Great Falls of the Catawba Good and Getting Better! (SC)
11/27/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
We are happy to share a few updates on the Great Falls of the Catawba that we think you'll enjoy as we reflect on the river’s first year of restored flows. First and foremost the first season was very successful with lots of happy visitors, consistent flow operations, and relatively few safety issues. With this said, we are still learning a lot about the river and how people want to visit it. A recent survey and meeting shed light on what we are learning and how things are shaping up for next year.
2024 Southeast Advanced Release Calendar Announced!
11/20/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater and our affiliate clubs have spent the past 25 years working to restore flows to incredible Southeastern rivers impacted by dams. A lot of our work has focused on releases and access on Class II and III rivers like the lower Nantahala, Tuckasegee, Hiwassee, and Catawba, but we also secured releases in some classic steeper reaches previously dewatered by hydroelectric diversions. Each year we meet with power companies and agencies to schedule future releases, review ongoing ecology studies, and discuss any issues with the release programs. We strive to create a schedule with minimal conflicts to maximize recreational value. In this article you'll find the 2024 dates for the Class IV/V Cheoah, Nantahala Cascades & Upper, West Fork Tuck, and Tallulah rivers.
Georgia Committee Considers Public Rights on Rivers
11/17/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
This fall the newly formed Georgia House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources sought public input on fishing rights on Georgia's waterways. As the Committee’s efforts come to a close this month, they may or may not recommend that the House of Representatives draft legislation regarding the public’s rights on rivers and streams in Georgia. Any such legislation, if adopted, could limit or confirm paddlers' legal rights to paddle rivers and streams in Georgia. American Whitewater, American Canoe Association, Georgia Canoeing Association, and Georgia River Network recently wrote a letter to the Committee advocating for the long-held public right to paddle. American Whitewater and our partners will be closely following this issue in the weeks and months ahead, including reviewing any report issued by the Committee in the coming month.
Senator Tester Reintroduces the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act!
11/17/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
U.S. Senator Jon Tester reintroduced his Montana Headwaters Legacy Act (MHLA) on Thursday, setting the stage to double the number of protected river miles in Montana. If signed into law, the legislation would protect 20 rivers and 384 river miles in the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone river systems by adding them to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. A Wild and Scenic River designation is the highest form of federal river protection in the United States and would permanently protect the free-flowing nature, water quality, and outstandingly remarkable values of some of Montana’s most cherished rivers. Among the iconic waterways that would gain protection under the MHLA are the Boulder, Gallatin, Madison, Smith, Stillwater, and Yellowstone. We are asking for paddlers to encourage the other three members of Montana’s congressional delegation to get behind the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act in the coming weeks.
American Whitewater Secures Grant Funding for Wilson Creek USGS Gage (NC)
11/09/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater is pleased to announce that we were awarded a Google Data Center Grant of $5,000 to help fund the USGS water level gage on Wild and Scenic Wilson Creek. American Whitewater worked in partnership with Duke Energy and the USGS on the construction and initial funding for the gage, which came on-line three years ago and has proven invaluable to the recreating public. The water level gage, which requires annual funding, supports thousands of diverse recreationists as they plan trips to Wilson Creek, which offers visitors crystalline water, sandy beaches, and sunny bedrock banks. The online US Geologic Survey gage requires an annual payment of approximately $7,400, and funding is now secured for 2024!
Index-Galena Road Providing North Fork Skykomish Access Repaired! (WA)
11/06/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Nearly 20 years ago, the Index-Galena Road which provides access to the North Fork Skykomish River sustained heavy damage in a high water event that washed away portions of the road between milepost 6 and 7. The onset of fall rains coincided with the opening of the new road this past weekend and whitewater boaters have been among the first recreational users to get out and enjoy the restored access. We are pleased that the sustained efforts of our members and many partners helped keep this project on track.
Paddlers' Opinions Sought on Catawba River's Great Falls (SC)
10/17/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater and our partners are seeking paddlers' input on how you used the Great Falls of the Catawba River (SC) in 2023, how you plan to visit the area next year, and what your impressions of the run are. We'll be meeting with Duke Energy and other partners like Catawba Riverkeeper in a few weeks to discuss lessons-learned from this year and to plan next year. Your input matters, and will help us maximize the recreational benefits of the Great Falls for years to come. To inform our planning meeting we've put together a survey for Great Falls paddlers. Let us know what you think! Take the survey here within the next week or so: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TZCYHWQ
New EPA Rule Greatly Reduces Clean Water Act Protections
08/31/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
Earlier this week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new federal rule that eliminates protection for a majority of our nation’s wetlands and estimated totals of well over a million miles of streams. The rule aligns the law with a recent Supreme Court Case that limited the kinds of wetlands and streams that can be covered by the Clean Water Act. American Whitewater joined an amicus brief in that pivotal court case, advocating for the science-based protection of these streams and wetlands, but the Supreme Court ruled against us. American Whitewater and the paddling community have been stalwart advocates for the Clean Water Act through decades of various rules, legislation, and litigation. This will not change: we'll seek opportunities to restore river protections at the state and federal level in the months and years ahead following this setback.
