SYRCL Successes — A Look Back at 2023

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2023 was another monumental year for the South Yuba River citizens League. This was our 40th anniversary and given all that SYRCL accomplished, it seems we are not slowing down one bit. All of SYRCL’s departments contributed to protecting and preserving the Yuba watershed.

  • Our Watershed Science department continued to implement and monitor massive restoration projects from the lower Yuba to the headwater meadows to the forest that surrounds it.
  • Our Education department grew larger than ever and was able to bring interactive and engaging environmental science experiences to a huge swath of our area’s youth.
  • Our Outreach department continued to engage our community through events like the Cleanup and River Ambassadors, while spreading the word far and wide about the importance of river safety and river etiquette.
  • After two years away, SYRCL’s 2023 Wild & Scenic Film Festival returned as an in-person event and was a smashing success.
  • Finally, our Policy department continued to be a voice for the Yuba by educating the community on important issues affecting the Yuba River, salmon, and our environment.

Featured below are some of the highlights from an enormously eventful year.


SYRCL Unveils a New Look2023 had us unveiling our new website and our building got a new paint job!

CA Budget Summary — What’s important for SYRCL members – SYRCL’s Policy Manager broke down Gov. Newsom’s proposed 2023-2024 state budget


Say NO to the Idaho-Maryland Mine — The Wild & Scenic Film Festival Petition — We unveiled our Film Festival Action

2023 Wild & Scenic Film Festival: Select Photos from the Fest – our 2023 Wild & Scenic Film Festival was a huge success!


SYRCL’s 40th Anniversary Film YUBA IS THE HEART is now available to view – We celebrated our 40th anniversary by commissioning a film from Spruce Tone Films which looks towards the next forty years and features community members reflecting on the future of SYRCL’s work in the face of climate change and protecting the river for future generations

SYRCL at the California Coastkeeper Alliance Advocacy Day — On March 7, SYRCL’s Interim Executive Director and Watershed Science Director Aaron Zettler-Mann and SYRCL’s Policy Director Gianna Setoudeh headed to the California State Capitol in Sacramento as part of the California Coastkeeper Alliance Advocacy Day.


SYRCL Presents at the Waterkeeper Alliance Pacific Regional SummitWe led a roundtable discussion on how to engage with volunteers so that they see the value in their work. Study design and modification including how to think about site selection and how to re-evaluate that selection as the climate and need changes. We also helped lead a discussion about improving communication and applying science, and presented a session on Esri ArcGIS Mapping.

SYRCL’s State of the Yuba returns on April 26 – Attendees got to hear from SYRCL’s team about the condition of the river, SYRCL’s vision for the future, education and volunteer opportunities, current projects, challenges, recent successes, and more ways to get involved. 

SYRCL Awards its 2022 Environmentalist of the Year Scholarship to Owen Papegaay — On Wednesday, April 26, SYRCL hosted the annual State of the Yuba event where, Owen Papegaay, a graduating senior from Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning (SAEL), was awarded the scholarship.


SYRCL’s 2022 Impact Report – We released our Annual Impact Report that details the work we have done over the course of the previous year

SYRCL’s 2023 Scotch Broom Challenge got into the weeds — On May 5, SYRCL and Bear Yuba Land Trust staff conducted their annual Scotch Broom Challenge. Twelve people (three AmeriCorps, two BYLT staff, and seven volunteers) worked for three hours and cleared an estimated 900 plants from c’oom pe Preserve, part of Mountain Bounty Farm.

SYRCL Has Mixed Reactions to the Closed-Door Yuba River Negotiations — On May 16th , Governor Newsom, along with Yuba Water Agency, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) held a press conference announcing efforts to build a fish passage canal around Daguerre Point Dam. Since then, our concerns have been heard and we are more involved ensuring that this project lives up to its potential.

