Tips for Connecting to Tuolumne

A Message from Our Director of Partnerships: 

To Our Tuolumne River Trust Community: 

I hope this message finds you in good health and positive spirits despite the challenges we are currently facing. It’s likely that you’ve been receiving multiple emails a day about how the organizations and businesses you support are handling COVID-19. The last thing I want to do is add to that noise. Instead, I’d like to offer some ideas and resources for how to cope with the challenges ahead. 

We’ve been having a lot of conversations at the staff level about how to best continue our work during this difficult time. Some of the questions we’ve been grappling with are about how we’re going to deliver our programs when we can’t show up in person, what types of messages we should send, and how to mindfully fundraise so that we can continue this work. 

While we don’t have immediate answers for all of those questions, one thing remains certain: nature, and the Tuolumne River Watershed, will continue to provide us with inspiration and peace. They will continue to be a refuge for us when times get tough, but only if we continue to take care of them too. 

We hope that you will find some solace (and maybe even escape) in the resources we’ve compiled for you below. 

If you’re in need of a breath of fresh air on your congested social media feed, we are posting daily photos and inspirations on our Instagram account that we hope bring you a few moments of reprieve. We’ll be featuring stories from our staff over the next few weeks and hope you’ll tune in. 

If you love the river and our work to protect it, please support us by making a contribution to our Great Race for Saving Water (virtual) fund-racer. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way for grassroots organizations like ours. Thank you for your support – we appreciate you! 

From my river-loving heart to yours,


Lauren Barnum

Director of Partnerships

Encourage Newsom to Protect the Greater Bay-Delta Ecosystem

Yesterday, at an event in Bakersfield, President Trump announced he would move forward with a plan to allow more pumping from the Delta.  Governor Newsom announced he would sue.  You can read about it in the Sacramento Bee.

You might recall that last November Governor Newsom announced he would sue the Federal government over the biological opinion based on fake science that determined increasing diversions from the Delta would not harm threatened and endangered species. Newsom didn’t follow through, until now?

The Governor needs to hear from his constituents that we support every effort to protect and restore the greater Bay-Delta ecosystem, including the Tuolumne River.  Please take a few minutes to email the Governor through his website and encourage him to follow through on the lawsuit —

Thank you for taking prompt action!

-Peter Drekmeier

P.S.  You might also be interested in this article from the SF Chronicle a couple of days ago —

2018 Bike Theft

Since we learned of the theft of over 20 bicycles, helmets, tools, life jackets, and other gear yesterday morning, we have been touched by the generosity of the community, businesses, and individuals who have jumped in to help.

The loss of the bicycles affects the whole community. Children and families ride them to get to school safely through the Safe Routes to School program. Youth learn to ride, repair, and gain leadership skills by teaching their peers what they’ve learned. Community members of all ages use the bikes to explore the local river parks at events like Modesto Rec Fest and Family Days in the Park.

Despite this loss, many have offered their support, including:

  • Orville Wright Elementary, and Healthy Start, and the Modesto City School District.
  • Modesto Police Department.
  • Deputy Nate Crain, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s K9 Association, and Brian Zahra, owner of Fun Sports Modesto, who are supplying 10 new bikes, helmets, and other supplies.
  • Tracy Police Department and Tracy WalMart are donating 9 bikes.
  • Modesto Bee and Fox 40 for covering the story and helping spread the word.

We are so grateful for this outpouring of support. If you are interested in joining the rebuilding efforts, we are still in need of several items like pedal wrenches, bike stands, socket sets, ratchet sets, etc.

These are valued at approximately $1,500. While we accept donations of items, we do not have a place to store them until the school district reopens on January 14th. Until then, we gratefully accept donations to help us purchase these items and cover costs associated with rebuilding the gear closet.

We appreciate the generosity of everyone who has stepped up to ensure we have the gear necessary to continue these important programs in 2019. Please help us restore this gear closet for our community.

