By Caleb Dardick, Executive Director
On June 8th, the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary – and everyone who loves the Yuba River is invited to the party!
Since 1983, when local activists successfully fought to protect the South Yuba River from dams, SYRCL has remained the central hub for community activism to protect, restore, and celebrate the river we love.
On our 30th birthday, we raise a toast to the thousands of SYRCL members and hundreds of volunteers who turn out again and again for the river. What other organization – local or national– can count on over 600 volunteers to pick up 13,000 pounds of garbage in one day? Or field over 700 volunteers to produce a world-class environmental film festival every year? Or collect over 10,000 signatures in thirty days to save the South Yuba River State Park from closing?
Most days, it seems there is nothing that we cannot do together. But cutbacks, diminishing resources, and increasing threats combine to test SYRCL’s strength. As we look toward the next 30 years, we call upon all Yuba river lovers to join SYRCL so that working together we can have the greatest impact.
Are you concerned about the river’s health? Get trained to be a River Monitor. Like to get your hands dirty? Sign up for one of our River Restoration projects on the lower Yuba or summit meadow. Sick of the garbage left on the beaches and trails? Join with hundreds of others who feel the same way and clean up the whole mess together on one day. Want to foster a culture of stewardship so more people will take personal responsibility for the river? Join our River Ambassadors and talk one-on-one with visitors all summer long.
Thirty years ago, this community first came together and proved that “people can save a river.” That community spirit remains strong in the voice of river lovers who share SYRCL’s drive to restore wild salmon, monitor water quality, clean up the river, restore the natural areas, and stay focused on advocacy. Here’s a snapshot of what SYRCL is working on today:
Yuba salmon. Since the late 1990s, SYRCL has prioritized restoring wild salmon to the Yuba. This year, we filed a citizen suit in federal court against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to comply with Endangered Species Act requirements to protect Yuba River salmon, steelhead, and green sturgeon in jeopardy of extinction.
River monitoring and restoration. Now in our 13th year, more than 80 active volunteer River Monitors collect high quality baseline data at over 40 sites. And our volunteers helped plant 6,395 willow and cottonwood cuttings in the Goldfields along the lower Yuba River, too.
Stewardship. Since SYRCL established the Greater Yuba River Cleanup fifteen years ago, our volunteers have collected over 140,000 pounds of garbage. Our new River Ambassador Program trains volunteers to talk one-on-one with local and out-of-town river visitors about how to keep the river healthy, clean and safe all year long so that someday we won’t need an annual cleanup day at all.
Dam relicensing. Many people may not realize that upstream dam operators control the flow of water in the river. These operations are guided by federal licenses that are renegotiated every 30-50 years. In the dam relicensing processes now underway, SYRCL is advocating for improved flows, water quality, fish passage, and restored natural areas. We are negotiating for the best possible outcomes for the Yuba, as the decisions made today will have consequences on the river’s health for decades to come.
Without this community’s energy and support, we wouldn’t be singing “Happy 30th Birthday” to SYRCL this year. Join us on Saturday, June 8th from 5-10pm for our 30th Anniversary Auction, Party, & Picnic: What a Wild & Scenic Trip It’s Been. There will be great live music, BBQ and fun for the whole family at the historic North Star House, 12075 Auburn Road (near the Fairgrounds in Grass Valley). Please visit www.YubaRiver.org for tickets and more information.