Forty years ago, the South Yuba River Citizens League began caring for the South Yuba River by campaigning for dam removal and Wild and Scenic protection. Today, her work spans the entire Yuba River watershed—from the Sierra crest to the valley floor. To celebrate SYRCL’s 40th anniversary, they commissioned Spruce Tone Films to create a film that looks to the next 40 years and features community members discussing the future of SYRCL’s work in the face of climate change and protecting the river for future generations ponder.

As a love letter to the river and the community that surrounds it, Yuba is the heart reflects on what it means to love and be loved by a river.

After premiering at this year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival on February 16th, the film is now available to the public in its entirety on SYRCL’s YouTube channel.

The film features beautiful footage of the Yuba Watershed and includes interviews with Aaron Zettler-Mann, SYRCL’s Watershed Science Director; Amy Guy-Wagner, Board Member of SYRCL; and Shelly Covert, spokeswoman for the Nisenan tribe of Nevada City Rancheria.

Palmer Morse of Spruce Tone Films is the director, co-producer, cinematographer and editor of Yuba is the heart. Matt Mikkelsen, also of Spruce Tone Films, served as co-producer and sound engineer. Melinda Booth, former executive director of SYRCL, served as executive producer on the film and the film’s beautiful soundtrack was composed by Jake Hull.

Ultimately, while the film focuses specifically on SYRCL and the Yuba watershed, the film’s message aligns perfectly with SYRCL’s motto: People can save a river. The film acts as a clarion call for community activism in the face of climate change, celebrating the power of people coming together to take action.

The film is available on the SYRCL YouTube channel. You can also go to to learn more.


About SYRCL: The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL, pronounced “circle”) is the leading voice for the protection and restoration of the Yuba River watershed. Founded in 1983 through a grassroots rural campaign to protect the South Yuba River from proposed hydroelectric dams, SYRCL has grown into a vibrant community organization with over 3,500 members and volunteers based in Nevada City, California. See:

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