AW's Stewardship Program

River Stewardship is an integrated approach to the mission and program work of American Whitewater. Our stewardship program is made possible through on-going membership support. In our national stewardship project work we have some major buckets that our work falls into. One of the simplest ways to break these buckets down is to think of them as categories outlined in; Protect, Restore and Enjoy. Our community knows firsthand that you can’t love what you don’t know. It’s our common love of whitewater that makes us such passionate defenders of rivers. Here is an outline of historic and current project work that provides an illustration of how we function and the impacts of our collective efforts.

Protect American Whitewater has been a key player in protecting our treasured free-flowing rivers through growing the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. From our early advocacy in support of protecting the Selway River in Idaho, to our recent invitation to testify before Congress on the value of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie in Washington State, we are a consistent voice for those who experience first-hand the beauty and joy of free-flowing rivers.

Restore American Whitewater has restored flows to dry rivers below dams across the country, and is a pioneer in bringing political and scientific legitimacy to restoring flows in a way that both improves riparian habitat and connects people to rivers. Rivers like the Feather in California, Chelan in Washington, Fox in Wisconsin, and Cheoah in North Carolina were once dry, but are living rivers again thanks to our leadership. We’ve also worked with fellow river advocates to remove dams that have outlived their useful life, restoring fish habitat and recreation opportunities to rivers throughout the country, including Washington’s White Salmon River (Condit Dam), North Carolina’s Tuckasegee River (Dillsboro Dam), and Montana’s Clark Fork River (Milltown Dam). We are currently engaged in advocating for recreational flows on the New River Dries (WV), something that could bring tremendous value to an economically depressed area with new recreational opportunities for adventure based tourism.

Enjoy American Whitewater knows that those who have a personal connection to rivers are the most powerful and effective river conservation advocates. We connect the public with rivers through promoting whitewater safety and improving public access to waterways. We also maintain the National Whitewater Inventory – a comprehensive database of over 7,000 whitewater runs, representing the nation’s most extensive atlas of whitewater rivers.

This compelling mix of stewardship project outcomes allowed American Whitewater to foster strong additional corporate and foundation support. We are able to solicit three additional dollars for every membership dollar we received. That three to one match allows us to stretch your membership investment. Where else can you make a one dollar investment and immediately stretch it to four dollars in support of river conservation? This match, combined with a lean organizational model, allows American Whitewater to leave a footprint much larger than our actual shoe size.

AW's stewardship program is managed by a National Stewardship Director who coordinates efforts between regional coordinators, volunteers, board members, and other staff members including our regional directors in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, California and the Northeast. Our Stewardship Team is in place to lead, train and support community-based activism representing the interests of boaters and the rivers we care for. Our River Stewardship Team remains focused on our mission, “To conserve and restore America’s whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.” Staying true to our mission, we will continue to integrate our most valuable asset, AW member volunteers, into the issues at hand.


AW In My Backyard

Stewardship News

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Southern Rockies Stewardship Director Job Opening

Posted: 02/13/2019
by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater is hiring a new Southern Rockies Stewardship Director, following the announcement of the previous director moving on to a new role with the State of Colorado. The Director represents American Whitewater in strategically selected regional river conservation and access issues. These issues include water supply and demand management, public land and river management, community planning / river access, and policy issues that affect the region

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Green River Appeal Heads to the VT Supreme Court

Posted: 02/12/2019
by Robert Nasdor

American Whitewater is heading to the Vermont Supreme Court next month in its ongoing work to protect whitewater boating on the Green River. Following our big win in the Superior Court, Environmental Division in which the court overturned the state prohibition of scheduled releases on the Green, the state appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court. We filed our Supreme Court brief and oral argument is scheduled for March 12th at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton. American Whitewater has been involved with the Green since before the 2011 whitewater boating study on behalf of our affiliate Vermont Paddlers Club.
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A Wild and Scenic Coalition is Born

Posted: 02/11/2019
by Kevin Colburn

In 2018, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Wild and Scenic River System. In the wake of the impressive anniversary successes, however, one might ask, “So, now what?” Luckily, the rivers community asked that question some time ago. As with conservation innovations of the past, a group of river advocates and concerned citizens united to ensure that the rivers anniversary wasn’t simply a one-time party. And so, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition was born at River Rally 2018 from the power of the unprecedented national-level cooperation undertaken during the anniversary. American Whitewater has been a leading proponent of forming a Wild and Scenic River Coalition for the past several years and we have long worked nationally with a group of partner organizations on Wild and Scenic issues. We are now thrilled be a founding and active member of this new coalition that has a bright future.

