SYRCL collects nearly 3,000 postcards to protect the Yuba

_4DW8518I received this press release:

Festival goers proved that SYRCL’s 12th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival is indeed “Where activism gets inspired” by participating in a letter writing campaign to local and national elected officials. Attendees made their voices heard by signing nearly 3,000 postcards on two urgent issues facing the Yuba River.

SYRCL volunteers collected over 1,500 postcards that will be hand-delivered to U.S. Senators Feinstein and Boxer asking them to take immediate action to restore wild salmon to the upper Yuba River. Nevada County’s Board of Supervisors will soon receive another 1,300 postcards requesting their leadership in protecting the Yuba from the proposed reopening of a gold mine on the San Juan Ridge.

“Water is More Precious than Gold”

The local action targeting the Board of Supervisors was motivated by SYRCL’s and the San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association’s concern that a proposal to reopen the San Juan Ridge Mine may threaten the Yuba River watershed. When the gold mine last operated in the 1990s, it had to shut down after dewatering wells for the local school, community center, and numerous residential properties. Nearby Spring Creek, a tributary of the Yuba, was scoured to bedrock and millions of gallons of untreated mine water were discharged into the South Yuba River.

Festival attendees were able to express their concerns about the mine by sending the Supervisors a postcard with an image of King Midas, who foolishly asked the gods for the power to turn anything he touched into gold – with disastrous consequences. The postcard states that “water is more precious than gold” and an accompanying letter lists SYRCL’s concerns about the potential risks to the South Yuba River watershed and its tributaries, Spring and Shady Creeks, including impacts to water quality and quantity, fish and wildlife, and vegetation.

“Pay No Attention to the Dam Behind the Curtain”

At the national level, U.S. Senators Boxer and Feinstein will be receiving 1,500 postcards requesting their leadership to authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take responsibility for Englebright Dam, which it operates, and fund a “Yuba River Fish Passage” study as a key first step towards a full recovery of these imperiled fish. SYRCL plans to hand-deliver the postcards to the senators later this year.

Late last fall, the Army Corps dismayed river conservationists by claiming that it has no responsibility for Englebright Dam’s impacts on the Yuba’s endangered and threatened fish species, including Spring-run Chinook salmon, steelhead trout and green sturgeon.

Moreover, the Corps now asserts that the only activities it has discretion over are cleaning portable toilets and maintaining the campgrounds and boat ramps. Operating and maintaining the 260-ft Englebright Dam is omitted entirely! These assessments reverse the position that the Corps held for more than a decade that the dams are part of the Army Corps’ Yuba River “project” – a regulatory definition meaning the dams must be operated to protect endangered and threatened species.

SYRCL worked with Jennifer Rain, a local artist, to prepare an editorial cartoon captioned “Pay no attention to the dam behind the curtain.” This illustration points out the absurdity of the Army Corps’ abdication of responsibility for their dams.

To learn more about the San Juan Ridge Mine proposal and get involved, visit http://www.sjrtaxpayers.org. For information about SYRCL’s Yuba Salmon Now campaign, please visit http://www.yubariver.org.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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