To make a donation, please click here or click the orange “Donate” button at the top of this page. If you are interested in donating an item, please get in touch with Edgar Garibay,

We appreciate you!

Survey finds San Francisco’s water priorities are out of sync with the environmental values of its constituents

People conserve water assuming their actions will benefit the environment. However, in San Francisco and much of the Bay Area, this is not the case.

A recent public opinion poll of 402 San Francisco voters found that environmental protection is a strong motivating force for water conservation. The survey was commissioned by Tuolumne River Trust, and conducted by the Social Science Research Center.

93% of respondents said they personally conserved water during the recent drought. Of those, 94% said protecting the environment played a role in their actions. When asked if they would be more likely to conserve water if they knew it benefitted the environment, 72% responded yes. Conversely, only 21% said they would be more likely to conserve water if it only enabled more development.

“Unfortunately, the water we conserved during the recent 5-year drought did not benefit the environment,” said Peter Drekmeier, Policy Director for the Tuolumne River Trust. “Instead, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) hoarded it behind dams, only to dump it during last year’s near-record precipitation. The Tuolumne River experienced one excessive year of flows at the expense of five terrible years.”

While 75% of respondents could identify Hetch Hetchy as the source of their drinking water, only 12% could identify the Tuolumne River as the source that fills the Reservoir. The Hetch Hetchy Water System, which provides water to 2.7 million people in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda Counties, is managed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).

“The SFPUC has done a great job at branding Hetch Hetchy, but has failed to educate its customers about the Tuolumne River, which is the true source of their water,” said Drekmeier. “Saying our water comes from Hetch Hetchy is like saying our food comes from the grocery store.”

Staff at the SFPUC have been advocating against a proposed plan by the State Water Resources Control Board that would help restore the Tuolumne River and San Francisco Bay.

“The way the SFPUC manages its dams and reservoirs is clearly out of sync with the environmental values of its constituents,” said Drekmeier. “The SFPUC has opposed measures, such as revisions to the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan, aimed at restoring the San Francisco Bay-Delta and rivers that feed it.”

One reason the SFPUC has opposed the Bay Delta Plan, which would increase freshwater inflows into San Francisco Bay, is because it is planning to accommodate a rapid increase in commercial development in the coming years – a vision that is not embraced by a majority of San Francisco voters. 60% of survey respondents were unsupportive of creating more office space in San Francisco.

When asked about Plan Bay Area – a government-initiated roadmap that forecasts the addition of 1.3 million new jobs and 2 million more people to the Bay Area between 2010 and 2040 – only 11% of survey respondents believed the Plan would improve their quality of life, while 65% believed it would negatively impact their quality of life.

When asked if they would favor changing the way SFPUC Commissioners are appointed, more than twice as many people favored making the positions elected versus the status quo. The commissioners are currently appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Read the full results of the survey here: TRT Final Survey Report 06-29-18

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By Land and By River: Yosemite Backpacking at May Lake and Mt. Hoffman

Tioga Road ferries thousands of RV’s, car-campers, and tourists across Yosemite.  Its smooth asphalt and expansive vistas invite even the most urban visitor to appreciate their surroundings and feel connected to nature. But as we turned off Tioga onto the two-mile, one-land road to the May Lake trailhead, we could sense we were entering into a different part of Yosemite. At the trailhead, we shared a parking lot with High Sierra campers, equestrians, and all different kinds of intrepid explorers. With our packs cinched up and full of clothes, food, and bear canisters, we hit the trail for our 1.2 mile climb to the lake.

Continue reading “By Land and By River: Yosemite Backpacking at May Lake and Mt. Hoffman”

By Land & By River: Tuolumne Whitewater

By Noah Baker, TRT intern

8:30 AM just outside Groveland, California, the last town before Yosemite National Park. The sun is already blazing as four arriving groups congregate at the foot of a wooden lodge. The crew from ARTA River Trips brings out a dry bag for each person to stuff their belongings into and fiddle with folding a good seal. An awkward meet and greet, the potpourri mixes then proceeds onto a worn, yellow school bus. It is time to embark on a rafting adventure. Continue reading “By Land & By River: Tuolumne Whitewater”

Nine Experts to Watch on California Water Policy

This article by Eline Gordts, featuring our own Peter Drekmeier, was featured on News Deeply: Water Deeply. See the original article here.