The Supreme Court’s Decision on Sackett and What That Means for the Yuba Watershed — In a significant ruling on May 25, 2023, the Supreme Court delivered a decision that carries profound implications for the Clean Water Act, the landmark water pollution law. The Court concluded that the property owned by an Idaho couple does not fall within the scope of wetlands that are subject to federal oversight under the law.


SYRCL’s 2023 Wild For The Yuba was a Great Success! — On Saturday, June 3, 2023, from 6:00-9:30 pm at the beautiful grounds of the Wheelhouse Event Center in Nevada City, CA, SYRCL celebrated its 40th Anniversary with its annual Wild for the Yuba Event. 

Taking Streamflow Measurements at the Haskell Peak Meadows — Meadows are important because they are nature’s “reservoirs” that slow down and clean water in the early summer and extend the time period that the water is released.

SYRCL’s Education Department Empowers Youth as River Stewards Through its Water Quality Monitoring Program — Each Spring, SYRCL and Tahoe National Forest offer “Creating River Stewards: Monitoring Water Quality of Public Lands” for 6th through 12th grade students. This educational opportunity is funded by a National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) Forest Service Greening STEM Grant.


SYRCL’s Science and Education Departments Team Up for another successful Earthwatch – Girls In Science Expedition — Each summer SYRCL partners with the Earthwatch Institute and Tahoe National Forest (TNF) to host a field science expedition for high school juniors and seniors interested in STEAM careers.  This year’s first session was completed in the last week of June and focused on Restoring Sierra Meadows: The Source of California’s Water. Six students from throughout California joined our team to assist with monitoring work in Van Norden Meadow.  

After Many Months of High Water, SYRCL’s Lower Long Bar Restoration Project is Starting to Beautifully Emerge — Our restoration work of lowering floodplains, designing channels, and planting vegetation gives the Lower Yuba the space and the tools to be healthy… but it takes high water and time for the river to make the new habitat “her own.” 

North Yuba Forest Partnership News: Tahoe National Forest Issues the Record of Decision for its North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project — The North Yuba Forest Partnership is a diverse group of nine organizations, including SYRCL, passionate about forest health and the resilience of the North Yuba River watershed.  Together, the partners are working on an unprecedented scale to collaboratively plan, analyze, finance, and implement forest restoration across 275,000 acres


SYRCL was back at Loney Meadow — Our work continues at Loney Meadow through long term stewardship. It is one of our favorite meadows to continue to work at through our long-term Field Science Program, which includes a Youth Outdoor Leadership Opportunity for high school students from local areas, including underserved areas of Yuba City and Marysville. 

Monitoring for Groundwater and Surface Water in the Haskell Peak Meadows Project — SYRCL, in partnership with the Tahoe National Forest, is wrapping up the planning phase and moving toward restoration implementation on 229 acres of meadow habitat within five high priority meadows in the North Yuba Watershed: Haskell Headwaters Fen, Chapman Saddle Meadow, West Church Meadow, Freeman Meadow, and Bear trap Meadow.

Construction at Upper Rose Bar is Moving Along — The purpose of this project is to create and enhance two spawning riffles for Chinook salmon and steelhead. Englebright Dam prevents gravels from moving downstream from upper portions of the watershed. In the Goldfields, the piles of hydraulic mining debris provide the gravel sizes necessary for spawning. However, because Rose Bar is so close to Englebright Dam which traps downstream movement of gravel, as the Yuba River erodes spawning gravel from this location, there is no natural source of gravel to replace it.

Aaron Zettler-Mann Promoted to SYRCL Executive Director — Aaron Zettler-Mann has been an instrumental part of SYRCL as Watershed Science Director and serving as Interim Executive Director after Melinda Booth stepped down from the position in February.  Aaron brings a wealth of experience, passion, and deep connection to the local community and to the Yuba River ecosystem.  

Ensuring Environmental Justice: A Closer Look at California’s Water Management — President Biden’s administration announced an investigation into California’s water management practices.

SYRCL’s 2023 Watershed Science Field Season in Photos — SYRCL’s Watershed Science Team has been busy out in the field at our many restoration and monitoring projects throughout the watershed this year.


