May 16—With the weather heating up, the Yuba River is expected to experience a significant increase in visitors. The South Yuba River Citizens League is looking for volunteers, known as river ambassadors, to help educate people on river safety and ethics.
Betsy Brunner, communications and engagement director for the SYRCL, said there are likely many contributing factors to the increase in visitors, including cooler conditions and COVID-19 restrictions and safety guidelines that encourage people to go outside.
According to SYRCL, an estimated 800,000 people visit the Yuba River in a typical year.
"Though the river has been rising in popularity for some time, 2020 was an unprecedented year, as thousands of new visitors ventured to the Yuba River for the first time to escape quarantine fatigue," according to SYRCL. "This influx of visitors created unsafe parking problems, trash, illegal fires and human waste issues up and down the river canyon."
Brunner said that many, if not most of the river-goers last year were first-timers and the most popular spots along the river are Highway 49 and Bridgeport.
"People also frequent Hammond Grove Park (and) Sycamore Ranch in Yuba County," said Brunner.
According to SYRCL, the organization has stationed river ambassadors at river crossings since 2012 in an effort to educate newcomers about river safety and etiquette in collaboration with California State Parks.
"The program helps to create the person-to-person contact so important in making this educational initiative a success," according to the organization.
While SYRCL had to cancel the in-person component of their river ambassador program last year due to the pandemic, the organization plans to use COVID-safe protocols to bring the program back this summer and they are looking for people to join.
"River ambassadors are the first people that river-goers meet," said Brunner. "They are tasked with greeting visitors and presenting them with information about river safety and etiquette."
Brunner said the organization really emphasizes creating an understanding of their five "P" rules — pick up after your pet, park responsibly, please no glass, please no fires or barbeques and pack out what you pack in.
Brunner said SYRCL is looking for 75-100 volunteers.
RiverAambassadors — and paid river captains — are needed Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day, as well as Fridays and Mondays on holiday weekends.
To learn more or sign up to be a river ambassador, visit https://yubariver.volunteerlocal.com/volunteer/.
For more information, visit https://yubariver.org.