HELP THE USFS DISCOVER The WHITEWATER RECREATION IN THEIR OWN CA BACKYARD!
The United States Forest Service (USFS) recently released Draft Revisions for their Sequoia and Sierra National Forest Land Management Plans in California. As a part of this process, National Forests are required to identify the eligibility of rivers for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Once a river is found eligible it is managed to protect the values that support their inclusion. Over the course of 5 years of engagement, American Whitewater has identified 228 river miles in the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests that we regard to have outstandingly remarkable whitewater recreational value. These whitewater miles contain unique, rare or exemplary features that should qualify these rivers for inclusion into the Eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers Inventory. Yet, thus far, the USFS has only evaluated 25% of these river miles for whitewater recreation. Help the USFS discover whitewater recreation on rivers in their CA backyard by submitting personal a comment via our super simple form.
Public Comment Due for Arkansas River Sept. 20! (CO)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is in their final stages of revising the Resource Management Plan for the Eastern Colorado Field Office, which encompasses the Arkansas River Corridor from Leadville to Cañon City and includes Grape Creek. The Management Plan, which hasn't been revised since 1996, sets the blueprint for how our rivers are managed and which protections they are afforded. The BLM depends on the public - folks like yourself - to speak up and tell them why these special places need protecting. Public comments are due September 20 (in just 10 days) and must be submitted online here.
AW Journal - The September/October Issue is Online Now!
The September/October issue of the AW Journal is available in our online "Library". This issue includes 'The Whitewater Legacy of Jimmy Carter' along with much more. Read the issue online now or download your copy.
Gore Canyon Festival 2019 (CO) Review
Gore Fest 2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the Gore Race, our banner event. Both the race and festival had all time turn out. The event fulfills our mission of enjoying these resources we love and work so hard to defend. Gore Fest was born out of the work AW has done and continues to do to protect and restore flows on the Upper Colorado River. This year proved our community is ready to enjoy it. We had 66 folks renew their memberships and got 53 brand new folks dedicated to our work!
2019 LETTER TO GAULEY BOATERS FROM THE NPS (WV)
Each year the rangers of Gauley River National Recreation Area (WV) send American Whitewater an open letter to boaters that keeps us up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River.
AW Launches Adirondacks River Restoration Campaign
American Whitewater is launching the Adirondacks River Restoration Campaign to restore and improve river flows for aquatic ecosystems and to improve recreation opportunities across the region. Over the next 10 years, more than 50 hydroelectric dams in New York are scheduled to get new 30 to 50-year federal licenses, creating a once in a generation opportunity to improve river conditions. In the Black River Basin alone, there are more than 20 hydropower dams on the Black, Beaver, and Moose rivers that will begin the relicensing process in the next year, and American Whitewater will need to participate with other partners in order to mitigate project impacts and achieve river restoration goals. Through these efforts, we will restore flows to dewatered river reaches, improve existing flows, enhance public access, and benefit communities throughout the region.
Draft Flathead River Management Plan Released for Comment (MT)
The Forest Service has released a Proposed Action which is essentially a partial draft management plan the forks of the Wild and Scenic Flathead River. The Proposed Action is available for public review and comment through September 13, 2019. The Forest Service proposed a number of management actions that would be triggered by encounter limits being reached, including new permit systems. We encourage Flathead River paddlers to give the agency some feedback on the encounter thresholds they propose, the proposed management actions, and the Proposed Action as a whole.
Russell Fork Release Study Open For Comment (VA/KY)
The Army Corps of Engineers has shared their Environmental Assessment that considered four potential changes to the fall whitewater release program aimed at enhancing whitewater paddling opportunities. The Corps is planning on providing two additional Friday releases this fall as a result of the analysis. The EA is refreshingly succinct, and we encourage paddlers to give it a read and submit a comment if you are inspired to do so.
Harpers Ferry Access Study Reveals Need for New Approaches (MD/WV)
The final Weverton Rail Crossing Feasibility Study was released this week, which considered two options for improving the crossing of CSX railroad tracks to provide safer public access to the Potomac River and the C&O Canal National Historical Park, and for use of the Appalachian Trail. The Report reveals insurmountable problems with the two proposed access solutions, but also highlights other possible paths forward.
Sierra & Sequoia National Forest Management Plans (CA)
The U.S. Forest Service recently released the revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Forest Plans (DFP) for the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. As part of this process, National Forests are required to identify the eligibility of rivers for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Once a river is found eligible it is managed to protect the values that support their inclusion. To that end, American Whitewater has identified recreation as an outstandingly remarkable value on many iconic whitewater rivers within the Sierra and Sequoia National Forest and is advocating for their inclusion into the inventory of eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers. Dinkey Creek Photo by Daniel Lundberg
Submit Your Best Images For the 2020 American Whitewater Calendar!
Submit your best photos for the American Whitewater Calendar! Many of the best whitewater rivers in this country are on public lands, but our rivers on public lands also face a number of challenges. For our 2020 calendar we're celebrating these incredible rivers that belong to all of us in an effort to encourage your enjoyment of them and their protection. Images that feature rivers on public lands will be given the highest consideration and bonus points for images that feature current, past or future American Whitewater projects.