Eagle Falls Graffiti Scrub and Clean Up, Saturday 8/26 (WA)
08/20/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
Back in 2017 the local whitewater paddling community rallied to clean up Eagle Falls on the Skykomish River. Ongoing stewardship of the site is necessary and this August American Whitewater is supporting a volunteer-led effort to remove graffiti and clean up the site on Saturday August 26th at 8am. We have recruited a team to operate a blaster to remove graffiti but additional volunteers to help move equipment, blasting media, and assist with general site clean up are welcome. Bring your gloves, trash bags, and sturdy footwear. A couple ladders will also likely be useful. Be sure to bring water and snacks.
Protection for the Headwaters of the Illinois and North Fork Smith Rivers (OR)
07/27/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
We are pleased to report that Representative Val Hoyle, the new representative for Oregon's 4th Congressional District has reintroduced the Southwestern Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act (SOWSPA) as her first piece of conservation legislation. This legislation will permanently protect the headwaters of Southwest Oregon’s outstanding collection of wild rivers—including the National Wild and Scenic Illinois and the National Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith, plus Pistol River and Hunter Creek—from the threat of mining in the headwaters.
Help Protect the Greater Grand Canyon Area!
07/10/2023 - by Kestrel Kunz
American Whitewater has joined a tribally led effort to protect 1.1 million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon as a National Monument. The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument would protect important landscapes and sensitive tributaries on the north and south rims. Use your voice now to help protect the Grand Canyon by signing this petition! Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer as a local advocate for this effort in the greater Grand Canyon region. We need dedicated advocates to attend public meetings, author letters in local papers, and contact elected officials.
Clackamas River Visioning Public Input Opportunity (OR)
06/22/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
In 2020, Mt. Hood National Forest and surrounding communities experienced catastrophic wildfire events that damaged recreational sites and transportation assets along the Clackamas River corridor and have impacted visitation to the forest. American Whitewater was invited to join a visioning workshop with Forest Service staff this past week and there will be additional opportunities for public input in the coming week. We encourage the paddling community to participate in developing a future vision for the river corridor.
Washington Legislature Paddlesports Education Program Shelved (updated)
02/17/2023 - by Thomas O'Keefe
For the past several years the Washington State legislature has had an interest in improving paddlesports safety and reducing fatalities. It’s a good thing to have the legislature interested in boating safety and we are pleased that it has helped raise the profile of Washington State’s Boating Safety Program. While the interest in boating safety is appreciated, the specific legislative proposals introduced over the past few years have had issues and not advanced out of committee and that was again the case this session. Various ideas have included a Boater Education Card, vessel registration, and mandatory requirements to wear a Personal Floatation Device. With a new session underway, the legislature came back with SB 5597 and HB 1781, legislation that would establish a new boater education card and $10 fee for paddlesports that effectively represents a license to paddle
Local Coalition Celebrates Commission Ruling to Protect Colorado's Waters
09/09/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz
Klamath River Dam Removal Takes an Important Step Forward (OR/CA)
08/27/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has just released a final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) which recommends the removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. This is the final step of analysis, and a federal decision to authorize removal of the dams is expected later this year, with dam removal taking place in 2024. This would be the largest dam removal project in the world.
Unprecedented Win for Water Quality in Colorado!
06/24/2022 - by Kestrel Kunz
On June 14, Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted 7-1 to protect 520 miles on 25 streams across Southwest Colorado, adopting the first proposal of its kind. American Whitewater and our partners have been hard at work over the past three years to prove that these high quality rivers and creeks deserve protection. Our proposal included beloved paddling segments like the headwaters of the Taylor River, Escalante Creek, Lime Creek, and many others that were acknowledged for their exceptional ecological and recreational attributes. Under the Clean Water Act, Outstanding Waters provide the highest level of water quality protections in Colorado. The designation acknowledges the high water quality that currently exists and ensures it is protected at that level for the future.
Klamath River Dam Removal Takes Important Step Forward (OR/CA)
02/28/2022 - by Thomas O'Keefe
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the proposed removal of four Klamath River dams, recommending that the dams be removed. FERC confirmed that dam removal will bring permanent and significant benefits to multiple resources, including fisheries, water quality, and recreation. This represents an important step for the project to move forward in 2023. The public is now invited to comment by April 18th [extended to April 25th] on the DEIS which describes the impacts and benefits of the project.
Take Action to Protect Water Quality in Colorado
04/28/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
Colorado’s waters are at stake. From our high mountain streams to the backyard of urban communities, water quality is threatened state-wide. The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission has proposed a change to the antidegradation rule that would allow for more pollution into higher quality waters without review or justification. The proposed rule would go against the very premise of the Clean Water Act, which the Commission is tasked with implementing and overseeing in Colorado. Help us protect the antidegradation policy by signing on to this petition to the Water Quality Control Commission.
Train Operations in Eagle and Arkansas Corridors to Require Full Review (CO)
03/25/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
This morning, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) made a much-anticipated decision on the revival of the Tennessee Pass Rail Line - a 160-mile rail line that follows the Eagle and Arkansas Rivers between Sage and Parkdale, Colorado. The STB formally rejected Colorado, Midland and Pacific Railway’s (CMPR) request to be exempt from oversight and regulation of their proposed operation on the line, which would be leased under an agreement with Union Pacific. This decision comes nearly three months after CMPR filed a notice of exemption on December 31, 2020, as people were bringing in the new 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!