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October Volunteers of the Month Presented by Kokatat

10/20/2020 - by Theresa Simsiman

American Whitewater members Vance Harris, Nate O'Connor, Cameron O'Connor, and Dominic Judd are humble heroes. While camping on their way to the recreational releases on Pit 5, these young men took action to prevent another wildfire from burning out of control in Northern California. 

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Fall 2020 Tallulah Releases Cancelled Due To Covid-19

10/19/2020 - by Kevin Colburn

Tallulah Gorge State Park has determined that scheduled Tallulah Gorge whitewater releases for the fall of 2020 need to be cancelled to comply with their Covid-19 related policies. Access to the gorge floor has been closed to all visitors since March, and paddlers gathering at access areas and on the stairs would exceed their limits on people occupying areas of the Park. Representatives of American Whitewater and an affiliate club represented paddlers on a call today with the Park and power company. While disappointing, we are supportive of the cancellation and feel it is a fair application of current Park policies. We have asked that rescheduling cancelled releases in 2021 be open for discussion early next year.

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An Uncommon Dialogue about Hydropower Leads to New Possibilities For Rivers

10/19/2020 - by Evan Stafford

For the past two and a half years American Whitewater has participated in a cooperative effort bringing together members of the hydropower industry, national conservation organizations, the Department of Energy, and others who are committed to addressing the urgent challenge of climate change, and its impacts on rivers. Co-convened by Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment as a part of the Energy Futures Initiative, this Uncommon Dialogue process resulted in a Joint Statement of Collaboration on U.S. Hydropower that outlines our shared task to chart hydropower's role in a clean energy future in a way that also supports healthy rivers.

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Whitewater Wars Tells how the Ocoee and Gauley Were Saved

10/15/2020 - 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!

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Time for Some Action on the South Fork Salmon!

10/08/2020 - by Evan Stafford

The Forest Service recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a large-scale mining project in the headwaters of the South Fork Salmon (ID) and we need YOU to let the Forest Service know how important of a whitewater resource the South Fork is to our community! The DEIS clearly states that the Stibnite Gold Project, as proposed, will adversely affect endangered fish species, their habitat, and the river's water quality and quantity. These effects to water quality and quantity will be felt downstream during the project's operation, negatively impacting whitewater paddling, as well as other recreation opportunities. The project also comes with the additional risks of tailings dam failure, acid mine drainage, and cyanide spills, none of which are accounted for in the DEIS. The Forest Service needs to receive an outpouring of objections to this project and to understand that the world class whitewater of the South Fork deserves to be cherished, not diminished. 

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Virtual Feather Fest Oct. 28th: Music, Prize Drawings, and a Foamie Boater Race

10/07/2020 - by Bethany Overfield

In an effort to keep you, our staff and volunteers, and the communities that host our events as safe as possible, we made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel all AW events in 2020, including our traditional Feather Fest throwdown in California. We're so bummed to not be able to gather in person but we're pleased to announce that we'll all be congregating for a virtual festival to celebrate some of our stewardship victories and to thank our membership base with some great drawings! Virtual Feather Fest will take place on Wednesday, October 28th at 7:00 p.m. PST. 

If you normally join or renew your membership at Feather Fest, you can use this membership renewal form to get entered to win some rad prizes! 

Register for the event here!

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Action Alert for the Russell Fork!!! Take Action today--comments due October 8th

10/07/2020 - by Bethany Overfield

This action alert requires a quick turnaround time! Comments are due tomorrow, October 8th. Use this link to help shape the future of scheduled whitewater releases on the Russell Fork River (VA/KY) for the next 25 years! We need to let the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers know how best to manage the river for paddlers, making sure they maintain recreational flows during the month of October (including the new Friday release days!), relay our desire for increasing scheduled releases at other times of the year, and asking that they provide a flow forecast, so that paddlers are better able to plan for boating the Russell Fork. The Army Corps are currently updating the JW Flannagan and NF Pound Lakes Master Plans, which guide land and recreation management, including water recreation, for the next 25 years. Photo by Sarah Ruhlen

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Virtual Gauley Fest 2020 – Great Success!

10/07/2020 - by Evan Stafford

All of our festivals, including our traditional Gauley Fest throwdown in West Virginia, unfortunately had to be canceled this year. We missed seeing every single one of you in person this year, but it was awesome to connect virtually with our community and to celebrate the Gauley River, our stewardship success in the region, and to give away some great prizes from our awesome industry partners. It's also something to be thankful for, that the pandemic may have stopped our regular gathering of the wild things, but it's not stopping the rivers from flowing, and Gauley releases have provided an excellent opportunity for boaters to get outside and enjoy some quality whitewater this fall. If you joined or renewed before or during our virtual Gauley Fest 2020 THANK YOU! We had a great turnout of support, including over 202 new or renewing memberships through our Gauley Fest online membership form. 

