Heavy Rains Fail to Deter Yuba River Cleanup Volunteers – 550 Volunteers collected over 11,450 pounds of garbage and recyclables

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Volunteers scour the shoreline of the South Yuba River at Highway 49 Crossing (Photo by Dave Preston)

Despite heavy rain and even hail, 550 volunteers cheerfully removed over 11,450 pounds of trash and recyclables from 80 miles of river, creek and lake shoreline at 35 sites within the greater Yuba River and Bear River watersheds.

“This year’s Yuba River Cleanup and Restoration Day was a resounding success from Donner Summit to the Lower Yuba River,” enthused Miriam Limov, SYRCL’s River People Manager who has organized the Cleanup since 2007.  “Despite the bad weather, volunteers came out in droves on all three forks of the Yuba River, scouring the muddy trails for litter, ferrying rafts across the river to haul out trash, scrambling on slippery rocks and cruising the beaches around Englebright Lake via motorboats to remove tons and tons of garbage and recycling that would otherwise wash downstream to the Bay.”

Last Saturday, September 21st, the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) coordinated its 16th annual Yuba River Cleanup and Restoration Day.  Ranging in ages from a hearty 78 to only 3 years old, and coming from as far away as Truckee and the San Francisco Bay Area, SYRCL volunteers braved bad weather to help with the Cleanup and restore six acres of land by removing invasive vegetation like Scotch Broom and star thistle. Some of the more interesting items found on Saturday included wedding veil with a wine glass and flowers, an iPhone, a shopping cart, a chainsaw, and for the second year in a row: a message in a bottle.

Some of the heroic efforts included:

Volunteers at Foote's Crossing carry trash out on handmade carriers (Photo by Annabelle Ziegenhagan)
  • Ferrying 3,000 pounds of debris from an abandoned mining camp across the Middle Yuba River at Footes Xing in rafts by 25 volunteers during a 3-day effort.
  • At Donner Summit, 10 volunteers collected 300 pounds of trash in a driving rain storm.
  • Twenty Yuba Watershed Institute volunteers removed two full truckloads of metal and other heavy items using a convoy of wheelbarrows at Lonesome Lake.
  • Two intrepid snorkelers dived deep into the pools at Bridgeport to recover lost jewelry and micro trash like bottle caps and small pieces of plastic.

Damp, smiling faces ruled the afternoon at SYRCL’s post-Cleanup celebration on the soaked beach of the South Yuba River State Park at Bridgeport Crossing. Volunteers huddled under tents and trees to feast on an organic BBQ lunch. Local singer Ishaan Judd shared his original melodic harmonies about the Yuba River. Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston praised attendees for their volunteerism and dedication to the watershed.  Additionally, SYRCL’s “Volunteer of the Year,” Peter Burnes, was honored for his outstanding work on SYRCL’s behalf in the dam re-licensing arena.

The Cleanup Day was also the culmination of SYRCL’s summertime River Ambassador program that began its second season in late June. The volunteer River Ambassadors spoke one-on-one with 4,623 local and out-of-town visitors at Highway 49, Bridgeport, Edwards and Purdon crossings on the South Yuba River. Over 13 weekends, the River Ambassadors picked up 6,532 pieces of trash and dog waste.

Sierra College Students at Bridgeport (Photo by Jeff Litton)

SYRCL’s restoration projects took place at five locations where volunteers removed highly invasive non-native species such as Himalayan Blackberry, Yellow Star Thistle, and English Ivy from more than six acres at Bennett Street Meadow, Edwards Crossing, Jones Bar, Kentucky Creek and Oregon Creek.  Forty-four 5th grade students from Grass Valley Charter School removed blackberry vines from Bennett Street meadow in Grass Valley on State Parks land.

Locally, more than a quarter of the volunteers were 18 and under with groups including Grass Valley Charter School, Ghidotti Early College High School, Bear River Key Club, Nevada City School of the Arts. Other participating groups included Nevada County Walkers, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Sierra Streams Institute, Sierra College ECO’s and Volunteer Clubs, Wolf Creek Community Alliance, Finding the Good, Gold Country Fly Fishers, Donner Summit Area Association, Nevada City Co-Housing, Yubadocs Urgent Care, South Yuba Club, Yuba Watershed Institute and Englebright House Boaters Association.

Rain-soaked spectators lined the banks of the South Yuba River to watch the 3rd Annual Stone Skipping Contest. Contestants hooted and hollered and cheered one another on as the rain fell harder.  In the Youth Division, Aidan Reedy-Schneider won for the third straight year with a toss of 12 skips and best combined score of 47. Estrella Acosta won for highest women’s throw of 15 skips and Jalana Smith won for best combined score for women at 54 skips.  Skyler Lon Smith won the overall men’s division for most skips with 27 and best overall combined score of 103.


SYRCL would like to extend our immense gratitude to all the sponsors, food donors, and the agencies that helped with trash and recycling collection for caring about the health of the Yuba and Bear River watersheds.

This event is made possible thanks these generous sponsors:

Donner Summit cleanup crew (Photo by Patricia Malberg)

The Union, KVMR, YubaNet News, A-One Bookkeeping, Nevada City Self Storage, Bob Travers, PG&E, BriarPatch Co-Op Market, Cbec, Sperry Van Ness – Highland Commercial, Nevada Irrigation District, Sugar Bowl Resort, Grass Valley Sign Company, Telestream, Cirino’s, Automotive City, B&C Hardware, Clientworks, Mr. Rooter Plumbing, The Parent Resource Guide, REI, All Phase Heating and Air Conditioning, Fire Safe Council, Gold-N-Green, Reeds Locksmithing, SRC, Trkac, Volz Bros, A to Z Supply, Darwin Stanley Leek (DC), The Woolman Semester School, California Solar Electric Company, Charlie Brock, Cost U Less Heating and Air, Mowen Solinsky Gallery, Nina Allen Acupuncture, Gray Goose, & Stage Tech West.

The organic buffet lunch was provided courtesy of the following generous donors: 

Broad Street Bistro, Carl’s Junior, Caroline’s Coffee, Cirino’s at Main Street, Emily’s Catering and Cakes, Flour Garden Bakery, Harmony Ridge Market, Indian Springs Organic Farm, Johansen Ranch, Mountain Bounty Farm, Nevada County Free Range Beef, and Starbright Acres Family Farm.

Agency and Business Support with Trash and Recycling:

Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, California State Parks, California Transportation Department (Yuba County and Nevada City), City of Grass Valley, Nevada Irrigation District, Soda Springs General Store, U.S. Forest Service, Waste Management, & Yuba County Water Agency.


Caleb Dardick, Executive Director (530) 265-5961, ext. 207; Caleb@syrcl.org

Miriam Limov, River People Coordinator (530) 265-5961, ext. 201; Miriam@syrcl.org


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