follow a predictable pattern and be communicated as a forecast online. The contract contains these guarantees for the public, and earlier today river users got on the phone with the power company for a positive conversation confirming the 2020 schedule.
Navigating Troubled Waters with American Whitewater
A large part of our stewardship work at American Whitewater is following the science of healthy, clean rivers, and how to enjoy them safely, and that commitment continues to this day. The science of what's happening with COVID-19 suggests that within our communities, including the paddling community, we need to take whatever precautions are necessary to slow the spread of this virus. At American Whitewater, we work off a regional and remote model, where all of our staff work from home offices and have for the past 15 years. That means that we're already well set up for best practice social-distancing and thanks to the incredible support from our members and partners we're well positioned to continue to fight to protect and restore our whitewater rivers and our access to enjoying them safely.
New Mexico Boaters ask NM Supreme Court to Overturn Non-Navigable Waters Rule
American Whitewater has been working with an outstanding coalition of conservationist and recreationist in New Mexico to challenge a 2018 Game and Fish Commission rule that allowed landowners to certify streams on their property as non-navigable and threaten criminal trespass.
With the pro-bono support of Santa Fe based lawyer, Gene Gallegos, our affiliate club, Adobe Whitewater Club, New Mexico Wildlife Federation and New Mexico Chapter Backcountry Hunters and Anglers filed a petition to the New Mexico Supreme Court to invalidate this rule. The petition in full can be found here. We are committed to supporting our colleagues in this case and will continue to update you on the progress.
CEQ PROPOSES RULE CHANGES TO NEPA PROTECTIONS
American Whitewater and its partners, including Outdoor Alliance and the Hydropower Reform Coalition, are filing comments today on the administration's proposed rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The proposed revisions would allow federal permitting without adequately considering climate change impacts, limit consideration of alternatives, and limit public participation in the permitting process. AW is committed to protecting our natural resources from degradation by assuring thorough environmental review before federal permitting to ensure the protection of environmental quality including appropriate recreational uses. Today is the last day to take action on this issue so please use our simple easy action form to make your voice heard right now!
Arizona Rivers Need Protection, Public Comments Due March 12
The Tonto National Forest is accepting public comments on their forest-wide management plan revision until March 12 - just 6 more days! On December 13, 2019 they officially released the Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIS) for a 90-day comment period. Forest Plans are vitally important as they are the blueprint for resource management and they provide an opportunity to secure better protections for rivers and their surrounding landscapes. As part of the plan revision process, the Forest Service is required to rely heavily on public input to inform management direction, plan components, and new designated areas. If you are a local Arizona boater, or have had the lucky opportunity to paddle the Salt River, or if you've chased storms across state lines to catch Arizona's famed creeks, or maybe you just have a fervid love for America's public lands and the wild, free flowing rivers and creeks that run through them. No matter the case, these rivers and their surrounding landscapes need your voice. These are our public lands and we have an important role to play in how they are managed. Use this super easy comment form to tell the Forest Service what you think!