Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification

SOUTH YUBA RIVER CITIZENS LEAGUE

People Can Save a River

aka SYRCL   |   Nevada City, CA   |  www.yubariver.org

Mission

SYRCL unites the community to protect and restore the Yuba River watershed. We envision a future in which the Yuba River watershed thrives and is resilient in the face of climate change. We envision a free-flowing Yuba and healthy ecosystems that support wildlife and people-from the ridges to the canyons and the summit to the sea. We envision a community that reflects the relationship between a healthy watershed and human quality of life; one that values a sustainable water future; one that celebrates the Yuba River’s natural and cultural heritage. We envision a vibrant, science-based community organization that serves as a leader for environmental stewardship and activism in the Yuba River watershed-and that inspires others to make a difference in their communities.

Ruling year info

1993

Execuitve Director

Ms. Melinda Booth

Main address

313 Railroad Ave, Suite 101

Nevada City, CA 95959 USA

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EIN

68-0171371

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Yuba watershed has a unique history of environmental degradation. Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it was a hotbed of activity in the 1849 gold rush. Damaging mining practices devastated the river’s ecosystem, with impacts that we are still feelings today. More recently in the late 20th century, the Yuba watershed was targeted for a series of dams. SYRCL defeated these dam proposals by winning state Wild & Scenic status for the South Yuba. Today, we’re engaged in restoring and protecting the entire watershed so it is resilient in the face of climate change, with healthy ecosystems that support wildlife and people. We work to build a community that reflects the relationship between a healthy watershed and human quality of life. We envision a vibrant, science-based community organization that serves as a leader for environmental stewardship and activism in the Yuba River watershed.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

River Advocacy

The role of an advocacy organization is to take action whenever necessary; to have the skills and capacity to serve as the voice for the river; and to mobilize river lovers to defend against threats to the Yuba.

Our team is advocating for a healthier watershed by restoring self-sustaining populations of wild salmon and steelhead trout to diverse habitats.

We are also working to improve river flows by participating in the FERC re-licensing processing.

And we are vigilantly monitoring for any news threats to the Yuba Watershed, such as threats to our State Parks, fast-moving proposals to build a massive new dam, and controversial gold mining projects.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Non-adult children

The purpose of SYRCL’s River Science program is to ensure that our advocacy and program work is informed and supported by the best science available. Specifically, River Science guides our River Monitoring and Restoration programs, as well as our watershed education, salmon advocacy, and dam relicensing work. The River Science program enhances our understanding of the watershed and provides SYRCL with the authority to be in the forefront of scientific discussions about the Yuba.

River Restoration
The River Restoration program is focused on working with partners to restore the health of mountain meadows and the vitality of the lower Yuba River fishery. In addition, the program seeks to protect and rehabilitate the river corridors from threats like invasive species, abandoned mines, and large illegal cannabis grow sites, all of which will reduce fire risk, stream degradation, and improve biodiversity. A new "Restoration Plan for the Yuba Watershed” will highlight the restoration needs of the watershed from the headwaters all the way down to the confluence with the Feather River.

Restoration in the lower Yuba (primarily riparian planting, and gravel and wood augmentations) will increase ecosystem-wide biodiversity and improve the survival of juvenile salmonids. SYRCL has already planted more than 6500 trees at Hammon Bar on the lower Yuba River and we will continue to monitor their growth.

Meadow Restoration
Meadow restoration purifies and stores groundwater while sequestering carbon - creating resiliency in our headwaters against drought and climate change impacts. We have secured grants to restore over 800 acres of mountain meadows during the next few years.

