2015 Feats & 2016 Plans

Friends of the River is building and energizing grassroots support for the magnificent rivers of California. In 2015 FOR:

  • Brought together 27 river groups in Sacramento for the first California Rivers Day to give our rivers a stronger voice in the State Capitol.  See pictures from the day.
  • Passed legislation to grant interim Wild & Scenic protection for the Mokelumne River.
  • Took more than 100 leaders, reporters, and experts on 8 river rafting trips, including the historic whitewater run on Stanislaus River which resurfaced as New Melones Reservoir dropped to an historic low.  Watch the video of Mark Dubois leading the expedition!
  • Helped pass legislation to put limits on suction dredge mining in rivers.
  • Partnered with the New Voices Are Rising program to take high school students from underserved communities in Oakland to the Mokelumne River to see where their water comes from, spend a day in the Capitol to meet with legislators and the Governor’s office, and go camping and whitewater rafting on the American River. Watch the new video about this summer program!

Thanks to all of the FOR members who made this work possible!

Plans for 2016

The drought has been driving a push to build new mega reservoirs in California. Now, with the El Niño, we are hearing calls for new dams to capture runoff and control floods. We all welcome rain and snow, but we already have a vast network of 1,400 dams in California ready to catch water. Building more would be extremely expensive and destructive.  Here’s the bottom line: the big dam projects under consideration would cost more than $9 billion to add just 1% to California’s water supply.  FOR is working to protect our rivers from these new dams and diversions, but we need to change the debate to focus on smart water solutions so we can have healthy and vibrant waterways while meeting our water needs. Here is what we have planned for the coming year…

River RATS!

To build on our work over the last year, FOR is launching the River Advocacy Training School (River RATS) program to train and deploy the next generation of river advocates. Our goal is to recruit at least ten of the best and brightest from college campuses, other river groups, and key communities to attend an intensive 4-day training at Camp Lotus to learn about water policy, grassroots organizing, river ecology, and natural history from experts in the field. After training, these organizers will go back to their campuses and communities to engage thousands of people in the river protection movement. Then, they’ll bring them to Sacramento for the California Rivers Day and Paddle to the Capitol in 2016! Finally, the River RATS will have the opportunity to return to the American River to attend FOR’s Guide School to become a whitewater rafting guide or canoeist to help build our rafting program. Learn more about River RATS.

Expanded Outreach and Education

The River RATS Program will expand FOR’s capacity so that we can do more to protect rivers. Accordingly, in 2016 we will be able to organize:

  • 10 river trips for leaders, reporters, and water policy experts.
  • The CA Rivers Day so we can meet with at least half of the legislature.
  • Paddle to the Capitol—a five-day journey down the American River to the State Capitol this summer.
  • The Salmon Run—a 5K fun run in Sacramento to raise awareness and support for rivers and the fish and wildlife they sustain.
  • Dozens of community events and activities from river cleanups and tabling to movie nights and social get-togethers.
  • Media events and outreach that will generate dozens of news stories to educate and engage the broader public in our work. See recent press clips here.
Policy Advocacy and Government Relations

Our stronger grassroots base of support will help FOR leverage our advocacy to protect and restore threatened waterways like the McCloud, Yuba, Merced and the San Francisco Bay-Delta. Currently, the state is preparing to spend $2.7 billion for new storage, members of Congress are pushing to pass short-sighted legislation to expedite dam building and weaken environmental protections by the end of the year, and the Governor is bent on building two massive tunnels through the San Francisco Bay-Delta to move more water from north to south.  FOR will meet with legislators and key government agencies, track and comment on legislation, participate in regulatory and planning proceedings and coordinate a coalition of other environmental organizations, fishing groups and Native American Tribes working on these issues.  One way you can help is by signing up for the River Advocate to stay informed and engaged.

Thank you for supporting FOR—the only statewide organization focused on protecting California’s rivers. With your help, we’ll train a new generation of river advocates, build our grassroots base of support, and secure sustainable water policies that protect our rivers.