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Posted on: September 1, 2020

Potential site for future water education center identified

A photo of three men looking out at the Yuba River from the banks.

Riverfront land just outside of Marysville may be the future home of Yuba Water Agency’s planned Watershed Experience Center.

Today, the board of directors voted to move forward with preliminary environmental work to determine the feasibility of developing a new water education center at Hammon Grove Park, on land currently owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Hammon Grove Park is located on Highway 20, just east of Marysville Road, and is adjacent to Sycamore Ranch, a park owned and operated by Yuba County. Yuba County also has a current lease with BLM for public access and recreation at Hammon Grove, amenities that would be preserved if Yuba Water builds the facility there.

“This is a great location with incredible river access and some of the best viewing for salmon spawning in this region,” said Yuba Water Agency Vice Chairman Brent Hastey. “If this works out, it will allow us to keep costs down and put as much investment as possible into the facility, which I truly believe will be a game-changer for Yuba County.”

If it is determined that the land is a good location for building the Watershed Experience Center, Yuba Water could enter into a long-term lease with BLM, while simultaneously pursuing a land transfer, which is known to take several years to execute. 

The early environmental studies are estimated to cost less than $50,000.

In April, Yuba Water hired DLR Group to facilitate a master planning process to help develop the vision and determine the size and scope of the facility. That process is underway now, although it has slowed due to the pandemic.

The board also today received an update on a related water education curriculum development project that is currently underway. Over the summer, a team of 45 teachers received special training about the Yuba River watershed and how to create lessons that meet Next Generation Science Standards. They then worked in groups of three or four to develop more than 175 Yuba River-focused lessons, in science and many other subject areas covering all K-12 grades and some community college courses. 

The teachers will spend the next few months testing the lessons with their own classrooms, and making adjustments as needed, before all of the curriculum will be given to Yuba County school districts for wide-spread implementation.

This project is a huge collaborative effort between Yuba Water and its many education partners, including all five school districts, the Yuba County Office of Education, Yuba Community College District, South Yuba River Citizens League and the Yuba River Endowment.

“As an educational member of this powerful and impressive collaborative, it is clear that no one is as smart as all of us,” said Francisco Reveles, Yuba County Superintendent of Schools. “Indeed, our efforts have underscored an implicit spirit and belief that Yuba County deserves nothing but the best. From my perspective, this is exactly how I have come to view and respect all our partners represented by this collaborative.”

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