Key Policy Issues - ACA

Policy & Stewardship

Key Policy Issues

Recent Policy Initiatives

The ACA is the voice of paddlers at the local, state, and federal levels on a range of public policy issues that affect paddlers, including: broader and more equitable access to public lands and waterways, life jacket wear regulations, paddlesports education standards, and waterway ecological health.

The policy initiatives described on our site include our efforts in the past two calendar years.  We have a long history of policy work that dates back several decades.  If you have a question about a current or past policy issue, please contact our Stewardship and Public Policy Director.

  • National Issues
  • State and Local Efforts
  • Support the Public Lands Pledge – 2019 

    Support the protection of our most treasured paddling resources by joining alongside other outdoor adventurers in the #publiclandspledge. Represent the paddling community, and help the Outdoor Alliance collect 10,000 signatures and stories about why public lands matter. These stories will be shared with decision makers in early 2020 to continue building bipartisan support for public lands protections.

    Sign the Public Lands Pledge

    Speak Up for Climate Solutions – 2019

    Celebrate Earth Day with the ACA. Join alongside other paddlers and outdoor adventurers to voice your concern for climate change, and demonstrate to lawmakers that climate change is an important issue in the paddling community. Click the link below to join the campaign.

    Speak Up for Climate Solutions

    Paddle Clean Water – 2019

    The ACA helped draft a joint letter through our partnership with the Outdoor Alliance to urge the EPA to protect the waterways on which our members recreate, explore, and compete by rejecting the Proposed Rule revising the definition of Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”) that fall within the protections of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). Please read the full letter below.

    Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from Oil and Gas Leasing – 2019

    The ACA recently submitted an official public comment to the BLM voicing strong opposition to any oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Refuge. Since the Tax Act of 2017 legally requires oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Refuge, the ACA advocated for the most temporally restrictive leasing plan, with amendments that permit paddling recreation.

    Protect Rivers through Historic Public Lands Package – 2019

    The ACA sent a letter to members asking for comment on a historic public lands package that provided protections for paddling resources across the United States, including designations of Wild and Scenic Rivers in Oregon, and protection of headwaters in the Methow Valley, Washington from hardrock mining.

    Save the Boundary Waters and Stop Hardrock Mining Leases – 2019

    The ACA submitted an official public comment to the Bureau of Land Management voicing significant concern about the Interior’s recent lease renewals for hardrock mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness. Please read our official letter to the BLM, and examine the impact map of potential pollution from the mines.


    ACA Supports Strengthening Protections for Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary – 2020

    The ACA signed on to a National Marine Sanctuaries letter urging NOAA to strengthen protections for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The ACA urged Florida members to personally sign-on to the letter to voice their support.

    Read the full letter from the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation.


    In 2019, after many years of hard work and collaboration, the ACA celebrated the designation of the first National Marine Sanctuary in over twenty years. Mallows Bay is a collection of a ghost fleet of over 100 wooden World War I steamships. It is a haven for wildlife and paddlers, just a short drive from Washington D.C.

    Visit Mallows Bay-Potomac National Marine Sanctuaries to learn more.


    On behalf of over 30,000 paddlesports enthusiasts across the country, whitewater kayakers, canoeists, and stand-up paddleboarders, ACA wrote to the Bureau of Land Management to express great concern with the BLM’s stated intent to renew two expired hardrock mineral leases in the headwaters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Boundary Waters).

    New Mexico:

    In 2018, three important policy issues were causing grave concern among the New Mexican paddling community. The Department of the Interior recommended proclamation changes to Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, the Gila Wilderness was threatened by an Air Force proposal to pursue jet-fighter training in the skies above the wilderness, through which the Gila River flows. The Gila River remained subject to water infrastructure development projects, and finally, the Department of Fish and Game pushed a piece of last-minute legislation at the end of 2017 that threatened paddlers’ legal rights to access public streams.

    New Mexico Policy Update


    The ACA wrote a letter of support to the National Park Service for the creation of the Cuyahoga River Water Trails Network.


    The ACA held a historic summit on the banks of the Nolichucky River in October, 2019. All five major paddling clubs in the state met for the first time to discuss key policy issues affecting paddlers. Read below for the full letter sent to Tennessee members. Official Letter to TN Members and Official Letter to Legislators – Support the Nolichucky Wild and Scenic

    In 2019, The ACA provided testimony to the TN State Legislature on the proposed rule-making process pertaining to commercial outfitters, and sent a letter to Tennessee members to provide an update on SB665 and Amendment No.1. Please read our full letter below. Link to Official Letter to TN Members


    ACA Continues to Support the Establishment of the Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary – 2019

    ACA, alongside the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, officially signed on to a letter to Governor Hogan, Senator Van Hollen, Senator Cardin, Representative Hoyer, and Admiral Gallaudet to voice our continued strong support for the establishment of the Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary.