News Flash


Posted on: May 24, 2023

Stay Out, Stay Alive: South Yuba River Public Safety Cohort Stresses Unsafe Conditions at the River

South Yuba River Cohort Press Conference 5.17.23 - NewsFlash

Every year, first responders receive several calls for service for visitors who have an accident at the South Yuba River due to slips and falls. Swift water rescues are performed many times through the summer months due to unsafe river conditions. 

“Our Yuba River is majestic, but she’s also unforgiving, and it only takes an instant to lose a life,” said District 4 Supervisor Sue Hoek, who chairs the South Yuba River Public Safety Cohort meetings with District 1 Supervisor Heidi Hall.

This year, high water flows have already taken one life and are modeling similarly to high river flows in 2019, when multiple lives were lost in June alone due to visitors and locals recreating in dangerous river conditions.  

“From now through July, please avoid getting into the river at all costs. When you enter the water at this temperature and these flows, the consequences can be dire,” said Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Operations Chief Pat Sullivan. “One cubic foot of water weighs 64 lbs. We are currently seeing above 5,000 cubic feet of water and force in the South Yuba River every second, compared to average yearly highs of about 2,000 to 3,000 feet which are still considered dangerously high.”

Nevada County Consolidated Fire District conducted a river rescue training last week with California Highway Patrol’s helicopter simulating a patient recovery in the South Yuba River canyon. 

Skip the Dip

Instead of swimming in dangerous river conditions, residents and visitors are encouraged to swim, paddle, or boat at Nevada County’s beautiful recreational lakes, explore area trails, and shop or dine locally. Find ideas on Nevada County events, activities, and your next adventure at

If you’re recreating along the South Yuba River, remember that you are in a remote location with minimal to no cell phone service, with fifteen-to-forty-five-minute response times. Emergency call boxes are available at Edwards, Purdon, and Highway 49 river crossings. Please also obey parking signage and only park in designated areas, so emergency response vehicles can access remote areas and narrow roadways if needed to respond to an accident.

Volunteer as a Yuba River Ambassador

From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, South Yuba River Citizens League’s (SYRCL) River Ambassadors are volunteers taking action to motivate and educate the community to care for the South Yuba River. Due to fast currents and cold-water temperatures, educating the public on safe recreation at the river is even more important than ever. River Ambassador volunteers act as a first line of defense in helping avoid river-related tragedies. Learn more about volunteering on SYRCL’s website at or by contacting Cynthia Ruelas at (530) 265-5961 ext. 212 or

About the South Yuba River Public Safety Cohort

The Cohort is a multi-agency working group of federal, state, local, and community stakeholders coordinating public safety and law enforcement in the South Yuba River corridor of Nevada County, which experiences approximately 800,000 visitors annually. Organizations and agencies include the County of Nevada, California State Parks, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service Tahoe National Forest, CAL FIRE, Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, SYRCL, Sierra Gold Parks Foundation, Bear Yuba Land Trust, and more. Learn more at

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