NEW WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS SIGNED INTO LAW WITH PUBLIC LANDS PACKAGE!
With the President's signature today, 621 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers have been established through the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9). With strong bipartisan support, this legislation passed the House by a vote of 363-62 on February 26th. It passed the Senate by a vote of 92-8 on February 12th. Please reach out to your lawmakers in both the House and Senate to thank them for following through on this commitment, and we make it super easy through our easy action templated forms. A personalized touch will make sure your representatives read your thank you and the forms only take a moment to update with an individualized comment about why protecting wild rivers and the recreation opportunities they provide is important to you.
Tow Tether Danger Highlighted by Recent Accident
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)
Support Colorado River Access on Colorado Gives Day!
Colorado Gives Day is on December 4 this year and is fast approaching! Go here to schedule your online donation to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. All donations made to American Whitewater on Colorado Gives Day (December 4) will be put towards our River Access Program in Colorado. American Whitewater works to improve river access and public safety throughout the state by working with landowners and managers, paddlers, law enforcement, and lawmakers to understand Colorado's river access laws and the ongoing threats to public safety. Thank you for your support!
Apple and Android AW Apps Now Available!
American Whitewater is pleased to announce that a free iPhone App is now available that shares realtime details on the over 5,500 whitewater runs in our National Whitewater Inventory. The new location-enabled app allows paddlers to learn about nearby rivers within a selected distance or state, and safely pick trips that meet their group’s skill level, flow preferences, and timeframe. It offers enhanced mapping and links paddlers to the rich crowd-sourced information and river-related news on the American Whitewater website.
Ohiopyle State Park Updates River Regulations
This past fall American Whitewater met with Ohiopyle State Park managers to discuss possible updates to their whitewater paddling regulations. The first topic was to change the rules governing raft sizes at different water levels to recognize the capabilities of self-bailing rafts. Shorter self-bailing boats will now be allowed to run the river at high water. Some small changes to the regulations will make Ohiopyle Falls more accessible to paddlers. A change in the way the gauge is interpreted should make the falls "legal" on more days. Although whitewater paddlers are only one part of the vast public that visits the park, every effort was made to accommodate them while avoiding user conflicts and safety hazards. Special thanks goes to Ken Bisbee, Ohiopyle State Park Operations Manager and John Hallas, a former Ohiopyle State Park Operations Manager who is now Director of State Parks. Click here to read the updated Ohiopyle River Regulations:
White Salmon Boaters: Use Caution Downstream of Powerhouse!
Rescue Rodeo in Western North Carolina
Teams compete in river rescue skills for overall prizes. The event will be based out of Dillsboro River Company at the put-in to the Tuckasegee Gorge – Dillsboro, NC.
Yakama Nation Fisheries Boater Survey (WA)
American Whitewater is reaching out to our membership to encourage participation in a study of boating conditions and recreation safety conducted by consultants working with the Yakama Nation Fisheries program. The study reaches include Nason Creek, Twisp River, and Chewuch River. The overall purpose of the study is to identify known and anticipated river users and evaluate riverine hazards as habitat restoration projects are planned and implemented.
Charity Navigator Awards AW Third Consecutive 4-Star Rating
Charity Navigator has recognized our diligence in adhering to strict financial accountability for the third straight year (something that only happens to the top 9% of non profits they rate). It is an honor to receive this top rating three years in a row for our philanthropic efforts in river conservation. At American Whitewater, we strive to maintain the high standards set forth by Charity Navigator and work hard to earn the trust and respect of our members.
White Salmon River Homecoming Celebration (WA)
Removal of Condit Dam is nearing completion and we are getting ready to celebrate the moment on Saturday September 29th. Contractors still have equipment in and along the river that will be removed over the next couple weeks and a log jam resulting from the dam breach still needs to be addressed. It's important for paddlers to wait until this work is done and everyone considering this reach needs to understand the hazards associated with the class IV/V entrance drop into the Narrows.
Handling the Crowds on the Upper Yough
The Upper Youghiogheny River has some of the East's finest expert-level summer whitewater. Memorial Day Weekend is the first of many busy release weekends which create crowded conditions on and off the river. For the past four decades the paddling community has done a good job managing themselves. Here are some things you can do to help your trip run more smoothly.
