Nearly 200 engaged community members attended SYRCL’s State of the Yuba event on Earth Day. With standing room only, SYRCL staff reported on the condition of the Yuba River during this unprecedented drought, the status of Yuba River hydropower project relicensing, and invited Yuba-lovers to get involved as advocates and hands-on volunteers.
“SYRCL’s activism and leadership on water issues will only continue to be more important as water scarcity increases,” said Caleb Dardick, Executive Director. “We hold our State of the Yuba on Earth Day to focus on the health of the Yuba, and what we can do together — year-round, year after year — to protect this beautiful place where we live, work and play.”
Before and after the staff presentations, attendees gathered around informational posters to speak with staff on specific programs and projects of interest. Something on everyone’s mind, the current drought, was a priority topic of discussion for the evening.
All of SYRCL’s work is supported by strong science. “Long-term sustainability of the watershed is the focus of SYRCL’s River Science programs,” said Rachel Hutchinson, River Science Director. “This year water temperatures at the 34 sites SYRCL volunteers monitor were the highest for the month of March since the program began 15 years ago. The drought conditions we have experienced since 2012 have resulted in increased water temperatures and water quality concerns throughout the Yuba watershed and we implore you to find ways to reduce your water use,” said Hutchinson. Although SYRCL cannot make it rain or snow, projects like meadow restoration and dam relicensing are helping to increase flows in the Yuba River.
Senior River Scientist, Gary Reedy, shared the latest information about SYRCL’s work on the relicensing of several hydropower projects in the Yuba watershed. “SYRCL has been working for over eight years on a once in 50-year opportunity to restore the river through updated management of major dams and diversions,” he said. “We have made significant progress toward new rules that will dramatically improve habitat for all native species that depend on the river, including salmon, trout, frogs and riparian trees. With a few more years of this scientific and advocacy work ahead of us, we aim to secure additional wins, including benefits for river recreation, restoration of river channels below dams, and fish passage over Englebright Dam.”
Attendees also heard about ways to participate in SYRCL’s efforts to improve meadows, clean the river, monitor water quality and more. Volunteerism is at the heart of SYRCL’s grassroots organizing. “SYRCL volunteers are dedicated, informed and passionate about caring for the Yuba watershed. They bring a diversity of talents to SYRCL and make our events and programs possible,” shared Jenn Tamo, River People Manager. Volunteers with a number of skills and interests are needed throughout SYRCL’s work. With opportunities from restoring mountain meadows to educating river visitors about stewardship through the River Ambassador program there is a place for everyone at SYRCL. Visit https://yubariver.org/volunteering/ to learn about how you can make a difference for the Yuba.
The program concluded with an awards ceremony for the “Volunteer of the Year” and “Yuba Partner of the Year.” Terry Armstrong was honored as “Volunteer of the Year” for his commitment to SYRCL’s River Monitoring program. Terry has entered over 30,000 data records and clocked over 630 volunteer hours for the program since 2009.
Sierra Gold Sector Supervising Ranger Dan Youngren from California State Parks accepted SYRCL’s “Yuba Partner of the Year” award on behalf of the South Yuba River State Park. “Partnerships like the one between the South Yuba River State Park and SYRCL are what keep our important State Parks viable for generations,” he said. “For the past three years SYRCL and State Parks have worked together to increase volunteerism on the Yuba, remove trash, increase revenue and advocate for funds for the Park. All of these activities have been successful in the improvement and sustainability of the South Yuba River State Park.”
The community’s generous support of SYRCL over the past 32 years has allowed the organization to be a leader in the watershed and stay nimble to react to threats as needed. Uniting the community to protect and restore a watershed is the work of generations and SYRCL would not exist without the continued support of its members and donors.
To volunteer, join or renew your membership, please explore our new website, www.yubariver.org, or stop by the office at 313 Railroad Ave., # 101 Nevada City, CA.