American Whitewater at Work

“The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart.”  —Tanako Shozo

Whether you appreciate clean, free flowing rivers from a raft, drift boat, canoe, kayak, stand-up paddle board or alongside the water’s edge, stewardship is an important component to every river lover’s livelihood!  American Whitewater has led the industry of river conservation since 1954 and they invite us all to take our recreational pass times to the next level by becoming river conservation advocates.  The mission of this member based organization is “to conserve and restore America’s whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.”

Stewardship, providing river information and safety education have been the building blocks of AW for over 50 years!  And they are good at what they do, providing an awareness and overall guardianship to the precious places and experiences that we share.

Nate wilson photography; north fork of the smith river, california

Nate Wilson Photography; North Fork of the Smith River, California


In their own words; “American Whitewater works to protect and restore rivers, maintains a national inventory of whitewater rivers, monitors potential threats to whitewater river resources, publishes information on river conservation, works with government agencies to protect the ability of the public to have a voice in the management of rivers, advocates for legislation protecting our rivers and their aquatic resources, and provides technical advice to local groups regarding river conservation and management.” –American Whitewater

With far reaching efforts and results that benefit us all, AW has had an integral role in several conservation accomplishments, projects and victories.  Recently, AW and supporters celebrated a well-earned success as Browns Canyon, Colorado received permanent protection and the new status of a national monument.  We can all smile as we think about the future generations that will be allowed the privilege of paddling, rafting, angling, hiking and simply breathing the fresh air of this incredible 21,000 acre region.

Nate wilson photography; wild rivers night in portland, oregon

Nate Wilson Photography; Wild Rivers Night in Portland, Oregon


Free flowing rivers are worth fighting for and AW knows how to get things done as a founding and instrumental member of the Hydropower Reform Coalition.  This partnership embodies the public interest of restoring environmental and recreational values to rivers and wildlife with concern to hydropower relicensing as well as the management of rivers impacted by hydropower development.  AW has worked on over 100 federally-licensed hydropower projects, thankfully restoring flows to riverbeds that have been dewatered for decades.   Partnering with a variety of agencies, AW has helped remove over a dozen dams with several more dam removals planned.

Nate wilson photography; former glines canyon dam on the elwha river, washington

Nate Wilson Photography; Former Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River, Washington


On an individual level, AW can help plan and prepare for any adventure.  AW’s easy to navigate and advantageous website keeps current and accurate descriptions of rivers throughout the United States as well as internationally.  These descriptions include water levels, difficultly ratings, rapid descriptions, permit requirements, photos, videos and provides safety education as well as accident reports.

One of AW’s founding and continued purposes is to, “promote and celebrate safety, proficiency and responsibility in all aspects of whitewater activities such as the navigation of moving water, teaching, teamwork, leadership, and equipment design, by publishing and demonstrating our support for instructional development in these and related fields.”

AW has been fundamental in the progression of whitewater recreation and safety.  The American Whitewater Safety Code is internationally recognized and includes the class I-V Scale of Whitewater Difficulty rating system which was developed by the AW membership in the 1950’s.  For additional safety information and resources visit the AW safety page.

Nate wilson photography; scouting rainie falls on the rogue river, oregon

Nate Wilson Photography; Scouting Rainie Falls on the Rogue River, Oregon


If you are a river enthusiasts and not yet an AW member, please consider joining the team.  A regular membership is $35 for one year.  And with 83 cents of every dollar going directly to river stewardship work, give with confidence that your financial support is well utilized.

If you are already a member, consider the many other ways to support AW’s efforts such as gift memberships, donating, memorial funds, the AW store, industry partner program and of course purchasing a stunning AW calendar.  You can be a conscious consumer by supporting companies that support our rivers!

Nate wilson photography; anglers on the queets river, washington

Nate Wilson Photography; Anglers on the Queets River, Washington


Once an active member, enjoy AW’s bi-monthly journal and stay in tune with current campaigns.  We all have the power to make a difference by being informed, volunteering, writing to our Congressmen, recruiting friends, signing petitions and expressing support on social media, AW provides the starting blocks.

In conclusion, the next time you find yourself by the river’s edge take a moment to relish in the natural beauty and sounds, with a deep breath consider the work of many that have ensured the protection of such wild places for many years to come.

Nate wilson photography; fall creek falls on the rogue river, oregon

Nate Wilson Photography; Fall Creek Falls on the Rogue River, Oregon


Thank you!


About Team Sundance

Sundance Kayak School was started on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon way back in 1973! And was created for one very specific reason: to teach whitewater kayaking. Sundance Kayak School is dedicated to sharing the love of rivers and paddle sports through Education, Involvement and Enjoyment.