The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) announced the creation of its River Ambassador Program, a volunteer-based initiative to reach out to Yuba River users about how both local residents and out-of-towners can help keep the river clean, safe and healthy this summer.
Although the South Yuba River State Park was recently saved from closure by a concerted community effort led by SYRCL, more assistance is needed to address the serious risks from fires in the canyon, garbage dumping, and water pollution due to unsanitary practices.
“Severe cutbacks in services, such as park rangers and trash pickup are putting the most popular river access areas at risk,” says SYRCL Executive Director Caleb Dardick. “As advocates for the preservation of the river, the River Ambassador program is one-way that SYRCL volunteers can partner with State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management to maintain the river’s natural beauty.”
The primary purpose of the River Ambassador Program is to educate and motivate the thousands of annual visitors to the Yuba River to help keep the park clean and safe. By talking face-to-face to visitors at river crossings, at beaches and on trails, SYRCL’s corps of River Ambassadors will vastly expand outreach about the Yuba and how visitors can care for it.
“The Yuba River is much-loved. In fact, with over 450,000 annual visitors it’s in danger of being unintentionally loved to death,” says SYRCL Volunteer Coordinator Miriam Limov. “We are looking for friendly, outgoing volunteers who love and care for the river to serve as River Ambassadors.”
The River Ambassadors will target two heavily used river crossings along the South Yuba River, the Highway 49 Bridge and Purdon Crossings. The pilot program will run every weekend from June 30th to September 15th, as well as the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays. SYRCL is currently recruiting at least 30 volunteers.
River Ambassador training will focus on how to educate visitors about river stewardship and to encourage responsible behaviors at the river. Ambassadors will not be trained to be park rangers or police and will have no enforcement responsibilities. River Ambassadors must commit to at least five shifts (3 hours each) over the course of the summer.
According to California State Park Superintendent Marilyn Linkem, financial strain on the state park budget has made monitoring such a large river corridor very difficult. “We commend SYRCL for taking this proactive approach in providing a trained volunteer corps of community members who can support our efforts and help to improve the experience visitors and locals have in this beautiful area.”
SYRCL has a long history mobilizing volunteers to care for the river. Over 650 volunteers removed over 14,000 pounds of garbage during last fall’s Annual Greater Yuba River Cleanup and Restoration Day. In addition, SYRCL will continue to pay for the placement of much needed porta-potties at Purdon Crossing. SYRCL envisions a day when there will no longer be a need for an annual cleanup days as everyone who visits the river will be good stewards, which means if you “pack it in, please pack it out.”