River Monitoring
Started in 2000, SYRCL’s River Monitoring program is guided by a detailed River Monitoring Plan. This plan highlights the importance of citizen science data collection and focused projects to scientifically monitor pollution sources and potential water quality threats. Each year, more than 60 well-trained, active volunteer River Monitors collect high quality baseline data at nearly 40 sites. SYRCL provides careful scientific oversight to ensure that water quality and restoration monitoring data are collected in a scientifically defensible way, ensuring that SYRCL’s data is a respected and reliable resource for members of the scientific community and within collaborative forums about the Yuba River. Should a threat be detected and SYRCL called upon to be a whistle blower, the data will be credible and scientifically sound – and it is publicly available at www.yubashed.org.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The River People program’s core functions include volunteer coordination, communications, media relations, community outreach, and grassroots mobilization.

The numbers behind SYRCL’s people-powered activities are staggering: over 700 people volunteer for the Yuba River Cleanup each fall, over 600 support the Wild & Scenic Film Festival every January, up to 80 volunteers are trained River Monitors, and another 40 serve as River Ambassadors.

Yuba River Cleanup
SYRCL’s River People program produces the annual Yuba River Cleanup to engage the community in keeping the river clean. Over the past 19 cleanups (1998-2019), our volunteers have removed more than 200,00 pounds of trash and recyclables (100 tons!) from 80 miles of rivers and creeks.

River Ambassadors
In 2012, we recognized that a one-day-a-year cleanup was no longer enough to deal with the ever-increasing number of river visitors. SYRCL’s River Ambassador program recruits and trains up to 40 volunteers to speak one-on-one with visitors at the four major crossings. Using a friendly, non-confrontational approach, River Ambassadors educate folks about the polluting impacts of trash and dog waste, the dangers of broken glass, and the catastrophic potential of wildfire. After five summers (2012-16), the River Ambassadors logged 4,513 hours on the river, spoke with 28,000 people about best stewardship practices, and picked up 30,000 pieces of garbage and dog waste.

Informing our Members
SYRCL strives to keep our members well informed and engaged. That’s why we publish an e-newsletter every two weeks and host an annual "State of the Yuba” forum as part of Earth Day celebrations. We want to be responsive to community interests, which is why we formed a Community Advisory Board, and conduct an extensive Community Survey during the update of these Strategic Action Plans.

This action plan calls for increasing the number of volunteers in all aspects of SYRCL’s work, and raising the visibility of Yuba River issues throughout the community to encourage increased stewardship.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

SYRCL’s River Education program provides premier educational programs about Yuba salmon, water conservation, and watershed health to students and the larger community. Salmon Education Many Yuba watershed residents are unaware that up to 300,000 salmon once returned to the Yuba every year; now as few as 8,000 return in a given year. That’s why we want people to see for themselves the salmon that do make it back to spawn in the lower Yuba River. We offer rafting and walking Salmon Tours for the public and school groups to learn about the salmon life cycle first-hand. Nearly 500 students participate in our fall Salmon Tours – and we hope to see that number grow each year. School Assemblies Our program reaches students at their schools too. Our school assembly about water conservation, the "Great Water Mystery,” will reach over 6,000 students at nearly 70 assemblies in 2015. That’s up from 4,000 at 33 assemblies the year before thanks to funding from local and regional water agencies. We also have a new "water audit” program where they learn how to take action to conserve water at their very own schools. And should funding become available, we hope to re-launch our "Journey of the Salmon” assemblies for kids in the greater Yuba River watershed. Field Science Our "Field Science” Program is engaging high school students to protect the Yuba River. We take large groups of students on overnight field trips to learn about our watershed and assist with our meadow restoration and river monitoring efforts. This experiential learning opportunity allows them to participate in SYRCL’s work, collecting data on the ecology, biology, and hydrology of the Yuba watershed. They learn how removing invasive plants and restoring meadow health purifies and stores our water – important knowledge given the ongoing drought and diminishing snowpack. Youth Environmentalist of the Year Scholarship High school graduates with a commitment to the environment are encouraged to apply for SYRCL’s Scholarship. Since 2002, SYRCL has awarded a $4,000 college scholarship each year to a dedicated high school senior who is interested in pursuing a career in the natural sciences. Ongoing community education about the Yuba watershed is critical to fulfilling SYRCL’s mission. With greater knowledge, our community members become more effective advocates on behalf of the river.

