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Gauley Paddlers Encouraged to Step Up Safety

07/10/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

This year we want to encourage boaters to have a great time on the Gauley, but to also keep it classy and keep the safety of your group and others front of mind. Here are some tips, based on conversations with the National Park Service and our own recommendations as fellow paddlers. Every fall the predictable flows, sublime scenery, and powerful rapids of the Gauley bring boaters together from vast distances for something of an annual reunion in a National Park setting. Mixed into the roar of the rapids are the cheers of river runners celebrating each other’s good and bad lines, and at times the joy of the river and community fuels a party-like atmosphere on the river. At the same time, the Gauley River has significant hazards that claim lives with sobering regularity. 

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Take action! Ensure Impacts to Dolores River Are Fully Analyzed

07/10/2024 - by Hattie Johnson

Flows in the Dolores River below McPhee Dam depend on how its dam and irrigation infrastructure are operated. Since the construction of the dam, boatable flows are only available in years when the reservoir is overflowing. Native fish and a healthy and diverse riparian corridor are dependent on these wildly variable dam releases. Two agreements that direct the operations and water management for McPhee Dam are up for renewal in 2025. Flows have been less consistent over the past 24 years and have resulted in significant impacts to boaters, fish, and riparian habitat. We believe that an environmental analysis of those agreements must be updated before the current agreements are renewed, for the health of the river and to be legally compliant with the National Environmental Policy Act. Use this easy-action form to help us in asking the Bureau of Reclamation to fully analyze the impacts of future Dolores Project operations on environmental, cultural and recreational values.

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Gore Fest is ON! August 23-25

07/10/2024 - by Hattie Johnson

American Whitewater is hosting the festival at Pumphouse Recreation Area in partnership with Whitewater Racing LLC who will be bringing you the beloved race through Gore Canyon. We are grateful for them to host the big race. Please check their website for more race details. American Whitewater will be supporting the festivities and be there for you to join or renew your membership and learn more about our work in the region. Join us starting on Friday August 23rd and camp through the weekend at Pumphouse. Camping is on a first come first serve basis. 

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113 Miles of River Protections Finalized in Colorado!

07/09/2024 - by Kestrel Kunz

In June, we welcomed river protections for 22 new river segments across 113 river miles in Colorado’s western slope. American Whitewater has been advocating for durable river protections and smart recreation management on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) since 2016. We are happy to celebrate the end of the GMUG Forest Plan revision process with a number of hard earned wins. The success is in large part because of letters, stories, and photos that our members contributed to this effort. Photo by Dustin Brown, Scenic River Tours

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Legislation Seeks Study of Fees and Reservation Systems

07/01/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

New legislation being considered in Congress would require a federal inquiry into reservation systems being used by land managers to allocate recreational opportunities on public lands - most prominently The legislation, called the RESERVE Federal Land Act, which is short for ‘‘Review and Evaluation of Strategies for Equal Reservations for Visitor Experiences Federal Land Act,” seeks answers to some very good questions about transparency, equity, financial benefits, and best practices for allocating recreational use. Boaters are encouraged to use our easy-action form to contact your US Senators and share your views on this legislation. 

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Contested Case Closes Portion of Watauga River, AW Moves to Intervene (NC)

06/24/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

American Whitewater has requested intervention in a contested case pending in the Office of Administrative Hearings challenging the rights of the public to recreate on sections of the Boone Fork and Watauga River, located near Boone, North Carolina. Our intervention is intended to provide the tribunal with factual evidence that the rivers are regularly paddled, legally and physically navigable, and thus open to the public for paddling. Paddlers that have run these sections are encouraged to contact American Whitewater through this form to help us document paddling use of these streams.

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Fall River Dam Relicensing Kicks Off (ID)

06/18/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

The Fall River is home to a gem of a whitewater run flowing through a low canyon set in agricultural fields in Southeast Idaho, just west of Yellowstone National Park. A hydropower dam that regulates the flows in the whitewater run is up for relicensing starting this summer. The 5-year dam relicensing process will likely result in a new 30-50 year license for the dam in 2029. The new license could include improved instream flows and public access, and American Whitewater will be participating in the process with the help of local paddlers to seek such improvements. 


