Historic Number of Volunteers Participate in Yuba River Cleanup

Nevada City, CA – This year, an historic number of volunteers participated in the 18th Annual Yuba River Cleanup.  On September 19, 761 volunteers cheerfully removed approximately 13,282 pounds of trash and 1,591 pounds of recyclables from 86.35 miles of river, creek and lake shoreline.   Volunteers showed up en masse at 26 cleanup and 4 restoration sites within the Yuba and Bear River watersheds.  Families, school groups and business teams all joined together to get their hands dirty for the health of our waterwats.  Interesting items found included a refrigerator, TV, washer and dryer.  In the words of a volunteer, “basically a whole house”!

Photo by Jeff Litton
Photo by Susan Mahaffy
Photo by Susan Mahaffy


Photo by Gary Reedy

“It is inspiring to see what a committed community can achieve when we pool our resources, time and love for our natural environment.   Our rivers are now safer and healthier as harmful garbage like car batteries, dumped appliances and shards of glass have been removed.  Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who made this possible!” said Jenn Tamo, SYRCL’s River People Manager.

Some of the heroic efforts included:

  • Students from Nevada Union and Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning teamed up with community members to scramble over boulders to remove 148 pounds of micro-garbage, like cigarette butts and bottle caps at Highway 49 crossing.
  • Volunteers, led by members of the Wolf Creek Community Alliance, spent the morning removing 1,400 pounds of trash from Idaho-Maryland Road along Wolf Creek.
  • American Rivers AmeriCorps member Max Odland led volunteers in an effort to pull out a refrigerator, washer and dryer from Oregon Creek.
  • Friends of Purdon, led by Marcus Keicher, organized a pre-cleanup, a week beforehand, to remove a vast amount of trash—more than a ton in all.  They ferried debris across the river  from several abandoned camps at Emerald Pools.  Volunteers on Saturday hiked trash a mile to the trail-head, removing the remaining bags of trash from the previous week’s cleanup.
  • Synergia Learning Ventures finished a three year project cleaning an abandoned mining camp on the Middle Yuba.  They worked all day to haul out 300 pounds of scrap metal, buried household garbage, batteries, and plastic.

 Volunteer Appreciation BBQ

The volunteer appreciation BBQ after the Cleanup buzzed with palpable positive energy.  Volunteers were welcomed with food, brews, and music by local favorites Holler Tree and the Rockabilly Love Cats.  Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston praised attendees for their commendable volunteer efforts and Sierra Sector Superintendent for the CA State Parks, Matt Green, thanked volunteers for keeping the South Yuba River parks clean.  Later an enthusiastic crowd gathered around for the 5th Annual Stone Skipping Contest as contestants vied for the prestigious title of best skipper.  Judges counted every stone’s plink, plonk, pitty-pat and gerplunk.

Volunteers went home with a sense of pride after a wholesome meal provided in part by the BriarPatch and Nevada County Free Range Beef.  Delectable dessert treats were donated by Emily’s Catering and Cakes, Summer Thyme’s Bakery and Deli, Harmony Ridge Market and Flour Garden Bakery.

Photo by Terra Nyssa

 River Ambassadors Praised for Fourth Year of Stewardship

SYRCL also honored the volunteer River Ambassadors at the celebration.  The program, now in its 4th year, brings volunteers to popular river crossings on the Yuba to speak face to face with visitors about stewardship. River Ambassadors spoke one-on-one with 4,696 local and out-of-town visitors at Highway 49, Bridgeport, Edwards and Purdon Crossings on the South Yuba River this year.  Over the past four summers River Ambassadors have spent 3,661 hours on the Yuba speaking to 18,273 people and removing 25,132 pieces of trash and dog waste!

Your Support Sustains a Clean River

The Cleanup and the River Ambassador programs keep the Yuba healthy, clean and safe year round, and they have real costs.  SYRCL needs the community’s help to keep them going.   So far, $14,532 has been riased to fund these vital programs.

“We have had a swell of community support and to date have reached 73% of our goal.  Help us close the fundraising gap by making a personally significant contribution today,” said Caleb Dardick, SYRCL’s Executive Director.  “Please visit https://www.crowdrise.com/yubariver or the SYRCL office to donate.  We truly appreciate your support for these stewardship efforts.”

Photo by Sarah Phillips

Over 6 Acres Restored

Volunteers don’t just remove trash and recycling.  SYRCL’s restoration projects took place at four locations this year where volunteers removed highly invasive non-native species such as Himalayan blackberry, yellow star thistle, and English ivy from Bennett Street Meadow, Edwards Crossing, Kentucky Creek and Bear Meadow.

Photo by Jeff Litton
Photo by Jeff Litton

SYRCL would like to thank the over 40 agency, school and organization partners that help make the Cleanup such a success every year.

The Army Corps of Engineers and Skippers Cove Marina, Beale Air Force Base, Bear River High School, Bear River Key Club, Bear Yuba Land Trust, California Coastal Commission, California State Parks Foundation, California State Parks- South Yuba River State Park, Camptonville School, Champion Mine Homeowners Association, City of Grass Valley, Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, Donner Summit Area Association, Friends of Purdon Crossing, Gold Country Fly Fishers, Grass Valley Charter School, Great Sierra River Cleanup, Indian Valley Outpost Resort, KVMR, Lyman Gilmore School, Nevada City School of the Arts, Nevada County Key Clubs, Nevada Union High School, Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, Sierra Harvest, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Group of the Sierra Club, Sierra Streams Institute, South Yuba River Park Association, Synergia and Finding the Good, The Woolman Semester School, Truckee Donner Land Trust, Wolf Creek Community Alliance, and Yubadocs Urgent Care.

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Yuba Stewards

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California Growers Association

Yuba Guardians

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Yuba Heros

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Yuba Champions

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In-Kind Sponsors

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