Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks contain an environment without parallel, and their rivers, in many ways, define and create the region’s dramatic landscapes. The Parks' rivers and streams could provide a spectacular opportunity for Park visitors to experience the landscape's natural splendor. However, all but one segment of each Parks' rivers are off-limits to paddling. The ban on paddling impacts citizens throughout the country and is inconsistent with National Park Service management policies and priorities. Below is the timeline of the Ban's histories:
In 2009 Several rivers in the Parks received protective status under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act requires the Parks to create new Comprehensive River Management Plans that fully assess current and potential recreational opportunities, which includes paddling. The plans must also recognize and protect the Outstanding Remarkable Values of the rivers which can and should include paddling, and must support additional recreation unless it substantially interferes with those values. In short, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act support sustainable human-powered recreation on rivers.
In 2013 Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced HR 3492, the River Paddling Protection Act to lift the federal-level paddling prohibitions and make way for modern river management that includes paddling. American Whitewater submitted written testimony and is actively involved in the progress of the legislation.
American Whitewater is representing conservation-oriented paddlers in asking for the full consideration and return of sustainable paddling on the Parks' rivers.
Earlier this week we posted a quick article informing our community that American Whitewater would not pursue the Senate version of the River Paddling Protection Act, ending our exploration of a legislative solution to the management of paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. We’ve obviously gotten some questions about this decision and would like to offer a more robust explanation.
American Whitewater has decided not to pursue a Senate version of the River Paddling Protection Act, ending our exploration of a legislative solution to the management of paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Advocating for this legislation in the Senate with insufficient support would exhaust resources better spent on promising conservation projects, would damage valued relationships, and would be unlikely to produce a favorable outcome.
The River Paddling Protection Act, introduced by Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), passed the US House of Representatives on Thursday and now moves to the Senate for consideration. The bill grants the National Park Service three years to replace 60 year-old paddling prohibitions in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks with modern science-based management. Doing so would allow Americans to experience these iconic landscapes through non-commercial paddling in a low impact, sustainable, and carefully managed manner.
Last week the River Paddling Protection Act, HR 3492, was discussed in a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee. This bill aims to lift a 60-year-old federal-level ban on paddling rivers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in favor of normal and flexible river management. Aaron Pruzan testified on behalf of conservation-oriented paddlers, and we are actively working to improve and pass this landmark legislation.
Earlier this month, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks released their draft plan for managing several new Wild and Scenic Rivers. They dismissed any consideration of allowing paddling on the rivers except where it is currently allowed. If you would like to be able to take a canoe, kayak, or pack raft trip down these Wild and Scenic rivers, please consider attending one of two public meetings June 4 and 5, 2013, or submit written comments.
The Park Service is seeking your advice on how to manage several newly designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Paddling is currently prohibited on most of these rivers. We encourage paddlers to offer management suggestions that support river recreation and conservation before the end of 2010.
The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.
Yellowstone Bill Hearing Goes Well
November 22, 2013
AW asks Yellowstone and Grand Teton to Consider Paddling
June 24, 2013
A Deeper Dive Into Yellowstone
February 14, 2014
Letter to Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis
American Whitewater's 2010 scoping comments on the development of a Comprehensive River Management Plan for the new Wild and Scenic Rivers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park
American Whitewater's comments on the draft Comprehensive River Management Plan for the Snake River Headwaters in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and the National Elk Refuge.
The Draft Environmental Assessment for the Snake River Headwaters Wild and Scenic Rivers dismissed any consideration of paddling from analysis in any alternative via a 3-page legal argument. This is the 3-page excerpt. The entire document can be read he