The vision of the Mother Lode River Center is the achievement of “healthy people, living in equitable and sustainable societies, in balance with the natural world.” This vision recognizes that each of these components is essential and that each depends on the other.

Our mission, the promotion of river conservation through environmental education and stewardship, supports our vision.

ECOS Explained

In 1971, Apollo astronaut Alan Shepard, took one of humanity’s first glimpses of the Earth from the Moon and was so profoundly moved, he wept. “It is, in fact, very fragile” he later wrote about the experience. “This thin, thin atmosphere, the thinnest shell of air hugging the world- it can be blown away so easily! A meteor, a cataclysmic release, man’s own outpouring of poison…”

Since men left the Moon, humankind has more than doubled its numbers and vastly multiplied our ecological impact. As a result, our planet is rapidly changing. Of the nine determinants of human sustainability, seven are approaching or have already exceeded their critical tipping points. The health of our planet, the future of our species, and the survival of all life on Earth is now the foremost issue of our time.

The purpose of our company has always been to promote the conservation of rivers. We at Mother Lode share a love of rivers, and the most powerful reason is our direct experience of them. Rivers have become our teachers. They have humbled us, transformed us, and in the process we have become deeply connected to them. Whitewater rafting requires focus, precise teamwork, enhanced powers of observation, and making wise choices in challenging situations. Like Alan Shepard viewing Earth from space, once you see rivers clearly, you cannot imagine allowing the destruction of such a vital resource. It is in our natures to want to protect these special places through acts of stewardship.  Experience, Connection, Observation, and Stewardship: this is the process of ECOS, and we believe it is a vital part of what it means to be human.

Clearly, modern scientists were not the first to understand the importance of rivers. For thousands of years Native Americans have referred to rivers as “the veins of the Earth” and have deeply revered them. This description aptly captures how rivers are interconnected with, and essential to, the health of the broader systems on which we all depend. Riparian ecosystems are among Earth’s most productive and vital, and since everyone at the River Center shares a profound sense of connection to rivers, each of our programs is designed to share and mutually explore the significance of rivers with you.

We are pleased to report that over the past four decades over 290,000 Mother Lode participants have not only experienced rivers, they have also been moved to help protect them. Over 30,000 have written letters in successful efforts to help save 15 of California’s rivers from destruction by dams. Through our support and participation in the activities of the American River Conservancy, we have also helped conserve 15,000 acres of riparian environment on the South Fork American and Consumes Rivers. Perhaps most important of all, over the last decade over 2,000 students have participated each year in our Outdoor Education programs, and as this number grows, so too does the future awareness of the value of rivers.

Nevertheless, the threats to rivers and other natural ecosystems continue to increase.  The struggles to protect our fragile planet are just beginning.

Our Programs

The programs described above are all designed to be hands-on, educational, and equally important, engaging and fun. Each represents a challenge that is river based. Our programs are organized into four basic categories: whitewater rafting, challenge ropes, outdoor education and conservation/sustainable practices.  Each program begins with “challenge by choice” and ends with accomplishments of various kinds. The essence of challenge is that it pushes individual and group comfort zones. It is vital that participants understand the nature of the physical and mental risks they take, and choose to participate willingly in an atmosphere of support and safety. Our company has the finest safety record in our industry, and safety is always our first priority. It is also essential that our activities are fun…we love to have fun!

The Place

The location of our camp on the beautiful and historic South Fork of the American River has been essential to the growth and success of our programs. Not only does our camp have a rich history stretching back thousands of years as a site of a Nisenan village, it is also located in the valley where one of the largest mass migrations of humankind occurred during the California Gold Rush. The almost unbelievable ecological destruction that occurred here due to gold mining is visible today only to the practiced eye. This remarkable healing has happened in less than 160 years. It serves as an inspiration that current destructive trends worldwide could potentially be reversed.

Welcome to our home!

Mother Lode is now beginning its fifth decade.  We cordially invite you to join us this season for another great year of outdoor adventure, fun and learning. Whether your choice is River RaftingChallenge RopesOutdoor Education or a combination of these programs, rest assured that we remain committed to doing everything possible to make your experience enjoyable, memorable and of the highest quality. Our guides, facilitators and educators all have one goal – to exceed your expectations and achieve 100% satisfaction.

See you on the river,

Scott, Keith, Gabby, Jason, Randy and the whole MaLode Crew

**If you are interested in the history of our efforts to promote a healthy planet, visit our blog article describing the Greenhouse Action Plan or GAP which began in 2007. That plan outlined conservation measures such as  the use of solar hot water heating, using 100% waste vegetable oil in vehicles such as the ECO Bus, photovoltaic electricity generation and our permaculture garden. By the 2008 season we had achieved a 30% overall reduction in our carbon footprint. This was well ahead of our initial goal adopted from the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for a 20% reduction by 2012.

As part of the GAP we also conducted successful letter writing campaigns in support of the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit for Solar Power and California State Congresswoman Loni Hancock’s AB 2855 to establish “green jobs” training academies for our schools in California.

Unfortunately, since 2008, there have been setbacks. For instance, an essential part of our plan was ended when the State of California sided with special interests to make the collection of waste vegetable impractical, and then outlawed the Eco Bus!

Nevertheless, we remain determined to move forward toward carbon neutrality thorough other means. We also remain dedicated to the health of California’s rivers and in this age of climate change, drought and political fractiousness, we believe conservation and restoration of our rivers is more important than ever. We look forward to your joining us in that effort!