River Monitoring: A Wrap for 2020 and Beginning Anew in 2021

SYRCL Hydrologist, Karl Ronning, conducting River Monitoring at Rush Creek with a mask on
SYRCL Hydrologist, Karl Ronning, collecting additional samples at Rush Creek due to the Jones Fire

Last year marked SYRCL’s 20th year of river monitoring. While the program started off in March with our wonderful volunteers taking samples, monitoring duties for the 35 sites around the watershed had to be abruptly transitioned to SYRCL staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Covering the monthly work of more than 40 trained River Monitors is a time consuming task for just two to three people; however, dedicated SYRCL staff took over the work from April to November.

SYRCL worked to gauge interest in developing a COVID-safe volunteer monitoring system by sending out a poll early in the summer to our incredible volunteer monitors. Respondents unanimously requested a return to river monitoring duties, if possible. Subsequently, SYRCL tested a drive-thru system in July for volunteers to return to river monitoring while practicing COVID-safe protocols. For this upcoming year, we hope to utilize a similar approach in order to bring back our volunteer monitors and have the community be able to continue its work protecting and stewarding our beautiful watershed like they have for many years.

Now that the 2020 season has been wrapped up, the data have steadily been entered into our online database; it will be available for viewing by late-January.

SYRCL's Restoration Coordinator, Cody Wasuta, conducting River Monitoring at Lavezzola Creek
SYRCL Restoration Coordinator, Cody Wasuta, river monitoring at Lavezzola Creek

You can view the extensive water quality data collected by the River Monitoring program at RiverDB.org, an online platform for water quality data and restoration projects throughout the Yuba watershed. Data have been collected monthly since 2000 thanks to SYRCL volunteers who make the River Monitoring program one of the strongest citizen-based monitoring projects in the nation! The vast amount of water quality data we have collected over the last 20 years has been crucial in protecting and restoring the Yuba River watershed. Thank you to all of our dedicated citizen monitors who make it all possible!

SYRCL will soon begin its 21st River Monitoring season and we are actively seeking new River Monitors to fill a few positions at various sites and to help with maintenance and preparation work at the office!

Are you an outdoorsy, river-loving, and kind soul? Are you delighted to see water? Are you the descendent of a fish that decided to walk on land? If so, we sincerely hope you’ll consider joining the river monitoring team. Any interested persons can email the 2021 River Monitoring Coordinator, Kyle McNeil, at kyle@yubariver.org to express interest and be put on a list so you can receive all the necessary information. We invite you to visit the River Monitoring page to learn more about the program and what it’s like as a River Monitor.

To become a River Monitor, we encourage you to attend our virtual orientation on Thursday, February 25, 2021 from 6–7pm, where we’ll cover what the river monitoring program is all about. We will also offer a required field training day (COVID-dependent) where volunteers can learn how to conduct river monitoring (may take place in early March).

The scheduled dates for the 2021 River Monitor season occur every 2nd Saturday of the month from March–November and are as follows:

  • March 13, 2021
  • April 10, 2021
  • May 8, 2021
  • June 12, 2021
  • July 10, 2021
  • August 14, 2021
  • September 11, 2021
  • October 9, 2021
  • November 13, 2021
SYRCL AmeriCorps River Monitoring Coordinator, Kyle McNeil, storm sampling for bacteria at the 49 bridge
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