The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) held its 26th annual Yuba River Cleanup event on Saturday, September 23, 2023, from 9am to noon. SYRCL would like to thank the over 680 volunteers who donated over 2,000 hours to help remove trash from the Yuba watershed. SYRCL would especially like to thank the 27 individuals who took on the extra responsibility of being a site leader at the many different sites throughout the watershed.
Preliminary data from the Cleanup is being compiled, but early indications are that approximately 10,000 pounds of trash and recycling was pulled out of the watershed this year, about the weight of a standard RV.
Some of the more prevalent items littering the Yuba were nearly 1,500 cigarette butts, over 1,000 food wrappers, and approximately 1,650 recyclable plastic and glass bottles and beverage cans. The number of smaller pieces of trash, less than 2.5 centimeters in diameter, found in the watershed is especially concerning, as this microtrash, over 2,000 pieces of it, breaks down further and permanently alters the health of the river.
When a fish or invertebrate absorbs microtrash by eating it, they can experience health problems which can be fatal. Further, other pollutants from the water tend to collect on the surface of this microtrash; when animals ingest it, they are also ingesting those toxic chemicals. These substances begin to accumulate in their body and slowly make their way up the food chain.
Along with the usual trash found during the Cleanup, dumped items like a TV, a recliner, a scarecrow, a pair of flippers, and a large vial of glitter were pulled out of the river by SYRCL volunteers. Numerous syringes, condoms, tampons, diapers, and toys all made appearances in the over 260 trash bags filled during the event.
The Annual Yuba River Cleanup is the culmination of SYRCL’s river stewardship during the river season, starting with their River Ambassador program. The SYRCL River Ambassador program ran on the weekends from 10am to 2pm at Highway 49 and Bridgeport Crossings (with a couple of days at Edwards Crossing as well) from May 26 to September 4. All told, 57 volunteers contributed 283 total hours to educate the public about river etiquette and stewardship. In the summer of 2023, River Ambassadors interacted with over 2,980 (20%) of the over 15,000 visitors they counted at the crossings, including 1,564 from out of town (52%) and 330 Spanish speakers (11%). Through their interactions, River Ambassadors encouraged river safety, fire safety, and proper trash disposal. They picked up over 3,463 pieces of trash, 321 recyclables, 228 glass items, and 262 dog waste bags.
All in all, the Yuba River watershed is healthier and cleaner thanks to the enormous outpouring of time, energy, and concern by the community. SYRCL is proud to have helped lead this effort and is grateful to all the volunteers who donated their time and effort, as well as all the individuals, agencies, businesses, and organizations who helped sponsor SYRCL’s work.
“Our dream is that through the River Ambassador program and other outreach actions there is no need for Cleanup events in the future as everyone takes responsibility to keep the watershed clean. Until that day, SYRCL will continue to organize events like the Annual Yuba River Cleanup and run programs like the River Ambassadors.” said Executive Director Aaron Zettler-Mann.
This year’s Cleanup was made possible in part with the support of sponsors and in-kind donors. Sponsors of the 2023 Cleanup were the Latrobe Fund, PG&E, Yuba Water Agency, Briar Patch Food Co-Op, A. Teichert & Sons, Reliable Auto Glass, A-One Tax, Sweetland Garden Mercantile, Balance Hydrologics, AJA Video Systems, 49er Rotary Club of Nevada City, Body Logic Physical Therapy, Stantec Consulting Services, California Organics, Teichert Rock Products, California State Parks Foundation, Gold Rush Subaru, Truckee Tahoe Airport District, Emily’s Catering, Sierra Gold Parks Foundation, Cbec Inc, Gold Country Kiwanis Club, B & C Ace Home & Garden Center, Economy Pest Control, All Phase Heating & Air, Mike Bratton State Farm, Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty, SRC Party Rentals, Nevada City Self Storage, Weiss Landscaping, Leora Coronel, Clientworks Inc., Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, and Sierra College.
In-kind contributions were made by Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., Jernigan’s Tap House & Grill, Diego’s, Flour Garden Bakery, Carolines Coffee Roasters, Holiday Market, SPD Markets, WM, Target, Carl’s Jr., and SPD.
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