Canyon Keepers share common love

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On a Sunday afternoon in October,  you may see a group of people enjoying a gathering on No-Hands Bridge — officially known as Mountain Quarry Railroad Bridge — celebrating the beauty of the canyon during the pleasant fall weather. They are Canyon Keepers,  local state park volunteers having their end-of-season party.  Some 10 years ago Frank Olrich and Jim Ferris, along with Jill Daampier, head ranger at the Auburn State Recreation Area, realized there was a  need for assistance and support for the local state park rangers. From their discussions, a group known as the Auburn State Recreation Area Canyon Keepers (ASRACK) was created. As volunteers, members of this group agreed to spend weekend afternoons at the confluence of the north and middle forks of the American River, distributing information and offering security to those who were enjoying a day by the river. These volunteers maintained connection with the State Park Rangers, who were available if needed. Since the early days of the Canyon Keepers, afternoon “duty” at the Confluence has expanded.  Canyon Keepers may still be seen at The confluence, or they may be helping to maintain our local trails, or participating in a hike, or giving an interpretive talk on an aspect of the canyon. They may be seen at Lake Clementine on summer weekend afternoons doing activities with children as part of the Junior Ranger program or leading a five-week Junior Ranger program for 7-to-12-year-olds on a Saturday morning in late spring. Canyon Keepers meet on the first Tuesday of the month from January through October.  Each evening meeting features refreshments and a guest speaker. Topics are varied, from local gold mining history to geology, from the flowers and plants found in the canyon to local and state water issues. The topic, dates and location of these meetings are published in the Auburn Journal under FYI on page A2 prior to each meeting.  The Canyon Keepers have become more than just another volunteer group, they are a group of friends who enjoy hiking, learning about our local natural history and protecting our “backyard treasure,” the American River. New members are always welcome and encouraged to attend a meeting. For more information about Canyon Keepers, contact Jim Lobue at (530) 887-8335 or visit