Rivers for Change: 12 Rivers in 2012
Lower Yuba: January 2012

By Danielle Katz, Photos by Darin McQuoid

Galen scratches his head and shuffles through some papers. Darin looks at his watch. “So how exactly do we measure 100 pebbles?” I ask. John starts to explain the walking process, heal to toe, every rock over ¼ of a cm that you hit. “Otherwise you yell out fine,” Galen pipes in. Zigzagging across the shore, measuring and measuring until you’ve reached 100.

Here we are a group of kayakers on the banks of the Lower Yuba at Bridgeport, testing out data protocols for a study on land use impacts on channel morphology. Sounds great, this is what Rivers for Change campaign 12 Rivers in 2012 is all about. Understanding these river systems on a deeper level, using citizen science to help collect river health data to provide information to help ensure a future healthy and vibrant ecosystem. But pebble counting?

, Science Lessons (Lower Yuba-Jan 2012), Rivers For Change , Science Lessons (Lower Yuba-Jan 2012), Rivers For Change

We’ve accrued some exceptional whitewater kayakers for this campaign including Darin McQuoid and Galen Licht, and I’m having them count pebbles and paddle flat-water. It becomes the running joke. Darin hit his flat-water quotient for the year, by the end of the first day.

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The Yuba River: like many of the rivers we’re running this year, has its laundry list of threats. But it has its inspirations as well.

The South Yuba State Park was on the list to close when we launched from there in January. Due to an overwhelming outcry, the hard work of SYRCL and other groups, the park was taken off the closure list! http://yubariver.org/saveparks

We paddled across Englebright Reservoir and pondered the opportunities available with the FERC relicensing that is currently underway for the Yuba and Bear watersheds. What would it be like if Salmon could move once again above this dam into the upper reaches of the river? A recent environmental assessment explains more. http://yubariver.org/2012/03/u-s-army-corps-ordered-to-get-salmon-past-yuba-river-dams

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Below the dam a lovely crew joined us for our community conservation paddle day. We witnessed first hand some of the destruction this river has faced. We paddled by a moonscape of more pebbles than we could possibly count in our lifetime, remnants of hydraulic mining’s impacts on an ecosystem. But we also saw the hope of restoration, and the motivation of an organization working to achieve it. http://yubariver.org/restoration

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That weekend at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, we solidified our inspiration as we watched amazing documentaries about people changing the world.

Thanks to SYRCL and Nevada City for being such great hosts, you have inspired us, the way we would like to inspire others.

Rivers for Change

For more information on the work SYRCL does and the Yuba visit www.yubariver.org

, Science Lessons (Lower Yuba-Jan 2012), Rivers For Change