A blue heron soars quietly overhead, as a shiny otter slips off the bank into the cold Yuba water. The ripple draws the attention of 5th graders seated in a raft, peering over the side into the clear waters of the Yuba River as they search for signs of spawning chinook salmon.
SYRCL’s River Education Manager Rachel Lubitz tells the students a story of the salmon’s life cycle, migrating hundreds of miles to the Pacific only to return as an adult to spawn and die here in our river.
Today, these students are learning the important role salmon play as indicators to the health of our watershed and how human impacts to the river have quickly reduced the wild salmon populations. From September to December, the Yuba River once swelled with spawning Chinook salmon, now students can count salmon sightings on just one hand.
For 18 years SYRCL has been hosting salmon expeditions on the lower Yuba River to pass on knowledge and stewardship skills to the next generation that will inherit the environmental issues of today. So far this salmon season, Rachel Lubitz and her volunteer team of Salmon Naturalist Guides have led over 300 students on rafting and hiking tours with the hopes of raising youth awareness to the importance of salmon in our local ecosystem.
“These expeditions are important for providing future generations with a firsthand look at how historical mining practices in the Yuba watershed have reduced fish habitats,” says Lubitz. “Dams alone have cut off over 200 miles of ancestral salmon spawning grounds on the upper Yuba River and we see less and less wild salmon and trout returning to spawn.”
By the end of the season, nearly 700 students and teachers will have taken part in the Salmon Expeditions discovering the beauty and complexity of the Yuba watershed. In addition to learning about salmon, the expeditions feature SYRCL’s rehabilitation projects on Long Bar and Hammon Bar to increase and restore salmon habitats.
Community Support for our Youth
In wanting to make our salmon expeditions accessible for as many students and community members as possible, Gold Country Fly Fishers generously donated a scholarship to offset the costs for 24 Camptonville Elementary students and community members, giving them this incredible experience on our lower Yuba River. A huge thanks to this wonderful community of supporters.
Thanks to H20 Adventures for partnering with SYRCL and to the schools that were able to participate in this years Salmon Expeditions: Donner Trail School, Chicago Park, Bell Hill, Camp Singer, Washington School, Camptonville, Nevada City School of Arts, Forest Charter Global Studies, Downieville School, Alta-Dutch Flat School, Clear Creek, NU Green Academy, Grass Valley Charter Schools, Woodside High School, Scotten School.
Take Action and Jump-in Today
SYRCL’s Salmon Expeditions are an amazing opportunity for you, and your family to adventure down the Yuba River to see spawning salmon. Get your hands (and feet) wet while learning about the salmon life cycle, their ecology, and human impact on these incredible fish. Join a tour today, seats are still available to the public on Saturday Oct 27th and Sunday Nov 4th.