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.
Weber River to Flow as Early as 2021 (UT)
12/08/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
The Federal government now has all the information it needs to issue a new 30 to 50 year license for the Weber River Hydroelectric Project. If they issue the license soon, recreational releases could begin in the early summer of 2021. Delays could push back releases to 2022, but either way, releases appear to be on the way. American Whitewater has spent several years negotiating modest flow restoration for this dewatered Class III-IV reach of the Weber River.
COVID-19 Impacts on the Grand Canyon (AZ)
12/08/2020 - 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
Get Your 2021 AW CALENDAR Today – MAKES A GREAT GIFT!
12/08/2020 - by Evan Stafford
The 2021 American Whitewater calendar is now available! Get yours today - it makes a great gift for the paddler in your life. Each year, we collect the best photos from our gracious paddling community and pick out our favorites for the annual AW calendar. The proceeds from calendar sales support our river stewardship work.
When this years calendar arrives, River Stewardship Across the Country, you'll get to see a new beautiful image of a river that AW has made a difference on every month and find out about the work we're doing and have done there. Careful or you might end up adding a bunch of new rivers to next years wish list...
It's an awesome fundraiser and a product we know you'll love. Consider picking one up today. . . and really, they make great gifts. Don't miss out, place your order now!
Colorado Voters Approve Measures For Rivers
12/07/2020 - by Ian Stafford
Coloradans across the state were asked if they wanted to protect watershed and river health, and they resoundingly said "Yes" at the ballot box. Ballot Measure 7A (Conveniently the title for both districts) was asked of the Colorado River District, comprising 15 West Slope counties, and the St. Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District, comprising 3 Front Range Counties. These voters overwhelmingly agreed a Mill Levy increase that will see funds be directed solely for the benefit of water projects. American Whitewater endorsed each of these measures, and are proud to see voters agree that protecting watershed and river health is essential for the future.
Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday!
12/07/2020 - by Hattie Johnson
Colorado Gives Day is this Tuesday, December 8th! On this day, folks from around the state and country give to Colorado-based nonprofits like ours, with potential matches provided by CommunityFirst Foundation. You make an online donation here to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. Our Colorado based team works on river access, stewardship and conservation issues from flow protection, water quality enhancement, Wild and Scenic management, and state level policies that highlight river recreation and the industry it supports. In 2021, American Whitewater will continue to work directly with landowners, decision makers, and paddlers to minimize access conflicts across the state.
Please respond to flow surveys for the Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers (CO)!
12/05/2020 - by Cassidy Randall
As boaters, we're all about geeking out on river flow. We know that no two rivers have the same range of flows for a good experience; each river has its own magic formula of flows for boating. And on our home rivers, we usually know the exact gage reading for when it's time to go boating. Now, American Whitewater needs your local knowledge of flows on the whitewater segments of the Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers. Your responses to the surveys for recreational boating on the Crystal and Roaring Fork will help us protect good boating conditions on these two classic Colorado rivers.
2021 Southeast Advanced Release Schedule Set!
11/24/2020 - 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!
2020 BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION - CURRENT MEMBERS PLEASE VOTE NOW!
11/16/2020 - by Evan Stafford
Each year American Whitewater's membership ratifies Board of Director members to serve three-year terms. These candidates volunteer to serve on the American Whitewater Board. Current American Whitewater members can cast their votes through Midnight Pacific Time, December 15th. Currently, American Whitewater has four Director Nominees to fill four open seats for election, you may vote for up to four candidates on the slate. The ballot for our Board of Directors election is placed online here.
Update: Stream Access Case in front of the New Mexico Supreme Court
11/11/2020 - by Hattie Johnson
In April 2020, American Whitewater Affiliate Club and partner, the Adobe Whitewater Club (AWC), joined New Mexico Wildlife Federation and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to petition the New Mexico Supreme Court to uphold the constitutional rights of the people to access our public waters, even where they cross private lands. We have been working closely with AWC since the issue arose in the summer of 2019 and you can read more about the evolution of this case here and a much more recent update here. While we wait for a decision from the Supreme Court, the New Mexico Paddlers Coalition - made up of AW, AWC, and New Mexico River Outfitters Association - have been meeting weekly to prepare for our next course of action whether the court rules for or against protecting the public's right to float the state's rivers and streams.
AW Works to Restore Boating Flows to West Canada Creek (NY)
11/11/2020 - by Robert Nasdor
American Whitewater is working to bring whitewater boating back to West Canada Creek in the Adirondacks as part of the relicensing of the hydropower dams at Prospect and Trenton. Over the past month, AW members have participated in two whitewater boating studies on the river demonstrating the importance of whitewater boating on the river.
Check Out the River Stewardship Work Your Engagement Supports
11/11/2020 - by Evan Stafford
American Whitewater has big stewardship plans for 2021, removing dams, securing new Wild and Scenic designations, enhancing access and protections for rivers on public lands, and protecting our bedrock river conservation laws such as the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act. We continue to press forward with bipartisan opportunities to pass legislation that's good for our rivers, but we can't do it without your ongoing support to keep our work on track. Your membership dollars and donations will support our conservation efforts, from protecting large landscapes and the whitewater rivers that flow through them to securing protections under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, restoring flows to rivers impacted by hydropower to advocating for removing deadbeat dams, and protecting flows threatened by water resource projects to our access and safety work. We've got our work cut out for us in 2021. Take a moment to see what your contribution will support in every whitewater region across the country in our 2020 Winter Stewardship Update.
Chehalis Dam Proposal: Another Comment Period Is Currently Open
11/11/2020 - by Thomas O'Keefe
You may have already commented on the proposal for a massive new dam on the Chehalis River, but the Army Corps of Engineers has opened a new round of comment and it is important for the whitewater boating community to document concerns (and thank Governor Inslee for taking steps to chart a new course). Take Action Today
Changes to Upper Yough Permit Yield April Saturday Releases (MD)
11/09/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
The State of Maryland issued a new permit for the Deep Creek Hydroelectric Project earlier this fall that offered the river and its visitors some incremental enhancements to the flow release program. The State hosted several public meetings during 2020 and considered public comments to help shape the new permit, which typically lasts for roughly a decade. The most important change for paddlers is that moving forward, recreational releases in April will be on Saturdays rather than Fridays. Big thanks to paddlers who attended meetings and submitted comments, and to the State of Maryland for keeping the Upper Yough awesome.
New Wild and Scenic Rivers Bill for Montana to be Introduced!
11/09/2020 - by Jim Hepburn
Earlier today, Montana Senator Jon Tester announced the forthcoming introduction of the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act, marking a major milestone in the ongoing and momentous journey towards designating many of the state's most renowned waterways as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Senator's office noted that this legislation would be the "most significant Wild and Scenic River designation in the state in nearly 45 years." The MHLA will protect 336 miles on 17 rivers and streams in the Greater Yellowstone and Upper Missouri Headwaters geographies as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The compilation includes a tried and true sampling of the essential Montana paddling experience, containing classic sections of the Yellowstone, Madison, Gallatin, Stillwater, and Boulder, all stacked between the ultra-scenic multi-day section of the Smith and an assortment of rugged and remote wilderness runs on their tributaries.
Midnight Miracle at Kanawha Falls
11/09/2020 - by Charlie Walbridge
A Tennessee kayaker was rescued after spending 8 hours trapped behind the veil of Kanawha Falls, a 15 foot drop located below the confluence of the New and Gauley Rivers in West Virginia. The victim was paddling alone; a fisherman spotted his loose kayak and notified authorities. Top expert kayakers from Fayetteville, WV teamed up with WV-DNR officers and first responders to locate and rescue the man. Read their remarkable first-person accounts in the American Whitewater Accident Database: https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Accident/detail/accidentid/112642
October Volunteers of the Month Presented by Kokatat
10/20/2020 - by Theresa Simsiman
American Whitewater members Vance Harris, Nate O'Connor, Cameron O'Connor, and Dominic Judd are humble heroes. While camping on their way to the recreational releases on Pit 5, these young men took action to prevent another wildfire from burning out of control in Northern California.
Fall 2020 Tallulah Releases Cancelled Due To Covid-19
10/19/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
Tallulah Gorge State Park has determined that scheduled Tallulah Gorge whitewater releases for the fall of 2020 need to be cancelled to comply with their Covid-19 related policies. Access to the gorge floor has been closed to all visitors since March, and paddlers gathering at access areas and on the stairs would exceed their limits on people occupying areas of the Park. Representatives of American Whitewater and an affiliate club represented paddlers on a call today with the Park and power company. While disappointing, we are supportive of the cancellation and feel it is a fair application of current Park policies. We have asked that rescheduling cancelled releases in 2021 be open for discussion early next year.
An Uncommon Dialogue about Hydropower Leads to New Possibilities For Rivers
10/19/2020 - by Evan Stafford
For the past two and a half years American Whitewater has participated in a cooperative effort bringing together members of the hydropower industry, national conservation organizations, the Department of Energy, and others who are committed to addressing the urgent challenge of climate change, and its impacts on rivers. Co-convened by Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment as a part of the Energy Futures Initiative, this Uncommon Dialogue process resulted in a Joint Statement of Collaboration on U.S. Hydropower that outlines our shared task to chart hydropower's role in a clean energy future in a way that also supports healthy rivers.
Whitewater Wars Tells how the Ocoee and Gauley Were Saved
10/15/2020 - by Charlie Walbridge
From 1980 to 1985 David Brown lead successful battles to secure recreational water releases on both the Ocoee and Gauley Rivers. These great victories are the subject of his new book "Whitewater Wars." Dave was hired by outfitters on both rivers, and his efforts took him from the edge of the river to the halls of congress. On the Gauley a small cadre of private paddlers - Pete Skinner, Mac Thornton, Pope Barrow, Steve Taylor, and Charlie Walbridge - played important roles and later became the nucleus of an American Whitewater board that guided the organization towards it's current position as a national leader in river access and conservation. Dave ran the first Gauleyfest to help build support for protecting the river, and was excited to get 500 attendees! After the Gauley was declared a National Recreation Area the festival was passed over to AW. And the rest is history! It's a great read!