Our View: Enjoy the South Yuba River, but respect it as well | TheUnion.com

Our View: Enjoy the South Yuba River, but respect it as well

The Union Editorial Board

The South Yuba River demands respect.

The river, winding through Nevada County, pulls locals and out-of-towners to its banks and waters. You’ll find it crowded this time of year as folks try to escape the heat and the work doldrums.

The river also pulls the unwary downstream. Its swift current and cold temperature can best even strong swimmers, ending lives far too soon.

Thirteen people have died on the river between 2008 and today. That number doesn’t include suicides, accidents or those taken out of county to a facility where they died.

But slower flows don’t mean you shouldn’t respect the South Yuba River. A misstep can send someone down river in seemingly calm waters.

It does, however, include people who died of drowning while in the South Yuba River.

The flows typically are highest during the spring, as snowmelt enters the river. That’s why it’s frigid and fast. When summer arrives you’ll find the flows lessen in strength, creating an inviting getaway for people across the state.

But slower flows don’t mean you shouldn’t respect the South Yuba River. A misstep can send someone down river in seemingly calm waters.

The river is an amazing resource we enjoy. It showcases our area’s natural beauty, and we should take advantage of it.

We also should use caution and common sense. Together they can help reduce the number of river deaths each year.

The river changes each year. Rocks and swimming holes you grew used to might have disappeared. Or the safe spot you’ve come to rely on has grown dangerous because the current has moved boulders.

The rocks you traverse by the river can be slippery, even with river shoes. It’s best to use your hands to gain purchase when walking along the South Yuba.

Many locals know how to stay safe while having fun. People visiting our community might not.

There are signs at spots along the river advising safety and offering tips.

These signs are needed, and more would be welcome. But if we see someone doing something dangerous, we should talk to them. That’s uncomfortable, and that person might not appreciate the words, but better hard feelings than another statistic added to the list.

When the river runs fast and cold, find other places to cool off like Rollins, Scotts Flat and Englebright lakes. You can still dip your toes in cool water without fear it’ll sweep you away.

We’re not arguing people should avoid the river. Far from it. Memories are born there. Kids sit in pools as their parents watch. Older children swim further out, finding spots to explore and play with friends.

What we are saying is that a healthy respect for the river, an alertness on the part of its visitors, will reduce deaths. This river offers more than recreation to locals and visitors. It teaches us. It feeds our environment. Through its circuitous path it provides water that we drink.

We should take care of it and ourselves.

Lock your car when visiting the river and park it in legal spaces. Don’t leave your trash or bring glass containers. Don’t smoke while there. Avoid alcohol. Wear shoes. Remember there’s little to no cell service in the area.

Consider others when visiting the river. It’s there for all of us.

And it deserves respect.

Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.


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