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Colorado Water Quality Control Commission Votes to Protect 15 Streams

06/12/2024 - by Hattie Johnson

On June 12, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission voted unanimously to approve a proposal to designate 385 miles of rivers and creeks as Outstanding Waters, ensuring these pristine waters will be preserved in that condition well into the future. The designations will be finalized at the Commission's upcoming August meeting. The Colorado River Basin Outstanding Water Coalition included American Whitewater, alongside several other groups representing anglers and environmental advocates. The coalition collected years of water quality data, vast and impressive support from stakeholders, and evidence of threats to these headwaters streams.

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North Fork American River (CA) Yankee Jim’s Bridge Replacement Project Update

06/12/2024 - by Jeff Venturino

Access to the North Fork American at Yankee Jim’s bridge is likely to be different in the next few years. Placer County Public Works is currently in the process of replacing Yankee Jim’s Bridge with an intended timeline of initiating construction in October of 2024. American Whitewater has been working with Placer County Public Works to develop an improved river access, including a railing that can be used to slide rafts to and from the river, and to minimize impacts to paddlers during and after construction.

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2024 Gauley Fest Vendor Registration is Live!

06/10/2024 - by Bethany Overfield

We’re excited to kick start 2024 Gauley Fest planning! Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world. The Gauley Fest vendor marketplace is second to none for reaching the whitewater boating and outdoor community in the US. 

The 2024 Festival will take place from September 19th through September 22nd. We’ll be posting more details in the coming weeks, but Vendors can register for booth space now! 

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2024 Gauley Fest Vendor Registration is Live

06/10/2024 - by Bethany Overfield

We’re excited to kick start 2024 Gauley Fest planning! Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world. The Gauley Fest vendor marketplace is second to none for reaching the whitewater boating and outdoor community in the US. 

The 2024 Festival will take place from September 19th through September 22nd. We’ll be posting more details in the coming weeks, but Vendors can register for booth space now! 

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Rincon Mine on the Colorado River STOPPED! (CO)

05/17/2024 - by Kestrel Kunz

American Whitewater and our members helped stop a proposed gravel mine on the banks of the Colorado River – at least for now. The Rincon gravel mine would have been adjacent to the Dotsero Landing river access near the confluence of the Colorado and Eagle Rivers in Eagle County. The project threatened to diminish the scenery, air quality, wildlife, and overall experience of boaters and recreationists of all types on the Colorado River where Eagle County and the state have invested time and resources to improve and protect water quality, river flows and recreation. 

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Nine Days of Whitewater Flows for the San Joaquin River on Horseshoe Bend (CA)

05/09/2024 - by Jeff Venturino and Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

Southern California Edison (SCE) has released the first 2024 forecast for flows on the San Joaquin River Horseshoe Bend Reach. As of May 21st, 2024, SCE anticipates providing boatable flows from May 25th to June 2nd. SCE’s operating license requires that they release up to 9 days of boating flows in wetter water years using a prolonged ramp down. These boating flows range from 3500 to 1600 cfs. However, keep in mind these dates are a forecast and are subject to change based on when SCE actually has control of spill. A slow ramp down of spill mimics a natural snowmelt period which improves conditions for native aquatic fish and mussels, controls invasive species that thrive in warmer water, and provides whitewater recreation opportunities. This boating flow requirement is a result of American Whitewater’s negotiated Long Term Operating Rules for the Big Creek 4 hydropower project.

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Ask the Forest Service to Protect Our Nation's Headwaters

05/09/2024 - by Hattie Johnson

Healthy headwaters are integral to the flowing and functioning rivers and streams we all love to paddle. An incredibly crucial aspect of these headwaters are fens. Fens are a rare type of “old-growth” wetland that play a crucial role in climate resilience and are renowned as biodiversity hotspots and natural reservoirs.In Colorado, there are reservoirs being proposed now - like Homestake II in the headwaters of the Eagle River - that could affect these headwater fens on National Forest lands. Join us in signing this petition asking the Forest Service to create strong safeguards for this most precious water resource.

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American Whitewater Reaches Major Milestone for Big Sandy Land Stewardship (WV)

05/09/2024 - by Kevin Colburn

Thanks to the generosity of the boating community, American Whitewater is pleased to announce that we’ve met our fundraising goal for the purchase and permanent stewardship of our new property on the Big Sandy! In January of this year, American Whitewater purchased 4.25 miles of river frontage spanning almost the entire river-left side of the Lower Big Sandy gorge, the remainder of which is already under conservation ownership. We’ve now raised the funds needed to cover perpetual stewardship of the land by the West Virginia Land Trust. Protecting this land is a testament to what our river-loving community is capable of and we would like to thank all who contributed to this effort! American Whitewater is now in the process of transferring the land to the West Virginia Land Trust, which we hope to complete this year. Under the Land Trust’s care, the Big Sandy will continue to charm paddlers and other visitors for generations to come.


