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736 volunteers participate in 18th annual Yuba River Cleanup

Submitted to The Union
Nevada City School of the Arts students were among the record number of participants in the 18th annual Yuba River Cleanup Saturday.
Submitted photo/Miriam Limov |

In its 18th year, the annual Yuba River Cleanup saw 736 volunteers remove more than 12,487 pounds of trash and 1,555 pounds recyclables from 79 miles of river, creek and lake shoreline at 31 sites within the Yuba River and Bear River watersheds.

Interesting items found on Saturday included a refrigerator, TV, washer and dryer. In the words of a volunteer, “basically a whole house”!

“It is inspiring to see what a committed community can achieve when we pool our resources, time and love for our natural environment. Our rivers are now safer and healthier as harmful garbage like car batteries, dumped appliances and shards of glass have been removed,” said Jenn Tamo, SYRCL’s River People Manager.

On Saturday, the South Yuba River Citizens League coordinated its 18th annual clean-up effort. Families, school groups and business teams flocked to the shores of the Yuba and Bear rivers to get their hands dirty for the betterment of local waterways.

Some of the heroic efforts included:

Students from Nevada Union and Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning teamed up with community members to scramble over boulders to remove 148 pounds of micro-garbage, like cigarette butts and bottle caps at Highway 49 crossing.

Volunteers, led by members of the Wolf Creek Community Alliance, spent the morning removing 1,400 pounds of trash from Idaho Maryland Road along Wolf Creek.

American Rivers AmeriCorps member Max Odland led volunteers in an effort to pull out a refrigerator, washer and dryer from Oregon Creek.

Friends of Purdon, led by Marcus Keicher, organized a pre-cleanup a week beforehand to remove a vast amount of trash—more than a ton in all. They ferried debris across the river from several abandoned camps at Emerald Pools downstream and bagged up trash. Volunteers on Saturday hiked trash a mile to the trailhead, removing the remaining bags of trash from last week’s cleanup.

Synergia Learning Ventures finished a three year project cleaning an abandoned mining camp on the Middle Yuba. They worked all day to haul out 300 pounds of scrap metal, household garbage buried in a pit, batteries and plastic.

Volunteer Appreciation BBQ

The volunteer appreciation barbecue at South Yuba River State Park Bridgeport buzzed with palpable positive energy. With a beer garden, local musical favorites Holler Tree and the Rockabilly Love Cats, volunteers were welcomed with food, music and brews.

Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston praised attendees for their commendable volunteer efforts and Matt Green, Sierra Sector Superintendent for the CA State Parks, thanked volunteers for keeping the South Yuba River parks clean. Later an enthusiastic crowd gathered around for the fifth annual Stone Skipping Contest as contestant’s vied for the prestigious best skipper title. Judges counted every stone’s plink, plonk, pitty-pat and gerplunk.

Volunteers went home with a sense of pride after a wholesome meal provided in part by the BriarPatch and Nevada County Free Range Beef. Delectable dessert treats were donated by Emily’s Catering and Cakes, Summer Thyme’s Bakery and Deli, Harmony Ridge Market and Flour Garden Bakery.

River Ambassadors praised for fourth year of stewardship

SYRCL also honored the volunteer River Ambassadors at the celebration. The River Ambassador program, now in its 4th year, brings volunteers to popular river crossings of the Yuba to speak face to face with visitors about stewardship. River Ambassadors spoke one-on-one with 4,696 local and out-of-town visitors at Highway 49, Bridgeport, Edwards and Purdon crossings on the South Yuba River this year. Over the past four summers River Ambassadors have spent 3,661 hours on the Yuba speaking to 18,273 people and removing 25,132 pieces of trash and dog waste.

Clean-a-thon nearing goal

The Cleanup and the River Ambassador programs were designed to keep the Yuba healthy, clean and safe year round, and they have real costs, and SYRCL needs the community’s help to keep them going. By Saturday, the Clean-a-thon had raised an astounding $13,842 to support these important programs.

