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Old August 31st 03, 06:48 PM
DL Luinstra
 
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Default 2003 GAULEY RIVER RELEASE INFORMATION

2003 GAULEY RIVER RELEASE INFORMATION

The Gauley season usually consists of five 4 day (Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon) weekends
and one two-day weekend. That makes a total of 6 Gauley weekends and 22 days
of releases.

Regardless of how late Labor Day falls in September, the 1st Gauley weekend
is always the first weekend after Labor Day weekend.

The American Whitewater Gauley Festival is usually the 3rd Gauley weekend.
This is true for 2003 with the festival itself being held on Saturday, Sept.
20. Gauley Festival weekend is 4 days long (F-S-S-M) with all sorts of
events, entertainment, and of course great boating (additional information)

This year the outfitters, working through the WV Board of Tourism, have
requested and been granted an "extra" release on the day after "Bridge Day",
Sunday, 10/19 for a total of 23 release days in 2003.

RELEASE POLICY MAKERS

There is a Whitewater Advisory Panel (WWAP) to the Corps of Engineers (COE).
This panel includes outfitters, private boater representatives (an American
Whitewater board member), and representatives of other business and interest
groups (fishers, marina operators etc.) who are impacted by fall whitewater
releases. This panel makes suggestions and recommendations to the COE who is
responsible for the final release decisions based on water levels, rain
(hurricane) forecasts, downstream needs, etc.

RELEASE VOLUMES AND TIMES:

The Corps Of Engineers (COE) whitewater operating plan used to call for 2400
cfs as the "peak" recreational release volume (flow) based on experience in
the 1980's. Technology changed, and so did the number of people enjoying the
Gauley. No-bail rafts can take a higher flow, and a higher flow makes
traffic management easier, which means less waiting time at each rapid.
Therefore, the outfitters asked COE to change the peak flow to 2800 cfs. So,
starting about 1993, the typical operation changed to 2800 cfs.

If less water is available, the COE may alter the typical operation on
Fridays and Mondays to a slightly reduced "peak-flow". Check their COE
release schedule for the latest updates.

The times given below represent peak flows. There is a transition time
(usually called "steps" or ""ramps") between the peak flows and the
"off-peak" flows. Those steps and their timing depend upon the "off peak"
flow. Depending on the year and the lake level, the "off peak" flows will
vary. The important point is that the dam does not go from a very low flow
to 2500 or 2800 cfs (peak flow) all at once. Nor does it go the other way
(from 2500 to 2800 cfs peak to the "off-peak" flow all at once. Instead
there are "steps". The timetable below represents the time that the final
step up is completed and the time when the first step down is initiated at
the dam (considered mile zero).

In past years "off-peak" flows have been in the 500 to 1200 cfs range
depending on pool height, rain forecasts, and whether or not any special
inspections needed to be done. Many boaters have hung out and boated these
"off-peak" flows. And it is possible that many of you will want to do the
same this year depending on your ability and/or desire for a "low-water run.
In 2003, the "off-peak" flows on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are
forecast to be at or near "fish-flow" of about 250 cfs.

Fridays 7 AM to 1 PM
Saturdays 6 AM to 2 PM (except AW Gauley Festival Sat. 9/20= 3 PM)
Sundays 6 AM to 2 PM (except AW Gauley Festival Sun. 9/21= 3 PM)
Mondays 7 AM to 1PM (except AW Gauley Festival Mon. 9/22, Upper Gauley Race
Day = 2PM

The situation on release times is fluid. I strongly suggest that you check
the COE website, pointer below, on about Thursday of the week you intend to
boat to get the most recent times and volumes.

The extra hour of releases on Gauley Fest Saturday and Sunday are for
traffic management. The extra two hours on Gauley Fest Monday are for the
racers. Hopefully, the extra hours on those three days will help reduce
crowding with and between racers, commercial trips, and cruisers and
players.

Typically it takes about 3 - 3 1/2 hours for the peak flows to reach the 14
mile mark just above Koontz Flume which many people use as the start of a
Lower Gauley trip. That time will depend upon how high the off-time flows
were.
In periods of low runoff, when Summersville Reservoir is getting low inflows
during Gauley season or when the lake is low for other reasons, Summersville
Reservoir levels may start to approach what is known as the "lower limit
rule curve". When that happens the COE is required under their operating
plan to modify either release volumes or release times or numbers of release
days. Historically, the COE has not had to cut back on numbers of days (it
happened once in 1988). Instead they have been able to modify release times
or release volumes or some combination of both. Interestingly, the COE
reports that 1999 was a worse drought year than 1988 but water conservation
measures in 1999 saved considerable water in the Summersville reservoir and
1999 was mostly a "normal" Gauley season.

LINKS TO COE

There have been a number of inquiries into Gauley and Russell Fork release
schedules and how to find out if they have been modified for a particular
weekend. Here's how to access them online.

Huntington District Corps Of Engineers is the COE district that controls the
Gauley and Russell Fork releases. They have a "water control home page" at
www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wc/whitewater.html.
This page will give you the latest flows in cfs and feet over the New and
Gauley Basin.
From this page, you can access a link to the 2003 release schedule (located
under the Current River Status heading.) This link displays the current
Gauley and Russell Fork releases posted with dates, times, and projected
flows. The COE will update these generally on a Wed. or Thurs. of a Gauley
Week or Russell Fork week if there is to be a modification in release times
and/or volumes. As of August 2003, the schedules are "up". You can also go
directly to the whitewater schedule page at
http://www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wc/wwsched.html

UPPER GAULEY TAKEOUT PARKING AND THE WVRC UPPER GAULEY SHUTTLE:

American Whitewater leases the Upper Gauley take-out parking field for the
Gauley season as a courtesy to the boating public. West Virginia Rivers
Coalition (WVRC) provides a boat shuttle service from the takeout at Mason
Branch (sometimes referred to as Panther Creek-approx. mile 10), up to the
parking field. This shuttle is provided with the cooperation and permission
of the outfitters (Class VI and USA RAFT) who own what most of us know as
the "Panther Creek Road". In reality it is named the Mason Branch Road. The
road terminates at the river near where Panther Creek joins the Gauley. The
shuttle costs about $5.00 per boat and it is available only on Saturdays and
Sundays and on Gauley Festival Fridays (additional information).

The Upper Gauley Shuttle is an important fund raiser for the WVRC and it is
a great service to the boating public. The field that American Whitewater
leases is also very important for logistics along the Upper Gauley takeout
road. Without it parking would be (and was) a nightmare. These 2 great
organizations deserve your support for these and many other services they
provide.

They will both have a booth at the Gauley Festival. Make it a point to stop
by and express your appreciation by renewing your membership or becoming a
new member.
Check out the WVRC website at www.wvrivers.org for more information.

CAMPING AND ACCESS

Go to this link for a complete discussion of camping and access procedures
and restrictions.
www.americanwhitewater.org/archive/article/562/



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