Idaho Power announced today that "flows of 10,000 cfs or greater in the Class V whitewater Milner Gorge Reach (Milner Mile) below Milner Dam on the Snake River are likely to be available during April 2017." In most years the hydropower project removes so much water from the Milner Gorge that whitewater paddling is not possible at any time. In high water years like this one though, the power company must release flows into the big, powerful Class V run known to paddlers as the Milner Mile.
The Wild Olympics Coalition, a locally-based coalition that includes American Whitewater, cheered the reintroduction of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer to permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries, a total of 464 river miles, as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
The Oregon State Marine Board proposal to establish a Non-Motorized Boating Program is moving through the state legislature and is set for a hearing on March 1st. We encourage our Oregon members to share their thoughts with their representatives in the state legislature.
The Bureau of Land Management is currently accepting public comment on a proposal to protect the Methow Headwaters from an industrial-scale copper mine above the town of Mazama. The proposed mine would negatively impact the incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Methow Valley. A strong show of public support will be required to secure protection for this river valley.
On January 12, 2017, the BLM and Forest Service announced a 20-year halt to new mining activities in the watersheds of the North Fork Smith, Illinois, Pistol River and Hunter Creek in Oregon. American Whitewater celebrates this important milestone with the conservation and recreation partners that we've worked with, and thanks Representatives DeFazio and Huffman and Senators Wyden and Merkley for their dedication to protecting this place. And we thank YOU too for standing up for these wild rivers!
This past week Washington Governor Jay Inslee released his state budget, including a $100 million commitment to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. As a kayaker and outdoor enthusiast himself, the Governor recognizes that investment in outdoor recreation is good for the state economy, promotes a healthy active lifestyle, and is a defining character of the quality of life we enjoy in Washington State. Earlier this year American Whitewater joined with our partners in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition to request $120 million for this program and the Governor's budget represents a strong commitment towards our aspirational ask.
For the past five years the Oregon State Marine Board has been engaging with the non-motorized boating community to learn how the Marine Board can better meet the needs of the community. The state's Non-Motorized Boating Advisory Committee made a unanimous recommendation to institute a Non-Motorized Boating Program that includes elements to address access, safety, education and funding. As an outcome of this process the Marine Board is proposing legislation for the 2017 legislative session that includes a new fee for paddlesports. We are seeking paddler input on this proposal.
The Chehalis Basin is the second largest river basin in Washington State. It is a uniquely fertile and abundant river basin, but it has suffered from devastating flooding for decades. One proposal to address the chronic flooding issue is construction of a new dam that would represent the largest new dam in Washington State in years on a currently free-flowing river. A public comment period is now open on this project through November 14th.
In an important victory for Ernie’s Gorge and rivers of the Pacific Northwest, we learned earlier today that Black Canyon Hydro LLC was withdrawing its application for the Black Canyon Hydropower Project, FERC P-14110). This project would have dewatered the North Fork Snoqualmie River severely impacting native rainbow and cutthroat trout, posed a risk to the City of Snoqualmie’s water supply, and irreversibly harmed a world-class kayak run.
Public Scoping Hearings have been scheduled this fall in Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and Montana to discuss the fate of Snake River Dams and their impact on salmon resources in the Snake River Watershed. We are encouraging the paddling community to engage in this public process which has implications for the overall health of the Snake River ecosystem and tributaries like the Lochsa, Selway, and Salmon River.
Snohomish County Public Works has published the long-awaited Environmental Assessment for repairs on the Index-Galena Road that historically provided access to the North Fork Skykomish River for whitewater boaters. Public input will be considered in agency decision making on whether repair of this important access road will move forward. The deadline for comments is October 31, 2016.
As our volunteers of the month, we wish to recognize Luke Spencer and Pete Giordano who spent countless hours in meetings and site visits to make new improved access to the Clackamas River a reality. In recognition of Luke's and Pete's efforts, they will each receive a custom Kokatat X-Jacket, thanks to Kokatat's support of AW's Volunteer of the Month award.Thank you Luke and Pete!
This week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioned (FERC) issued a final order denying a license for the Twin Lakes Canal Company’s proposal to build a 109-foot-tall hydroelectric dam on the Bear River in southeast Idaho. American Whitewater and our partners have worked diligently for over 14 years to protect the Oneida Narrows section of the Bear River, and we’re celebrating this final decision, which will keep this section of river freely flowing!
Advocates for the Spokane River are asking Gov. Jay Inslee to grant their petition for protecting all instream values of the Spokane River, including recreational boating opportunities. This is the next step in the citizens’ quest to protect Spokane River flows. A petition was filed in February with the Washington Department of Ecology, and rejected by the agency in April.
On Friday, March 25, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed our bridge access bill (Substitute Senate Bill 6363) into law. The bill requires that the Department of Transportation evaluate public access for state highway projects that include building or re-constructing a bridge across a navigable waterway.