What do smart California capitol staff do when the summer temperatures are high in Sacramento and a High Sierra snowpack melts into the rivers?

They go whitewater rafting, of course.

California legislative staff members from both sides of the aisle recently came together for an educational, active outdoor experience on the South Fork of the American River. Gary Link, director of public policy in Ducks Unlimiteds Western Region and a whitewater guide for 22 years, arranged the trip to showcase the river where James Marshall first discovered gold over a century and a half ago. In addition to learning the basics of whitewater rafting, the group discussed the types of fish and wildlife habitat the American River supports. They also learned about the impacts on waterfowl, the benefits of the river to threatened and endangered species, the renewable energy created to keep homes cool in summer, and the multiple downstream benefits to wildlife, agriculture, and California communities.

The American River is part of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which moves water from the Sierra Nevada to the waterfowl refuges of the Central Valley, where ducks flourish. Capitol staff purchased their tickets to an exciting day on the water, which organizers believe will become an annual forum to highlight the value of riparian habitats for waterfowl, other wildlife, and people.