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Old 02-14-2014   #41
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
Originally Posted by ditch View Post
AWA won't be getting my money next year.
Let's see, to pursue the issue, AW will expend valuable resources on a bill that's DOA and wreck their relationships with key allies.

If "divide and conquer" is the strategy used in the House by making the bill "part of a highly controversial package of public lands bills," it looks like it's working.


Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 02-14-2014   #42
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,928
Originally Posted by Paddle Iraq View Post
I've spoken with staffers of the legislators who are involved with this bill and would like to clear up some of the confusion in this thread about the paddling bill and its relation to the other bills that passed the house along side of it. My understanding is that it will be introduced by itself in the Senate so its not really tied to the other bills. Generally speaking, if the paddling bill passes the Senate not connected to the other bills, then it will go back to the House for approval on its own. Therefore its not opposition to the other bills that is causing AW or other conservation groups to oppose the paddling bill, instead they're opposed to the paddling bill itself.
Thats a major jump in logic with little evidence to support it, regarding AW and others' choices.

It could go back to the House but its republican controlled and has the tendency as a minority to attach unrelated legislation (as democrats due when they are minority with few means of recourse). This could easily die in the branches (happens all of the time) or go to conference with the existing differences. If there is anything general to speak of in the last 16 years its that both branches rarely agree on the details of any bill in a clean manner. Clean bills rarely exist now because they are functionally a form of special interest; it takes combining various, often unrelated legislative actions, to get enough members of congress to be selfish enough to vote for anything now a days. I have learned that principle, law and thoughtful governance rarely make their way into conversations in Congress.

I see no benefit to speculating about motive of the various parties with the limited information we have at hand. I also have to wonder how likely it is that something like a stand alone bill regarding paddling access in 2 national parks is gonna survive the aforementioned process. How many congressman are gonna stick their necks out for a handful of dirtbags in the west for an issue that brings extremely minimal gains to them? I mean seriously, in modern politics, who puts their necks in the guillotine without something to gain? Its cynical but I think the reality of Washington the last few decades bears out the concern. Even the current bill in the House supports that level of skepticism and no hearsay coming out of Senate is gonna make hold my breathe for the unexpected.

Time will tell. Its a shitty era for trying to get anything done in American land management.


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Old 02-22-2014   #43
spack171's Avatar
Sylva, Western North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 66
AW's Statement

Here is AW's statement, taken from their webpage:

American Whitewater - A Deeper Dive Into Yellowstone

Earlier this week we posted a quick article informing our community that American Whitewater would not pursue the Senate version of the River Paddling Protection Act, ending our exploration of a legislative solution to the management of paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. We’ve obviously gotten some questions about this decision and would like to offer a more robust explanation.

How We Engaged in Park Management
As an organization we support science-based management decisions that are generated through an open public process, and are consistent with law and policy. This is true whether the decision is about building a dam, protecting a river, or limiting a recreational use. In most cases periodic reviews like dam relicensing or forest planning provide the forum for us to advocate for conservation and sustainable recreation. In Yellowstone and Grand Teton, we have long sought such a forum to have river paddling considered.
In 2013 the Parks released a draft river management plan for 5 rivers and excluded paddling from consideration, claiming in part that 60 year old federal paddling bans tied their hands. These bans were enacted in the 50’s as a result of overfishing with Yellowstone and have created a status quo with park management. We filed comments challenging this decision, and seeking the hard look that is universally expected in all natural resource decisions. We reached out to many of the organizations that are involved in the management of these parks and found that many understood and did not object to our request for an analysis. The Park Service however, stated that they would not change course.

Legislative Opportunity Arises
American Whitewater did not request the River Paddling Protection Act or initiate a legislative effort, however Wyoming paddlers voiced their frustration to their one Congressional representative which promted the bill. We were first contacted by Congresswoman Lummis’s office about the bill shortly before its introduction. We voiced concerns about potential controversy, offered feedback on draft language that did not result in changes, and supported introduction of the bill to create a forum for highlighting and considering the issue.
Upon introduction we reached out to other organizations and individuals that share an interest in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, and heard concerns about the bill language, but limited concerns with the intent. We reached out to Yellowstone National Park to discuss the legislation and did not receive a response.
Like others, we were concerned that the legislation as originally drafted would have set a bad precedent with National Wildlife Refuge System’s management, and possibly limit the Park Service’s discretion to manage paddling just like all other uses. There was a general consensus about how the bill would need to be improved to garner broad support, and accordingly we submitted testimony on the bill that sought changes solely requiring a study and a modern management decision based on that study.
A new version of the bill was drafted based on the testimonies and bipartisan feedback. The new version granted the NPS three years to study the issue and replace the 60-year old rules, and did not alter their management discretion. The National Wildlife Refuge language was struck and replaced with a simple consultation requirement. There was limited opposition to the new bill, with most public lands stakeholders taking a neutral stance. The new version of the bill quickly passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent.
The paddling bill was promptly packaged with a suite a public lands bills that were the subject of significant opposition within the conservation community and Congress. As part of the package the bill drew significant negative attention including an Administrative Statement of Policy opposing the bill. This package moved to the floor of the house where it was hotly debated and passed on a near party line vote.

The Debate Shifts, Prompts Return To Our Original Efforts
Continuing our outreach, it became evident that the bill would have a challenging path in the Senate and with the Administration. While many organizations remained neutral, the roster of organizations that opposed the bill was growing, and the anti-paddling rhetoric in the media, in DC, and among the conservation community was becoming increasingly toxic and counter-productive.
We recognized this situation as one that was rapidly headed for a long, heated, damaging, and distracting fight. The legislative effort we hoped would lead to a meaningful debate and science-based management was being taken in the wrong direction. The resources required to fully engage in a struggle of this scale and nature would consume significant organizational resources and prevent us from engaging in countless other high-priority projects. Our capacity to continue our original strategy on the river management plan in these parks, and other high priority regional and national projects would be threatened.
So we made the hard call not to pursue the Senate version of the River Paddling Protection Act. There is certainly support out there for managing this issue like all others – with science and an open process. We are glad that we explored the legislative solution to Yellowstone and Grand Teton’s refusal to manage their rivers based on science, policy, and a public process. It raised the abuse of discretion behind the Parks’ draft river management plans to a high level of scrutiny, and continues to do so. The National Park Service has yet to release their final river management plan for the Snake River, Lewis River, Gros Ventre River, Buffalo Fork, and Pacific Creek. They could still do the right thing and take a hard look at paddling on these rivers based on places, times, and numbers that are environmentally sustainable and supported by sound science.
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Old 02-27-2014   #44
GJ, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 478
Not sure if this has been covered here, but the River Paddling Protection Act has been introduced in the Senate as a stand-alone bill: S. 2018.

I called Udall's office and spoke with someone about it this week. Encouraged them to have Udall co-sponsor the bill. Would help if others did the same.

For anyone that wants to pursue this, what needs to happen next is pretty simple. Call your senator, especially if they are a democrat. Someone posted a link to contact info elsewhere in this thread.

1. Ask them to support the bill.
2. Tell them the bill allows NPS to study and manage river paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks.
3. Tell them the bill lifts a 60-year old paddling ban that was put in place to control fishing, not paddling.
4. Tell them that NPS claims the ban ties their hands and prevents them from studying or allowing paddling.
5. Tell them the bill unties NPS hands and gives NPS full authority to study and manage paddling.
6. Tell them the bill came out of the House with bi-partisan support.
7. Ask them to support the bill and thank them for their time.

Bitching about AW pulling support isn't doing much to help this issue. But a quick phone call can.



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