Our vision is that our nation’s remaining wild and free-flowing rivers stay that way, our developed rivers are restored to function and flourish, that the public has access to rivers for recreation, and that river enthusiasts are active and effective river advocates.
Whitewater rivers face a range of threats from dams to water withdrawals to access closures. In pursuing our river stewardship goals, we aim to create the greatest possible benefits for whitewater rivers and enthusiasts. Our conservation and restoration work is infused with recreational knowledge and enthusiasm, and our recreation work is driven by a deep conservation ethic. We call this integrated approach to our mission river stewardship and pursue it in three tracks: Protect, Restore, and Enjoy.
The projects we select align with our mission and vision, have tangible and lasting beneficial outcomes, create good policy and have local support, are responsive to climate change, and benefit the rivers our communities love for current and future generations.
To protect rivers, we celebrate public lands, champion Wild and Scenic and other designations, defend rivers from dams and diversions, and advocate for clean water. We treasure wild rivers and celebrate the wildness inherent in all rivers. We believe that free-flowing rivers should stay that way.
To restore rivers, we negotiate new and improved flows at dams and diversions, and work toward dam removals where appropriate. We’ve proven that rivers are resilient and restoration works: often, just add water.
To help the public enjoy rivers, we defend the right to paddle rivers, secure areas for public access to rivers, share information on rivers, host events, and encourage sustainable use and safety on the water through education. We’ve found that sustainable access to rivers benefits individuals, communities, and rivers.
Montana Agency Proposes Paddling Prohibition on Fish Creek
09/20/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
Earlier this week Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks proposed to prohibit paddling on the entire length of Fish Creek, located near the popular Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River downstream of Missoula. Their rationale is both flawed and concerning, and the proposal marks a significant shift for a state that has a long history of strongly supporting the public freedom to float rivers. Paddlers across the state are encouraged to speak out to stop this overbearing proposal, as part of a public comment period open until October 20, 2023.
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.
National Park Service Shares 2023 Gauley Season Details (WV)
08/31/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
American Whitewater received the annual open letter to boaters from the great rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area and are happy to share it in this article. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River for the 2023 season. In addition, as part of our agreement with the land owner, there is no camping allowed on the Legg field that American Whitewater leases for overflow parking. As always, respect this and other private property. The 2023 release schedule for Gauley season is posted here.
Speak Up For Dam Removals On TN’s Little River
08/28/2023 - by Kevin Colburn
The Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to remove two low head dams on the Little River in Tennessee, and considered but passed on the removal of a third dam. These dam removals are located in scenic Class I-II reaches that are popular with beginner and local paddlers. Sadly, these two dams, called Rockford Dam and Peery’s Mill Dam, have been responsible for seven drownings in recent years. Dam removal would significantly benefit the many members of the public who enjoy paddling rivers in the region, and American Whitewater has submitted a comment letter fully supporting this proposed dam removal. Additional comments from the paddling community will help this exciting project move forward and succeed at meeting the public interest in river restoration, recreation, and safety.
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.
AW Wildfire Info Map Keeps Boaters Updated on Rivers Affected by Fires
07/27/2023 - by Scott Harding
It's peak fire season in much of the country and active wildfires are currently burning along several whitewater rivers in the West. Be sure to check the American Whitewater Wildfire Information Map for the latest details on whether there's an active wildfire that could affect your boating trip or safety. It's the only map that combines detailed information on whitewater runs with constantly updated fire locations, air quality info, and more.
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
Southeast 2023 Advanced Release Schedule Announced!
11/25/2022 - 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. Below are the 2023 dates for the Class IV/V Cheoah, Nantahala Cascades & Upper, West Fork Tuck, and Tallulah rivers.
American Whitewater Opposes Legislation to Undermine Clean Water Act
09/23/2022 - by Bob Nasdor
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.
Comments Needed By Nov. 26 to Secure Protections for West Slope Rivers (CO)
11/09/2021 - by Kestrel Kunz
In August, we announced the release of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison Draft Forest Plan. This plan will guide the management of over 3.2 million acres and thousands of river miles, including high-quality paddling streams like the Upper East and the Taylor rivers. The current plan is over 38 years old and is severely outdated. For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to effect change on our public lands and we need the paddling community to ACT NOW by submitting comments to the Forest Service. Make sure that you personalize your comments by sharing a photo or a personal experience about a river(s) on the Forests.
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!
Weybridge, Vt, VtFull Profile
A cornerstone of our outreach and education program designed to empower our volunteers is our Stewardship Toolkit, an on-line resource built on a decade of AW institutional knowledge in conservation, access, and safety issues. Each link below is a chapter containing a wealth of information. These topics are constantly being updated and we invite additional contributions.