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.
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.
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.
Opportunity to Participate in Upper Gunnison Watershed Management Plan (CO)
07/08/2020 - by Kestrel Kunz
The Upper Gunnison Water Conservancy District in Gunnison, Colorado is coordinating a Watershed Management Planning effort "to help protect existing water uses and watershed health in the Upper Gunnison Basin in the face of pressure from increased water demands and permanent reductions in water supply." The current phase is focusing on Tomichi, Cochetopa, Cebolla, Taylor, and the Gunnison River above Blue Mesa. With local stewardship staff in Crested Butte, American Whitewater has joined the Watershed Management Planning Team to help represent recreational river users and quantify flow preferences and recreational opportunities on the Taylor and Gunnison Rivers. American Whitewater is very excited to be involved in this stakeholder driven process and we are asking paddlers to share their input on management priorities for the Upper Gunnison Basin. If you have experience paddling Cebolla, Taylor, or the Upper Gunnison Rivers, please fill out this quick survey!
HELP US STOP HYDRO DEVELOPMENT ON BIG CANYON (AZ)
07/07/2020 - by Kestrel Kunz
In the ongoing saga of hydro dam developments proposed within striking distance of Grand Canyon National Park, American Whitewater is asking for help from the paddling community to stop a development that would impact the greater Grand Canyon area and its tributaries. Back in October 2019, we wrote an article outlining the proposal submitted by Phoenix-based hydroelectric company Pumped Hydro LLC to place two dams on the Little Colorado River, a tributary of the Colorado River's mighty Grand Canyon. This proposal was met with a large amount of pushback for the cultural impact on indigenous tribes, ecological impacts, and water use. To address these concerns, Pumped Hydro decided to file an alternative (yet equally problematic) proposal for a hydro development on Big Canyon, a tributary of the Little Colorado River. The Big Canyon project permit application has been accepted into the Federal Energy Regulation Commission's (FERC) registrar, initiating a public comment period on the project ending August 1 and we need members of the paddling community to step up and make their voices heard!
We Need your Help to Protect Paddlers’ Access to New Mexico Rivers and Streams
07/07/2020 - by Kestrel Kunz
Rivers once promoted by the New Mexico State Parks Division in their publication "New Mexico Whitewater - A Guide to River Trips" are now being blocked by private landowners with barricades, cables and No Trespassing signs. This includes upper Chama and Pecos river segments. Privatizers have filed additional applications that would close several other river segments in New Mexico, and their lawyers are threatening an "immense wave" of constitutional "litigation" in the event that "any action by the Court, the Legislature, the Department, or the Commission… restrict[s] landowners' rights to prevent the public from using their streambeds underlying public waters." American Whitewater has been working with our local partners in New Mexico to ensure that this new Rule is rescinded. We need your support to win this battle. If you're in a position to contribute, doing so will help us with legal expenses for our partners and outreach.
Comments Needed to Support Weber River (UT) Releases
06/09/2020 - by Kevin Colburn
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.
NM Senators Introduce Wild and Scenic River Legislation - Help us thank them!
05/12/2020 - by Kestrel Kunz
We are celebrating a great win today after New Mexico Senators Udall and Heinrich announced the introduction of the M.H. Dutch Salmon Greater Gila Wild and Scenic River Act. The Act, officially introduced on May 8, would protect over 440 miles of free-flowing rivers and streams in the Gila and San Francisco watersheds. If passed, the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and their tributaries would receive permanent protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - the strongest protection a river can receive. While the Gila legislation gives flexibility to existing uses and landowners, the free-flowing nature and outstanding values of these rivers and streams would be protected now and for future generations to enjoy. The main stem Gila and San Francisco Rivers offer some of the most remote and wild paddling opportunities in New Mexico and have been explored and loved by paddlers for decades. Please help us thank the Senators for their commitment to protect these rivers by filling out this super easy form!