Forty years ago, the South Yuba River Citizens League began caring for the South Yuba River by advocating for dam removal and gaining Wild and Scenic protection. Today, their work encompasses the entire Yuba River watershed – from the Sierra crest to the valley floor. To celebrate SYRCL’s fortieth anniversary, they commissioned a film from Spruce Tone Films which looks towards the next forty years and features community members reflecting on the future of SYRCL’s work in the face of climate change and protecting the river for future generations.

Posed as a love letter to the river and the community that surrounds it, Yuba is the Heart considers what it means to love and be loved by a river.

Having had its premiere at this year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival on February 16, the film in its entirety is now available to the public 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, a SYRCL board member; and Shelly Covert, Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribal Spokesperson.

YouTube video

Palmer Morse of Spruce Tone Films is the Director, Co-Producer, Cinematographer, and Editor of Yuba is the Heart. Matt Mikkelsen, also from Spruce Tone Films acted as Co-Producer and Sound Mixer. Melinda Booth, SYRCL’s former Executive Director was the film’s Executive Producer, and the beautiful soundtrack to the film was composed by Jake Hull.

While specifically focused on SYRCL and the Yuba watershed, ultimately the film’s message is aligned perfectly with SYRCL’s motto: People can save a river. The film functions as a clarion call for community activism in the face of climate change and celebrates the power of people coming together to take action.

The film is available on SYRCL’s YouTube channel. You can also go to to find out 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 rural, grassroots campaign to defend the South Yuba River from proposed hydropower dams, SYRCL has developed into a vibrant community organization with over 3,500 members and volunteers based in Nevada City, CA. See: