Volunteer Spotlight: Brennan Johnston

“Brennan’s dedication to his volunteer role is comparable to that of a high paid employee. He prefers to work on the toughest projects we do and he always comes over prepared with the highest sense of enthusiasm and adventure. No matter the sacrifice, he is up for midnight runs into snow and rain storms for the sake of SYRCL River Science Department’s data collection efforts. I hope one day too, I can inspire others with my dedication and physical fitness as he did for me.” – Mo Loden, River Monitoring Coordinator

Brennan Johnston measuring stream flow to assist in SYRCL’s mine studies. Join the River First Responders Team to help with this effort!
Brennan Johnston measuring stream flow to assist in SYRCL’s mine studies. Join the River First Responders Team to help with this effort!

“Brennan has been a priceless volunteer for the River Science department. Besides being an excellent River Monitor, his dedication to our storm sampling efforts has been above and beyond. No matter which day of the week or time of the day, Brennan will drop everything to help us gather vital data to protect the Yuba watershed. Honestly, I wish we could do more for him, but I believe he enjoys our science team’s crazy adventures as much as I do.” – Karl Ronning, SYRCL Hydrologist

SYRCL: Brennan, tell us a bit about yourself and your love for the Yuba.

Brennan: I live in Penn Valley near Bridgeport with my wife, our 3 dogs and 4 horses. I grew up in Nevada City but only moved back to the area 5 years ago after living in San Francisco and Santa Cruz for years. The Sierras and its Yuba watershed have been a backdrop to my childhood and place of retreat all my life. I’m a second generation SYRCL member. Dodie Johnston, my mother, was very active with SYRCL in its early days and she still volunteers at various events throughout the year.

SYRCL: What is your involvement with SYRCL, and why do you take the time to give to this organization?

Brennan: I help the River Science team with storm sampling and help in the monthly River Monitoring program.

The reason I take time to help out is that I’m 70% water. When I replenish myself with a glass of water it comes from the Yuba watershed. That makes me 70% Yuba water, so I must be part river. So, our watershed is the future me. The Yuba’s giving deserves my gratitude and help. How could I not give back? Plus, the SYRCL River Science teams are ambitious, science-minded go-getters that could use a helping hand and a truck from time to time. It’s been a lot of fun!

SYRCL: What would you say to someone about the importance of being a SYRCL member?

Brennan: The Yuba River is the crown jewel of Nevada County’s natural beauty and having it in our backyard is just amazing. We’re lucky that way. But since 1849, the Yuba has been forced do the heavy lifting in the interest of profit and has paid a heavy price. That happened to an unprotected River. The River needs constant protection from resource harvesting so she can be enjoyed by me and you today and still others in the future. Maybe we can even leave her better than we found her.

Join the River First Responders Team to help with this effort! http://yubariver.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/River-First-Responder-Job-Description_120114_rah.pdf

SYRCL: If you had one wish for the Yuba, what would it be?

Brennan: One wish? To have mercury-free salmon and steelhead back above Englebright reservoir in a deep cold Yuba. But until then – and you’re not going to like this – I actually think we should have a Yuba Pass sticker for parking near the popular river spots. Now, don’t freak out, it would be an optional pass, not required. Something like the Snow Pass up in the sierras that you need to park to use the back country for winter recreation. Except, it would be optional and not governed or monitored. Down at Bridgeport where it’s a state park it costs 5 bucks to park. And I think some cost should be involved for using the other main crossings. I know, I know, it should be free. It should be. But I’m not sure that that time isn’t behind us now. There are just too many of us demanding too much from the Yuba. The Yuba doesn’t pick up garbage for us. She doesn’t protect herself. She’s defenseless. So you buy a yearly Yuba Pass for 10 bucks (which goes to SYRCL) to give a little back for enjoying the River. To indicate that you defend the River. It would be a badge of respect and commitment to the River. Anyway, think about it.Brennan_Johnston_Spotlight_lrg

Thanks to Brennan for all he does for SYRCL and the Yuba!

Brennan is a proud SYRCL member and volunteer. We invite you to join Brennan and thousands of other amazing River People by becoming a member and/or volunteer today. To find out more about becoming a member, visit our membership page or contact Alena at alena@syrcl.org or 530-265-5961 ext. 220. We have many opportunities to volunteer, to find out more, visit our volunteer page or contact Jenn at jenn@syrcl.org or 530-265-5961 ext. 201.

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