Whitewater Wars Tells how the Ocoee and Gauley Were Saved
06/10/2021 - 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!
How to Enjoy the Upcoming Savage River Release (MD)
05/24/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
The Savage River releases are on the calendar for 2021 with some changes in how to enjoy them. Commercial shuttles are now a thing of the past on the Savage, and with that comes new responsibilities for paddlers. It is vitally important that paddlers visit the Savage River responsibly so these releases can continue. Enjoy!
New River Dries to Flow Free This Fall (WV)
07/23/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
The owners of Hawks Nest Dam on the New River Dries is undertaking a thorough inspection of the Hawks Nest Tunnel this fall, something that has not been done since completion of the tunnel over 85 years ago. This work, slated to begin on September 8, 2020 and last for 60 days, will require drawing down the reservoir 20+ feet and will result in 2 months of natural flows in the New River Dries. The drawdown may also expose seldom-seen rapids on the New River beneath the Hawks Nest Reservoir. Enjoy this special fall Dries season!
Six rivers added to the Virginia Scenic Rivers System
07/06/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
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.
Upper Yough Access Guidelines and Fundraiser
06/30/2020 - by Charlie Walbridge
At Maryland's Upper Yough, one of the country's finest whitewater runs, American Whitewater has been maintaining the Sang Run Access for the past 20 years. With the 4th of July weekend coming up, a quick reminder that we are guests of the Town of Friendsville when we take out. In addition changing clothes discretely ad behaving respectfully, please observe social distancing during the pandemic. Garrett County has a low infection rate, and a mask when patronizing local businesses is the norm. We are also beginning our annual fundraiser to pay the expenses American Whitewater has at Sang Run. Out goal is $1,000, and we have already received $160. The Fee Box at Sang Run is still closed due to vandalism. We suggest $20 for the full season; $5 for one weekend. Please donate on line, or use the donation jar at the Wilderness Voyageurs shop at the takeout. Please go to https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Membership/donate/? and put "Upper Yough Access" in the comment box.
Don Millard - AW Super Upper Yough Access Volunteer!
06/25/2020 - by Charlie and Sandy Walbridge
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!
2020 New River Dries Releases Scheduled (WV)
02/06/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
Last week, American Whitewater took part in the annual scheduling meeting for the New River Dries releases. Each year these releases will follow the same pattern: a weekend in mid-March, and then 3.5 consecutive weekends starting with the last weekend in June. For 2020, this means the releases are on March 21 & 22, June 27 & 28, and July 4, 5, 11, 12, and 18. Inflows have to be in a very specific range for a release to occur or it will be rescheduled, so double check the gages and the power company website before heading to the river.
Comments Needed to Support Upper Yough Releases (MD)
11/15/2019 - by Kevin Colburn
The 12-year state permit that governs the releases from Deep Creek Lake into the Upper Youghiogheny is up for renewal, and decision-makers would benefit from hearing from paddlers. Three public meetings and significant discussions have led to broad agreement on some minor changes that are important to the paddling community, and other important issues remain unresolved. Your comment letters could help ensure the Upper Yough is managed in a responsible manner for years to come.
Upper Yough Hearing To Focus On New Dam Permit
10/04/2019 - by Kevin Colburn
The 2011 state permit that requires and governs the dam releases on the Upper Yough is up for renewal. Unlike most hydropower dams, the Deep Creek Project is not regulated by a Federal license, however the state permit fills a similar role as a Federal license would. The permit renewal creates opportunities to modify the terms of the permit in ways that could benefit or impact whitewater paddling, river ecology, and other values. A hearing is scheduled for October 15th, 2019 at Garrett College that will focus on potential changes in the new permit.
Russell Fork Release Study Open For Comment (VA/KY)
08/22/2019 - by Kevin Colburn
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)
08/21/2019 - by Kevin Colburn
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.
Russell Fork Releases Expanded (KY/VA)
08/05/2019 - by Kevin Colburn
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!
