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)
Dates Scheduled for First New River Dries Releases (WV)
Last week, the first ever pulse flow releases were scheduled on the New River Dries, located near Gauley Bridge, WV. These releases were designed to support intermediate level whitewater paddling and to restore natural flow variability to a river reach that has been largely dewatered by the Hawks Nest Hydropower Project for generations. The releases are a requirement of the new 47-year federal dam license issued in late 2017. The releases will occur in March, June, July, and possibly August of this and future years. American Whitewater played a lead role in negotiating these releases.
AW Russell Fork Survey Results Shared (KY/VA)
Last fall a diverse range of agencies and organizations expressed interest in enhancing the dam releases on the Russell Fork River, located on the border of Kentucky and Virginia. American Whitewater worked with local partners to craft a survey to inform the decision-making process and support releases that maximize benefits for paddlers and local businesses. We are pleased to share the full results of the survey, which were appreciated by the river managers.
Upper Yough Access Fundraiser a Big Success
Tonight American Whitewater presented the Town of Friendsville, Maryland with a $5000 check towards the extension of the Upper Yough Access Parking Area. This, combined with a $1000 donation from Keelhaulers Canoe Club, made a strong statement of how much paddlers value the river and the town! Under the leadership of Mayor Spencer Schlosnagle and long time paddler and Friendsville resident Jess Whittemore the town raised $7 in additional funding for every dollar paddlers donated - just like they did on the initial construction! This makes these gifts a great value for the whitewater community. A big shout out and thank you to ALL who donated!
AW Presents Lower Yough Survey Results To Managers (PA)
Earlier this month American Whitewater conducted an online survey of the paddling community regarding the management of the Lower Youghiogheny River in Western Pennsylvania. The Lower Yough is a classic whitewater river with a long season, summer dam releases, and wonderful scenery protected by Ohiopyle State Park. American Whitewater has provided the full survey results to State Park river managers to help inform their decisions. Nearly 600 paddlers completed the survey.
AW Wins Court Battle Protecting Green River (VT) Boating
The Vermont Superior Court sided with American Whitewater in a long-running dispute with the state over whitewater boating on the Green River in Morrisville. The Court overturned state restrictions that would have eliminated any meaningful opportunity for boaters to enjoy this extraordinary river and required scheduled releases in a ground breaking decision.
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:
Northeast Boaters Seek To Expand West River (VT) Boating
In response to of the state’s draft basin plan for southern Vermont, American Whitewater and scores of boaters pressed the state to support the expansion of releases on the West River. Restrictions by the Corps of Engineers and Agency of Natural Resources have led to the elimination of nearly all scheduled boating opportunities on the West River over the past two decades, eliminating recreation opportunity and hurting the local economy. AW and its partners have been working to restore these releases.
Bellows Falls (VT) Flow Study Reveals Hidden Whitewater
A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.