Piney River and Tributaries Designated Scenic Rivers (TN)
On June 22, 2020, the Piney River, Little Piney River, and Duskin Creek, located near Spring City, became Tennessee's newest Scenic Rivers when the Governor signed a related bill into law. These creeks flow from the Cumberland Plateau down into deep cliff-lined canyons that are traversed by hikers, paddlers, and anglers. The creeks join adjacent Soak Creek as recently designated Scenic Rivers. American Whitewater and other paddling groups actively supported protection of these streams. The move recognizes that Tennessee is home to unique rivers and creeks that are a source of pride and rejuvenation for Tennesseans and should be protected for future generations.
AW Challenges New EPA Rule Weakening States' Ability to Protect Rivers
American Whitewater, along with several other river conservation partners, filed litigation today challenging new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that would limit the ability of states to protect water quality at federlly-licensed hydropower projects. The new rule effectively sidelines the role the states and the public have long played in permitting decisions affecting clean water, undercutting the central role of the states in protecting water quality under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The new rule guts the Clean Water Act's Section 401 provisions, which for nearly 50 years have provided for states' and authorized Tribes' self-determination in permitting for a wide array of projects requiring federal approval within their borders. The rule also suppresses state and Tribal public participation processes that moor U.S. water policy in the harbor of democracy.
Custer-Gallatin Plan Contains New River Protections (MT)
Today, Montana's Custer-Gallatin National Forest became the most recent National Forest to release their new final management plan. American Whitewater engaged with our partners in Outdoor Alliance Montana, working with local volunteer Chris Ennis, to provide detailed information to the Forest Service on the recreational values and needs. Over the several year long process we shaped a vision for the Forest that was refined and presented to the Forest Service. A central part of that vision for paddlers was a request that several streams be granted new protections through deeming them eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. The new Forest Plan contains 30 eligible streams, 18 of which are newly protected in the plan, and many of which were requested and supported by American Whitewater and our partners in Outdoor Alliance Montana.
A Victory for the San Joaquin River Gorge
American Whitewater efforts, funded by a Conservation Alliance grant, to protect the San Joaquin River Gorge received a big boost with news that the proposed Temperance Flat Dam is effectively dead due to its exorbitant cost. This dam proposal threatened to drown 18 miles of river including the entire San Joaquin River Gorge. Proponents of this project had to provide final costs as a condition of receiving $171 million in funds necessary to initiate the project from the Proposition One, Water Storage Investment Program. A recently-completed draft analysis for the Temperance Flat Authority pegged the cost of water provided by a new dam at $9000 per acre-foot of water over the 50-year capital cost repayment period. To compare, when this new dam was first conceived water in California was estimated to cost an average of $70 per acre-foot. Overall, this cost analysis backs up statements made by American Whitewater in the 2018 film You Can't Dam Your Way to Paradise - "All the dams that make sense to be built on the San Joaquin River Gorge have already been built. If they were economically viable, they would have been built a long time ago."
With Your Support we did great work in 2019! CHECK OUT OUR ANNUAL REPORT
American Whitewater is an organization that prides ourselves on getting work done, both effectively and efficiently. Eighty percent of every dollar we see goes directly to our stewardship work, and in 2019 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 2019 Annual Report.
Wild and Scenic with a Local Touch: Protecting the Upper Colorado River
After 12 years of hard work, the Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Alternative Management Plan was finalized and formally accepted by the BLM and USFS to protect and enhance the flow related values - like recreational boating - of the Upper Colorado River.
RESILIENCE live event and fundraiser for AW July 28
Please join our own Communications Director Evan Stafford, along with Brad Ludden and Joe Mornini for RESILIENCE on July 28!
Evan will share his thoughts on the lessons whitewater and river stewardship can teach us about resilience. Along with presentations from the other panelists, we'll also be raising funds for AW, First Descents and Team River Runner, and celebrating the launch of Joe Booth's new book, From the River. Register today!
Six rivers added to the Virginia Scenic Rivers System
The Virginia Scenic Rivers Program turns 50 this year, and it just received quite the birthday gift - the addition of six rivers to the state scenic system, including the beloved Maury River! This milestone is further evidence that river designations are a broadly supported tool for communities to protect and celebrate the rivers that offer so much in terms of recreation, ecology, clean water, public health, and economic benefits.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Our Stewardship Work
We are taking the time to listen and learn. That is the statement American Whitewater made last month to reckon with the much-needed conversation about race taking place across the world. It was true to our desire to spend some real time assessing the intersection of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion with our river stewardship work. Since then, staff, with guidance from our board, has initiated some hard-internal conversations to discuss what we have learned and to figure out what we can do to affect change.
Don Millard - AW Super Upper Yough Access Volunteer!
