On the 15th anniversary of winning state Wild & Scenic protection for the South Yuba River, the South Yuba River Citizens League on Tuesday presented its “State of the Yuba” report to the public on the condition of the river, outlined SYRCL’s priorities for the coming year and invited Yuba-lovers to get involved.
Before a standing room only crowd, SYRCL’s Executive Director Caleb Dardick celebrated the organization’s recent successes and highlighted its many programs. SYRCL’s staff scientists explained the goals of a new River Monitoring Plan and described new opportunities to restore wild salmon to the upper watershed.
SYRCL’s work encompasses the entirety of the Yuba River watershed, covering 1300 square miles. The program concluded with an awards ceremony for Volunteer of the Year and Yuba Partner of the Year.
Emphasizing that SYRCL’s work is supported by strong science, River Programs Manager Rachel Hutchinson announced the release of a new River Monitoring Plan.
“We have been hard at work developing our goals for the future and analyzing past data to determine the next steps for this successful … 14-year-old community driven science program,” she said.
The new River Monitoring Plan outlines priorities, including long-term monitoring sites, mine-impacted streams, dam-affected reaches, invasive species, the upper South Yuba and more.
Senior River Scientist Gary Reedy shared the latest information about SYRCL’s Yuba Salmon Now campaign and new studies coming out of the collaborative, multi-stakeholder Yuba Salmon Forum, which seeks to plan actions to restore Spring Run Chinook Salmon and Steelhead, which are threatened with extinction.
“We have the opportunity to protect these very special fish from extinction while restoring our watershed and a vital component of our ecosystem, our economy and our culture,” he said.
The Yuba Salmon Forum will be determining over the next few months how to proceed in planning actions such as Lower Yuba River enhancements, collection and transport of fish around dams and the modification of Englebright Dam to allow for volitional fish passage.
“I was SYRCL’s first attorney,” said Joe Bell, current SYRCL board member.
“It is such a pleasure to see this organization grow and thrive over the years, with new generations taking the lead for enhancing the Yuba.”
Bell’s statement was a common theme throughout the evening as new and veteran generations of Yuba defenders came together on Earth Day to discuss the future of the watershed.
A highlight of the event was the recognition of Tahoe National Forest as SYRCL’s Yuba Partner of the Year. On behalf of the Tahoe National Forest, Tom Quinn, forest supervisor, accepted the award.
“Partners are essential to the success of the Tahoe National Forest, and this award reflects our efforts to strengthen our partnership with SYRCL and with others interested in restoration of our public lands,” Quinn said.
“I am very thankful for our successful collaboration in the areas of meadow restoration and FERC dam relicensing, and I am proud to accept this award on behalf of all Tahoe National Forest employees.”
SYRCL also honored Peter A. Burnes as the Volunteer of Year for his committed volunteer efforts to restore the river by obtaining improved flows below dams licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“If you don’t like the world the way you see it, then do something about it,” Burnes said.