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Welcome to the New National Whitewater Inventory!

Posted: 01/25/2019
by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater has worked with an outstanding team of website designers and programmers over the past two years to redesign our National Whitewater Inventory (NWI). The NWI provides high quality information for a growing list of 5,760 whitewater river reaches across the United States. Each year this online guide helps almost 1,000,000 paddlers avoid hazards and match their skill level to the right rivers at the right flows. Like a Wikipedia of whitewater rivers, the Inventory is a dynamic crowd-sourced collection of river descriptions, locations, hazards, photos, and flow recommendations organized by a powerful database. This project was funded by a generous grant from the US Coast Guard, based on the NWI’s vital river safety value. We are actively fixing bugs and enhancing the user experience of the new design, so expect improved performance in the coming weeks. 

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Clackamas River flow information survey

Posted: 01/22/2019
by Thomas O'Keefe

As a part of Portland General Electric’s (PGE) license for its hydroelectric project along the Clackamas River, PGE follows a Recreation Resource Management Plan that directs the Company towards recreation projects along the Clackamas. PGE is currently seeking feedback from the whitewater community on the flow resources along the Upper Clackamas River through a short 8 question online survey.

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Dates Scheduled for First New River Dries Releases (WV)

Posted: 01/22/2019
by Kevin Colburn

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.

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Weber River Agreement Calls For New Flows & Access (UT)

Posted: 01/18/2019
by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater has spent the past three years participating in the relicensing of a hydropower dam on Utah's Weber River that dewaters a stretch of whitewater known as the Scrambled Eggs run. Last year, we reached an agreement with all parties calling for improved take-out access, as well as four pulse flow releases each year that will support whitewater paddling and the river's ecology. This agreement is core to the dam owner's 2018 federal dam license application, which we recently supported in formal comments. 

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AW Russell Fork Survey Results Shared (KY/VA)

Posted: 01/14/2019
by Kevin Colburn

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. 

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Flathead River Tributaries Get Protection for Christmas (MT)

Posted: 01/11/2019
by Kevin Colburn

Wild rivers and their enthusiasts got some good news with the release of the new 15-20 year Forest plan for the Flathead National Forest. The decision newly protects 22 streams as eligible for Wild and Scenic designation, based in large part on the advocacy of American Whitewater and our awesome partners and members in Montana. These protections will serve as a vital steppingstone to the designation of some of our Nation’s most outstanding headwater streams. 

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Upper Yough Access Fundraiser a Big Success

Posted: 01/07/2019
by Charlie Walbridge

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!

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AW Presents Lower Yough Survey Results To Managers (PA)

Posted: 12/19/2018
by Kevin Colburn

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. 

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AW releases Saint Vrain and Lefthand Creek Recreational Flow Study - CO

Posted: 12/14/2018
by Nathan Fey

Longmont, Colorado - As part of a comprehensive Stream Management Plan for the St Vrain Creek Watershed, American Whitewater is collecting and compiling data on recreational uses, and identifying projects and strategies to improve stream health, recreation, and environmental conditions in the region. You can help with this extensive effort. Please participate in the Recreational Flow survey.

 

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Proposal Would Weaken Water Quality Protections

Posted: 12/14/2018
by Kevin Colburn

This week the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army announced their intent to redefine the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) that are protected under the Clean Water Act. Our preliminary read is this proposal would substantially reduce protections for headwater streams representing the source of our nation’s rivers. The proposed “revision” for the 2015 Clean Water Rule is now available for review and will soon be open a 60 day comment period when it is published to the Federal Register. We'll keep you informed. 

