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2021 American Whitewater Freeflow Institute Scholarship Opportunity

03/18/2021 - by Evan Stafford

How will your voice contribute to the conversation around the importance of wild spaces? American Whitewater is proud to announce our 2021 Freeflow Institute scholarship opportunity for up to two emerging outdoor communicators. The winning applicant(s) will demonstrate a capacity to research and craft a compelling story with the goal of enhancing and expanding public awareness of an issue facing a particular watershed or landscape; igniting public dialog; and encouraging citizens to celebrate, experience, and protect the rivers of our country. A successful applicant will demonstrate talent in storytelling in one or more forms of media, will be familiar with the visions of Freeflow Institute and American Whitewater, and will submit a exciting pitch for an original creative project that is, at its essence, the product of the Freeflow experience.

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2021 Scheduled Recreational Flows for Pit River and North Fork Feather (CA)

03/11/2021 - by Theresa Simsiman

After Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) skunked over 80 boaters showing up on for the Pit 1 Fall River Mills release last October, American Whitewater called for a meeting to clarify the utilities hydropower license obligations to inform the public regarding whitewater boating flow schedules and other river flow information. We are happy to report that these protocols have been reaffirmed and we have confirmed 2021 flows for the Pit River as follows:

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Wild and Scenic Rivers Hill Week – A Virtual Success

03/10/2021 - by Evan Stafford

American Whitewater and a wide ranging group of partners and stakeholders met recently with members of Congress and their staffs to educate, gain the support of, and strategize with policy makers about Wild and Scenic Rivers legislation. This week long advocacy campaign is a product of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition, a partnership between like-minded organizations American Whitewater helped found in 2019, with the goal of promoting and supporting the importance of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, new designations under the Act, and the eligibility designation of worthy streams across the country. In past years, Hill Week has been a face-to-face DC fly-in, however due to COVID-19 the event was held virtually this year. 

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New AW Membership Incentive gifts for 2021!

03/10/2021 - by Bethany Overfield

We’re stoked to announce that we have brand new Platinum Paddler hoodies available as a membership incentive gift—we’re introducing our first ever sun hoodie! You’ll definitely want to add this piece of technical gear to your boating and lifestyle arsenal.

We’ve partnered with NRS to offer the H2Core™ Silkweight Hoodie with both men’s and women’s-specific sizing available. There’s an AW logo on the front of the hoodie as well as the sleeve, and they come in a fjord blue color—you’ll love them!

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Protecting America's Wilderness and Public Lands Act Passes House

03/01/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe

As the first action on public lands legislation this Congress, the House just passed on a 227-200 vote an impressive package of river conservation bills, many of which include priorities for the whitewater paddling community. The bills that formed this package, known as Protecting America's Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803), include more than 1000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, over 1.5 million acres of new Wilderness, and more than 1 million acres of sensitive watersheds closed to new mining claims. These bills passed the House of Representatives last Congress in February 2020 and again in July 2020 as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, but unfortunately saw no action in the Senate. Wasting no time in the new Congress, the House took up these bills again, and passed them with a couple more bills as amendments. 

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2021 Southeast Advanced Release Schedule Set!

02/26/2021 - 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 are happy to share the 2021 schedule!

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Stream Access Threatened By House Joint Resolution 5 and 8 in New Mexico

02/16/2021 - by New Mexico Paddlers Coalition

Thirty New Mexico State Representatives have introduced two resolutions asking voters to amend Section II of the state’s Constitution (“New Mexico’s Bill of Rights”). Both resolutions ask voters to approve elevating hunting and fishing into constitutional rights.  Its title “Protecting the Right to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Wildlife” would be more accurately described as “Protecting Property Rights over your Right to Hunt, Fish, or Float.”  These ballot initiatives are designed to preempt stream access rights litigation currently being considered by the NM Supreme Court. Click here to email the NM House Natural Resources Committee and let them know to oppose both bills.

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Tell New Larimer County Commissioners how Important a Healthy Poudre River Is

02/11/2021 - by Hattie Johnson

In August, we asked our members to take action to help protect flows in the Cache La Poudre (CO). The County Commission was analyzing the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) for its adherence to the Larimer County Land Use code under an application for a 1041 permit. Despite the 203 letters from our supporters and the majority of all comments raising concerns about the project, the Commission voted 2-1 to approve the permit.

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American Whitewater Members Topple Two California Dam Proposals

02/11/2021 - by Theresa Simsiman

American Whitewater and members of the paddling community were called upon to stop two detrimental dam proposals, Centennial Dam and Alder Reservoir. These project proposals were included in a project list for an update to the Cosumnes, American, Bear and Yuba Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (CABY Plan). The CABY Plan outlines water management objectives for over 300 miles of California whitewater and comments were requested before a vote to accept the 2021 plan update.

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Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante Monuments on the Path to Restoration

02/09/2021 - by Hattie Johnson

As a part of the day one executive order on “Protecting Public Health and Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis”, the new administration directed the Secretary of the Interior - along with the Attorney General, Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and Tribal Governments - to review the boundary changes made by the previous administration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. A report will be provided to the President with recommended appropriate actions. This review and subsequent report will determine whether or not the original boundaries of both Monuments should be restored. American Whitewater will remain engaged and supportive of the restoration of these national monuments, and will let you know when you can speak up for these rivers.

