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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. 

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Speaking Up For Rivers at the Nation's Capitol

04/15/2024 - by Stewardship Staff

Last month, four members of American Whitewater’s Stewardship team—Kevin Colburn, Scott Harding, Kestrel Kunz, and Thomas O’Keefe—visited our nation’s capital to advocate for durable protections for key whitewater rivers across the country. Our trip was part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Hill Week, which drew river advocates from around the country. The event was organized by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition, which American Whitewater co-founded in 2018. American Whitewater met with five federal agencies and 35 congressional offices to advocate for 14 different river protection bills and regional conservation efforts covering watersheds across nine states and thousands of rivers. 

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West Slope Rivers and Creeks Protected from Mining! (CO)

04/09/2024 - by Kestrel Kunz

On April 3, the Biden Administration finalized a 20-year mineral withdrawal for the Thompson Divide and Mt. Emmons area between Crested Butte and Carbondale. The mineral withdrawal will protect beloved Colorado whitewater rivers and creeks, including Oh-Be-Joyful, the Slate River, Ruby Fork of the Anthracite, Anthracite Creek, and Crystal and Roaring Fork watersheds. More work needs to be done to protect this landscape permanently, but for now we can celebrate and thank the administration for prioritizing this area.

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Protect 500 California River Miles Today

04/09/2024 - by Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman

American Whitewater along with members of the California Hydropower Reform Coalition are inching closer to a crucial vote that will protect 500 river miles across California. The state's rivers are in the crosshairs of a Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) application to transfer all 22 hydropower projects including 62 powerhouses, 97 reservoirs, 72 diversions, 167 dams, and 400 miles of water conveyance systems to a separate subsidiary, Pacific Generation LLC. American Whitewater encourages the paddling community to submit comments favoring the denial of this application to protect many of our outstanding whitewater reaches found on the North Fork Feather, the Pit, the McCloud, Butte Creek, Fordyce, the South Yuba, the Bear, the Eel, the Mokelumne, the San Joaquin, and the North Fork Kings. Comments are due before April 18.

Photo: Nathan Stayrook Hobbs, Nate Corona, Trevor Croft, and Kailee Hutchison on the San Joaquin River Gorge below PG&E's Kerckhoff Hydropower Project

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West Canada Creek (NY) Call to Action

04/02/2024 - by Lila Thomas Caldwell

A recent boating study demonstrated that the Prospect Gorge of West Canada Creek in New York, including the grandeur of Prospect Falls, is a hidden gem of the Adirondacks, yet been off limits to the public for over 100 years due to the dam owner’s prohibition. American Whitewater has been working to restore open public access and aesthetic flows at Prospect Falls and Trenton Falls, plus scheduled boating opportunities in Prospect Gorge and on the river below Trenton Falls Gorge. Meanwhile, Erie Boulevard Hydropower (a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Power) filed a Settlement Agreement with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation that continues to bar the public from the river and they now seek to incorporate those settlement provisions into a new 40-year license for the project. Elected officials must hear from the public on this issue now. Without immediate action, waterfalls and gorges in West Canada Creek will remain locked away and silenced. We’ve made it super simple to send a message with our easy-action form. Take action today! The deadline to comment is April 18. 

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Boating Flow Study and Notifications NF Kern River (CA)

03/30/2024 - by Jeff Venturino

Southern California Edison (SCE) is currently in the process of relicensing the Kern River #3 hydropower project. Information is being gathered through a series of studies to inform final license conditions and measures that will include recreational flows. SCE’s Whitewater Boating Study is being conducted on the following sections of the North Fork Kern below Fairview Dam: Sidewinder/Bombs Away, Fairview, Chamise Gorge, Salmon Falls, Goldge Ledge, Thunder Run, Cable, and the Licky Split. This spring SCE will be modifying the flows in the river to gather more information on flows targeted between 200 cfs and 800 cfs.

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Powerhouse Outage Adds to Spring Flows on South Yuba (CA)

03/30/2024 - by Jeff Venturino

The South Yuba River will soon experience spring runoff season, and we have received news there is a Pacific Gas & Electric powerhouse outage on the South Yuba. PG&E discovered a leak in their Spaulding 1 Powerhouse below Lake Spaulding that required them to shut it down. Unfortunately, the failure creates a critical water supply issue for Nevada Irrigation District (NID) and could seriously impact NID customers and irrigators. Nevertheless, American Whitewater is informing the paddling community that the powerhouse outage will will increase the volume and duration of spring flows on the South Yuba including Yuba Gap, Washington to Edwards, Edwards to Purdons, Purdons to Bridgeport, and 49 to Bridgeport. 

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Wells River (VT) Whitewater Access to be Improved under New FERC License

03/28/2024 - by Robert Nasdor

The new hydropower license for the Newbury Hydroelectric Project on the Wells RIver in Vermont requires access impropovements to the whitewater takeout. Home to the Wells River Rumble, the new access will improve the current boater take-out -- a steep, narrow, poison ivy covered goat path.

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