Sharing the Yuba: Coping with Increased Visitation

We wrote in our last ENews about the growth of river-goers from 400,000 in 2012 when we first partnered with State Parks to start the River Ambassador program to over 800,000 last year. 

We also discussed how SYRCL is addressing the growing popularity of the Yuba. In this article, we hear from Supervisor Heidi Hall about her perspective as Nevada County Supervisor.

Instagram post by South Yuba River State Park after the car fire at Purdon crossing

What are your top three concerns about the increased visitorship to the Yuba?

When we asked Supervisor Heidi Hall this question, she replied with the following: fire, public safety, and river health and ecosystems. 

Each of these areas are important issues that the Yuba River Safety Cohort, which is co-chaired by Supervisors Hall and Hoek, discuss at monthly meetings. The Cohort brings together County staff, state and federal agencies, local NGOs, and community representatives to problem solve the most pressing issues facing our river canyon.

What would you like most to communicate to locals about visiting the river?

Hall told us that she would tell visitors “to respect the beauty of the river, the danger of it when not aware of risks, and to respect the community that lives near it and takes care of it.”

What would you like most to communicate to out of town visitors about visiting the river?

To this question, Supervisor Hall replied “We welcome visitors when there is capacity on the river and when you commit to respecting the parking and river safety rules; don’t block access for others, particularly first responder vehicles, don’t bring in glass, pack it in/pack it out, no fires during fire season, be aware of river safety risks (slipping, fast water, cold water), and enjoy it safely.”

At SYRCL, we know Supervisor Hall’s message well. They are a refrain River Ambassadors repeat each weekend to the thousands of people who visit the river. So, too, do State Parks rangers and interpreters. With so many new visitors who may be unaware of river safety and etiquette, these messages require constant repetition.

What can people do to support best practices at the river?

Supervisor Hall reiterated her precious answer here: respect its beauty, be aware of the dangers/risks, and respect the community that lives near and takes care of it. 

Are you interested in becoming part of the solution?

The rules we all know and grew up with seem obvious to many of us. 

  1. Please no fires
  2. Pack in what you pack out 
  3. Pick up after your pets 
  4. Please no glass
  5. Park responsibly

However, many who visit from different places with different infrastructure and rules are often unfamiliar with this refrain. If we can teach people not only the rules, but the why behind them, we can create real change as well as lasting river stewards. 

You can help educate visitors–from near and afar–by becoming a River Ambassador for a day. The lessons you take with you are ones you can share wit friends and use during your time at the river. 

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