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Archive for the 'River Conservation and California Water Politics' Category

Rivers and More! Wild and Scenic Film Festival 2014

January 9th, 2014 by Malina

WSFF-LogoRound these parts, you think of rivers, you think of rafting.  Duh.  But wait, there’s more!  What about the creatures that live in them?  Or how dams effect them?  Or what about rivers literally buried alive under cities?  I didn’t know that either, but apparently there are cities all over the world that, over time, have redirected their rivers to under ground sewers so the river is still there, but no one can see it!  Weird, right?  Don’t you want to learn more? Of course you do, and it’s all possible if you watch Lost Rivers, one of the many documentary films being shown at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival this weekend Jan 9-12, 2014 in Nevada City.

Here’s another film you gotta check out. No rafting here, but how ’bout this riverine madness:

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Festival films will showcase the more typical things you associate with rivers as well–from Steelhead fishing to river conservation and dams to rivers we here at AO Rafting love and know quite well like the Rio Futaleufu in Chile and, closer home, the North Fork of the American River

And if for some reason you’re reading this blog and you couldn’t care less about rivers but but you are fascinated by bees, bears, plastic recycling, Yosemite, avoiding toxic Christmas presents or pretty much anything else related to saving the earth and connecting with what matters……..go to the festival this weekend. There is a film for you there.




Have a Cocktail, Support Tuolumne River Recovery!

September 16th, 2013 by Malina


















The Good Folks at the Tuolumne River Trust have re-vamped their annual celebration of All Things Tuolumne in light of the Rim Fire.  Yes, there will be the usual cocktails, tasty snackies, and hob-nobbing.  But this year the focus will be on learning more about what we can expect in the aftermath of the fire–what the damage is, and how we can help.  Guest speakers include Firefighters and Forest Service folks.

RimFire_blaze_AORaftingAlthough the bulk of the work restoring the river canyon will fall to Mother Nature, there are things we human beings can do as well.  Roads will need to be re-built, plants can be re-seeded and planted.  Erosion control will help protect the river, wildlife, and access for things like fishing, hiking, and of course rafting.  All these efforts will take lots of time, effort, and boatloads of money.  If you’re in a position to help, get your ticket to the Call of the River Cocktails, Awards, and Rim Fire Rally September 26th at the Waterfront Hotel in Jack London Square.  You can get more information and tickets directly from the Tuolumne River Trust.

Not into cocktails or have plans on the 26th but still want to help?  Consider volunteering.  To learn more about opportunities to give some elbow grease to the effort contact: Rebecca at rebecca@tuolumne.org or call her at (415) 882-7252 ex 301.

(Top:  Smoke billows in front of the AO Rafting Tuolumne River warehouse and meet spot the first week of the fire–pic taken by AO guides Matt and Lynsey Bottom:  Image of flames taken by AO owner Gregg A)

Occupy Merced River

June 27th, 2013 by Malina

imgp0304-225x300The Merced River needs your help.  If you’ve rafted the Merced–and there are thousands of you, we know because we tightened your life jacket and reminded you to put on sunscreen–it’s time to pay it forward a little.

Here’s the situation.  One of California’s State Senators–Tom McClintock for those of you who like to keep track–has proposed removing the Merced’s federally-protected status as a “Wild and Scenic” river.  Why?  Does he think the Merced is instead “tame and ugly?” Possibly, but the real point is that if the Merced River loses its protected status it would allow the government to raise the level of the McClure Reservoir, drowning part of the Merced.  And this, friends, would be sad.  But even sadder is the precident it would set.


Merced_mini_3_Mike_OsbornThink about it–any river that is currently protected would basically be up for grabs.  What’s the point of protecting a public resource in the first place if anytime that protection becomes inconvenient for someone it can be taken away?  What’s next–a dam upstream that floods Yosemite?  So take a wee minute and write to your Senators US Representative and ask each of them to vote a resounding NO on HR 934!!!


If you want to learn more–and of course you do, I may be slick but why would you take my word as gospel–a good place to start is Friends of the River, which can give you lots of background on the Merced River and which also offers an easy-as-pie form you can fill out to take action lickety-split!

Field Biologist and River Guide Britt Farquharson

April 22nd, 2013 by Amy diVittorio

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, we know Britt as a talented river guide-ess, hard-core bicyclist and Junior Guide School specialist but, did you know that she was a varsity lacrosse athlete who studied Biological Sciences at UC Davis? I didn’t. So it makes perfect sense for Britt to combine two of her passions as she takes on the position of Field Biologist on the Tuolumne River Engagement with the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. The center’s mission, as founded by long-time AO friend Jeff Mount Ph.D, is to conduct research on current critical issues at the forefront of watershed science, and seek to disseminate their findings in a variety of ways within the larger community.