“We have had a swell of community support and have to date reached 69% of our $20,000 goal. We hope to close our fundraising gap in the next week,” said Caleb Dardick, SYRCL’s Executive Director. “Please visit https://www.crowdrise.com/yubariver or visit the SYRCL office to make a donation to support these stewardship efforts.”

Over 5 acres restored

Volunteers don’t just remove trash and recycling. SYRCL’s restoration projects took place at four locations this year where volunteers removed highly invasive non-native species such as Himalayan Blackberry, Yellow Star Thistle, and English Ivy from Bennett Street Meadow, Edwards Crossing, Kentucky Creek and Bear Meadow.


SYRCL would like to thank the over 40 agency, school and organization partners that help make the cleanup such a success every year.

American Rivers, Army Corps of Engineers and Skippers Cove Marina, Beale Air Force Base, Bear River High School, Bear River Key Club, Bear Yuba Land Trust, California Coastal Commission, California State Parks Foundation, California State Parks- South Yuba River State Park, Camptonville School, Champion Mine Homeowners Association,

City of Grass Valley, Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, Donner Summit Area Association, Friends of Purdon Crossing,

Gold Country Fly Fishers, Grass Valley Charter School, Great Sierra River Cleanup, Indian Valley Outpost Resort,

KVMR, Lyman Gilmore School, Nevada City School of the Arts, Nevada County Key Clubs, Nevada Union High School,

Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, Sierra Harvest, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Group of the Sierra Club, Sierra Streams Institute, South Yuba River Park Association, Synergia and Finding the Good, The Woolman Semester School, Truckee Donner Land Trust, Wolf Creek Community Alliance, and Yubadocs Urgent Care.

This event is made possible thanks these generous sponsors:

UNFI, A-one Bookkeeping & Tax Service, Balance Hydrologics, Inc, California Solar Electric Co, California State Parks Foundation, Tahoe National Forest, Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., Body Logic Physical Therapy, and Floracopeia.

49ers Rotary, Grass Valley HydroGarden, Ag Natural, CBEC Eco Engineering, Donner Summit Public Utility District, Kiwanis, SCO Planning & Engineering, Mike Bratton – State Farm Agent, Mr. Rooter Plumbing, Nevada Irrigation District, Western Aggregates, LLC, Pleasant Valley Veterinary Center, Fit Culture Studio, Sierra Theaters, and Grass Valley Group.

Sperry Van Ness – Highland Commercial, Automotive City, B&C True Value Home and Garden Center, Cirino’s At Main Street, Holdrege & Kull Consulting Engineers and Geologists, Sierra FoodWineArt Magazine, A. Teichert & Son Inc., Clientworks, Gold-N-Green Equipment Rentals, Truckee Tahoe Airport District, Sierra College, and Auburn Office Products.

Nevada City Self Storage, All Phase Heating and Air Conditioning, Chiropractic Plus, Dr. Darwin Leek, Trkac, Cost U Less Heating and Air Conditioning, Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, Coldwell Banker Grassroots Realty – Charlie Brock, Nevada City Engineering, Inc., Weiss Brothers Nursery, SRC Party Rentals & Supplies, and Volz Brothers Automotive.

Yubanet, KVMR, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, Reel Anglers Fly Shop, Grass Valley Printers, and Gray Goose.

The buffet lunch and beer garden were provided courtesy of the following generous donors:

Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co, Matteo’s Public, Jernigan’s Tap House and Grill, Carl’s Junior, Caroline’s Coffee, Emily’s Catering and Cakes, Flour Garden Bakery, Harmony Ridge Market, Indian Springs Organic Farm, Johansen Ranch, Mountain Bounty Farm, Soil Sisters, Nevada County Free Range Beef, SPD Markets, Safeway, Save Mart, BriarPatch Co-op, Raley’s, Grocery Outlet, and Summer Thymes Bakery and Deli.

Agency and Business Support with Trash and Recycling:

Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, California State Parks, California Transportation Department (Yuba County and Nevada City), City of Grass Valley, Nevada Irrigation District, Soda Springs General Store, U.S. Forest Service, and Waste Management

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