Upper Yough Access Depends on Everyone
07/16/2019 - by Charlie and Sandy Walbridge
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
Support Improved Potomac River Access at Harpers Ferry (WV/VA/DC)
06/02/2019 - by Kevin Colburn
A local planning agency has championed a study of the Weverton access site just downstream of Harpers Ferry. This site is an important Potomac river put-in/takeout site for Shenandoah and Potomac River paddlers who have few access options in the area. At issue is an informal crossing of the two-track CSX railroad used by almost 27,000 paddlers, Appalachian Trail hikers, and visitors to the C&O Canal National Historical Park last year. The study outlines two options to formalize this access site and improve the safety of crossing the railroad tracks. Either option would be a big improvement, as would a standard road crossing, and paddlers are encouraged to submit a supportive comment by the June 15 deadline.
Tow Tether Danger Highlighted by Recent Accident
02/25/2019 - by Charlie Walbridge
Nancy Kell, a very experienced Mid-States kayaker, died on February 24th after flipping in a Class II rapid on West Virginia's Red Creek. There were a number of strainers in the vicinity above and below the water. One of them snagged her tow tether, pulled her out of her boat, and held her under water. She was with a very experienced crew but they could not reach her quickly enough. Equipment snags are a real risk. In the light of this accident I strongly urge anyone using a cowtail, pigtail, or tow tether to recheck your setup, and to consider whether wearing a tow tether makes sense. Be certain that your tether releases cleanly at both ends. Do not attach the front carabiner to a non-releasable point, like a pocket or strap. Ms. Kell did this, and it may have been a contributing factor. Apparently many current rescue PFD designs to not feature a front release point! Do not attach a tether to the rear of your PFD with a non-locking carabiner, as that may inadvertently clip into a rope. The tether should fit very snugly, without sagging, but as the photo shows Ms. Kell did that, and it did not protect her! The harness release should be quick and foolproof. Practice harness releases under pressure before using it on the river. Finally, remember that any additional strap is a potential snag hazard. Ask yourself if the usefulness of a tow tether is worth the risk, especially on small, strainer infrested creeks. Carry it in a PFD pocket or dry bag if necessary. Click for a link to the report in the AW Accident Database. (Jeff Macklin Photo)
AW Russell Fork Survey Results Shared (KY/VA)
01/14/2019 - by Kevin Colburn
Last fall a diverse range of agencies and organizations expressed interest in enhancing the dam releases on the Russell Fork River, located on the border of Kentucky and Virginia. American Whitewater worked with local partners to craft a survey to inform the decision-making process and support releases that maximize benefits for paddlers and local businesses. We are pleased to share the full results of the survey, which were appreciated by the river managers.
Upper Yough Access Fundraiser a Big Success
01/07/2019 - by Charlie Walbridge
Tonight American Whitewater presented the Town of Friendsville, Maryland with a $5000 check towards the extension of the Upper Yough Access Parking Area. This, combined with a $1000 donation from Keelhaulers Canoe Club, made a strong statement of how much paddlers value the river and the town! Under the leadership of Mayor Spencer Schlosnagle and long time paddler and Friendsville resident Jess Whittemore the town raised $7 in additional funding for every dollar paddlers donated - just like they did on the initial construction! This makes these gifts a great value for the whitewater community. A big shout out and thank you to ALL who donated!
AW Presents Lower Yough Survey Results To Managers (PA)
12/19/2018 - by Kevin Colburn
Earlier this month American Whitewater conducted an online survey of the paddling community regarding the management of the Lower Youghiogheny River in Western Pennsylvania. The Lower Yough is a classic whitewater river with a long season, summer dam releases, and wonderful scenery protected by Ohiopyle State Park. American Whitewater has provided the full survey results to State Park river managers to help inform their decisions. Nearly 600 paddlers completed the survey.
Share Your Opinions on Lower Yough Management (PA)
12/03/2018 - by Kevin Colburn
Take Russell Fork Survey on Additional Releases (VA/KY)
10/24/2018 - by Kevin Colburn
This year, the Army Corps of Engineers has added Russell Fork releases on the first two weekends of November as a pilot program, in addition to the standard four October weekends. Additional changes to the release program are under consideration. American Whitewater has worked with local partners to craft a survey to inform the decision-making process and support releases that maximize benefits for paddlers and local businesses. Click through to take the survey.