The Snowy River runs wild again

By Amber Dowler 1 December 2013
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Paddlers let loose on the epic river after six decades of still waters on the Snowy River.

FLOWING AGAIN AFTER 60 years, new video footage shows the Snowy River gushing cold white water after being released from the Jindabyne Dam. Two generations of kayakers from The River Canoe Club of New South Wales bravely paddled down the wild rapids this month in celebration of the river’s release and used helmet cameras to capture the river flows the river for the Snowy Scientific Committee and Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority.

The elimination of flows above Jindabyne has been detrimental to the environmental life and efficiency of the river causing damage, weed growth and increased sedimentation. Scientists reviewed the new footage as a reference to river conditions. “My interest in the footage was to see the river and to learn from photos taken from someone actually on the water what the river looked like,” Dr Jane Roberts of the Snowy Scientific committee says. “For those of us charged with making flow recommendations, it’s really good feedback and a great complement to investigation and research. It was so exciting to see the river flowing so strongly.”

Others involved in the project echoed her sentiment that the river is returning to its former strength, but ultimately, it is up to citizens to see that the Snowy River continues to flow. “Trained volunteers, who enjoy adventure activities, can provide great value to conservation in our natural resources and areas of high conservation value by recording what they see, removing isolated small infestations of weeds, and doing the essential follow up monitoring, as we would normally go fishing, canoeing, bushwalking, climbing, canyoning or riding through these areas anyway,” Jeff Cottrell, member of the The River Canoe Club and Willow Warriors Landcare group, says.

The landmark event came on the 75th anniversary of The River Canoe Club, apt because member Gordon Ballard’s recorded footage of the river from 1947 has often been referenced throughout the public campaign to return flows to the river. The group credits the river release to small communities near the Snowy River and the Snowy River Alliance, who appealed on state and federal levels to convince government agencies to return flows to the Snowy River. Club members only consider this as a small accomplishment for kayakers, but a bigger victory for the environment and the communities whose dedication to this project has finally paid off.

A video of the kayakers paddling on the newly released Snowy River flow.