Nearly 30 years ago, SYRCL was formed by people who love the South Yuba River and wanted to protect it from the threat of new dams. Three decades later, SYRCL has grown to become one of the largest, most effective and respected community-based river conservation groups in the country. To help guide SYRCL’s work for the years ahead, the SYRCL Board and staff are developing a new Strategic Action Plan that will look at what SYRCL is doing right and what we can do better.
An essential part of this planning work is checking in with SYRCL’s members, supporters and the general community – and asking for feedback. SYRCL is very grateful to the more than 600 community and dues paying members who completed the online survey – this will be enormously helpful in prioritizing SYRCL’s work over the next three years.
Results from SYRCL’s recent community survey show strong support across the board for the organization, its programs, and its advocacy work. An overwhelming 80% of respondents indicated they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with SYRCL’s current direction, and over 90% of them rated SYRCL’s core programs as “important” or “very important.” The extensive comments reflected the community’s high expectations for SYRCL and deep awareness of the many challenges and opportunities facing the watershed.
The most valued programs include the annual river clean-up, river monitoring, and restoration programs. SYRCL’s advocacy work to restore wild salmon and the recent campaign to keep the South Yuba River State Park open was also widely praised.
“It was great to hear from so many members and friends of SYRCL. To know that they are behind the good work we are doing and would like to see it continue is very motivating,” says SYRCL Executive Director Caleb Dardick. “These results are the kind any organization would be proud to see and it speaks well of SYRCL’s ability to address the interests and program areas that our members care most about. I want to thank everyone who participated for your thoughtful comments and suggestions, and promise that your invaluable input will be reflected in our work plan.”
Asked how “things are going in the Yuba River watershed today,” only 53% responded “well” or “very well.” Frequently cited in the comments as the “most important challenge” facing the watershed was the need to remove barriers to wild salmon reaching the upper Yuba River. Concerns about overuse, litter, and habitat destruction were frequently cited, as well.
For example, feedback about the popular annual river cleanup repeated the need for more frequent cleanups and encouraged more education and outreach efforts to reduce the thousands of pounds of garbage picked up every fall. “These responses urging SYRCL to take the lead to foster greater individual stewardship on the river makes me feel that the pilot River Ambassador program will be well-received and could have a very positive impact this summer,” Dardick said.
As SYRCL’s board and staff are in the midst of strategic planning, the survey was designed to identify priorities for the upcoming three-year work plan. In this regard, results were less conclusive as respondents seemed to value all of SYRCL’s programs. “I hate prioritizing important programs and issues!!!” was a typical comment.
“It’s a mixed blessing when stakeholders tell us that they want us to continue all of our current programs and even create new ones,” says SYRCL Treasurer Georgette Aronow. “It continues to be a challenge to fund our current programs in these difficult economic times. We’ll need to dramatically recruit more dues paying members and raise additional funds if we are going to expand our advocacy, education and stewardship work to meet the community’s expectations.”
“The need for an organization like SYRCL remains very strong,” says SYRCL President John Regan. “Our mission to unite the community to protect and restore the Yuba River continues to resonate with our members. We are grateful to them and honored to receive their continued personal and financial support.”
Details of the survey are available here.
SYRCL wishes to congratulate Becky O’Connor of Grass Valley who was randomly selected from the 600+ survey respondents to win a full weekend pass to next year’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival. Once again, thank you all for participating.
By the Numbers:
- 89% support SYRCL to protect and restore the Yuba River Watershed
- 74% say SYRCL’s River Advocacy work is very important
- 69% say SYRCL’s River science work is very important
- 67% say restoring Wild Salmon is very important
- 66% say SYRCL’s River Cleanup Day is very important
- 63% strongly agree that SYRCL provides good volunteer opportunities
- 60% of respondents have volunteered over the past 3 years
- 57% of respondents are dues-paying members
- 51% have been active in SYRCL for over 5 years