MORE THAN FOUR years of drought in California have made the need for smart and forward-looking water policy initiatives abundantly clear. About 83 percent of the state is currently still in drought, according to the most recent data by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Continue reading “Nine Experts to Watch on California Water Policy”

By Land & By River: Sea Kayaking

by Kara Kelly, 2016 Sierra Nevada Americorps Partner

It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day by the water in San Francisco.

No, I am not writing the introduction to a fictional novel. San Francisco on Saturday, June 18th was phenomenally beautiful, clear and without the usually mild, pushy breeze. It was perfect for a day on the water with new friends and TRT supporters. Continue reading “By Land & By River: Sea Kayaking”

Modesto Bee: River cleanup benefits Tuolumne River in Modesto


JW River Cleanup 04
Elias Ruiz uses his Feather Raft to haul tires out of the river

Published: May 22, 2016
Source: Modesto Bee
Photos by John Westberg

About two dozen volunteers spent several hours Sunday removing 79 abandoned tires, about 20 shopping carts and other trash and debris from the Tuolumne River in Modesto. Continue reading “Modesto Bee: River cleanup benefits Tuolumne River in Modesto”

Cherishing Our Rivers: A Journey on the Water with the Tuolumne River Trust

Guest post by Garry Hayes, geology professor at Modesto Junior College and guest on our By Land & By River canoeing trip on Saturday, May 14th.

Check out his blog for more great posts at All photos by Garry Hayes.
A beautiful day to be out on the river!

Are you lucky enough to live near a river? For much of my life I didn’t have that privilege. Southern California has creeks at best, except when they were flooding and otherwise causing havoc. The creeks often flowed through incredibly beautiful mountains and valleys, but they can’t be a source of life for human civilization. We’re too busy using what little water there is that there is barely enough to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Southern California has to import around 85% of the water that it uses. Continue reading “Cherishing Our Rivers: A Journey on the Water with the Tuolumne River Trust”

Volunteer Spotlight: From the Front Lines of Volunteer Tree Planting

This past spring, over 1,300 volunteers came out to Stanislaus National Forest to help plant trees. One of our amazing volunteers was Carmen who came out to plant trees as part of a volunteer effort from the Sonora 49er Rotary Club along with several high school students active in Interact (the high school rotary equivalent).

Carmen’s love of nature runs deep. She grew up going to Yosemite, camping along the Tuolumne and in Jacksonville (the old mining town that is no longer, as it’s now fully submerged under Don Pedro Reservoir). Carmen spent an idyllic childhood camping 3-4 weeks at a time with her dad, three brothers and four dogs (mom ran a business during the week and came up for the weekends). She remembers the joy of being turned loose for the day with the boys and fishing poles, baiting her own hook and wielding her knife skills out in the Stanislaus Forest. It’s fair to say that roots there run deep, so to speak…

Continue reading “Volunteer Spotlight: From the Front Lines of Volunteer Tree Planting”

Dennett Dam’s Removal Means a Safer and Better Tuolumne River

Source: The Modesto Bee, Book of Dreams 2015
Date: November 22, 2015
Journalist: Ron Agostini


A white egret slowly glides above the metal and concrete remains of Dennett Dam, where Modesto dreams were hatched 80 years ago.

The small dam would create Lake Modesto, a 97-acre water and recreation resort for local residents, and the idea resonated. “The dam is only the beginning, and the possibilities for future development of Lake Modesto as a recreational center are unlimited,” proclaimed Mayor Lincoln L. Dennett, for whom the facility was named, in 1933.

Continue reading “Dennett Dam’s Removal Means a Safer and Better Tuolumne River”