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, poor water policy, and lack of education have caused serious problems on rivers in the Southern Sierra Nevada, and now we will all suffer the results of poor water quality, closure of recreation sites, more restrictions, and more violence. The Río Limpio: River Stewardship, Education, and Outreach Program helps keep the Tule and Kern Rivers clean, safe, and open for all to enjoy. This program involves single and/unteers 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.

Partners

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.

*** RECENT DROWNINGS RESULT IN CLOSED RIVER ACCESS ***

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: www.wildplaces.net 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 mehmet@wildplaces.net.

“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.

Water Deeply is excited to announce the launch today of a new multimedia series, Toxic Taps: The Fight for Water, Health and Equity in California’s Central Valley and Beyond.

Over the next three months, the series will explore the lack of access to safe drinking water in the nation’s wealthiest state, where water supplied to California’s most disadvantaged residents is chronically contaminated with arsenic, agricultural pesticides and other toxins. The state of California estimates that 1.5 million people rely on drinking water that fails to meet health standards.
 
Toxic Taps looks at the root causes of the safe drinking water crisis in California, how communities are organizing for change and what more needs to be done. We talk to health experts, regulators, legislators, advocates, families and farmers who are working towards a future where everyone can drink the water from their own faucet.

I’m excited to be working on this project because it’s important for people to know that drought is not the only driver of the water crisis in California, and we need to keep investigating the problems and solutions in the state’s most impacted communities.
 
We want to thank the Water Funder Initiative and the Water Foundation for making this project possible, and we want to thank you, the Water Deeply community, for joining us on this journey.
 
Warm Regards,
 
Tara Lohan
Managing Editor
Water Deeply