Year in Review: 12 Months of Yuba Watershed Success

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As we bid farewell to 2018, and venture forward into the new year, explore SYRCL’s accomplishments in the Yuba watershed from this past year.

SYRCL had a busy year building a better future for the Yuba and Bear Rivers. We have been restoring meadows in the upper Yuba, improving salmon conditions in the lower Yuba, advocating to Stop Centennial Dam on the Bear River, and expanding our efforts to keep the watershed clean and healthy. SYRCL had a wonderful year protecting the future of our community watershed.

Check out the last 12 months of SYRCL impact in our watershed, showcasing just a few of our 2018 highlights.

January:  A Groundswell of Youth Engagement

A theater full of students cheered and clapped before settling into their chairs for the annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival (WSFF) School Program last January. More than 2,000 students from our local community and neighboring counties participate in the WSFF School Program at the Don Baggett and Del Oro theaters. Excited chatter gave way to laughs and “woahs” as students viewed these extraordinary films. Classes opted to walk from their school to the theatre for the school program as a great way to reduce their carbon footprint. Read more

February:  Centennial Dam Watchdogs Rally for the Bear River

In February, SYRCL, Foothills Water Network, Sierra Club and Dam Watchdogs rallied for the Bear River in Sacramento. SYRCL submitted to the California Water Commission more than 3,000 letters challenging the recreational and ecosystem benefits claimed by the Nevada Irrigation District. The State’s technical review team came to the same conclusion that: Centennial Dam does not provide public benefits and therefore does not meet the necessary eligibility requirements to qualify for public funds. Read more

March:  The Conservation Community Speaks – The Army Corps Should Study Dams

SYRCL, our members, and our partners asked the Army Corps to consider fish passage alternatives at Englebright Dam and Daguerre Point Dam as part of the Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study. This study, meant to identify restoration options that would benefit the entire Yuba River watershed, only focused on floodplain restoration work in the Lower Yuba River. The Army Corps is the only entity with the authority to address their infrastructure–namely Englebright Dam and Daguerre Point Dam–which are the two most obvious impediments to fish and volitional passage in the entire Yuba River watershed. Not addressing this in their feasibility study is unacceptable. Read more

April:  Did You Miss the State of the Yuba? Watch it Here!

On April 18th, SYRCL delivered its 5th Annual State of the Yuba address. In celebration of Earth Day and the Yuba River, we invited the community to hear from our team about SYRCL’s current projects, challenges, recent successes, and opportunities to get involved. We honored our Volunteers of the Year, the Centennial Dam Working Group and Partner of the Year, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. If you missed the State of the Yuba, don’t worry! We recorded the whole evening so you can catch up on all that SYRCL is doing to protect the watershed. Read more

May: SYRCL Featured in Wild Hope Magazine

SYRCL and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival were featured in the May edition of Wild Hope Magazine, a publication committed to raising awareness about the need to “preserve our biodiversity heritage and motivate readers to get involved in protecting other species with whom we share this planet.” The article highlights the founding of SYRCL and how a grassroots movement became the “largest single-river watershed advocacy group in the United States.” Wild Hope was at the 2018 Wild & Scenic Film Festival and had some wonderful comments about their experience. Some of their contributors are even Wild & Scenic filmmaker alumni! Read more

June: Why is Vanity Fair Interested in the Yuba Watershed?

Melinda Booth and SYRCL, along with nine other California Coastkeeper groups, were featured in the summer edition of Vanity Fair. Reporter Bruno Navasky explored local Californians’ fight for protecting our most important resource—water. Navasky spent a month following 10 leaders from grassroots environmental organizations in California. This group of environmental leaders represents the California Coastkeeper Alliance, a subset of the Waterkeeper Alliance made up of more than 300 organizations that patrol and protect more than 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways on six continents. Read more

July: Building Flux Capacity – The Power of Volunteers

In the summer of 2015, SYRCL partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno and UC MercedEarthwatch, and The Tahoe National Forest to collect greenhouse gases in Loney Meadow. The study kicked off our five-year greenhouse gas study in Loney, Upper Loney, and Deer meadows and was published in the scientific journal PlosOne in June. The results of this study arrived just in time for our post-restoration greenhouse gas sampling efforts. In September, we began collecting greenhouse gas data in three-week cycles at Loney, Upper Loney, and Deer Meadows. Volunteers received training and helped us understand how meadows fit into the carbon cycle and exchange greenhouse gases. Read more

August:  Letters to Improve Salmon Conditions for the Yuba – Delivered to FERC

On July 30th, a diverse group of Yuba River stakeholders filed comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The 74-page letter addressed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the re-licensing of the Yuba River Development Project. Included in the comments, was over 200 letters to FERC and to your government representatives asking for better protections for salmon and our Yuba River. The hydropower project is owned and operated by the Yuba County Water Agency and includes three powerhouses, the largest being New Colgate powerhouse, one of the largest hydropower projects in the State. The letter included 14 groups including fishing organizations, Native American tribes, whitewater boating businesses and conservation organizations. Read more

September:  21st Annual Yuba River Cleanup a Success

From the headwaters along Donner Summit to the confluence of the Yuba and Feather Rivers, hundreds of watershed stewards turned out for SYRCL’s 21st Yuba River Cleanup on Saturday, September 15. Volunteers scrambled up river banks, down trails and crossed rivers to remove garbage left behind by river visitors. More than 830 volunteers removed 15,249 pounds of garbage and recyclables from 32 Cleanup sites along 85 miles of rivers, creeks and lakes. Read more

October: The Bumpy Road of Meadow Restoration

It was a busy year for meadow restoration at SYRCL.  Through our partnership with the Tahoe National Forest, we were able to restore three meadows in 2018: Beartrap Meadow (North Yuba), Deer Meadow (South Yuba), and Blackjack Fen (Middle Yuba), and have continued to remove invasive weeds at Bear Glade Meadow (Middle Yuba). That is over 100 acres of meadows restored in 2018. Read more

November: Breaking News – SYRCL Sends Brown Act Letter to NID

After the Nevada Irrigation District’s (NID) Special Board Meeting on October 9, SYRCL was concerned about NID’s blatant disregard for public process. SYRCL addressed these concerns in the form of a Brown Act cure and correct letter, sent to NID on November 7. On November 14, NID Board of Directors voted unanimously in closed session to rescind Director Miller’s resolution introduced and passed during the Special Board Meeting. The action was taken in response to SYRCL’s November 7 notice to NID, alleging violations of their Board Policy and the Brown Act at the Special Board Meeting. Read more

December: Action Alert – Tell Governor Newsom to Save Yuba Salmon

Wild salmon are in trouble. Drought, dams, degraded habitat, and water diversions are driving the West Coast’s most iconic fish closer to extinction. The Trump Administration has also threatened to undermine California’s ability to manage its own water, even though State and Federal agencies had worked in concert with the belief that wildlife protection, ecosystem restoration, and human and economic goals can coexist. Read more

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