With help from experts like Jeff Mount Ph.D, Joshua Viers Ph.D, and, some logistical aid from All-Outdoors, Britt will conduct research about the hydrologic alteration of the Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River.  She will be collecting and analyzing biological data to determine environmental effects on the Tuolumne River Watershed. If you have ever been there you will understand why these efforts and those of the Tuolumne River Trust fight to protect it.

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Top of the Tuolumne River Canyon

So if you see a twenty-something Canadian in her signature neon sampling water on the T, it’s probably Britt. Be sure to ask her about her current research project.

So Many Reasons To Be Thankful

November 16th, 2012 by Amy diVittorio

Mark Dubois and George Armstrong at the CRA

As it is the month of Thanksgiving I’d say it’s time to count some of our blessings here at AO. Last month AO’s founding father, George Armstrong, was honored at the C.R.A. Gala. George received the Mark Dubois Award for his leading role in furthering river conservation. In the 60′s George pioneered an outdoor education program at Mount Diablo High School where he was a teacher. It was called Summit Seekers. At the Gala I met Terry, a student of his who became a leader in the program. She says that nothing remotely similar existed at the time in the area and that what George had started was groundbreaking.  He was leading groups of teens into the backwoods, down remote rivers, and up rock cliffs.  His students learned life skills, survival skills, an appreciation for nature and an appreciation for the swift hand of discipline.  Oh yes, if you hang with George’s former students long enough you’ll hear some fun stories. Like the time George took the Summit Seekers on a snow camping trip and found some students drinking alcohol in a tent. You’d think he would have confiscated the liquor, returned to his tent, and poured himself a stiff drink, right? Like any other adult leading teens on a snow camping trip would be tempted to do, right? Wrong. George ended the excursion then and there. They got out of bed, they packed up, they hiked back the to cars, and left for home… at 2 in the morning… in a snow storm. (Yes, I know it sounds crazy and, I think you are getting the point.) I could go on and on, as can George’s students and children. He has created a rich and spirited tradition of adventure in the outdoors coupled with a deep understanding of the need to respect and protect the land we love.  I am fortunate to work for a company with roots as deep and pure as these. It is a rare and blessed thing.

Goodwin Canyon 2012

I mean, if it weren’t for George (and our dedicated, hardcore, bad-to-the-bone guests) we wouldn’t have been on  Goodwin Canyon just three weeks ago having a BALL! And, I had better not leave out a big thank you to Mother Nature. We have already had two great storms, the Sierras are snow-capped, AND we have 5-6 days of rain ahead.  I repeat…there are so many reasons to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!

California River Awards Honor AO Rafting’s Founder

October 9th, 2012 by Amy diVittorio

All-Outdoors Rafting Founder George Armstrong circa 1960′s

Friends of the River’s California River Awards is an annual gala event and fundraiser that celebrates and honors leaders in river conservation, preservation and protection. This year All-Outdoors founder George Armstrong has been chosen to receive the Mark Dubois Award.  George has been a longtime river conservation advocate and since the inception of his rafting company George has positioned All-Outdoors as a leader in river protection. All-Outdoors was the first outfitter to work with government agencies and conservation organizations to provide commercial guides and local school teachers with interpretive workshops on the natural and cultural history of California rivers and their watersheds. These workshops are now nationally recognized as a model of on-river outdoor education training.  George’s conservation practices have begun a tradition of river conservation and they have inspired generations of river lovers all over California.

Congratulations George!  To join in the fun on October 19th, 2012 you can purchase tickets in advance for $100 or at the door for $150.  Please show your support and join us for dinner, wine, and a silent auction.

South Fork American River Clean Up Today! Thank You!

July 23rd, 2012 by Malina

Ever wonder what happened to that tube of sunscreen that rocketed out of your zinc-coated hands and flew into the bushes just above Satan’s Cesspool, or where your camera that you swore you had securely tied to the boat  ended up at the end of the day as you took out Folsom Lake after a day rafting the South Fork of the American River? I have no idea.  But I’ll tell you who does: all the volunteers from the rafting community–commercial rafters and private boaters alike!–who are out on the South Fork of the American River today helping with the river clean-up effort.  This is an annual event that helps keep the South Fork the beautiful river it is despite it being one of the most heavily rafted rivers in America.  So thank you volunteers!!!!  You rock!!!