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Access Improvements on the Taylor River (CO) 

05/06/2024 - by Kestrel Kunz

American Whitewater is partnering with the Gunnison Ranger District of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, outfitters, and the local boating community to secure river access improvements at the The Slot access area on the Taylor River in Colorado. The access improvements aim to improve safety, erosion issues, and the user experience for all types of river users enjoying the Taylor River Canyon. When the time comes, we will be reaching out to our members, partners, and supporters to help us reach our fundraising goals for the project. Stay tuned for additional updates as we make progress on the improvement designs. If you have questions about this project or want to be involved please reach out to Kestrel Kunz at

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Big Canyon Dams Denied in Grand Canyon (AZ)

05/03/2024 - by Kestrel Kunz

On April 25, 2024, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied the preliminary permit application for a large pumped storage hydropower project on Big Canyon after the same developer tried and failed to build a large pumped hydro project directly on the Little Colorado River. Big Canyon is a tributary of the Little Colorado River just miles from the heart of the Grand Canyon; the project would have relied on dwindling groundwater supplies to fill a large reservoir. The Little Colorado River, from its confluence with the Grand Canyon to its own canyons and tributaries upstream, has been the center of a series of proposed development projects that threaten the sensitive and culturally significant watershed. FERC’s notice not only denies Pumped Hydro Storage’s permit application and essentially kills the project, it properly applies FERC’s new policy to require Tribal support for hydropower projects proposed on Tribal land. 

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CA Wild & Scenic Mokelumne River - 2024 Recreational Releases

04/27/2024 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

Since 2001, as a member of the Ecological Resource Committee which is tasked with implementing PG&E's hydropower project license, American Whitewater annually coordinates recreational releases on the CA Wild & Scenic Mokelumne River. This includes flows for all boating levels on Devil's Nose (Class V), Tiger Creek (Class IV), and Electra (Class II-III). Click the read more button below for the details of the 2024 recreational release schedule.

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American Whitewater Launches New Initiative to Remove Deadbeat Dams

04/24/2024 - by Robert Nasdor

American Whitewater today launched a new project aimed at removing deadbeat dams from our nation’s rivers. With an increasing number of hydropower dams crumbling and being abandoned by their owners, the project seeks to require dam owners to remove these dams and restore our rivers for the fish and people that use and enjoy them. This initiative will focus on utilizing legal challenges to force the removal of these dams which no longer serve their purpose and present a significant hazard to the public.

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American Whitewater Joins Partnership to Conserve and Restore America’s Rivers

04/23/2024 - by Thomas O'Keefe

American Whitewater was invited to join the Biden Administration in announcing a new freshwater initiative, “The America the Beautiful Freshwater Challenge: A Partnership to Conserve and Restore America’s Rivers, Lakes, Streams, and Wetlands.” American Whitewater has joined this partnership recognizing the fundamental role of our nation’s waterways to the health, prosperity, and resiliency of our communities, and recognizing that these resources are held sacred by many Tribal Nations. The primary goals of the partnership are to 1) reconnect, restore, and protect 8 million acres of wetlands by 2030; and 2) reconnect, restore, and protect 100,000 miles of our nations’ rivers and streams by 2030. The benefits of these actions are numerous and include maintaining water quality that is healthy and safe for recreation, ensuring that freshwater resources continue to support regional and rural economies including outdoor recreation, protecting our drinking water supplies, and supporting aquatic ecosystem biodiversity. American Whitewater is committed to helping realize the goals of this partnership through action, including restoring the full protections of the Clean Water Act, marshaling the Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase and conserve river corridors, working to restore natural flow regimes to rivers affected by hydropower and advocating for the removal of dams when their environmental and social justice impacts outweigh any benefits, protecting thousands of miles of rivers through new Wild and Scenic, Outstanding National Resource Waters, National Monuments and other administrative designations and actions that safeguard rivers, and engaging local communities, investing in recreational access to rivers, and providing education on public safety around rivers that will bolster regional and rural economies that rely on outdoor recreation. 

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!