SYRCL to distribute informational bandanas for river safety
For the third year, the South Yuba River Citizens League will be printing and distributing informational bandanas to promote river safety, according to Betsy Brunner, the organization’s communications and engagement director.
Brunner said the project is done in conjunction with the Yuba River Safety Cohort — which is made up of county officials and agencies, law enforcement, and other organizations — for the purpose of finding ways to “message to visitors some of our local river rules and etiquette.”
“We see a lot of visitors coming from out of town, from Sacramento, from the SF Bay Area, and they may not be familiar with the things that we need to do here to stay safe at the river,” said Brunner.
She explained that a couple of these safety principles include no glass, as it can be a safety hazard should it break on the boulders, and no fire, as much of the county is considered at high fire risk.
“The bandana becomes this way to share the rules in a format that people don’t just wad up and throw away,” said Brunner, later adding that bandanas can be useful to visitors in a variety of ways.
“If we handed out flyers, they might end up along the river as the trash that we don’t want people to put there,” she said.
Last year, according to Brunner, SYRCL distributed 3,000 bandanas, primarily through their river captains and volunteer river ambassadors, who are stationed at booths at river crossings as part of the River Ambassador program, a collaboration with California State Parks.
“They’ll be at the river every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and then Friday and Mondays on the holiday weekends,” said Brunner, referring to the Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day weekends.
This year, she said they are aiming to distribute 4,000 bandanas, both through the River Ambassador program and at local businesses, so that “they’re everywhere you want them to be.”
This year’s bandana design also features improvements over those distributed in previous years, according to Brunner.
For instance, the information is included in both English and Spanish, a change Brunner says was possible through translation services provided by the county. On reaching Spanish-speaking visitors with safety information, she added that the organization is looking to hire a Spanish-speaking river captain.
Another improvement to the bandanas, said Brunner, is that each of the four sides of the bandana depicts around 10 miles of river, and “that map shows you what land you’re on … and then it also gives you all of the river crossings and a little bit of information about what you might find at those river crossings.”
This information about the crossings indicates the locations of restrooms, access to a phone, or parking, said Brunner.
“Once you’re there, your cell service is so limited that you can’t rely on it for maps or directions,” said Brunner, explaining that the map on the bandanas will allow visitors to better find their way in the absence of other resources.
On the organization’s motivation to promote river safety, Brunner noted a “precarious” fire season, and that every year their river ambassadors stop visitors to the river from having fires, making it “a major thing that we want to focus on again, of course, this year.”
She added that deaths and injuries occur almost every year at the river, and that information about proper parking near the river is essential in allowing emergency vehicles to reach the site of any potential accident.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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