by Halie Kampman
Rivers for Change paid a visit to a different type of “source” on Monday, June 18th. Not at their usual source of a river, but at the source of watershed legislation, Rivers for Change participated in a River Rally at Sacramento. In collaboration with the Tuolumne River Trust, Rivers for Change organized a paddle down the American river, followed by a parade up the street to the state capitol building. Both groups are participating in the Paddle to the Sea, as a way to raise support and stewardship for California watersheds.
The paddling activists started in kayaks, and disembarked near the capitol building. With kayaks and canoes in tow, they chanted: “What do we want?…Water!…When do we want it?….Now!”. Cutting quite the form with their lifejackets and paddles, the activists aimed to get their message out loud and clear: put pressure on the state Water Board to improve water quality standards.
As the activists arrived at the state building, they were greeted by a number of speakers. Eric Wesselman of the Tuolumne River Trust opened and closed the event, stressing the collective goal. “Most of the water that used to flow down the rivers of the sierra Nevada into the San Francisco Bay delta, the largest estuary in the West Coast of both North and South America, has been diverted. Its time to start putting some of that water back!” Wesselman was followed by Jared Huffman, State Assembly member for the 6th district, including all of Marin and southern Sonoma counties. He called for water quality standards that are “rigorous, robust”, that “actually create healthy estuaries, fisheries, rivers, and a healthy bay delta.” The Rally was supported by a number of groups including the South Yuba River Citizens Coalition League, Friends of the River, the Foothill Conservancy, and representatives for responsible salmon fishing.