A Look Back on 2017

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As we venture forward into 2018 and bid farewell to 2017, we would like to share some of our accomplishments from past year. SYRCL had a great year working towards a better future for the Yuba and we owe much appreciation to our volunteers, members, donors and partners. Thank you!

Please check out our 12 months of SYRCL, showcasing just a few 2017 highlights.


Wild & Scenic is more than just a film festival, it is SYRCL’s largest fundraiser of the year. It’s also one of the nation’s premier environmental and adventure film festivals. Months of visioning, logistics preparation, film screenings and art submissions culminated in the 15thAnnual Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Thank you to our special guests who made this year’s film fest even more spectacular. Congratulations to all of our Filmmakers and thank you for sharing your stories and inspiration with us. (photo gallery)

Downtown Nevada City and Grass Valley were abuzz with an army of helping hands and bright smiles this past weekend. This five-day extravaganza was powered by more than 600 volunteers who collectively worked 3,000+ hours to produce this meaningful and inspiring event. We couldn’t produce this world-class film fest without your help. At the end of the weekend, participants and volunteers left feeling inspired and motivated to go out and continue making a difference in their communities, and the world, all year round. (read more)


On February 12, more than 180,000 people, in the Oroville area and surrounding communities along the Feather River corridor, fled their homes because of the flash flood danger caused by the eroding unarmored spillway at Oroville Dam. In 2005, Friends of the River (FOR), the Sierra Club and SYRCL, raised the red flag about the safety deficiencies of the dam’s backup spillway. (read more)

On February 17, more than 500 people rallied outside Auburn’s The Ridge Golf Course, demanding that U.S. Representatives Doug LaMalfa (Dist. 1) and Tom McClintock (Dist. 4) address concerns on climate change, health care and the environment in a public forum. The peaceful demonstrators, organized by Indivisible Women of Nevada County and other groups, congregated along the public road into the golf course, where the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association (MCWRA) held an all-day symposium. (read more)

MARCH 2017

In March SYRCL convened a Centennial Dam Activist Summit with a panel of speakers, chosen to provide information about the scope and cost of the Centennial Dam project, the risks associated with building the dam, sustainable alternatives, and how community members can take action to challenge this contested proposal. The panel addressed what is at stake from an environmental, community, and cultural perspective. Audience members learned how local groups are closely following the permitting process and watchdogging the Nevada Irrigation Districts’s attempts to gain ownership of land publicly held by the Bureau of Land Management. (read more)

In March, Dam Watchdogs challenged NID to follow best practices for transparency and make their meetings accessible to all by providing live streaming and an online archive of their board meetings. They also wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Nevada Irrigation District and Congressman Doug LaMalfa, respectively, to: speak up for water, demand transparency, and protect public lands. (read more)

APRIL 2017

In April the Bear River was named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®, shining a national spotlight on a proposed dam that would harm fish and wildlife, recreation and Native American heritage. The annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers’ fates. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution. (read more)

Every April SYRCL invites the community to our annual open house and State of the Yuba report. This year River lovers turned out to celebrate the Yuba, learn more about our plans to help salmon and get the latest on Centennial Dam. If you missed this year’s State of the Yuba, the entire program is available. (read more)

MAY 2017

SYRCL, the US Forest Service, and the Truckee Donner Land Trust hosted a stakeholder meeting at Sugar Bowl to highlight the importance of meadow restoration in the Yuba headwaters and to discuss the proposed meadow restoration project at Van Norden Meadow. SYRCL is working with many different individuals and organizations to improve conditions within the meadow for the next 150-200 years. (read more)

Even by the end of April, the Yuba headwaters were still socked in snow and many river monitoring sites were inaccessible. Despite those challenges, one group of very dedicated River Monitors made quite an adventure out of getting to their upper South Yuba River monitoring locations. Thanks to the enthusiasm (and safety precautions) of 37 volunteer monitors, our first monitoring day of 2017 was a smashing success! (read more)

JUNE 2017

River conditions were deadly this summer. By June, three people had drowned in the South Yuba River and 17 people had drowned in rivers across the state. After this series of tragic deaths, SYRCL, Nevada County, State Parks and a host of additional government agencies and public safety officials, joined together to hold a press conference about deadly river conditions and the need for a united public message that would clearly communicate the risks swimmers face. (read more)

