Trash Piles High on the Fourth of July

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By: Suzanne Calkins, River Stewardship Coordinator

When thinking about the impacts of trash, glass, dog waste, and the potential for wildfire in our beloved Yuba River canyon, it’s easy to become discouraged.  The statistics from SYRCL’s Annual Yuba River Cleanup are staggering – last year alone, hundreds of volunteers helped  remove an astonishing 21,000 lbs of trash from the watershed. The number of visitors to the Yuba is increasing while the State Park’s budget dwindles. Factor in that we are in a record drought and it starts to feel dismal. What can we do to help?

4thofJuly_49_02We can bring together a team of concerned community members and take steps to raise awareness about the impact that recreation has on the Yuba. Three years ago, the River Ambassador summer program was established to build a team of environmental stewards to educate visitors about Leave No Trace ethics and inspire folks to take personal action to keep the river healthy, clean and safe. Stationed in booths and on the trails at Bridgeport, 49, Purdon, and Edwards crossings each weekend, these phenomenal volunteers raise awareness  with a friendly approach, providing visitors with the knowledge and tools they need to do their part in caring for the river they love.

IMG_9621The Fourth of July holiday weekend was a good reminder of the power of the River Ambassador team, as well as the work that we have ahead of us. With thousands of visitors flocking to Bridgeport and 49 crossings to celebrate, Ambassadors had their busiest weekend yet connecting with over 500 people about the importance of good stewardship practices and fire safety. While walking the jam-packed beaches at Bridgeport and boulder-hopping at 49, volunteers and SYRCL staff picked up trash and handed out bags to those that needed them. As people saw their peers cleaning up, even more came forward to ask for trash bags so that they could do the same. While there were many interactions with supportive people eager to do their part, the sheer volume of visitors meant that there was still a lot of waste left behind.

Attempting to shift the culture at the river to one of personal accountability is a large task, but we believe that positive, peer-to-peer interactions are a step in the right direction. While posted signs listing rules and regulations are helpful resources, a conversation provides many more opportunities for visitors to engage meaningfully with the issue at hand. Now that we’re at the height of summer, we need help expanding our outreach! If you are an outgoing and passionate Yuba lover, consider joining forces with our dedicated team.

4thofJuly_49_10River Ambassador Training

When: Thursday, July 16 from 5:00pm – 8:30 pm

Where: 313 Railroad Ave Suite 101, Nevada City 95959

What: Receive an orientation to the program and comprehensive training from SYRCL and State Park staff on how to be a River Ambassador.

RSVP: To sign up for the training, please click here.

Please contact Suzanne Calkins, Stewardship Coordinator at or (530) 265-5961 ext. 212 for more information.

Share with Your People

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