Last week, SYRCL completed the last Salmon Tour of the 2014 season. In total, about 300 students from Nevada County schools had the opportunity this season to get close to spawning Chinook salmon on the lower Yuba River and learn the story of these amazing fish and how groups like SYRCL are working to help and protect them.
SYRCL River Science staff Gary Reedy and Chris Friedel led walking tours for two local schools (Nevada City School of the Arts and Donner Trail Elementary) at the University of California’s Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center, in Browns Valley. An educational trail at the Center provides excellent viewing of salmon spawning activity from above. Students also saw river otter, beaver and osprey.
Students from another five schools (Yuba River Charter School, Grizzly Hill Elementary, Grass Valley Charter School, Chicago Park School, and Scotten Elementary) floated the lower Yuba on rafts through SYRCL’s partnership with Environmental Traveling Companions, a non-profit wilderness guiding company. Participants in both types of tours learned about the Chinook salmon life cycle, spawning behaviors, and habitat requirements, and conducted a hands-on investigation of water quality by sampling aquatic insects and other invertebrates on the river bottom. They also learned about the status of Yuba River salmon and human impacts to their population. Rafters stopped at one of SYRCL’s restoration projects at Hammon Bar to learn about the importance of riparian vegetation and side channel habitats.
“A SYRCL Salmon Tour is a great way to share the power and magic of the Yuba River salmon run with kids,” said Gary Griffith, a 4th grade teacher at the Nevada City School of the Arts. “The kids loved getting in the water to discover aquatic insects and they will certainly never forget their dissection of a dead salmon. All in all, it was a unique and very accessible way to involve kids in learning about salmon.”
These salmon tours would not have been possible without the generous support of a stellar team of volunteer naturalists and raft guides. SYRCL trained 14 volunteer naturalists this season, who contributed a combined total of 322 volunteer hours to make these tours a success. We send out a huge thank you to these incredibly dedicated volunteers and look forward to working with them again in 2015!
Next year, SYRCL plans to expand the Salmon Tours program to reach even more schools, including schools located in the Yuba County portion of our watershed. The opportunity to see these incredible fish in our very own Yuba River is one that we want as many people to experience as possible. It is our hope that these types of memorable experiences will inspire the next generation to be careful stewards of our watershed and the many creatures they support.
SYRCL would like to thank the Teichert Foundation for supporting our 2014 Salmon Tours season!