American Whitewater: Stewards of America’s waterways and outdoor recreation

The roar of Steelhead Falls on Washington’s White Salmon River reverberates off the basalt walls of the beautiful river canyon, this is what the impact of American Whitewater feels like. It is hard for anyone to look at a free-flowing wilderness river and not appreciate its pristine beauty. Here on Washington’s White Salmon River, it is easy to see the extensive impact of this river conservation organization, but they are also active all across the country preserving the places we cherish and love to explore.

American Whitewater was founded in 1954 and has been speaking on behalf of American waterways and outdoor resources ever since, including:
Representing the public’s voice at over 100 hydropower projects across the country to restore water to dewatered river beds.
Removing dozens of dams including the Elwha Dams on the Olympic Peninsula and the Condit Dam here on the White Salmon River, enabling Wet Planet guests and thousands of others to enjoy the White Salmon Narrows every year, with more dams scheduled to be removed.
Creating the Hydropower Reform Coalition aiming to strengthen the public voice in hydropower relicensing, and the Outdoor Alliance aiming to preserve public access to the American outdoors.
Maintaining and updating the National Whitewater Inventory which provides river descriptions, flow, and safety information on americanwhitewater.org.
Creating a new app making it easier to find information on rivers across America using a google maps like interface.
Forming the Wild and Scenic Rivers Coalition aiming to protect more rivers under the Wild and Scenic Act.

American Whitewater is a non-profit that is securing river protection and recreation in these beautiful places for current and future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.

The White Salmon River is visited by globe-trotting whitewater kayakers and rafters, commercial rafting guests, and those simply wishing for a photo of a beautiful river; AW has impacted them all through:
Helping to purchase land for the BZ Corners Launch site, which provides public access to the river, and transferring the land into public ownership in 2001.
Protecting 27.7 miles of the White Salmon River under the national Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Helping to remove the Condit dam in 2012 ,which returned water to miles of dewatered river bed, returned the river to a free flowing state, and reopened 33 miles of steelhead and 14 miles of chinook, chum, and coho salmon habitat and spawning grounds .
Lobbying Congress alongside the Outdoor Alliance to ensure the passage of the most expansive public lands package of the last decade. This bill includes the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund which helped to purchase the BZ Corners Launch site.

AW has made a positive impact on the White Salmon River and the recreational and environmental assets this river provides. The organization has ongoing projects in the Pacific Northwest and even more projects all across the country as they work to preserve our natural resources.

Looking at all the accomplishments of this esteemed environmental group, it is easy to assume they have thousands of employees sauntering around speaking on behalf of our interests; wrong. AW has eleven paid staff members while the rest of the support comes from people who volunteer their time, effort, knowledge, and money because they care for the future of our country. These eleven stewards do their best to represent our nation’s waterways, but we, the ones who use the rivers and cherish them, need to raise our voices alongside them. American Whitewater is a membership organization, meaning that it gets its morals, power, interests, and authority from its members and in return we have a platform to pursue our endeavours. If you are a paddler, you know that people who don’t paddle know very little about how incredible these places are and the only way they will ever know is if we show them. American Whitewater began on the shoulders of whitewater paddlers, is currently sitting on the shoulders of the next generation and will always be on the shoulders of those who call rivers their happy place.

If you enjoy playing in rivers, fishing, paddling whitewater, or exploring natural areas, then it is in your best interest to become a member of American Whitewater. The steps are simple and affordable, while the impacts are massive and lasting;
Go to the American Whitewater Membership page.
Fill in all your information.
Give anywhere from $35 – $2,500 for varying levels of memberships and benefits (you can donate less without becoming a member).
Watch as your very important contribution protects the places you love.
Volunteer to have an even greater impact, because that is what really matters.

Becoming a member of AW will undoubtedly have a positive impact, but volunteering your time can be an even greater way of contributing to the causes you care about. If you have some spare time, are between jobs, or are have a school project you need a topic for, then AW is a great place to spend your time. Help yourself out and the river you love by addressing access problems, dam release notification issues, or potentially harmful practices by getting out there and doing something about it. American Whitewater is here to help us, but they also need us to help them.

Your membership is going to help AW accomplish its goals of preserving our watersheds and it is going to have a meaningful and positive impact on the future. If you cherish our rivers then please sign up for a membership and or volunteer. Thank you, American Whitewater, for all that you do and thank you to all those unnamed volunteers that helped give American Whitewater its name!

– Jair Cruikshank

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