Please Sign In When Running the Upper Blackwater
Blackwater Falls State Park has asked AW to remind paddlers running West Virginia’s Upper Blackwater River to sign in at Blackwater Lodge before putting on. Park Manager Rob Gilligan says that although many kayakers are complying, a significant number are not. American Whitewater believes that registration is our best interest. In addition to helping emergency responders, registration demonstrates to political leaders that we are a responsible, law abiding group. It’s also helpful for both AW and the park to know just how many people are paddling the Upper Blackwater. By checking-in, you’re letting everyone know that this is a valuable part of whitewater sport. Take the time to do this, and remind your friends
Sign-Ins Required for the Upper Blackwater
After a second fatality on West Virginia's Upper Blackwater River in just over two years Blackwater Falls State Park is now making it mandatory to sign in at the state park lodge and will ticket any kayakers who do not sign in. First run in 1971 by Joe Monahan, Phil Allender, and Todd Martin, this stretch has become a classic "test piece" for today's high-end creek boaters. Tucker County, which responds to accidents in the drainage, is considering legislation to make anyone requiring help from Search and Rescue responsible for the costs. The State Park has also threatened "drastic actions" if faced with more fatal incidents in the future, possibly eliminating access to the Upper Blackwater from State Park land. AW strongly urges paddlers to cooperate with the park and to exercise extra caution when running the river.
HIGH WATER ADVISORY FOR THE GAULEY RIVER
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans a higher than normal whitewater release for the World Kayak Canyon Doors Freestyle Festival on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. Summersville Dam will release to 4700 cfs from 5:30 - 11:00 am; afterwards, the release will gradually drop to 700 cfs over the next 8 hours. This is significantly more water than the regular weekend Gauley releases of 2800 cfs. This added water makes all sections, especially the Upper Gauley, more challenging. Paddlers utilizing this special release should exercise caution to avoid unpleasant surprises. Signs advising of this flow increase will be posted by the National Park Service at all major access areas.
Ohio Watercraft Chief Pam Dillon Retires
Pamela S. Dillon recently retired as chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Watercraft, which administers Ohio’s boating safety, access, and law enforcement programs. Ms. Dillon, a skilled whitewater paddler, played a key role in bringing the swiftwater rescue skills used by whitewater paddlers to firefighters, rescue squads, and other safety professionals nationwide. As executive director of American Canoe Association she played a vital role explaining recreational paddlesports to her former colleagues in state and federal boating agencies. Her dilligent advocacy prevented many unnecessary restrictions on our sport. She was also credited, as division chief, with saving the Ohio Scenic Rivers program in 2009. Join us in wishing her many happy days paddling at her second home along the Lower Yough!
Higgins & Langley Award Recognizes Four Kayakers
The Higgins and Langley Awards honor outstanding achievements in swiftwater and flood rescue. This is the first time that whitewater kayakers have been honored. On October 3, 2010 a kayaker seriously injured his cervical spine in a whitewater kayaking incident on the Ocoee River in Tennessee. Paralyzed and unable to move, he was rescued by four kayakers he had met only 45 minutes before—Michael Howard, Kevin Sipe, Neal Carmack, and Bryant Haley. These kayakers chased him though Class II-III rapids, catching him and rolling him upright just before entering a bigger drop. One of the rescuers, trained as a military medic, immobilized his neck while another paddled ahead to get help. The rest got him safely into an eddy and worked with an outfitter to carry him to a waiting ambulance on the road.
Open Innovation in the Paddlesport Community - Survey
A research program initiated by the MIT Sloan School of Management (USA) and Copenhagen Business School (Denmark) seeks to study open innovation in sport communities.
Saluda Dam Relicensing Settled!
On Friday, July 24, 2009, American Whitewater signed a settlement agreement with South Carolina Electric & Gas Company and a suite of other organizations and agencies that resolves issues regarding the management of Lake Murray Dam for the next 50 years. Lake Murray Dam regulates flows in the popular Saluda River, as it flows through Columbia, South Carolina. AW was represented by Charlene Coleman throughout this process and the exciting agreement signed last week is a testament to her hard work and creativity.
Dealing with Sudden Death
Sudden death is a charged emotional event, often compounded by trauma among those who witness a drowning accident or try to rescue or resuscitate someone. Few people realize how little time you have for a successful drowning rescue. The sad facts are that unless a drowning person is pulled out within 6-10 minutes of going under, their chances are almost zero. Anger or displaced anger towards rescue and recovery efforts are not unusual. Excellent Resources for managing sudden death grief and trauma can be found on the Higgins & Langley website. These pamphlets, created by the Royal Hospital Foundation in Belfast, Northern Island, can be downloaded as needed
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Boating Beta
Keep this number for assistance in the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park - (865) 436-1230. This number connects to the Park Dispatch Office and should be used in non-emergency situations. For boaters who regularly paddle in the Park it is advisable to program the number in your cell phone.