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Overnight Camping Permits Once Again Available for Paddlers on Redwood Creek

02/09/2021 - by Scott Harding

Redwood National Park stopped issuing dispersed camping permits for Redwood Creek late last year, leaving paddlers unable to legally do the 25-mile Redwood Creek overnight trip in the towering old-growth redwood forest. We’re pleased to announce that the Park is now issuing these permits via the internet to whitewater boaters, just as flows are perfect for this seldom-run river. (Photo by Sara Gallagher)

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Access Restored to Multiple NW California Whitewater Rivers

02/08/2021 - by Scott Harding

Almost 70 miles of whitewater on three rivers in far Northern California are now re-opened to public access—and paddling—after the U.S. Forest Service lifted closures that had been in place since last year’s wildfires. American Whitewater worked to ensure that access to these rivers—none of which were actually affected by last year’s wildfires—was fully restored.

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Prop DD Funds Beginning To Emerge

02/08/2021 - by Ian Stafford

In 2019 American Whitewater endorsed Proposition DD in Colorado. This ballot measure created a sustainable funding mechanism for the Colorado Water Plan via revenues from sports gambling. From bets on Belarusian soccer to Colorado Rockies baseball, Colorado's water is starting to see the outcome of this successful measure, and we're pleased to report that funding is coming in higher than we expected for its first year. 

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National Forest Protects 360 Miles of Streams in Montana

02/05/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

In a big win for rivers, the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest released their new Forest Plan this month. The Forest includes the classic Multi-day section of the Smith River, the headwaters of the Blackfoot River, and the rugged and beautiful Rocky Mountain Front region of Montana. The new Forest Plan offers interim protection for 360 miles of incredible rivers by finding them eligible for Wild and Scenic designation – triple the river miles protected under the old plan. A full 250 of the protected river miles are on whitewater rivers. American Whitewater and the paddling community has offered support for this decision since at least 2014, and the Forest Service has done a great job.

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COVID-19 Impacts on the Grand Canyon (AZ)

02/03/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz

Last winter, like every other year, boaters who were lucky enough to pull permits for the 2020 Grand Canyon river season were planning and gearing up for their spring trips. However, this year was different. COVID-19 cases were rising at an alarming rate in late winter and when the river was closed to trips on March 24th, the U.S. was seeing over 10,000 new cases and over 150 related deaths reported each day. Indigenous peoples and rural communities, many of which surround the Grand Canyon, have been disproportionately affected by the virus and are located on travel routes frequented by visitors driving to the Park from out of state. Between March and June, up to 1600 self-guided trip participants had faced trip cancellations and were left with months of planning down the drain. This greatly impacted the local economy, Park operations, and permit holders. American Whitewater’s Affiliate Club and the primary advocate for non-commercial boating in the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA), worked closely with the National Park Service to improve COVID-19 related management and to increase opportunities for self-guided trips. Read on to learn about the new provisions that were provided for self-guided river trips.

 

Photo Credit: Jerry Spence

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Senators Wyden and Merkley Introduce Statewide Wild and Scenic Bill for Oregon

02/03/2021 - by Thomas O'Keefe

A local coalition of whitewater boaters, hunters and anglers, small business leaders, clean water advocates, veterans, local elected officials, and other community members are thanking Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today for introducing the River Democracy Act of 2021, which will designate 4,700 miles of rivers across the state as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The legislation is a direct result of a nomination process where Oregonians, including members of the whitewater paddling community, recommended their favorite rivers for permanent protection. Senator Wyden’s office received over 15,000 nominations for thousands of miles of rivers from residents across the state, showing both the key role these rivers play in our communities and the strong local support for protecting them for the benefit of future generations.

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American Whitewater Releases New River Access Planning Guide

01/26/2021 - by Evan Stafford

In a joint project with the River Management Society, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service (USFS), and National Park Service (NPS), American Whitewater has published the River Access Planning Guide. American Whitewater is regularly called upon to assist with river access projects. Some are a spectacular success, while others are a disappointment. Over the past three years, American Whitewater has been working with the NPS Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs to better understand how success comes about when a river access project is developed and provide guidance for a step-by-step process that leads to projects that meet user needs and are sustainable both ecologically and financially.

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Comments Can Help Shape Summersville Lake Management (WV)

01/19/2021 - by Kevin Colburn

A new Draft Master Plan for Summersville Lake, which provides releases on the Gauley River, is open for public comment until February 16, 2021. The Draft Plan covers the significant public land surrounding the reservoir, including Battle Run Campground, several trails, numerous rock climbing areas, and boat ramps. Unfortunately the Plan does not cover water releases, which the Agency states are covered by a seperate plan. Paddlers that use these lands are encouraged to review and comment on the Draft Plan. 

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Update - Proposed Gravel Pit at the Confluence of the Eagle and Colorado DENIED

01/15/2021 - by Hattie Johnson

Thank you for quick mobilization earlier this month to urge the Eagle County Planning Commission to deny an application for a gravel pit that would run for a mile along the Upper Colorado River just upstream of its confluence with the Eagle. There were 148 letters sent to the Commission in barely over 24 hours. In line with recommendations of Eagle County staff and at the urging of many residents and visitors, the commission denied the applications with a 4-2 vote on the evening of January 6th.

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The Rollout of 2021’s Great American Outdoors Act Projects

01/14/2021 - by Scott Harding

The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) was signed into law in August 2020, providing $9.5 billion to address the maintenance backlog on federally managed public lands through 2025. Although there have been some challenges with its implementation thus far, we are now starting to see some much-needed maintenance projects getting queued up.
 
Here is a quick brief on a few of our favorite GAOA-funded projects that are being lined up this year by the US Forest Service.


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