Proposed Crazy Mountain Land Swap Open For Comment (MT)
12/20/2022 - by Kevin Colburn
The Forest Service is considering a proposed land exchange in Montana that would trade away public lands along Big Timber and Sweet Grass creeks in the Crazy Mountains. The proposal appears unlikely to change paddling access or other values on Big Timber Creek, but access to Sweet Grass could be greatly reduced. This area is riddled with checkerboard ownership and has longstanding public access uncertainties. Hunters, anglers, and other backcountry enthusiasts have largely panned the proposal because it reduces public access. American Whitewater submitted a comment respectfully asking that the impacts to paddling be considered, and that the proposal be modified to improve rather than limit public access. Comments are due by December 23, 2022.
Comments Needed on Madison River Boating Limits (MT)
10/13/2022 - by Kevin Colburn
AW Wildfire Info Map Keeps Boater Updated on Rivers Affected by Fires
08/02/2022 - by Scott Harding
It's peak fire season in much of the country and active wildfires are currently burning along several whitewater rivers in the West. Be sure to check the American Whitewater Wildfire Information Map for the latest details on whether there's an active wildfire that could affect your boating trip or safety. It's the only map that combines detailed information on whitewater runs with constantly updated fire locations, air quality info, and more.
2022 Weber Releases Scheduled (UT)
05/27/2022 - by Kevin Colburn
Recreational flow releases have been scheduled on the Scrambled Eggs Section of the Weber River for June 4, June 18, July 2, and July 9 of this year, subject to change if unexpected conditions occur. These are the first releases of their kind on this reach, following years of negotiations and studies that led to the issuance of a new 40-year federal license for the hydropower project. Flows will unfortunately be lower volume than expected this year. American Whitewater advocated for these releases throughout the long and challenging dam relicensing process with the support of local volunteers. This article covers what you need to know to enjoy the releases. Enjoy the Weber!
Weber Releases Get Green Light For This Summer! (UT)
05/09/2022 - by Kevin Colburn
On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave the green light for recreational releases to begin on Utah’s Weber River this summer! The move came when the agency approved the Whitewater Boating Plan, which was a critical step prior to the flow restoration called for in the new license for the Weber Hydroelectric Project. American Whitewater recently requested that FERC expedite approval of the plan so the public could enjoy the Weber River this year and we are delighted that they did so! With the plan now accepted, American Whitewater will quickly work with the power company to analyze flow forecasts and schedule the four negotiated Saturday releases between late May and mid-July. American Whitewater has spent the past seven years negotiating these releases. We hope paddlers enjoy them this year and in the future!
Ashley National Forest Proposes To Roll Back Required River Protections (UT)
03/03/2022 - by Kevin Colburn
The Ashley National Forest is a 1.4 million-acre National Forest in Utah that spans from the Uinta Mountains to Flaming Gorge. The Forest released their draft management plan late last year which, when finalized, will guide Forest management for the next 15-20 years. Unfortunately, the Forest’s draft plan proposes to strip protections from 26 of 28 streams they have deemed eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. American Whitewater recently filed comments on the draft plan alerting the Forest to their flawed approach. The Agency often takes a year to release the final plan following the release of the draft plan, after which plans are subject to administrative and legal challenges.
Making Policy Progress in Colorado
01/12/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz
The Colorado based stewardship team had the pleasure of working with a team of graduate students from the University of Colorado’s Masters of the Environment program in 2021. We set them up with the task of investigating the feasibility of a state run wild and scenic river protection program in Colorado. The team, Sarah Hamming, Sarah Heller, and Jack Sheehan, dove deep in literature to learn about the history and workings of the WSRA, other state programs and other mechanisms for protecting water in Colorado. Thanks to the far reaching stakeholder outreach of the students, the concepts have already been the topic of discussion in river conservation circles and will hopefully spark bold changes for the valuable waters of our headwaters state.
Explore Northern Rockies Rivers with Purpose This Year
05/14/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
Documenting your experiences on rivers in the Northern Rockies this summer could help secure lasting protections for those rivers. Several key landscapes are under review for protections by Congress and the US Forest Service, but we lack the kind of compelling descriptions and photos that can inspire and inform decision makers to offer rivers and their enjoyment key protections. So we need your help. As you explore rivers in the focal areas noted in this article, we encourage you to paddle with a purpose: take photos highlighting river values, take video, and take notes on recreational and ecological values - then share your content with American Whitewater.
Final Bear River (ID) Release Moved to September
04/27/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
The final 2021 release on the Black Canyon of the Bear River has been rescheduled to September 11 and 12, 2021. This shift was made possible because the dam owner will be conducting maintenance work this summer and fall that will increase base flows in the river, which decreases ecological concerns with late season paddling releases. The same rescheduling occured last year as well. Our partners in managing the Bear River graciously supported this change, which was requested by American Whitewater and was popular with regional paddlers last year.
Whitewater Flows Secured in New Weber River Dam License! (UT)
03/24/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
A new 40-year license for a dam on Utah's Weber River includes four Saturday paddling releases each year prior to July 15, as well as flow information, accesss, and fish passage enhancements. This outcome is the result of American Whitewater staff and volunteers collaborating with the power company and other stakeholders over the past several years. The releases will provide relatively rare paddling opportunities near Ogden, Utah, in a region where dams and diversions have limited or eliminated many paddling opportunities. The new license requires a recreation plan be developed and other measures that will delay the initiation of releases until 2022. Big thanks to all our partners on the Weber, our lead volunteer Charlie Vincent, and the numerous volunteers who helped us collect data and solve legal and other challenges over the years! See you on the Weber next year!
