From Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:
THE SOUTH YUBA RIVER CITIZENS League is the leading voice for the protection and restoration of the Yuba River and the greater Yuba watershed, a world-class recreation destination.
SYRCL (pronounced “circle”) was founded through a rural, grassroots campaign to defend the South Yuba River from proposed hydropower dams—an epic environmental battle in California. It has developed into a vibrant community group with more than 3,500 members and volunteers and is based in Nevada City.
The environmental nonprofit celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2013. A year-long celebration is planned, including educational river excursions and “Wild for the Yuba,” an elegant organic food, wine and beer, and musical gathering. The group’s annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival continues to draw thousands of visitors to the area.
“SYRCL has become much more than a river advocacy organization—it’s a cornerstone of our community,” longtime supporter and organic food pioneer Michael Funk told us in an interview.
“The service SYRCL provides through its education and restoration efforts are more important than ever.” Adds Executive Director Caleb Dardick: “We play a unifying role in the community.”
Examples include the recent greater Yuba River Cleanup and Restoration Day, now in its 15th year. This year, SYRCL launched the River Ambassador Program to educate and motivate visitors to the Yuba River to help keep the area clean, safe and healthy. The program will be expanded next year, says Dardick.
Nowhere was SYRCL’s ability to unite the community more visible than in the “Save the Yuba” campaign. It was a milestone in the group’s 30-year history.
Earlier this year, the South Yuba River State Park and Malakoff Diggins State Park were slated for closure because of state budget cuts.
But SYRCL joined forces with residents; the County Board of Supervisors; City Council members in Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee; active locals, such as Shawn Garvey; and Grass Valley Charter School students to keep the popular parks from closing.
Besides winning the battle to keep the state parks open, SYRCL scored a court victory this spring. It is a major step toward preventing the extinction of Yuba River salmon, steelhead and sturgeon.
“I look forward to the day I can take my children to see salmon on the Yuba where they haven’t been seen for more than 150 years,” says Funk.
A Climate of Change
Wild & Scenic Film Festival, January 11-13
Global warming is one of the most complicated issues facing our world, drawing a wide range of views. “A Climate of Change” is the theme for the 11th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival.
The festival will feature films, art and work- shops on climate change, as well as highlight the change makers who are helping rethink how we inhabit our planet.
The festival is Friday-Sunday, January 11-13, in historic downtown Nevada City, including the Nevada Theatre and Miners Foundry. Some programs will be in Grass Valley, including the art-deco style Del Oro Theatre, where a 3D film is being shown.
“The Wild & Scenic Film Festival, now in its 11th year, aims to inspire environmental action,” says SYRCL Executive Director Caleb Dardick. Last year, more than 4,500 people attended the festival, SYRCL’s largest fundraiser.
The festival features about 95 films, from all over the world. It is named after SYRCL’s landmark victory to receive “wild & scenic” status for 39 miles of the South Yuba River in 1999.
This year’s speakers will include environmentalist and educator Bill McKibben (via video); pro-snowboarder and environmentalist Jeremy Jones; ecologist and author Anders Halverson; author and photographer Tim Palmer; environmental studies educator Daniel McCool; and Goldman Environmental Prize Executive Director Lorrae Rominger.
There also are late-night events; a gala; awards ceremony; live music (The Brothers Comatose); a wine stroll); and a juried art show in concert with Nevada County Arts. Tickets for the festival go on sale December 1 at Wild and ScenicFilmFestival.com or at the SYRCL office, 216 Main St., Nevada City.
How the Yuba River Got Its Name
The Yuba River was discovered by Jedediah Smith on March 14, 1828, according to California Place Names. When Sutter came to the valley he named the stream “Juba” after the Maidu village near the confluence of Yuba and Feather rivers.
(photo credit: Dave Preston)
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