As we wrap 2018, we reflect on what we have accomplished over the past year. We recognize the youth and the adults, the corporate teams and community groups that took action to enhance the San Lorenzo River, the Santa Cruz Riverwalk and riverfront neighborhoods. In 2018, CWC worked with roughly 485 people on water quality monitoring, habitat restoration and native planting projects, neighborhood cleanups and more. The success of CWC relies on the hard-working, passionate and fun people who take action for the San Lorenzo River and their community. We acknowledge and appreciate you!

CWC celebrates Lois Van Buren as the 2018 Volunteer of the Year.

Lois Van Buren is a long-time volunteer and member of the CWC family. She has worn many hats throughout her career from author to local business owner but has always found time to explore and enjoy the San Lorenzo River. Her inquisitive nature and passion the river are true assets to CWC’s habitat restoration and water quality monitoring programs. In 2018, Lois volunteered for Snapshot Day monitoring in May, gathering water quality measurements and samples from the upper San Lorenzo River and Zayante Creek sites. Throughout the year she supported CWC’s monthly River Health Day events, spending Saturday mornings in the dirt, planting the banks of the San Lorenzo River with beneficial native plants.

This year, Lois also took on a leadership role in the River Health Day program. She supported CWC staff in guiding new volunteers on how to plant native plants and remove invasives. She provided important feedback to staff about the volunteer experience of River Health Days, helping us craft a more engaging and effective program. And, she inspired her friends and family to get involved in exploring the San Lorenzo River and volunteering with CWC. 

Lois, it is a pleasure working alongside you and we feel so fortunate to have you as a partner in this work to transform the San Lorenzo River. Thank you! 

My relationship with the San Lorenzo River is one of history. When I owned Santa Cruz Boat Rentals, I heard many stories of the 1955 flood, including one about how some of my rental boats had been used to ferry people and belongings to safety. “The Indians told us not to build next to the river, but we didn’t listen,” I was told. Somewhere around 1982, I read Malcolm Margolin’s The Ohlone Way. With its indelible images of a river teeming with life, I saw my connection to the San Lorenzo in a new way. I had ridden a horse mid-stream near Henry Cowell where salmon slowly swam in a thick mass, completing their life cycle. Living across from Fall Creek, I had caught many a breakfast trout. My friend, Jacque, taught me how to fly fish in the San Lorenzo and once, my son and I splashed and spluttered as we walked the six miles from Felton to Santa Cruz.

The reminiscences could go on and on so it’s no wonder I responded to the CWC’s call for volunteers a few years ago. Here was a group of folks whose clear and uncompromising interest in the San Lorenzo spoke to me. With every opportunity, I stayed involved. From collecting survey data to water monitoring, pulling invasives and planting natives, there’s a lot to be done. Working for the CWC turned my nostalgia into a hands-on, present-day reality that has made me a part of their commitment to the work of preserving an environmentally healthy and welcoming San Lorenzo River. Nowadays, I bike along the river almost daily, keeping an eye out for a certain kingfisher I know who hangs out on the wire near the Riverside Avenue bridge. I look forward to the day I can kayak past him.

Lois Van Buren

2018 Volunteer of the Year

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