Population(s) Served
K-12 (5-19 years)
Adolescents (13-19 years)

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival enters its 14th year with a strong foundation and a proven track record of success. What began as a two-day festival with one venue has grown to a five-day festival with more than nine film venues in both Nevada City and Grass Valley. In 2015, more than 6,000 people attended the festival from near and far with 60% of the audience coming from the local area.

The film festival aims to inspire environmental action. We strive for excellence among environmental film festivals by weaving together an exciting and layered program that combines cutting edge films, activist workshops, art, music, and celebrations. The festival is a boost to SYRCL’s revenues and our local economy through lodging, meals, and temporary hiring.

Film Festival On Tour
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour brings together the best of the home festival’s films in an evening program designed to provide other national and international organizations with a turn-key event to increase their membership, raise funds, and inspire activism in their community. Traveling to more than 150 venues each year, the On Tour program also raises funds to support SYRCL’s other programs.

This action plan seeks to ensure that the Wild & Scenic Film Festival remains sustainable and financially successful while presenting an excellent environmental film festival, one that educates the community about issues global and local while inspiring activism and love for the natural world.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total pounds of debris collected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

River People

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Pounds of trash collected at the annual Yuba River Cleanup.

Total weight of materials recycled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

River People

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Pounds of recycling collected at the annual Yuba River Cleanup.

Total number of screenings held

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Number of On Tour events hosting a selection of Wild and Scenic films, promoting environmental consciousness and awareness, each fiscal year ending in the listed year.

Total number of filmmakers supported

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The number of films screened at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada County, California.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

SYRCL works on behalf of the Yuba River watershed on a range of issues related to ecosystem health and the watershed as a whole. However, the scope of our work is not unequivocally defined by the watershed’s physical boundaries but rather is determined by the potential impacts and threats to the watershed. SYRCL’s diverse programs and work therefore mirror the interconnected nature of water and ecosystems, both natural and human-made. While we have fourteen separate programmatic goals distributed across our six departments, they can be broadly summarized with the below three strategic goals which are reflected in our five year plan. Yuba River Community Engagement Goal: SYRCL is recognized as an accessible and responsive leader in community engagement and information exchange concerning watershed issues. Landscape Level Conservation and Restoration Goal: SYRCL engages in work that fits within a larger context and has a positive impact at a landscape level. This highly collaborative practice leverages our effectiveness by strengthening strategic partnerships to accomplish our goals. Climate Change Resilience Goal: SYRCL’s advocacy, science, restoration, and outreach work contributes to ecosystem and community resilience to climate change including progress toward a secure and sustainable water future.