Successful Outreach Meetings about Rotary Screw Traps in Downieville and Nevada City — SYCRL coordinated two public safety outreach meetings to help our community get answers to their concerns about the placement of two rotary Screw Traps in the North Yuba River. The rotary screw traps are being placed in the North Yuba as one of the initial data gathering steps of the Yuba Salmon Study.

Unveiling the Van Norden Meadow Restoration Project Following a Record-Breaking Winter — Throughout the summer, SYRCL’s Watershed Science Department, along with research partners from Point Blue Conservation Science, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, and the University of Nevada-Reno, have been monitoring the meadow to track anticipated ecosystem benefits such as groundwater, stream flow, carbon storage, plant communities, changes in geomorphology, birds, and amphibians. These monitoring efforts will continue through 2026 and build on the extensive baseline data collected to date.

2023 Central Sierra Western Slope Aspen Workshop — On September 7th and 8th, over 30 aspen experts from all over the country and those involved in aspen restoration in this region came to San Francisco State’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus in the North Yuba to attend the 2023 Central Sierra Western Slope Aspen Workshop, coordinated by the South Yuba River Citizens League, the United States Forest Service, and the Western Aspen Alliance. The event was sponsored by Yuba Water Agency.

SYRCL’s 26th Annual Yuba River Cleanup A Success — Approximately 10,000 pounds of trash and recycling was pulled out of the watershed this year, about the weight of a standard RV.


Challenging the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act: SYRCL’s Perspective — We have some issues with the assertions behind the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act (H.R. 4045) and the science used to support them. This legislation “claims” to increase clean, renewable hydropower resources in the United States, purportedly to combat climate change and improve environmental quality. However, we believe it’s essential to critically examine its language and intentions.

Analysis of the new Clean Water Act Section 401 Rule — The EPA published in the Federal Register the Final 2023 Clean Water Section 401 Water Quality Certification Improvement Rule. 

SYRCL’s Proposed Comments on The Edwards Bridge Replacement Project — The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) respectfully submitted comments and recommendations in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) by Nevada County for the Edwards Bridge Replacement Project environmental review process as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).


PG&E and PacGen: A risky proposal for the Yuba River, our community, and ratepayers —  PG&E proposes to transfer all its hydroelectric assets to a new company – Pacific Generation (PacGen) This is the biggest and first-ever transfer of hydropower assets in California.  SYRCL believes that this transfer would benefit PG&E shareholders at the expense of California ratepayers, the Yuba River, dam safety, and the public interest. 

Thank You To Everyone Who Helped Us Plant Trees At Upper Rose Bar — On Friday, November 10, 2023, nearly 25 folks showed up to help us plant around 500 oaks and foothill pines at our Upper Rose Bar Restoration Project.

Upper Long Bar Restoration Project Public Outreach — On Thursday, November 2, 2023, representatives from SYRCL, Cramer Fish Sciences, and cbec led a public outreach meeting at the Upper Long Bar Restoration Project, outlining for those in attendance the history of the project, a general overview of the pre-project monitoring and what the project will encompass, and the desired outcomes of the finished project.

2023 SYRCL’s Invasive Weed Crew Takes on the Challenge — Since 2019 the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) has built a partnership with the US Forest Service (USFS) to confront the challenges posed by invasive weeds in the Yuba River Watershed.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Environmentalist: Another Successful Salmon Expedition Season for SYRCL’s Education Department — This year SYRCL educators hosted more than 2,000 students, teachers, chaperones and community members. 


The Yuba River and the Bay Delta: A Vital Connection for Salmon — The Yuba River and the Bay Delta are connected by more than water. They are also linked by the migration of salmon, which depend on both habitats for their survival. These fish provide food, recreation, and cultural value for millions of Californians. 

SYRCL Welcomes Two New AmeriCorps to the Team

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One Comment

  1. John Rosapepe says:

    Great overview of another good year for the river and SYRCL.

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