River Ambassadors: What we Learned from Our First Weekend
River Ambassadors stationed at Highway 49 and Bridgeport crossings braved the heat wave this holiday weekend to greet visitors to the river and speak to them about river safety and etiquette. We learned a lot about our visitors, including where they are coming to us from, whether or not they are first-timers, what they want to know, and some of the reasons people return.
Where are our visitors from?
Most of our visitors are joining us from within a 3.5-hour drive (without traffic, that is). Our River Ambassadors greeted many visitors from Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Reno. We also had a number of visitors make the much longer drive to swim in our emerald waters from Los Angeles and Orange County.
Some visitors made the trek to the Yuba from places as far away as Wisconsin and Toronto.
As word continues to spread, the River Ambassador program becomes all the more important to educate newcomers and remind return visitors about river safety and etiquette.
Are our visitors first-timers?
While a number of people were first-timers, most of the people with whom we spoke this weekend had been to the Yuba before. Many came last year and were returning with friends to show them the beautiful beach at Hoyt’s Crossing or point out the progress being made on the bridge at Bridgeport. Others returned after several years to rediscover the river’s beauty.
What do visitors want to know?
Most visitors need help finding their way and are relieved to be greeted by a River Ambassador who can tell them where the trailhead is or the easiest route to the river. Without cell service, many people can’t access the maps or apps they would normally use to figure out where they are, where they need to be, and how to get there. The new river safety bandana, which was developed by the Yuba River Safety Cohort, features all 39 miles of the state-designated Wild & Scenic stretch of the South Fork of the Yuba. The bandana has been a great way to not only help visitors navigate but to also share important safety information about fire bans, leave no trace principles, and picking up after their pets.
What Brings People to the Yuba?
“This place is magical,” one visitor told us when asked what brought her to the river that day. After years of being away, her memories of the place drew her back to the cool waters and granite boulder.
Other people with whom we spoke came on the recommendation of a friend, who had told them about the beauty of the place.
If you’d like to learn more about how to talk with visitors, volunteer with us and become a River Ambassador. This unique partnership with State Parks will give you the opportunity to practice teaching our visitors how to love the Yuba like a local. Plus, you get to hang out with some of our fantastic and fun SYRCL crew.