Volunteer Spotlight: Wendy Thibeault

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“Wendy is such an inspiration! Not only is she a steadfast restoration volunteer, she volunteers with all of SYRCL’s departments! I love to hear her adventure stories and appreciate the enthusiasm she brings to the team.” – Courtney Hudson, Restoration Coordinator

“Wendy serves in so many capacities and is such an incredibly loyal member of the SYRCL family. For the past 12 years, she has played an instrumental role as volunteer site leader for the Yuba River Cleanup at Englebright Dam. She offers her home to filmmakers at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. She participates in restoration projects and always brightens the SYRCL office with her presence.” – Frieda Slavin, Community Engagement Coordinator

Tell us a bit about yourself and your love for rivers.

Rivers are our life force. The Yuba and tributaries are beautiful and supportive systems for the entire watershed. The water tumbling over rocks, the damselflies, the salmon in the lower reaches, all the pines and alders, what’s not to love? Even in the winter when the river is running full, I love to be there in quiet awe and respect.

When I think of rivers, I see the Yuba as the epitome of rivers. The Yuba recharges our souls like the water recharges the whole watershed from the mountain meadows all the way down to the confluence with the Feather and Sacramento Rivers.

What motivated you to take the time to be a part of SYRCL?

I have been in Nevada County since 1976. I loved the concept of a community coming together to protect a river. SYRCL is a role model of a can-do, get things done environmental, political and educational non-profit organization with a strong volunteer base.  I have been a part of SYRCL since the beginning. I was involved in the first year of river monitoring. Initially, I served as the in-office volunteer person for the monthly program for about 7 years. Eventually, I switched over to working in the field as a river monitor at Poorman Creek in the little town of Washington for about 5 years. I like being a hands-on volunteer.

Throughout the years I have volunteered in a number of capacities. I am a Wild and Scenic Film Festival filmmaker host. I have served as a Yuba River Cleanup site leader at Englebright Dam for the past 12 years. I’ve had some field training in meadow restoration projects and volunteered at tree planting follow up at Hammon Bar.

I just love the variety of projects SYRCL manages throughout the watershed. I appreciate their leadership in limiting dams such as the proposed Centennial Dam. I have enjoyed SYRCL’s educational opportunities, such as the 2016 meadow restoration field study at Bear and Martis Valleys.

I love going to State of the Yuba to stay updated on projects and it fills my heart when the awards are given to dedicated community river protectors.

What is your favorite river activity and favorite river spot?

In the summer, I spend as much time on the river as possible hiking and swimming. I enjoy weekdays at Hoyt’s Crossing and the swimming hole at Bridgeport. Of course, I won’t divulge my favorite swimming spot.

What would you say to someone about the importance and advantages of being a SYRCL member and/or volunteer?

Membership provides critical support to the work of protecting and restoring the river that I love. I have been a dedicated member since 2001 when the South Yuba River was officially designated Wild & Scenic. I firmly believe that everyone in Nevada County should become a SYRCL member now. Money matters, but so do membership numbers for people to whom that is important.

Staff can’t do it all. We need support from the rest of the community.

If you had one wish for the Yuba, what would it be?

When the Yuba was designated Wild and Scenic, we assumed it would be forever. But that protection could be taken away. We need to continue to protect the river so no one will ever impinge on the natural environmental status in any way. I would like someone to tell me some day, “It will always be wild and scenic.”

I would like to see the restoration of the salmon to their original spawning grounds. I see that happening by taking down Daguerre dam and creating a viable fish ladder at Englebright. We really should be able to figure this one out.

Thanks to Wendy for all she does for SYRCL and the Yuba!

Wendy is a proud SYRCL volunteer. We invite you to join Wendy and thousands of other amazing River People by becoming a member and/or volunteer today. To find out more about becoming a member, visit our membership page or contact Alena at alena@syrcl.org or 530-265-5961 ext. 220. We have many opportunities to volunteer, to find out more, visit our volunteer page or contact Jenn at jenn@syrcl.org or 530-265-5961 ext. 201.

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