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Southeast Advanced Release Schedule Set for 2019!

Posted: 12/04/2018
by Kevin Colburn

It is looking like another great year to be a paddler in the Southeast! Over the past two decades American Whitewater has worked with affiliate clubs and partners to negotiate an awesome array of scheduled releases on river reaches previously dewatered by hydropower dams. Each year we help schedule these releases in an integrated manner that aims to maximize their recreational value. Read on to see the great line up for 2019! 

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Join American Whitewater On The Wild And Scenic Rogue River (OR) In 2019

Posted: 12/02/2018
by Mark Singleton

For the past few years, the staff of America Whitewater has joined with a number of our members to participate in a four-day float trip on the Rogue River in southern Oregon. This trip has been a great opportunity to connect with members in ways that build a lasting understanding of the role of recreation in fostering a stewardship ethic. As one of the original eight Wild and Scenic Rivers in the country, the Rogue is an outstanding classroom for American Whitewater’s river stewardship program.

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Support Colorado River Access on Colorado Gives Day!

Posted: 11/29/2018
by Kestrel Kunz

Colorado Gives Day is on December 4 this year and is fast approaching! Go here to schedule your online donation to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. All donations made to American Whitewater on Colorado Gives Day (December 4) will be put towards our River Access Program in Colorado. American Whitewater works to improve river access and public safety throughout the state by working with landowners and managers, paddlers, law enforcement, and lawmakers to understand Colorado's river access laws and the ongoing threats to public safety. Thank you for your support!

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Voluntary River Closure Proposed On the Slate River (CO)

Posted: 11/02/2018
by Kestrel Kunz

Crested Butte CO - Alleged disruption to a Heron Rookery and concerned private landowners have led to a "Voluntary Closure" of the Slate River from the Gunsight Bridge to the Town of Crested Butte between March 15 and June 21 for the 2019 season. The Slate River between Oh Be Joyful Campground and Skyland Bridge, a 10.5 mile stretch, provides an incredibly scenic and unique flatwater paddling experience in the Gunnison Valley. The Voluntary clsoure is a product of the Slate River Floating Management Plan, created by a Working Group convened by the Town of Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust. The Working Group was created in direct response to pressure from the local community including conservationists and private landowners adjacent to the river, who are concerned that a recent increase in boating activity is disturbing a Heron Rookery that straddles the Slate River. 

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AW Wins Court Battle Protecting Green River (VT) Boating

Posted: 09/21/2018
by Robert Nasdor

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.

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Prevent a New Dam on the San Joaquin (CA)

Posted: 09/19/2018
by Theresa Simsiman

We need your help to protect the San Joaquin River! The proposed Temperance Flat Dam would drown an incredible river canyon that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has already recommended for Wild and Scenic River designation. Despite the enormous price tag of at least $2.6 billion, according to the Bureau of Reclamation's preferred alternative for the project, the dam would only yield 70,000 acre-feet of water per year on average. Take action today.

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AW Comments on Colorado Nat'l Forest Wilderness Process

Posted: 09/05/2018
by Kestrel Kunz

Today, September 5, marked the close of the public review process for the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report. The Evaluation Phase is the second step of 4 different steps required in the assessment of lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). American Whitewater thoroughly reviewed the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report and submitted our comments to the Forest Service on September 4, 2018. Overall, we found that key paddling reaches throughout the GMUG area were greatly under-represented in the Polygon narratives and thus weren't acknowledged as contributing factors to the Polygon's respective Wilderness Ratings. We let the Forest Service know this, highlighting specific paddling reaches that should be added to each Polygon and which Polygons we believe should have a higher Wilderness Rating based on the high-quality recreation opportunities that each area has to offer. 

Please stay tuned as we continue to report on the GMUG Land Management Revision Process and in the meantime you can learn more about the GMUG here. (Photo of Josh King by Nick Spitzer)


Stewardship director
Dave Steindorf
4 Baroni Drive
Chico, CA 95928
Phone: 530-343-1871