SYRCL hosts annual State of the Yuba River | TheUnion.com

SYRCL hosts annual State of the Yuba River

The South Yuba River Citizens League met on Wednesday evening to present its annual State of the Yuba report.

The event offered information about SYRCL's efforts to preserve and defend the watershed. It marked the first State of the Yuba under recently appointed Executive Director Melinda Booth.

The Centennial Dam Working Group was honored with the Volunteer Of the Year award for its efforts fighting the construction of the proposed reservoir, a project SYRCL and its supporters say will be harmful to the ecology of the Bear and Yuba rivers.

SYRCL maintains if constructed, this 275-foot dam would flood the last six miles of river on the Bear, and that it would destroy fish and wildlife habitat, swimming holes, and Native American sites. In addition, the group claims Centennial's construction would decimate 2,200 acres of forested river canyon.

"Fighting this dam is a priority, as is speaking up for what's right in our community, our rivers, our natural and cultural landscape," said Booth.

Booth added that the economic toll of building a new dam could be detrimental to the community.

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"NID has already spent more than $12 million on Centennial Dam," Booth said. "What if that money had been spent on conservation, technology, education? With conservation and integrating new technology on the necessary scale we can work on maintaining what is left of our rivers as our population continues to grow. We'll need to work together with NID on finding long-term solutions that draw more sustainable, flexible, technology rather than pouring a concrete wall into a river."

Partner of the Year honors went to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.

"The designation is awarded to the partner who we feel has gone above and beyond to help SYRCL advance its mission to unite the community to protect and restore the Yuba River watershed," SYRCL board member Shana Maziarz said.

Rachel Hutchinson, the group's river science director, was on hand to address the crowd in regards to SYRCL's efforts to restore Loney Meadow Interpretive Trail, an area the group has been working to preserve in partnership with Tahoe National Forest. Hutchinson said SYRCL is looking for high school students interested in joining the group's efforts on the project once summer arrives.

An update was given on the Wild & Scenic Film Festival and Tour, which Booth said has grown into one of the nation's largest environmental film festivals. Started in 2003, Wild & Scenic is intended to inspire activism through film. The festival now tours the world and has nearly 190 events scheduled, including one tonight in Truckee.

Booth concluded by acknowledging SYRCL board members, staff and volunteers.

"I continue to be in awe of all we can accomplish when we work together," she said.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or by calling 530-477-4231.