Stewardship Partnerships - ACA

Policy & Stewardship

Stewardship Partnerships

The ACA is committed to making the world a better place to paddle! We support our grass roots paddling communities in state and local advocacy efforts as well as partnering with many national organizations to broaden access to and protect public lands and water. The ACA is proud to work alongside the following organizations as key partners in our Stewardship and Public Policy efforts.

Outdoor Alliance

We are a founding member of the Outdoor Alliance, the only organization in the U.S. that unites the voices of outdoor enthusiasts to conserve public land and ensure those lands are managed in a way that embraces the human-powered experience.

OA is a nonprofit coalition of national advocacy organizations that includes American Whitewater, American Canoe Association, Access Fund, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Winter Wildlands Alliance, the Mountaineers, the American Alpine Club, the Mazamas, the Colorado Mountain Club, and the Surfrider Foundation.


Since 2002, the ACA has partnered with L.L.Bean to sponsor the Club Fostered Stewardship Program, which was refocused in 2021 as the Club Fostered Community Grant Program. This program provides grants to local and regional paddling clubs and organization that implement projects on local waterways.

In partnership with L.L. Bean, the CFC Grant program’s role is to support paddling opportunities and access for the BIPOC community through the framework of existing paddling clubs, non-profits, and volunteer groups. By leveraging the existing clubs and projects that are already in place, this project will not need to “reinvent the wheel.” CFC funding is used to amplify diversity and inclusion efforts of existing groups/projects, rather than developing brand new programs from scratch. The new paddlers engaged by the CFC DEI efforts will have a community group or club to call “home,” which will result in lasting relationships and a long-term interest in experiencing and exploring the paddling world.

Leave No Trace

ACA embraces the principles of Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and incorporates these practices into our paddling curricula. The seven principles of Leave No Trace are:

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Learn about river-specific issues, regulations, and permits.
  • Use a river guidebook and map to plan your trip.
  • Schedule your trip so that you encounter appropriate river flows for your group’s ability.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use; visit in small groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Know river skills and carry the necessary equipment to minimize your impact.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include rock, gravel, and sand.
  • Focus activity where vegetation is absent.
  • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
  • Select a campsite large enough for your group.
  • When on day hikes in the river corridor, walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when muddy.
  • In pristine areas, disperse use to prevent creation of new campsites and trails.
  • Leave campsites clean and natural looking.

More information on Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out.
  • Use a washable, reusable toilet or other approved method to pack out human waste, toilet paper, and tampons. Check local regulations.
  • Liquid wastes can be dumped into main current in many high volume (over 500 cfs) rivers. In low volume rivers, scatter liquid waste 200 ft. from water, away from camp and trails. Check local regulations.
  • Urinating directly into the river is often the best option. Check local regulations.
  • Use a tarp in the kitchen to catch food and trash, which attract unwanted animals.
  • Pack out all small food particles and small pieces of trash.

More information on Dispose of Waste Properly

Leave What You Find

  • Appreciate ancient structures, artifacts, rock art, and other natural objects, but leave them undisturbed.
  • Do not build structures or dig trenches in campsites.
  • Avoid introducing non-native species, including live bait, by cleaning equipment between trips.

More information on Leave What You Find

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Minimize campfire impacts by using stoves.
  • Use a fire pan or designated fire ring for open fires and charcoal.
  • Elevate fire pan and use a fire blanket to catch embers.
  • Use dead and downed wood no larger than an adult’s wrist to keep the fire small.
  • Consider bringing your own firewood or charcoal.
  • Burn all wood and charcoal to ash. Carry out ash with other garbage.

More information on Minimize Campfire Impacts

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed wildlife.  This damages their health, alters natural behavior, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife by storing food and trash securely.
  • Control pets or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting or when food is scarce.

More information on Respect Wildlife

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Communicate with other river visitors about your floating and camping plans.
  • Leave larger camps for larger groups.
  • Avoid camping or eating near major rapids where scouting and portaging take place.
  • Non-motorized crafts usually have right-of-way over powerboats; slower boats should keep to the right.

More information on Be Considerate of Others

© Leave No Trace:


American Whitewater

American Whitewater’s mission is to protect and restore America’s whitewater rivers and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.

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Choose Clean Water Coalition

Since 2010 the Choose Clean Water Coalition has been harnessing the collective power of more than 250 groups to advocate for clean rivers and streams in all communities in the Chesapeake Bay region.

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National Association of State Boating Law Administrators

NASBLA is a national nonprofit that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety.

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National Boating Safety Advisory Council

The National Boating Safety Advisory Council and its working groups provide guidance to the US Department of Homeland Safety on matters relating to boating safety.

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Outdoors Alliance for Kids

Outdoors Alliance for Kids is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors.

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Life Jacket Association

The Life Jacket Association is an industry association dedicated to increasing lifejacket wear in all appropriate activities: through education, product innovation, standards development, and enhancing communication between members and stakeholders.

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U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division (CG-BSX-2) is dedicated to reducing loss of life, injuries, and property damage that occurs on U.S. Waterways by improving the knowledge, skills, and abilities of recreational boaters.

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U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has initiated a paddlecraft safety program called Auxiliary Paddlecraft, or AUXPAD. The program has three major points:

  • The need to have and wear a proper life jacket;
  • The need to be prepared and have proper safety equipment; and
  • The need for general awareness about all aspects of paddling safety, including situational awareness and the need to practice skills.

AUXPAD includes traditional dockside Auxiliary boating safety activities such as public education, public affairs, literature drops, and vessel safety exams.  One new element is that the Auxiliary will go on-the-water in kayaks to deliver safety messages to novice and occasional paddlers.

Participants in this on-the-water program are required to have passed the ACA L-1 and L-2 coastal kayaking skill assessments.  Auxiliarists designated as AUXPAD Qualifiers, that is, supervisors, will be required to hold current ACA L-1 and L-2 kayak Instructor certifications.

ACA Instructors and Trainers may be contacted directly by Auxiliarists or by the active duty Coast Guard to arrange training opportunities.

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