AW Stewardship Assistant Job Announcement
American Whitewater is hiring! The Stewardship Assistant will be responsible for supporting American Whitewater's Regional Stewardship Directors in project-related analysis, research, and writing as well as communicating and advocating for our work to resource agencies, funders, elected officials, and our membership. The Stewardship Assistant position is an hourly 20hr/week contract position with potential for growth. Hourly contract pay is competitive and based on experience, without benefits or office space provided. The Stewardship Assistant location is flexible, and reports to the National Stewardship Director.
Gore Canyon Festival (CO) is coming up August 23rd-25th
American Whitewater is pleased to announce the 2019 Gore Canyon Festival taking place August 23-25th on the Upper Colorado River. As the leading representative of the river-recreation community on the Upper Colorado River, American Whitewater is deeply invested in creating opportunities to protect, restore, and enjoy whitewater paddling on the Colorado River. The Gore Canyon Festival is the perfect stage to celebrate the beautiful and iconic Colorado River, and an opportunity for our partners to engage the public in cooperative river management.
New Mexico Game Commission Halts Landowner Certification of Non-Navigable Waters
In 2017, the New Mexico Game and Fish Commission adopted a new rule allowing private landowners to apply to certify streams running through their property as "non-navigable" and subject to a trespass statute outlined in the new rule. The New Mexico Game Commission called for a 90-day moratorium on the rule at their meeting on Wednesday July 24th. During the 90-day period, the commission will not hear any new applications for non-navigable certification. American Whitewater joined forces with our affiliate club, Adobe Whitewater, the American Canoe Association, and the New Mexico Wildlife Federation to request that the newly instate game commission rescind the rule.
Russell Fork Releases Expanded (KY/VA)
The fall release schedule for the Russell Fork River was recently announced, and it includes two new Friday releases that will offer 3-day weekends of releases. While announced without explanation, the added released are presumably a result of a public process convened by the Army Corp of Engineers last spring to explore the possibility of an expanded release schedule. American Whitewater and many regional paddlers advocated for additional recreational releases throughout the public process. We conducted and shared a survey that indicated significant support for Friday releases. The new releases are listed as "tentative and subject to change," and hopefully if they go well additional releases will be scheduled in future years. Enjoy these new paddling opportunities!
The Forest Service Doesn’t Want Your Input
When American Whitewater goes to bat for river corridor protections, or to stop a dam or mining project before it starts, our main tool is the combined force of our voices giving public feedback on how these actions will positively or adversely affect the rivers we love and our enjoyment of them. Unfortunately, right now the Forest Service is set to make changes that would take away our right to have a say in how public lands and rivers are managed. We have until August 12 to comment on these changes to the public process that will potentially remove the public's voice from about 93% of all Forest Service projects. We need you to let them know removing the public's voice from Forest management is unacceptable. We've made it super easy with our simple comment submission form, but please personalize it if you have an extra moment.
AW VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH PRESENTED BY KOKATAT: Charlie Duffy
American Whitewater is pleased to recognize Charlie Duffy as our August Volunteer of the Month. Charlie is a long-time kayaker and swiftwater rescue instructor who has worked hundreds of hours to help AW improve the Accident Database. He has gone over every single entry, checking each for accuracy and adding more information as needed. In the process, he uncovered a number of bugs in the way the new website handles the database. These have been reported and corrected. He also prepared a series of useful charts to help us better understand the "lessons learned" from decades of tough experiences. He shared this data with Team River Runner and the Swiftwater Rescue Committee of American Canoe Association. Charlie has helped American Whitewater inform and elevate river safety as a core part of our mission.
Sultan River (WA) Summer Release Update
At American Whitewater we are always seeking opportunities to restore rivers while also enhancing recreational opportunities. Sometimes our initial ideas can be refined and improved upon and we recently had that experience on the Sultan River. We consistently received feedback from the paddling paddling community: "we have an abundance of boating options during winter storms and spring snow melt; can't we get an opportunity to enjoy the Sultan in the summer?" We sat down with the utility and took at look at the water budget. Ultimately we determined that instead of keeping water in our water budget to supplement natural flows in the dark winter months, we could take that water and use it to provide another opportunity in late summer. We sat down with resource agencies that manage fishery resources, the utility, and the Tulalip Tribe to see if we could make it work. After a few meetings and discussions we came to consensus that we could provide another opportunity in August-a time of year when boating opportunities in the Skykomish watershed are limited. The opportunity comes with a few caveats, the most significant being that we need sufficient water in the reservoir. The whitewater boating opportunities don't use much water and provide an ecological benefit but the water is also used for drinking water so that will be a consideration. Ultimately however we believe we will be able to provide this new summer opportunity in most years.
Upper Yough Access Depends on Everyone
Many thanks those who have contributed to AW's Sang Run Access Fund on line. We raised over $1200 to pay for the porta potty and gravel. Thanks to you, we've maintained this site for the State of Maryland for over 20 years! Let's also give a special shout out to Don Millard, who has cut the grass in both Friendsville and Sang Run for many years to keep our access costs low. If not for him you might see a parking fee of $5 a head at both ends! Jeff Macklin Photo
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.