River Access Program

Through our Access Program, American Whitewater works to locate and secure permanent access to the places that we love. Our mission, “to conserve and restore America’s whitewater resources and enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely,” is the guiding principle of our work. In the Access Program, this conservation ethic motivates us to go beyond securing access to rivers to ensuring that what we do brings long-term protections to the river. We do this primarily through our Stewardship efforts, working closely with resource agencies, educating the public, and providing the tools that river advocates need to protect their home river.

The Access Program uses a variety of tools to enhance and secure river access throughout the country, including tracking and influencing access related legislation and policies, and advocating for stronger rights of passage on rivers that flow through private lands (i.e. the “navigability” issue). We also occasionally work closely with land trusts to acquire land. Through all of this, we mobilize the river community to support our efforts through volunteering. From trail construction and maintenance to legal defense, you are an integral part of the Access Program.

As management decisions are made, recreation access is often either overlooked or a source of tension. American Whitewater’s efforts are showing that it is possible to bring a grounded analysis of appropriate use levels and activities to the table. We also work to educate the public, boaters, landowners and resource agencies about access laws and everyone’s rights and responsibilities.

Below, you will find links to a variety of topics that relate to core river access issues. Please note that the navigability research in our Access Toolbox serves as a starting point for educating the public about our nation's laws. These laws are always changing, and we encourage you to seek professional legal advice about your particular situation.

River Access Topics