Railway in Arkansas and Eagle River Corridors to Receive More Scrutiny (CO)
02/05/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
Last week, we urged you to send your comments to the federal Surface Transportation Board asking them to deny Colorado, Midland & Pacific Railway's (CMPR) request to be exempted from important regulatory proceedings regarding their proposed lease and operation of the Tennessee Pass rail line. The rail line traverses the Arkansas and Eagle Rivers in Colorado and has been inactive for almost 25 years. Today, rather than approving their exemption, the Surface Transporation Board (STB) has postponed a decision on the exemption, in part due to the comments submitted by American Whitewater and our members. On January 22, American Whitewater formally petitioned the STB to stay (or postpone) the effective date of the exemption in order to conduct a more thorough review of CMPR's proposed lease and operations on the Tennessee Pass Line and we additionally requested a complete and thorough environmental review of the project. While our full request has not been approved by the STB, their move to postpone their decision on the exemption until further review of all comments and objections is worth celebrating!
Grand Canyon 2022 Main Lottery Update (AZ)
02/05/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
In December, we shared an update on how the Grand Canyon has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Grand Canyon closed on March 24, 2019 and all permitted river trips were canceled through June 14, 2019. Up to 1600 self-guided trip participants had their trips canceled by the NPS and were given the option to reschedule for the same launch date in 2022. To make up for the lost trip opportunities due to the pandemic, American Whitewater's affiliate club, the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA), advocated for additional self-guided permits in the 2021, 2022, and 2023 season. At GCPBA's request, the National Park Service approved the addition of small (8-person or fewer) trips every other day in March and October for 2021, 2022, and 2023. The additional March 2021 dates were made available in a follow-up lottery that rain on October 27, 2020. Fast forward to February 2021 and it is again that time of year. The annual Grand Canyon main lottery began on February 2 and will run through February 26. In regular Grand Canyon permitting fashion, the current permit application is for launch dates in the 2022 calendar year. However due to the COVID-19 impacts explained above, the 2022 launch dates have some modifications. Read on to learn more!
Salt River Season Suspended (AZ)
02/05/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
The Salt River lottery for the 2021 river season has been suspended due to COVID-19 mitigation measures put in place by the White Mountain Apache Tribe. The Tonto National Forest has a close relationship with the WMAT and the Forest Service is supporting their decision to close their recreation areas to the public. Similar to other Tribes, the WMAT has been hard hit by COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate compared to other populations in the U.S. American Whitewater sends our condolences to those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and we ask that paddlers respect the current river suspension. If White Mountain Apache Tribal Lands reopen to the public then an announcement will be made initiating a first come first serve permit process for the Salt River Canyon. This will be announced on Recreation.gov, through the Salt River listserv, and on American Whitewater’s website.
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.
East Fork Virgin River Proposed Dam Halted for More Analysis (UT)
02/01/2021 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater learned of a dam and diversion proposed in the East Fork of the Virgin River watershed late last year and was among several organizations that filed comments questioning the analysis behind the proposal. It was announced last week that approval of the dam approval would be delayed so a more robust analysis can be conducted. This is good news for the Wild and Scenic East Fork of the Virgin River as it flows through Zion National Park downstream of the proposed dam.
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.
Rattlesnake Creek Dam Removed!
08/14/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
Rattlesnake Creek starts high in its namesake Wilderness, flows for miles through scenic backcountry, and then through city parks and occasional back yards as it makes its way through one of Missoula, Montana's quieter neighborhoods. A dam blocked the stream where it emerges from the National Forest since 1904, until this summer. In a project led by Rob Roberts at Trout Unlimited the dam has been removed and the river channel is being restored. When flows come back up in the spring paddlers will be able to float from the National Forest to the Clark Fork River without needing to portage the dam for the first time in over a century, and fish will be able to move freely up and downstream. Learn more, and enjoy the newly free flowing Rattlesnake Creek.
Bear River Releases Rescheduled for Late Summer (ID)
07/23/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
Recreational releases were cancelled on many rivers this spring due to Covid-related travel restrictions and concerns, including several releases on the Black Canyon of the Bear River in Idaho. American Whitewater has worked with the dam owner to reschedule Black Canyon releases for late summer, specifically August 29 & 30, and September 12 & 13. These releases offer paddlers a rare opportunity to enjoy the Bear River late in the recreation season. In addition, irrigation flows of approximately 200-500cfs are currently being delivered through the Black Canyon all summer, creating additional and rare lower-water paddling opportunities 24-hours a day for the rest of the summer through the second week of September.
Custer-Gallatin Plan Contains New River Protections (MT)
07/09/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
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.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife to Require Hunting or Fishing License at River Access
07/08/2020 - by Kestrel Kunz
In an unexpected and strategic move by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), a Colorado hunting or fishing license will now be required to access State Wildlife Areas and CPW-leased State Trust Lands (effective July 1, 2020). Many of these affected areas have historically been used for paddling, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, and other non-consumptive recreation uses. CPW's press release stated that "This rule is aimed at curtailing non-wildlife-related use of these properties", and while we understand the need to increase revenue to support management of these areas, we have a few concerns with this strategy. On July 1, American Whitewater, Colorado Mountain Club, and multiple other organizations submitted a joint letter to CPW Commissioners requesting that they reconsider the new Rule and find a more practicable and sustainable method for collecting fees for these areas.