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Volunteer rafting guides needed for salmon education on Yuba River

Submitted to The Union

Know & Go:

What: Volunteer River Guide School

When: Spring Guide School: April 18-19, April 25-26, May 2-3, or Summer Guide School: June 4-8

Disability Awareness Training: May 30-31 (required)

Where: ETC River Camp on the South Fork of the American River in Lotus

Who: Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC) and South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL)

Details: http://www.etctrips.org/volunteer

Every fall, Chinook salmon swim from the Pacific Ocean to their birthplace in the Lower Yuba River to spawn the next generation of salmon. The South Yuba River Citizens League and Environmental Travel Companions (ETC) are looking for new volunteer rafting guides to bring students and members of the public to see this spectacle of nature.

“We are looking for dedicated and caring volunteers who want to help people who might not otherwise get the chance to experience the beauty and challenge of the outdoors,” says ETC’S River Program Manager, Riely White. “No experience is necessary – only the motivation and willingness to challenge yourself and have fun.”

Volunteers who sign up for ETC’s River Guide School in Lotus this spring or summer will be qualified to assist with SYRCL Salmon Tours on the Yuba River, as well as whitewater rafting trips on the South Fork of the American River. ETC is a non-profit, volunteer based organization that provides outdoor adventure and environmental education for people of all abilities. They specialize in trips for youth and adults from under-resourced backgrounds and people with disabilities.

SYRCL has been organizing raft trips to see Chinook salmon spawning on the Lower Yuba River since 2000. In 2008, they partnered with ETC to offer this opportunity to more local students. The Salmon Tours program is an important part of SYRCL’s efforts to educate the public about the Yuba River. In 2014, about 300 local students saw salmon spawning from rafts as part of a SYRCL Salmon Tour.

“A SYRCL Salmon Tour is a great way to share the power and magic of the Yuba River salmon run with kids,” says Nevada City School of the Arts teacher, Gary Griffith. “All in all, it was a unique and very accessible way to involve kids in learning about salmon.”

At ETC’s River Guide School, volunteers will be trained to work with a team of guides to ensure that trips are operated in a safe manner. They will be able to assist with all aspects of trip logistics, from equipment set-up to meal preparation to trip closing. Volunteers will also be trained to facilitate group activities for trip participants, such as environmental education. In addition to attending the River Guide School and a Disability Awareness Training, volunteers are required to commit to eight volunteer days during the first year and six volunteer days during the second year. The river season generally runs from May through early November.

“The Lower Yuba River is one of the greatest teaching locations in our backyard,” says volunteer raft guide Amber Taxiera, who was trained by ETC. “In one day, you can learn or teach others about salmon habitat and spawning, mining history, watershed science and whitewater rafting. And it’s wicked fun!”

Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, historically came up the Yuba and many other rivers in California by the hundreds of thousands Today, wild fall-run Chinook return to the Lower Yuba in the thousands, while the much rarer spring-run Chinook are federally listed as a species threatened with extinction. Chinook salmon can measure four feet in length and often weigh 30-40 pounds.

For more information and to apply to be an ETC volunteer rafting guide visit http://www.etctrips.org/volunteer. Applications are due Feb. 28. Volunteers must be 18 or older by the start of rafting season.

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