Our strategies can be broadly summarized across SYRCL’s various departments as follows. River Advocacy & Policy: SYRCL’s role as an advocacy organization is to take action whenever necessary; to have the skills and capacity to serve as the voice for the river; and to mobilize river lovers to defend against threats to the Yuba River watershed. 1) Sustainable Water Future: SYRCL takes a lead role as a community stakeholder and as the officially recognized Yuba River Waterkeeper to unite and prepare the community and the Yuba River watershed to achieve climate resilience. 2) Yuba Salmon: SYRCL works on protecting the river corridor, implementing large-scale restoration projects, and improving flows, with a particular focus on maintaining and restoring the viability of our keystone species, the Chinook salmon, in the Yuba River. 3) Hydropower: SYRCL takes a leadership role when the federal government renews licenses for Yuba dams, and fights against costly and unnecessary projects like Centennial Dam. River Science: SYRCL collects scientific data about the Yuba River watershed to ensure that our policy, water quality monitoring, restoration, and education work is informed by the best available science. 1) River Restoration: Our projects focus on creating fish spawning and rearing habitat, restoring forest resiliency, and promoting meadow health, with a particular focus on the Lower Yuba. 2) Forest Health: SYRCL is partnering with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and private land owners, and other nonprofits to plan and implement forest health projects across the Yuba watershed. 3) River Monitoring: Guided by a 2020 River Monitoring Plan, SYRCL’s citizen-science water quality conducts in-depth sampling efforts to document threats to the watershed. River Community & Education: 1) Volunteerism: SYRCL strives to keep our members, volunteers, and the general public well-informed with regular communication, and engaged with a wide variety of projects, programs, and events. 2) Education: SYRCL provides education that aims to create life-long stewards of the Yuba River watershed. Development, Governance, and Operations: 1) Development: Our staff works to meet the financial needs of the above programs through sustainable and diversified income sources, including individuals, businesses, and organizations who are committed to SYRCL’s long term vision and sustainability. 2) Governance: Support exceptional Board governance and diverse organizational leadership that advance SYRCL’s mission and long-term sustainability. 3) Staff: SYRCL strives to create an organizational culture that supports, trains, and nurtures its staff in fulfilling SYRCL’s mission. 4) Operations: SYRCL utilizes best practices to ensure sound fiscal management with strong internal controls and oversight.

SYRCL relies on professional staff, a board of directors, a community advisory board, and a volunteer corps of nearly 1,000 community members to accomplish our annual plan. Our staff is composed of scientists, community engagement specialists, educators, naturalists, restoration practitioners, policy specialists, and nonprofit professionals. The organization is governed by a 12-member board of directors who have backgrounds in law, real estate, fundraising, natural resource management, advocacy, education, operational oversight and risk management. Our board and staff actively seek guidance from a community advisory board who represent our watershed community. And we leverage all this capacity with a robust volunteer corps which allows us to effectively restore meadow and riparian habitat, monitor water quality, educate the public and local students, and put on the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

SYRCL is guided by a Five-Year Strategic Action plan, which includes smart objectives and specific tasks that are translated into annual work plans. Every 12-18 months we review the progress on the strategic plan as we update new work plans. For grant-funded projects, we measure progress by tracking project deliverables that are written into grant agreements. For our signature event, the Yuba River Cleanup, we measure success by tracking the amount of trash and recyclables collected and the numbers of volunteers who participated. Further, we convene a monthly Finance Committee meeting that tracks the organization’s financial health and monitors key funding milestones throughout the year, which it reports to the Board of Directors.

In fiscal year 2019-2020, we accomplished the following: • Launched a new Forest Health program and hired two staff members to start identifying high priority areas and working with community groups to develop projects that will improve wildlife habitat and public safety. • Increased capacity in our Lower Yuba Restoration program by hiring two new staff members and started project implementation that will improve juvenile fish habitat. • Continued participating in the dam relicensing process with community stakeholder to advocate for sustainable river flows and protect endangered fish populations. • Celebrated the opening of our 20th river monitoring season, which sends 40 trained citizens scientists to 35 sites throughout the watershed to test for water quality. • Held our 22nd Yuba River Cleanup which hauled out 7 tons of trash and recyclables thanks to the generosity of nearly 1,000 volunteers. • Held our 18th Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City and Grass Valley, CA, which was attended by more than 8,000 visitors and students, which then started traveling to more than 200 communities around the world. • Successfully transitioned our spring educational event to online learning opportunities for local students and teachers (a response to COVID-19).

Financials

SOUTH YUBA RIVER CITIZENS LEAGUE
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

SOUTH YUBA RIVER CITIZENS LEAGUE

Board of directors
as of 7/27/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr Peter Burnes

John Regan

Brian Bisnett

Louise Jackson

Jeff Odefey

Kurt Lorenz

Joe Bell

George Olive

Debra Weistar

Shana Maziarz

Sydney Brown

Pamela Morey

Fran Murphy

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Keywords

rivers, river restoration, salmon, outdoor education, river advocacy