Celebrate Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary with SYRCL

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Dear SYRCL Family,

I sincerely hope you are well and staying positive during the COVID-19 crisis. Once again, I’m writing from home as we at SYRCL are starting our fifth week of working remotely and relying on video meetings, emails, phone calls, chats, and texts to keep the organization’s work moving forward.

This living and working at home routine can make it hard to keep track of the days, but there is no way I’m forgetting that this Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day.  The 50th Anniversary, in fact.  While it’s somewhat challenging to find the enthusiasm to celebrate, it feels important to honor this milestone and pay tribute to our Earth’s wonder and resilience.  I hope you find your own unique way to commemorate this year; I plan to spend a little time outside and drink in the splendor that is spring along the Yuba.  Normally, I’d be preparing to address our volunteers and watershed community with a speech at our State of the Yuba event to celebrate Earth Day.  Alas, that event is unable to happen.

With each tsunami of bad news, I find myself searching for even the smallest glimmers of hope. I’ve been heartened by news of clean air in LA, sea turtles on Florida’s beaches, clear, clean water in Lake Michigan…I’m taking these as signs that a vision for a sustainable future is still within our reach.

And despite the challenges of COVID-19, we at SYRCL are celebrating a milestone this month – this is another sliver of positivity.

20 Years of Protecting Yuba Water

We’ve just started our 20th River Monitoring season! As one of California’s longest water quality tracking programs, our River Monitoring is as important as ever. “It’s foundational to our ability to be a watchdog for the community,” says Karl Ronning, SYRCL Hydrologist. You’ll hear more about this achievement from us in the coming weeks—normally a robust volunteer effort, to address the stay-at-home orders, we’ve had to adapt.

Our staff sorely misses the support of our dedicated River Monitors and our many other volunteers; we miss seeing our Yuba community and being with you. Bringing the community together is a big part of SYRCL‘s role and identity. We generally do that with several events.

But now our spring events have been postponed, indefinitely. It was especially hard calling it for the first one—Quiz Night—which would have raised college scholarship dollars for a local high school senior.

I’ve already mentioned cancellation of our annual State of the Yuba. But we also had to make the hard call to suspend our dinner and silent auction, Wild for the Yuba.

Jump Into the Yuba Online

To make up for this lost time with you, we’ve implemented several new online programs. First, you can watch a selection of past Wild & Scenic Film Festival shorts through our new Films for Social Distancing” site.  Children of all ages can participate in their own Backyard BioBliz on Earth Day and report their results through iNaturalist. Anyone interested in becoming a River Ambassador this season can attend our online training via Zoom on May 7.  And for some real time engagement, be sure to check out Ask a Scientist on FaceBook Fridays at 10am and our monthly Rivers Lab: A Book Club for River Geeks April 30.  Oh—and for all you parents out there tackling home schooling your kiddos, let our Environmental Education at Home resources aid your efforts.

Restoring the Lower Yuba River

Another definite bright spot is the strides we’re making on the lower Yuba River. Our partners at the Hallwood restoration site continue to remove gravel (which is lowering the floodplain for salmon!). We’ve started our site assessments at Long Bar, which will ultimately result in one mile of side-channel rearing habitat for fish. And we’re excited that California is funding the project design and planning phase for Upper Rose Bar, which will increase floodplain and salmon spawning habitat almost at the foot of Englebright Dam.

Please know we’re doing everything we can to keep SYRCL’s work to protect and restore the Yuba moving forward. We just have to. You’ve helped us take care of the Yuba for so long—37 years, in fact. Now, while you’re taking care of yourself and loved ones, it’s our duty to you and all our supporters to stay the course.

Clean water and a vibrant watershed are cornerstones of a healthy community.


Melinda Booth
Executive Director

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