Legislation With Over 1000 Miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers Passes House
This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of public lands and waters legislation. This legislation, known as Protecting America's Wilderness Act (H.R. 2546), amends the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2019 by combining several bills we have worked on and includes 1,048 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers in Washington and California. The primary bills of interest to the whitewater paddling community that are included in this legislation are Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act (originally H.R. 2250); Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (originally H.R. 2199); San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act (originally H.R. 2215); and Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (originally H.R. 2642). The legislation also includes the Colorado Wilderness Act (H.R. 2546) and protections for the Dolores River Canyon. The bill will be sent to the Senate for consideration.
Help Stop New Development in the Dolores River Canyon (CO)
Tell the BOR not to develop in the Dolores River Canyon! Please use this link to personalize your letter with your own experiences and why the Dolores is important to you!
A new plan to replace the out of date a salinity control unit in the Dolores River Canyon near Bedrock, released recently by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), would severely alter the wilderness character of the river. The Paradox Valley Unit was authorized in the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974. The Salinity Control Act authorizes facilities in the Colorado River Basin to control the salinity of water delivered to users in the United States and the Republic of Mexico. The existing deep injection well has essentially filled the layer of limestone being used to reduce salinity. Increased frequency and magnitude in seismicity in the surrounding area has been the result. The comment deadline on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been extended to February 19 from February 4, 2020. While Alternative B1 displays the most obvious negative impacts to the Dolores River Canyon and its recreational and scenic Outstandingly Remarkable Values, it is clear that the other action alternatives do not meet the project's identified goals, nor do they adhere to other applicable laws or land management plans.
Update on Construction in Boulder Canyon (CO)
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is working on a project in Boulder Canyon to fix damages on Highway 119 that will also take measures to prevent future flooding. After the devastating 2013 storm, the highway was left vulnerable to deterioration and rock slides, as well as the potential for regular occurrences of flooding making it a dangerous route for travelers. The much-needed work includes rock blasting, riverbank armoring, rock scaling, and large boulder removal above the highway. Boulder creek is a popular destination for local and tourist boaters alike who enjoy the challenging whitewater available. Since this project involves changes to the riverbed that could possibly make certain sections of whitewater unrunnable or of less quality for paddling, the boating community has voiced concerns and a group of local advocates contacted American Whitewater in regard to seeking a cooperative solution. AW sprang into action and helped negotiate a meeting on the issue that took place on January 9, 2020. The major outcome from this meeting was that Gary Lacy, paddler and civil engineer/recreational planner, was officially contracted as the river-design specialist to ensure the river would be re-created in a manner that maintains the quality of paddling for boaters as it has in the past.
Colorado State Policy February Update
Colorado has less than 90 days left in its legislative session, and there is plenty of work to get done. Here is a brief write up on some of the legislation we are tracking that will impact Colorado's rivers. Along with giving an idea on legislation to keep an eye on, please consider joining our AW Capitol Visits that are taking place this session.
Washington State Legislative Session Underway - Bills Affecting Paddlers
Three bills in the Washington State legislature have direct impacts to the whitewater paddling community: HB 2443 would require all boaters in the state, regardless of age, to wear a PFD on the water; HB 2444 would in its original form require regular renewal of boater education cards for motor boaters but is being considered for modification to require paddlers to also obtain a boater education card to use a human-powered craft; and SB 5613 would create new authority to vacate a county right of way that abuts a waterway. We encourage the paddling community in Washington State to review these bills and provide input to the legislature.
New Water Quality Rule Reduces River Protections
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army released a new rule, called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, dictating which rivers, streams, and wetlands are covered by the Clean Water Act. The new rule will eliminate water quality protections for an estimated 18% of streams and a majority of our country's wetlands. The rule is final, and will be implemented in 60 days barring intervention by the courts. These changes pose major concerns for public health and safety, water-dependent recreation economies, the rights of downstream landowners, and of course the many animals and plants that depend on rivers, streams and wetlands for their habitat. It's important if you oppose this rule to contact your representatives and ask them to stand up for our nation's clean water and to do their job of oversight over these agencies. Use our super simple easy action form to contact your reps today!
Gila National Forest Releases New Draft Plan, First in 34 Years (NM)
For the first time in 34 years, the Gila National Forest is revising their forest-wide Management Plan. On Friday, January 17 they officially released the Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIS) for a 90-day comment period ending on April 16. Forest Plans are vitally important as they are the blueprint for resource management and they provide an opportunity to secure better protections for rivers and their surrounding landscapes. As part of the plan revision process, the Forest Service is required to rely heavily on public input to inform management direction, plan components, and new designated areas. Read more for a complete schedule of Public Meetings that are happening this week!
Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, dies
Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, died on November 20th, 2019. He was 83. A microbiologist by training, Terry began paddling in the mid-1960's while a professor at Emory University. He took to whitewater readily, and it became an important focus of his life. In 1969 he met veteran paddler Doug Woodward, and in 1971 the two became the technical advisers for the movie "Deliverance." Afterwards, Terry and Woodward purchased the rafts Warner Brothers used in filming and bought 19 acres near the river. This became Southeastern Expeditions, one of the Southeast's first whitewater outposts on the Chattooga. In 1974, Terry took then-Gov. Jimmy Carter on three trips on the Chatooga River, totaling 57 miles. This inspired Carter to get the Chattooga included in the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and influenced later decisions protecting rivers across the U.S."Terry adopted me as one of his students," Carter told Outside Online in a 2017 interview. "it opened my eyes to the relationship between a human being and a wild river that I never had contemplated before that. When I got to be president I vetoed 16 different dam projects all over the United States." Terry eventually quit his Emory University job and started full time career in environmental advocacy, including founding American Rivers, a principal U.S. conservation group. For the next 30 years he specialized in environmental projects involving rivers and wetlands and later, when he became a board-certified toxicologist, he developed an expertise in hazardous waste cleanups. He was an active paddler until sidelined by Parkinson's Disease. A passionate teacher and advocate, he is sorely missed by all who knew him. Click through for an excellent obituary and a photo of Terry taking Governor Carter over Bull Sluice!
American Whitewater Releases New River Access Planning Guide
In a joint project with the River Management Society, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service (USFS), and National Park Service (NPS), American Whitewater has published the River Access Planning Guide. American Whitewater is regularly called upon to assist with river access projects. Some are a spectacular success, while others are a disappointment. Over the past three years, American Whitewater has been working with the NPS Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs to better understand how success comes about when a river access project is developed and provide guidance for a step-by-step process that leads to projects that meet user needs and are sustainable both ecologically and financially.
Owyhee Canyonlands Legislation Introduced (OR)
This week's introduction of the Malheur County Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act (S. 2828) represents a historic move to protect over 1.1 million acres of public lands as wilderness in Malheur County centered around the Owyhee Canyonlands. The legislation also includes protection for an additional 14.7 miles of the Owyhee River as Wild and Scenic.
Recreation Not Red Tape Act: a bill to benefit outdoor recreation
For the past several years American Whitewater has worked with our partners on the Recreation Not Red Tape Act (H.R. 3458/S.1967). This is among the most important piece of positive policy we expect to see this Congress in terms of improving outdoor recreation and our access to rivers on public land. Senator Wyden originally approached us on the idea of a bill to benefit outdoor recreation to encourage sustainable use and enjoyment of public lands and waters. Learn more and take action to join us in supporting this legislation.