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New Water Quality Rule Reduces River Protections

Posted: 01/24/2020
by Kevin Colburn

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.

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Washington State Legislative Session Underway - Bills Affecting Paddlers

Posted: 01/22/2020
by Thomas O'Keefe

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.

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Tonto National Forest Draft Plan Open for Public Comment (AZ)

Posted: 01/21/2020
by Kestrel Kunz

The Tonto National Forest is revising their forest-wide Management Plan for the first time since 1985. On December 13, 2019 they officially released the Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIS) for a 90-day comment period ending on March 12, 2020. 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 on public input to inform management direction, plan components, and new designated areas. Read on to hear about the public meetings that are happening this week!

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Gila National Forest Releases New Draft Plan, First in 34 Years (NM)

Posted: 01/21/2020
by Kestrel Kunz

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! 

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New Mexico Stream Access Update

Posted: 01/15/2020
by Hattie Johnson

The new year has brought new obstacles in our efforts ensure public access to New Mexico's river and streams. On the last day of 2019, Joanna Prukop, the former NM Game Commission Chair, was informed by the Governor she would not be reappointed to her position. Former Chairwoman Prukop had added the stream access issue to last December's commission agenda. The Governor's office cited "policy and style" differences as the main influences of the Governors decision. 

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Forest Service continues move to strip protections of Lochsa Area streams

Posted: 01/09/2020
by Kevin Colburn

Just before the holidays this past December, the Forest Service released their Draft Forest Plan and accompanying analysis, which covers a whitewater and native-fish paradise in central Idaho. The Forest encompasses the Lochsa, Selway, Clearwater, and Potlatch watersheds, and also a portion of the Salmon River drainage. In the Draft Plan the Forest Service proposes to eliminate Wild and Scenic protections from most or all of the 89 streams they have found to be eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. The Forest Service cites political reasons for taking this step, and did not respond to American Whitewater's prior comments that stressed that such a move would be illegal and not in the public interest. You can help reverse this bad direction the Forest Service is heading in! Read on to see how.

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AW Files Motion of Intervention - Slab Creek (CA)

Posted: 01/09/2020
by Theresa Simsiman

American Whitewater's primary goal on the South Fork American River below Slab Creek is to ensure the enjoyment of the entire whitewater reach from Slab Creek Dam to the White Rock Powerhouse. However, after exhausting all the proper consultation channels with Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to bring to bear protections, mitigations and enhancements negotiated and conditioned in the 2007 Settlement Agreement and the 2014 Hydropower License order, AW and our colleagues have filed a Motion of Intervention with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The motion centers around SMUD's Streamflow Parking and Access Plan that is incomplete and proposes to cut off access to a third of the whitewater resources on Slab Creek. Specifically, SMUD is denying access and enjoyment to the Class II/III section of Slab Creek by blocking take-out access at White Rock Powerhouse.


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AW Journal - The Winter Issue Online Now!

Posted: 01/07/2020
by Bethany Overfield

The Winter issue of the AW Journal is available in our online "Library". This issue includes 'Top 10 River Stewardship Issues for 2020' along with much more.  Read the issue online now or download your copy.

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Defining the direction of Our Policy work in Colorado

Posted: 01/07/2020
by Ian Stafford

Colorado's rivers are national treasures, feeding rivers and communities all across the country. AW's Colorado team is proud to share our new report, Colorado Policy Pathways, that will help chart our approach to protecting and restoring these beloved rivers. At American Whitewater, we know that water policy is a key ingredient in driving smart solutions for the future of our rivers. Colorado Policy Pathways, outlines our approach to addressing the changes and challenges that Colorado's rivers face as the state's population grows and the outdoor economy booms.

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Army Corps Study Threatens Lehigh River Boating

Posted: 01/03/2020
by Bob Nasdor

Paddlers on the Lehigh River below the Francis E. Walter Dam and Reservoir are concerned that a planned study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection will lead to a reduction in whitewater boating opportunities on the Lehigh. The study will evaluate the feasibility of various alternatives to optimize project operation. Aside from the project's authorized primary missions of flood risk management and recreation, the study will also consider water supply and water quality, to identify possible improvements to the existing structure, infrastructure, and operations that will support current and future demands within the region. The Army Corps is holding a public meeting on January 9, 2020 at the Mountain Laurel Resort in White Haven, PA from 6-8 p.m. to explain the study and hear public comments. American Whitewater, Appalachian Mountain Club, and other organizations are expected to file comments with the Army Corps prior to the September 29th deadline in order to share our concerns about the study and potential impacts on boating, the outdoor recreation economy, and the Delaware RIver Basin. We encourage our members to attend the public meeting to voice their concerns.




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Claude Terry, paddler, outfitter, and conservationist, dies

Posted: 12/13/2019
by Charlie Walbridge

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!

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American Whitewater Releases New River Access Planning Guide

Posted: 12/05/2019
by Evan Stafford

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.

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Owyhee Canyonlands Legislation Introduced (OR)

Posted: 11/08/2019
by Thomas O'Keefe

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.

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Recreation Not Red Tape Act: a bill to benefit outdoor recreation

Posted: 10/05/2019
by Thomas O'Keefe

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.