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American Whitewater is the nation's leading advocate for whitewater rivers. We are nationally recognized for our leadership on Wild and Scenic Rivers, removing dams that no longer serve the public interest, and restoring flows to rivers impacted by hydropower and water supply projects.
Since launching our Colorado Program, we have been actively engaged in negotiating safe public access to rivers for recreational use, such as fishing and boating. We have accomplished new and innovative resolution to conflicts between members of general public and private landowners that are viewed positively by both interests.
River-related recreation, like rafting and kayaking, is one of the principal economies in Colorado; generating over $9B a year just on the western slope. Across the state, opportunities to paddle our rivers foster personal growth, family connection, and world-class competition.
Our goals for this year are to ensure that our river economy remains strong, and that the rights of landowners and the safety of the public are protected. Our objectives include improved public understanding of river navigability law in Colorado, and coordinated efforts by individuals, outfitters, and decision-makers in supporting good policy.
American Whitewater needs financial support from individual donors for all of our projects in Colorado, with a primary emphasis on our state-wide river access work. Foundations generally do not support river access work, making individual donations and membership contributions critical for a successful program.
Founded in 1954, American Whitewater is a national non-profit organization with a mission "to conserve and restore America's whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely." American Whitewater is a membership organization representing a broad diversity of individual whitewater enthusiasts, river conservationists, and more than 100 local paddling club affiliates across America. The organization is the primary advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States, and connects the interests of human-powered recreational river users with ecological and science-based data to achieve the goals within its mission.
Executive Director Statement
American Whitewater is the primary advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States and connects the interests of human-powered recreational river users with ecological and science-based data to restore and protect rivers. Our brand of river stewardship includes a strong regional approach that teams up professional American Whitewater staff with committed volunteers. Together, we work to tackle challenging issues on rivers we all enjoy.
At the heart of our river stewardship program is the understanding that conservation and recreation are mutually dependent. Time spent paddling forms the basis for a conservation ethic that values water in rivers. Paddlers understand that you cannot love what you don't know. It's our love of whitewater that makes us fierce defenders of rivers and their flows. This intimate connection to flowing water has made American Whitewater a force in river stewardship for 60 years.
Specifically in Colorado, American Whitewater is heavily engaged in the following active projects:
Upper Colorado River: Working with water agencies and local governments to mitigate impacts on river health from new dams and trans-basin diversions. From Kremmling to Glenwood Springs, we are ensuring that opportunities to work with water managers to enhance flows for recreation and environmental health are met, and that legal water rights that keep water in our rivers are awarded by the Courts.
Yampa River: Defining and defending streamflows in anticipation of new reservoir proposals and large-scale trans-mountain water pipelines.
Dolores River: A new management plan is in place to help enhance streamflows and we are seeking to establish enforceable commitments that will provide reliable flows for whitewater recreation and the river's ecology.
Statewide: The Colorado Water Plan and the Statewide Water Supply Investigations are in critical need of science-based datasets and information about the relationship between recreation and sufficient streamflows. We have several ongoing projects across the state that are addressing the gaps in data that will inform how the State will identify new water supply projects that are multiple-use and that balance river health with our communities need for a clean and reliable water supply.
Board Chair/President Statement
The American Whitewater Colorado River Stewardship Program is a high priority for us. The way water is allocated in Colorado will impact other states and set a future model for water stressed regions. American Whitewater is a leading stakeholder in the management of the Colorado River and its tributaries. We have worked for the past ten years on precedent setting agreements to protect flows needed for whitewater recreation and the river's ecology.