American Whitewater super-volunteer Don Millard has been taking care of the Sang Run and Friendsville Access Areas on Maryland's Upper Youghioghenny River for the past several years. This bulds on a 2003 agreement between American Whitewater and Maryland State Parks, which owns the property. This year he rebuilt the change house and porta-pot shelter, set AW's sign back up, filled in potholes, and mowed acres of grass. He not only did the work, he donated the materials and machine time! This work givezs AW strong ties to the community (the place is also a fishing access) and local park managers. Also, thanks to him, boaters are not faced with a $5 access fee at both ends! Please remember, the pandemic is still on. Be smart. If you use the porta-pot, wash your hands or use sanitizer!
Join Us for the (virtual) Deerfield Fest this Friday!
Whitewater boaters from Maine to Pennsylvania gather each June in Charlemont, MA to celebrate whitewater boating and American Whitewater's river advocacy to protect, restore, and enjoy our northeast rivers. While we can't gather in-person this year, we'll be having a virtual Deerfield Fest Membership Event this Friday, June 26th at 7 pm (EST) . We'll be giving away some fun AW merchandise and other prizes for those who JOIN or RENEW their AW Membership and join us on Friday, so REGISTER for the virtual Deerfield River Membership Event today and join us for this fun event in support of AW. (Photo by Alan MacRae)
Comment Now on Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Plan (NC)
The Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest spans 1.1 million acres of Western North Carolina's lush forested mountains. The Forest is home to popular whitewater runs like the Nantahala, Wild and Scenic Rivers like the Chattooga, and steep adventure runs like the Thompson River. The Forest's streams are home to astounding biodiversity and produce drinking water, jobs, and recreational benefits across the region. Over the next two weeks you can have a say in the next Forest Plan that will govern how these streams - as well as trails and other recreational sites - are managed for the next 15-20 years. AW has been part of the collaborative Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership for the past 7 years, and we are pleased to share some suggested Draft Plan ideas with you that are broadly supported. Comments are due June 29th.
1000+ Comments Halt Threats to the South Fork American River (CA)
Last May American Whitewater and our colleagues at Friends of the River asked for your help to stop El Dorado Irrigation District's (EID) proposed modification of Water Right Permit 21112. This proposal contained changes to water diversion points for 17,000-acre feet of water per year that would have been detrimental to 50 miles of whitewater on the South Fork American River. This included our favorite Class II-V whitewater reaches on Kyburz, Golden Gate, Slab Creek, Chili Bar, Coloma to Greenwood & the Gorge. We are happy to report your overwhelming response generated 1065 comments helping to stop this proposal in its tracks.
CA Scheduled Releases Mokelumne, NF Feather & Pit
In California, American Whitewater is working with Pacific Gas & Electric and the managing agencies, including USFS and BLM, to provide the following scheduled releases for the Mokelumne, North Fork Feather & the PIT River. Please note that each release has been and is subject to circumstances on the ground regarding COVID 19. All parties keeping in mind the current California State Order as well as local County Health Guidelines.
Congress is dropping in on the Great American Outdoors Act
The Great American Outdoors Act, a new bill that would permanently fund the LWCF and provide five years of funding for public lands and rivers is moving forward through Congress right now and we need your voice to make sure it becomes law. The Senate voted 80 to 17 on Monday to begin floor debate on the legislation. This means there's still time to show your support for a visionary investment in the protection and enhancement of access to, and in the vitality of the local economies that rely on, our public lands and rivers. Take action now, as this vote means a full vote to pass this legislation out of the Senate and send it to the House where the companion bill is waiting, is imminent.
Comments Needed to Support Weber River (UT) Releases
American Whitewater has worked for the past several years to successfully negotiate an agreement calling for 4 recreational releases each summer on the Scrambled Eggs reach of the Weber River, located near Ogden, Utah. This agreement was considered and supported in a recent Environmental Assessment (EA) authored by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who are accepting public comments on the EA and will then issue a new 30 to 50-year license for the dam. Hopefully that license will include our proposed recreational releases that were supported by the EA. If you have paddled this reach, personal comments in support of recreational releases and the recreational values of the river will help ensure the releases are included in the final dam license.
Clear Creek (CO) is Now Open to Boaters!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clear Creek Canyon near Golden, CO was closed to recreation beginning in April. As recreation began reopening across the state, and within Clear Creek Canyon, whitewater recreation was omitted from the list of approved activities. With hard work from American Whitewater, Colorado Whitewater, and the local boating community, we work able to develop a dialogue with local law enforcement and elected officials to reopen this valuable Front Range boating area.
National Forest Protects 360 Miles of Streams in Montana
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.
Today is Colorado Public Lands Day!
As paddlers, we appreciate the mental and physical health benefits of outdoor recreation. A beautiful day on the river with friends is often what makes us feel like ourselves again. Access and use of our public lands right now seems more precious than ever. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult to watch river gages around that state rise and be unable to travel and visit these places we love due to state and local closures. Read more for an update on the Jefferson County closure of Clear Creek and check out a few opportunities to celebrate today in the interest of the health of your family and those around you.