River Conservation: The AO Philosophy

Jawbone Canyon - Tuolumne RiverFor over 60 years, All-Outdoors has had the unique opportunity to share some of the most beautiful river canyons in California with our guests. And for over 60 years, we have been committed to the protection and preservation of our most precious commodities… our rivers. These bodies of water allow us to connect with nature and with each other, but are also crucial to the wellbeing of the environment and native ecosystems.

Right from the start of our rafting endeavors we understood that our rivers were at risk. Over the years many California rivers have been threatened by plans to build additional dams and further alter the flow of the water. The Tuolumne, Merced, and all three forks of the American River (South Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork) were all subject to such decisions. These plans would forever change not only the course of the river and our ability to raft on them, but also the river canyons themselves. Entire ecosystems would be lost as the canyons flood behind each dam.

While decisions regarding water storage management and the preservation of wilderness are complex and difficult, we feel that rivers deserve to be treated delicately, and with the utmost respect. A healthy river system provides clean drinking water, stable fisheries, recreational opportunities, and irrigation water. The water you drink at home may be the same water which carried you downstream on your last rafting trip.

Maintaining and protecting California's wilderness and rivers is crucial for the operation and success of outdoor recreation companies. All-Outdoors proudly supports organizations that dedicate their efforts to finding a balance between preservation and progress. Without such organizations it would not be possible for us to share the rivers and canyons with you.

How You Help Protect California's Rivers

Every time you raft with All-Outdoors you are choosing to make a direct contribution to the preservation of our rivers. We donate a portion of all trip fees to environmental non-profits, such as Friends of the River, which you can learn more about below. Many of our guides and staff also donate their time and effort to annual river clean-ups and other conservation programs. Interested in getting involved as well? Check out these organizations that All-Outdoors supports for a first step towards making an impact!

Friends of the River (FOR)

Friends of the RiverFriends of the River (FOR), the leading river preservation group in California, was formed in the 1970’s. Its initial goal was to stop the construction of the dam that filled the New Melones Reservoir, resulting in the flooding of the Stanislaus River. FOR lost that battle when the reservoir was filled in 1982. Lessons learned in the Stanislaus campaign helped FOR secure National Wild and Scenic River status for the Tuolumne River in the mid-1980's and the Merced River in the 1990’s. Over the past 50 years FOR has matured into one of California’s leaders in river preservation, conservation and education. FOR continues this mission today, stating their commitment “to [become] a more powerful voice for a climate resilient water future in California with healthy rivers, equal access to safe and affordable drinking water, and a thriving, sustainable economy for all Californians.”

We started working with FOR over 50 years ago during the Stanislaus campaign and this partnership has continued to flourish over the years. All-Outdoors was one of the outfitters instrumental in developing a campaign strategy during the efforts to designate the Tuolumne as a National Wild and Scenic River. The founder of AO, George Armstrong, served on the FOR board of directors during the 1980’s. George even took his conservation efforts to Washington DC to lobby for the protection of the North Fork American and Middle Fork of the American River when they were threatened with the creation of a dam near Auburn. We are pleased to say that this effort paid off as the plans for the Auburn dam were halted.

Presently, George’s son Scott Armstrong is in his 26th year on the board. FOR has become a great resource for river education and has made a variety of written publications and videos available to the public. Representatives of FOR are often invited as guest speakers on guide interpretive trips: They are instrumental in educating guides regarding water management, the political battles facing our California rivers and the environmental impact of waterway manipulation.


American River Conservancy

American River ConservancyThe American River Conservancy (ARC) was established in 1989 as the “American River Land Trust” with the simple goal of educating their community and conserving the native habitats of the American River and the Cosumnes River. Over the last 33 years the Conservancy has grown in size and scope, now boasting stewardship of over 27,500 acres of land and over 100 volunteers. ARC is largely responsible for the preservation of the Gorge section of the South Fork American River. Because the Conservancy manages much of the land along this stretch of river they have been able to prevent it from being developed into residential communities; maintaining the river as a space for recreation in the thriving native ecosystem.

The general public can easily get involved with land stewardship, educational programs, historical tours, or even guided hikes throughout the year. Events also include trail creation and maintenance, farming demonstrations, ecology workshops, poetry workshops, and curated gallery exhibits that highlight local and indigenous artists.

ARC encourages community understanding and participation in keeping our local ecosystems healthy and thriving. This organization strives to involve folks from all walks of life in helping to conserve these habitats that we care so much about! Their main office, nature center, and the educational/historic Wakamatsu farm are all just a stone's throw away from the All-Outdoors River Center, the meet place for our South Fork American rafting trips.

All-Outdoors has been an active supporter of the Conservancy for several decades, earning recognition as a ‘platinum level’ contributor to the organization's efforts. Over the years we’ve run rafting trips in partnership with ARC to celebrate their staff and volunteers, and to offer a new perspective (literally) on river ecology and conservation.


Tuolumne River Trust

Tuolumne River TrustFor over forty years, the Tuolumne River Trust (TRT) has been a powerful force in the conservation and sustainability of the Tuolumne River. The stakes are high for this magnificent river - The Tuolumne provides drinking water for the city of San Francisco, supplies irrigation water for agriculture in the Central Valley, and its hydropower plants generate clean electricity.

Founded in 1981, the Tuolumne River Trust promotes seeking balance between nature and economy. It encourages folks to get involved and educates them about the importance of the watershed, and about the connection between the surrounding ecosystems and their own communities. TRT is ready to defend this river through both grassroots advocacy, and boots on the ground: Trust volunteers were responsible for a large clean up and habitat restoration after the Rim Fire in 2013. Over the last decade TRT has been focusing on the Lower Tuolumne River in efforts to revitalize its waters for the benefit of the communities in California’s Central Valley.

As a rafting company, All-Outdoors benefits greatly from the protection of this beautiful river. Thanks to the Wild and Scenic River status achieved and maintained by the efforts of the Tuolumne River Trust and Friends of the River, we are able to enjoy and offer you a wild and intimate rafting experience that would not be possible without such dedication. All-Outdoors has lent its voice in support of conservation and restoration, advocating for the National Wild and Scenic designation of the Tuolumne alongside the Trust in the 1980’s. We continue to support the Tuolumne River Trust with annual contributions to their fundraising efforts.


Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace (LNT) is a national organization that promotes and inspires responsible outdoor recreational practices. This program provides educational opportunities, business and individual partnership, and community research to validate its mission. Leave No Trace unites the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in teaching the public how to enjoy the outdoors without harming it.

Leave No Trace ™Principles of Leave No Trace
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Camp and travel on durable surfaces
- Pack it in, pack it out
- Properly dispose of what you can’t pack out
- Leave what you find
- Minimize use and impact of fire
- Be considerate of others

All-Outdoors is a partner member of Leave No Trace and supports their mission as a Partner Member. As a supporter we've pledged to practice, teach and implement minimum impact education in our whitewater rafting program and every commercial rafting trip we run.

"Wilderness compliments and completes civilization. Any society that feels itself too poor to afford the preservation of wilderness is not worthy of the name of civilization."

- Edward Abbey

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