Ducks Unlimited Whitewater Waterfowl Trip

Director of Public Policy Gary Link on the left with California legislative staffers after the pre-river safety talk, PFD fitting, and staff proudly displaying the DU flag.

What do smart California capitol staff do when the summer temps are high in Sacramento and a high sierra snowpack melts into the rivers? They go whitewater rafting of course.

California Democrat and Republican staff members recently came together for an educational, active, outdoor experience on the South Fork of the American River. Gary Link, Ducks Unlimited’s Western Region director of public policy and a whitewater guide for 22 years, arranged the trip with All Outdoors Whitewater Rafting and Raft California to showcase the river where James Marshall discovered gold over a century and a half ago. In addition to learning the basics of whitewater rafting, the group discussed the type of fish and wildlife habitat the river supports including waterfowl, the benefits of the water to threatened and endangered species, the renewable energy created to keep homes cool in the hot 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 Mountains to the waterfowl refuges in the Central Valley where ducks flourish. Capitol staff purchased their tickets to an exciting day on the water, which may become an annual event, and makes for a great day and amazing forum to highlight the value of riparian water for wetlands, water for wildlife, water for agriculture, and water for waterfowl. 


Mellow start to the day as Common Mergansers were scurrying and diving along the banks as staff floated by on Turtle Pond…Brandon Ebeck chilling on the raft with guide Laura Armstrong.
Link’s raft heading into class III Hospital Bar Rapid (actual location of a gold miner’s hospital circa 1850s) with legislative staffers Justice Rodriguez leading head first as Hannah Ackley, Kevin Konig, Jennifer Hodgkins, Spencer Street, and Madeline Cline were enveloped with water and smiles.