Local Youth Arrive in Full Force to Clean Up the Yuba

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49 Crossing Bridge
© 2015 Heather Kallevig

On Saturday, September 19th, SYRCL and the local community gathered together to show their Yuba Love by cleaning up the river and its surrounding areas in the Yuba River Cleanup. This yearly event attracts people of all ages to come and support the Yuba by hauling away garbage, large and small, and restoring important areas of habitat. This year’s event had 26 clean up spots where participants removed garbage and litter and 4 restoration locations where the focus was restoring natural habitat by removing invasive species including blackberries and star thistle. The 2015 Cleanup was a record-breaking event. Participants removed 13,282 pounds of trash and 1,591 recyclables from the Yuba and Bear River Watersheds. Many of those participants were youth from the community.

There were many groups of SYRCL Youth helping out with the cleanup, including Woolman School, Synergia Learning Ventures, Bear River, Sierra College, SAEL, and multiple clubs from Nevada Union High School, including their Key Club and ECO NU. The schools were dispersed throughout the watershed with Woolman at Edward, Synergia at Tyler Foot Crossing, Bear River at Dog Bar, NU Key Club at Idaho-Maryland Road, and a group of Sierra College students at Bennet St. Meadow.

Eco NU 49 Crossing Volunteers

The 49 Bridge showed the highest numbers of youth participants with over 50 students working together from SAEL’s Eco-Club and Nevada Union’s Eco NU. Teens scaled rocks, scrambled through bushes, and hiked several miles on Saturday morning to clean up one of the area’s most popular swimming holes. When asked what their most unusual finds were, students reported clothing, a yoga mat, and a large water cooler. Together students, along with 25 other local volunteers removed 36 bags and 148 pounds of trash in 4 hours.  “Our group was surprised to find so many hair ties,” says NU senior Delphine Griffith. “It’s really cool to check out the website and see how much garbage is picked up in one day!”

Another large group from 49 volunteered to help with a restoration project at Bear Meadow, about 30 minutes upstream. Here they removed star thistle, an invasive species, to allow more native plants to thrive. They also collected three different species of native seeds to be planted in the meadow this fall.  It was hot and challenging work, but they kept a grin on their face, happy to help protect the watershed they love and restored 2 acres of meadow.  Hannah Babe a sophomore from SAEL Academy described her experience. “We were on an archaeological site so you could see the history. You could also see your progress. Collecting the seeds at the end was really cool. One was a tar weed, from the native sunflower family.”

SAEL Restoration Volunteers
SAEL Restoration Volunteers

Teens also participated in the Cleanathon, a SYRCL fundraiser. Many community members created their own fundraiser team, coming up with clever names and team photos for the event. Team SAEL on the Yuba raised $465.  That’s 155% of the group’s original fundraising goal of $300! To explore the creative names and photos of the different fundraising teams see: SYRCL Cleanathon.

SAEL 49 Crossing Volunteers
SAEL 49 Crossing Volunteers

Over 700 volunteers make the Yuba River Cleanup a success. The participation of local youth and their enthusiasm, organization, and activism bode well for the Yuba’s Future. Looking forward to another fun-filled event next year!

Don’t forget to share your photos from the cleanup on our SYRCL Facebook Page at SYRCL Youth

Click on the photo to learn more about tar weed one of the seeds collected by SYRCL Youth volunteers in Bear Meadow.

Tar Weed from Cal Flora
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