Friends of the River at UC Berkeley
BY Dakota Goodman, River Advocate
Friends of the River
Dakota is one of the inaugural class of FOR’s River Advocate Training School. Based at the UC Berkeley campus, Dakota is organizing both on campus as well as in the surrounding community. To learn more about the River R.A.T.S program which is currently accepting applications for the Summer-Fall 2016 class click here.
If you have ever spent time on or near a river you understand the magical renewal these places provide.
Near the end of the 1960’s the new era of modern conservation and environmentalism emerged. Raised awareness of the impact human infrastructure was having on the natural world spurred protests of dam projects. Friends of the River was founded as Mark Dubois lead the fight to save the Stanislaus from being dammed. Despite tremendous efforts and life threatening protests, the Stan was still dammed.
Friends of the River is a grassroots activism organization that has survived the turmoil of the later twentieth and early twenty-first century. I am part of the new River Advocacy Training school that was established to spread the message and legacy of FOR throughout California. I am creating a Friends of the River club on the UC Berkeley campus to raise awareness around local, state, national and international watersheds. The main concentration is on saving and restoring the California Rivers. By saving the rivers that have not yet been dammed and restoring the ones that have, we will save and restore natural habitat, tribal land, healthy watersheds and a balanced ecosystem.
There are three main proposals concerning dam building in California in 2016. These proposals concern Shasta Dam and the three rivers flowing into this dam site, the Merced River, and Temperance Flat Dam/Sites Reservoir. Californian’s have saved more water since the drought was officially declared by fixing leaks, using less water and being more aware, than these dams will provide. We have a water management problem, not a water resource problem.
To spread the message about these dams, I am creating a club and hosting a series of events on the UC Berkeley campus. This past Saturday, we partnered with the Strawberry Creek Collective Interns and the Berkeley Project in an educational and restoration event in the pouring rain. Student volunteers learned about the local watershed, Strawberry Creek, and the issues surrounding the threat to state watersheds in 2016. To help preserve and restore our local watershed, three projects were tackled and successfully completed. Invasive species removal, planting of natives and trash pick up occurred in the Grinnell Natural area and surrounding areas.
Exciting projects have been held and there are more to come! FOR at UCB will be involved in earth week at the end of April and will continue to host more events. The goal is to spread awareness and education to anyone interested. The best way to protect and fight for something is to fall in love with it. I highly encourage everyone reading this to go to a flowing body of water, close your eyes and just take a deep breath. Your inner hippie will be deeply gratified.
All Images: South Fork American River, January 2016 – Dakota Goodman photographer