Jun 162014

By Danielle Katz

There is a river that in its midst grows silent. It does not stagnate into a reservoir, nor trickle to a dreary end like the Colorado. Instead, it is siphoned laterally and horizontally into a complex web of aqueducts that mutes the river until some water is siphoned back in 30 miles or so downstream.  At least that’s what the maps and all the people say.

But does it really? What really goes on in this paused juncture of flow? What is it like on the ground when the living pulse of something is transmitted somewhere else?

That is what I want to know, to feel, to see, to hear, in the full visceral realm of experience and understanding. The river I seek out is the San Joaquin. Listed by American Rivers as the most #endanderedriver of 2014 it has haunted me since I first paddled into its waters.

In 2011 I was traveling the length of the Tuolumne River with the Tuolumne River Trusts annual Paddle to the Sea. I’d come down from the mountains of the watershed and paddled right into the arms of the river without knowing much. SanJoaquinRiverMap I knew the San Joaquin was tied to declining Bay Delta health, I knew it was one of the largest rivers in California with the age old story of too much infrastructure and not enough water, I knew it played a critical role in supplying the water that grew the food I ate, and I knew its well being played a major role in any attempt to help revive the Tuolumne’s ecosystem. But beyond that I knew very little.

In 2012, Rivers for Change picked the San Joaquin as one of the rivers for our 12 Rivers in 2012 campaign.  The importance of this river increased with research, but so did my level of confusion about it. Wading through a wealth of information about lawsuits, restoration mandates, required flows, salmon re-introduction, high ground water tables, salinization of crops, stops in water releases, new dam proposals, and on and on, each piece of information I gathered from one source seemed to contradict with another. Regardless of how much material I collected, none of it seemed to answer the only thing I could think about; how can a vibrant, healthy river flourish upstream AND downstream around an unknown gap of bone-dry river? Especially when you are trying to reintroduce salmon.

While Rivers for Change traveled much of the river in 2012 we weren’t able to complete it all due to low water levels that left more than 60miles too dusty to slog through. A few months ago a reporter from CNN was put in touch with our organization about planning a Source to Sea on the San Joaquin. Jumping at the opportunity to assist with a source to sea that helps voice the complex issues and stories the river and the people around the river face is a at the heart of our founding principles and such a gift to be just a little part of. It’s also a wonderful chance to close the gap on that unknown section of river that has haunted me.

Note: Slightly higher flows are being released at the moment (due to downstream farmers and old water rights being called upon) and thus more of the river is accessible than in 2012. However a 30+ mile stretch remains dry.  . . or so we think.

Follow @jdsutter along on Twitter or on this website

and @Riversforchange on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll do our best to keep you up to date of the journey and share as our understanding increases (or decreases accordingly).

For More background information I recommend:

Read why CNN reporter John Sutter is kayaking the river here:

And catch up on reading Rivers For Change blog from Part 1 on the San Joaquin from 2012 herehttp://www.riversforchange.org/will-the-san-joaquin-flow-to-the-sea-part-1/

Danielle Katz and Galen Licht on the San Joaquin

 June 16, 2014  No Responses »
Jun 132014


Thank you to all the people who participated in the 2014 California 100.  From the hard-working volunteer staff and the on-water safety crew to all the racers and their support teams, well done!  It was truly an inspirational weekend and a treat to watch so many paddlers from different disciplines, ages and geographical areas converge onto the Sacramento River.  In the end we witnessed 130 people take to the river solo, tandem and in relays in all types of crafts.  Kayaks, canoes, surfskis, outrigger canoes, standup paddleboards and prone paddleboards were all represented well. You can check out race times and results here.

The biggest growth this year came from the relay divisions and in the SUP categories.  Lots of new paddlers stepped up to the challenge and most interestingly, more than half the racers were visiting the Sacramento River and the surrounding communities for the first time. Redding and Chico embraced paddlers for the weekend and we’re grateful and excited for that!

Thank you to all the sponsors who helped support the California 100 and our sport.  Their dedication goes a long, long way helping Rivers for Change work towards our mission of connecting individuals, organizations and communities to rivers.  The California 100 is a major fundraiser for RFC and a way to connect paddlers to the Sacramento River Watershed.  We’re thankful to great companies like Werner Paddles, Clif Bar, Epic Kayaks, Oru Kayak, Headwaters Adventure Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Kicking Horse Coffee and Adventure Medical Kits for great assistance.  Check out all the great supporters on our sponsor page.

photo by Lisa Thomas

photo by Lisa Thomas

The weekend was rounded out on Memorial day with a delicious local and organic Awards BBQ followed by a River Cleanup with the Sacramento River Preservation Trust. It was a great way to relax on the river, look for trash treasures, and give back to the wonderful resource that hosted us for the weekend.

River Cleanup booty

River Cleanup booty

If you haven’t seen the photos from the race yet, visit riversforchange.org/photos to check out some amazing images from talented photographers.  They do a great job of telling the Cal 100 story and showcasing the wonderful people involved.  While you’re there, read some of the racers blogs to get a feel for their experiences. Maybe they’ll inspire you to join in as an individual, team, or relay for next year.

Paddle Bear has already started training….have you?

Photo by Lisa Thomas

Photo by Lisa Thomas

Thanks again for your continued support of Rivers For Change and the California 100. Paddles up!

Matt, Danielle, and John

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 June 13, 2014  No Responses »