SYRCL’s volunteer River Ambassadors held face-to-face conversations about river stewardship with nearly 3,000 visitors to the Yuba River this summer. Launched on the 4th of July, the fifteen volunteer River Ambassadors supervised by three River Captains logged over 530 hours talking to visitors, and picked up over 1,860 pieces of garbage and dog waste that would have otherwise ended up downstream.
“The feedback from the community has been fantastic,” said Executive Director Caleb Dardick. “Local and out-of-town visitors are happy to see SYRCL volunteers on the river sharing their love for the Yuba with gentle reminders to pack out whatever they pack in, leave glass at home, clean up after their dogs, and prevent wildfires.”
Supported with a generous donation from the California State Parks Foundation, the pilot program ran twelve consecutive weekends at Purdon and Highway 49 Crossing, two of the most heavily visited areas on the Yuba. The program culminated with SYRCL’s 15th annual Greater Yuba River Cleanup. In partnership with California State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management, SYRCL trained volunteers on topics such as non-violent communication, Leave No Trace, and river ecology.
Working shifts from 10am to 6pm, the River Ambassadors talked to visitors as they walked the trails and beaches or at the trail head booth, encouraging river stewardship in a non-authoritative manner, modeling river etiquette by picking up any trash or dog waste, handing out trash and doggy bags as needed, and disassembling illegal fire rings.
Americorps member and SYRCL Watershed Coordinator Jessica Roberts managed this successful new program, which will continue next summer at two more crossings. Jessica built a strong team of passionate volunteers who share SYRCL’s vision that all visitors will take care of the river and never leave waste behind.
“It was so wonderful to meet and work with volunteers who love the Yuba,” said Jessica. “Every weekend visitors would thank us and say ‘We love what you do!’, and ‘I packed out my trash!’”
Many visitors posed in the “River Ambassador Photo Booth” holding signs that read things like “I packed it out” and smiling broadly.
“Every little reminder to visitors is a step in the right direction, and hopefully positive stewardship on the river will simply be the norm for all those who enjoy the amazing Yuba waters,” said River Captain Kelsie Greer. “Based on the enthusiasm of our citizens and volunteers, I would say that we are well on our way.”
To volunteer for the River Ambassador program next summer, please contact Jessica Roberts or call 265-5961 ext. 209.
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