If you’re interested in helping at one of the next clean-ups (there is one August 16th and 29th), check out the  American River Conservancy, which partners with El Dorado County to organize these events, for more information.

Above: If it weren’t for the efforts of volunteers during events like the South Fork Clean-Up the banks of the river wouldn’t look like this–they’d probably resemble one of the giant garbage patches in the ocean………Not a pretty picture, that.

Friends of the River Needs Our Help and Your Help

August 17th, 2011 by Malina

It all started in 1973 when a group of friends came together to try and stop a dam that would drown the Stanislaus River.  Ten years later, as the water of the New Melones Reservoir rose, their worst fears came true.

Nearly 40 years later,  that initial group of friends has grown into the largest river protection organization in California–Friends of the River.  After that first bitter defeat, the organization learned a thing or two and went on to permanantly protect 2500 miles of river in the Golden State.  Rivers that you, as a rafter, might know well:  the Tuolumne, the Merced, the  South, Middle Fork and North Forks of the American, the Klamath . . . among many others.

Without F.O.R’s expertise and energy, it’s quite possible we wouldn’t be in business.  Sure, some of these rivers would still be flowing, but in what form?  What kind of canyon do YOU want to raft in?  Do you want to raft past a bunch of houses?  Do you want to hear the drone of dredges, smell sewage and gasoline, and be afraid to let your kids go in the water?  After a river trip you remember the thrills of the rapids, of course, but don’t you also remember the quiet of the canyon at night?  I saw my first eagle, bear, and swarm of ladybugs on a river trip–and I’m betting you did too.  I’m betting your kids came home talking about not just the rapids, but the blackberries they picked and the Mama Merganser duck and her babies swiming in an eddy.  It all adds up together to make river trips the magic things they are.

Friends of the River is one of the things that makes all of this possible and right now, this very moment, they really need us to return the favor.  As with so many instititutions, F.O.R is having to tighten the ol’ belt and make due with less.  But we’re hoping they don’t have to cut back so much that they literally cease to exist.  The risk of that is real.

This is why we’ve decided to help–and we hope you, as a rafting enthusiast, will join us.  For any–yes ANY– full fare 2011 or 2012 river trip purchased by October, 31 2011, we will pay your one-year $35 membership fee for F.O.R.  It’s a pretty good deal when you think about it–you raft for the regular price and you help F.O.R for free.  There are no black-out dates, no river restrictions, and no limit on how many memberships we’ll pay for–this is how serious we are about helping F.O.R in their hour of need.  Can’t do it without you, though.  If you’re rafting in the next year, we hope you’ll join us.

Learn more about the benefits of membership, how to donate, and what campaigns F.O.R is working right now at their website.

Above:  Early FOR campaign Middle Left:  A Merganser Duck family like you might see on a South Fork raft trip Middle Right:  A first fishing trip! Bottom: The Wild and Scenic Merced, protected by FOR

Get all the details on our membership drive offer at our website.

Environmental Film Festival: Jan 15th-17th Nevada City, Ca

January 4th, 2010 by Malina

foodincI just learned about the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival coming up in a few weeks and it sounds awesome.  The two day festival is an incredible hodge-podge of mini-films that range from five minutes long on plastic bags and growing asparagus, to half-hour presentations from the guys that made “King Corn,”  to full, feature-length giants like Food Inc.  The topics are wide ranging too, from sustainable seafood, to river conservation, to  families living off the grid and growing their own produce.  There are local issues and activists in the mix but the line-up is global in scope.  Wonder what people in Africa and the Pacific Islands are doing about environmental problems?  You’ll find answers in Nevada City this January!

When: Jan 15, 16 and 17

Where: various locations in Nevada City, Ca.frogs

Tickets and more information:  visit the festival website at http://www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org/

Reminder: California River Awards Oct 16th

October 12th, 2009 by Malina

Come celebrate the successes and grass-roots triumphs of Friends of the River’s 30-year quest to protect California Rivers this weekend in San Francisco on October 16th.

26291Hosted at the Presidio Officer’s Club (ooooh, sounds swanky!  Get out your fancy Chacos and wash your hair!), the event features a talk by Congressman Pete McClosky–who has been championing the environment since the 1970s.

Learn more about the event at the Friends of the River website.

PS:  Our very own Scott A will be attending so if you want to get the inside scoop on all things AO you can stalk him there…..yikes!