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Bulls Bridge (CT) Access Restored

10/06/2020 - by Robert Nasdor

Access to the Bulls Bridge section of the Housatonic River in Connecticut has been restored in response to American Whitewater's complaint to FERC about the closure. FirstLight, the licensee for the Bulls Bridge hydropower project, restored access after AW filed a formal complaint that the closure violated the project license. The areas had been closed by FirstLight in May at the request of local communities due to COVID-19 and overcrowding concerns.

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Midnight Miracle at Kanawha Falls

10/06/2020 - by Charlie and Sandy Walbridge

A Tennessee kayaker was rescued after spending 8 hours trapped behind the veil of Kanawha Falls, a 15 foot drop located below the confluence of the New and Gauley Rivers in West Virginia. The victim was paddling alone; a fisherman spotted his loose kayak and notified authorities. Top expert kayakers from Fayetteville, WV teamed up with WV-DNR officers and first responders to locate and rescue the man. Read their remarkable first-person accounts in the American Whitewater Accident Database:

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2020 Pit River Update – Fall River Mills to Powerhouse 1 (CA)

10/05/2020 - by Theresa Simsiman

Here is the update on the current boatable flows and remaining October recreational releases provided by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for the Pit River. First, many may have noticed that PG&E has begun releasing approximately 900 cfs on the Pit 1 run above the powerhouse. PG&E reports this is due to both Powerhouse 1 units being taken offline. This outage is expected until November 3rd and will provide flows ranging from 900 cfs to 1500 cfs. As for the scheduled recreational flows, PG&E is holding fast to a release schedule for the 2nd and 4th weekend of Oct. Here is the Pit 1 and Pit 5 lineup of scheduled releases: October 10 & 11 - PIT 1 900 cfs or greater, October 17 & 18 - PIT 5 10am - 4pm 1500 cfs, October 24 & 25 - PIT 1 900 cfs or greater

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Upgrades to AW National Whitewater Inventory!

10/02/2020 - by Evan Stafford

American Whitewater is proud to release some big upgrades to our website with the support of a U.S Coast Guard grant. We've totally revamped the mapping tool for interacting with our National Whitewater Inventory (NWI), our database containing over 5,700 runs, with crowdsourced descriptions, recommended flow levels, rapid descriptions, alerts, news and more. This improved planning tool will not only help paddlers select the rivers and flow levels appropriate for their skill, it will also inspire you to visit new rivers and become involved with river stewardship. The new mapping tool also improves mobile use of our site and allows paddlers to relay and explore information on river levels, hazards, and other conditions while on the go. We'd love to hear your feedback and appreciate your help dialing-in the finer points of these technology enhancements. If you have a specific bug, issue, or enhancement please use this form to submit your thoughts.

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Mine at the Numbers (CO) Put-In Withdrawn

09/29/2020 - by Hattie Johnson

We received notice today that the Oro Vista project proponent has officially withdrawn their proposal to mine placer gold in the Arkansas River near the Numbers put-in and is no longer under consideration by the Forest Service.

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New USGS Gage Installed on Wild and Scenic Wilson Creek! (NC)

09/28/2020 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater is pleased to announce the installation of a new online U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gage on Wilson Creek, one of North Carolina's five federally-designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. The new stream gage is the result of a partnership between American Whitewater, Duke Energy and the USGS, and is expected to provide significant public safety and recreational benefits. American Whitewater would like to thank Duke Energy and the USGS, on behalf of the paddling community, for this great investment in the safe enjoyment of Wild and Scenic Wilson Creek. 

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Gauley Season 2020

08/21/2020 - by Mark Singleton

While Gauley Fest has moved to a virtual format for 2020 due to Covid-19 and social distancing concerns, releases on the Gauley River will still take place. American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This information will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River for the 2020 season.

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Governor Inslee Directs State Agencies to Cease Chehalis Dam Efforts (WA)

07/25/2020 - by Thomas O'Keefe

This past week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee directed Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Chehalis Basin Board to cease planning efforts and environmental review of a proposed new dam on the Chehalis River and instead develop and present a basin-wide, non-dam alternative to flood damage reduction. American Whitewater appreciates the Governor's decision that is responsive to concerns we raised throughout the environmental review process.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Senator Wyden Introduces Legislation to Invest in Public Lands

05/12/2020 - by Thomas O'Keefe

As the impacts of COVID-19 ripple through the economy, Members of Congress are seeking ideas for what economic recovery looks like. Several Congressional offices have reached out to American Whitewater to solicit ideas for projects and initiatives that would benefit public lands and outdoor recreation while putting people to work. Over the past two weeks we have been working with our colleagues at Outdoor Alliance to develop some specific proposals. We are thrilled to report that Senator Wyden from Oregon has taken some our ideas and stepped up in a big way to make investment in public lands and the outdoor recreation economy a personal priority.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!