During the Summer months, SYRCL’s River Ambassadors are our ‘boots on the ground’ and this year they witnessed how unprepared visitors were for an unusually dangerous river season. River Ambassadors were there helping us get the word out: Safety First. Stay Out. This is a personal account of a day on a renewed and powerful Yuba, a reminder of how we should be humbled by its force and mindful of the impact of these preventable losses of life. (read more)

JULY 2017

Photo by: Robert Lowe

Thanks to Governor Brown, State Legislators, and Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), the funding to save the longest, single span wood covered bridge left in the world is assured. This was accomplished by the unwavering efforts and support of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, City and Town Councils of Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee, all Nevada County Chambers of Commerce, our partners at South Yuba River Citizen’s League, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Nevada County Historical Society, Nevada County Economic Resources Council, and many other community organizations, businesses and individuals. (read more)


At SYRCL, we always encourage safe and responsible river recreation and with the help of volunteers, we developed a video with three safety precautions — LOOK, GRIP, PROTECT. Learn more about a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones while at the river. (read more)

In August, SYRCL’s River Ambassadors and California State Parks furthered their partnership to watershed education by bringing the Litter Getter program to the South Yuba River State Park. The main goal of the Litter Getter program is to encourage children to keep the parks clean, wild, and healthy, and to continue this behavior in their communities. (read more)


On Saturday, September 16, a record number of volunteers rolled up their sleeves, strapped on their boots, and turned out to get dirty with us in celebration of the 20th Annual Yuba River Cleanup! And the results were astounding! With the help of 886 volunteers, cleaned at 35 sites from Donner Summit to Marysville and the Bear River and we removed 12, 733 pounds of garbage and 1,122 pounds of recycling. (read more)

September marked a significant leadership change for SYRCL. After six years at the helm Caleb Dardick stepped down. Melinda Booth, who for the past six years has directed the Wild & Scenic Film Festival was promoted to Executive Director. Melinda brings an insider’s knowledge to SYRCL’s work. Her expertise in environmental advocacy, development, program leadership, events, and outreach makes Melinda the ideal person to lead SYRCL’s efforts to unite the community to protect and restore the Yuba River. (read more)


The Tahoe National Forest now includes 732 acres of South Yuba River headwaters. SYRCL is partnering with the Tahoe National Forest to restore Van Norden Meadow, and has received more than $1.1 million in funding for this project through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program, the National Fish and Wildlife, the Martis Fund, and the Truckee Donner Land Trust. We look forward to working together on this amazing piece of land. (read more)

After a 14-month campaign led by SYRCL, the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County and the Federation of Neighborhood Associations, asking for greater openness and transparency for the governance of water, Nevada Irrigation District began livestreaming and archiving all Board meetings. (read more)


Yuba Awareness is the goal of SYRCL’s River Education Salmon Tour Program. Each fall SYRCL invites participants of all ages to hike or raft on the Yuba River, to learn about Chinook Salmon, the ecology of the lower Yuba, and the historical impacts of hydraulic mining.  This year SYRCL hosted students from six schools and held two public tours. In total, 300 participants –ranging from third-grade to high school students, college graduate students to retired adults – visited the river to learn about the salmon, explore the outdoors, and discover new and exciting information about our beloved Yuba. (read more)

Each spring, volunteers are trained to collect scientifically credible data for water quality parameters such as water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, conductivity and the presence of invasive and sensitive species for locations throughout the Yuba watershed. Thanks to the help of our diligent volunteers, data is collected each month from March to November, allowing SYRCL to monitor the health of the watershed over time. (read more)


On December 13, SYRCL and our allies at the Foothills Water Network stood up and challenged Centennial Dam’s request for public funding at the California Water Commission. At the Sacramento meeting, the Nevada Irrigation District was asked point blank if there was any opposition to Centennial. We were there to say YES – opposition is extensive. (read more)

In December, the US Forest Service named SYRCL Partner of the Year. SYRCL works alongside Tahoe National Forest to restore meadows, assess legacy mine impacts, monitor water quality, manage forest health, plan fish habitat restoration projects, and provide input on dam re-licensing. Over the last four years, SYRCL has raised over $1.7 million to implement projects on the Tahoe National Forest which covers much of the Yuba watershed. (read more)

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