The Tule and kern rivers are the life, beauty, and legacy of this region — these rivers need our help!


Heavy visitor use, disrespectful actions of a few, climate change, drought, inadequate and changing water policies, wildfires, and lack of education have caused serious problems on rivers in the Southern Sierra Nevada, and we stand to all suffer the results of poor water quality, closure of recreation sites, more restrictions, and more violence. The Río Limpio: Community Rivers Project helps keep the Tule and Kern Rivers clean, safe, and open for all to enjoy. This program involves single and multi-day service projects to improve and monitor water quality, clear garbage, remove graffiti, reduce the risk of catastrophic fire events, increase the public’s personal responsibility for the river, reduce violence, maintain trails, prevent gang activity, and increase recreational enjoyment.

Since 2008, over 3,000 volunteers have taken part in events throughout the spring and summer to address the immediate need for clean and sanitary river conditions. They have removed thousands of bags of garbage and restored hundreds of sites tagged with graffiti. Research shows keeping areas clean fosters better care. Our short term goal is to help with this need. Our long-term goal is to change the mindset of river users to become more responsible and value our important river resources. Education is critical to the long term success of this project. No one wants to do river cleanups forever. By educating river users on how to be good river stewards, we can reduce the amount of garbage that is left.

Spend a rejuvenating day on the Tule River with us! Community outreach, trash and graffiti removal, macro-invertebrate water quality monitoring, trail maintenance, and ending with a cooling off in the river, free lunch, and free stuff… there is something for everyone.


Special thanks to the U.S. Forest Service, Southern CA Edison,  Keepers of the Kern, Kern River Conservancy, Sequoia Recreation, Rose Foundation, and Tulare County Youth Commission for their financial support.


river closure.jpg

Local organization responds to closed river access:

Staff, board, and volunteers of WildPlaces offer sincere condolences to the families and friends of the drowning victims on the Tule and Kern Rivers during recent high waters. In addition to the loss of human lives, these accidents have tarnished the reputation of the rivers as places of respite and relaxation. Enforcement and management agencies will close many if not all sites including trails in an effort to "protect" the public. These sites (above and below "The Stairs") are the only free sites, which WildPlaces’ Rio Limpio program adopted over 8 years ago in an attempt to increase personal responsibility and understanding of the critical role rivers play in our communities’ health.

Prior to these tragic accidents, WildPlaces’ position in light of increased use on the river and resulting environmental impacts plus reduced federal budgets was to agree to the temporary closure of no more than 1/3 of the sites, allowing WildPlaces to oversee the remaining. Now any such discussion will be difficult.

“I don’t think that closing the sites entirely is the best response”, says Mehmet McMillan of WildPlaces. "What is needed is more, not less, exposure to and education about this single most important element of the region – the Tule and Kern Rivers. The last thing we want is for people to stop coming here. Already we are dealing with generational gaps in getting communities outdoors. Taking use away will only exacerbate the problem.”

The Rio Limpio program has made significant headway by inspiring responsible recreation use. It is a progression of education that some feel will falter when access is denied.

In response to these recent events, WildPlaces will conduct Swift Water Safety workshop that are available to the public. Additionally, WildPlaces has secured financial support to design and strategically place signage that reminds folks that risks are present and how to manage those risks to reduce incident. The first workshop will occur on May 13th from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. during the annually scheduled two-day WildLeaders Guide Training in Springville held May 13 – 14, 2017. (See: and fb for details and to sign up. Space is limited.)

This is an introductory workshop and is not to replace full Swift Water Rescue Training taught by certified trainers. The WildLeaders Training will also cover basic risk management in field settings, orienteering, and first aid. Cost is free to WildPlaces' volunteers and $10-25 (sliding scale) for all others. Participants must register by reaching Mehmet at 760.447.1702 and

“We must always respect nature,”says WildPlaces’ volunteer Arturo Rodriquez.” With all the beauty and free serves provided by the river like air and water, we cannot simply close it off to the world. Let’s learn from this terrible sacrifice to become better, more prepared river warriors!”
Rìo Limpio is a program of WildPlaces and is made possible by support from US Forest Service, Sequoia Recreation, Rose Foundation, and individual donors like you. WildPlaces is a project of SEE.