Marie Walter: A First Christmas in 1887 on the Medveditsa River

It’s been wisely said, “ no one can step twice into the same river. “

Hi.  I’m Dave Koehler and this is a special Christmas edition of RiverSpeak Podcast. 

Marie Walter, photo circa 1905, Frank Colony, Saratov, Russia.

There are a couple of things that make this a special episode beyond it being a Christmas edition.  It’s the story of what inspired the creation of the podcast; and, that story begins with my grandmother, Marie Walter, who was born in 1887 and grew up on the Medveditsa River in Frank, a small German colony in southern Russia.  

Like all good rivers, this story meanders a bit. 

It concludes with the message of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All. 

We’re excited to bring this episode and Marie Walter’s story to you. For more information about the historical backdrop of this story, visit the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. 

Medveditsa River, crossing at the Colony of Frank (now known as Medveditsa, Volgograd Oblast, Russia. Photo Google image 2019.

Thank you for listening. All rivers have stories that ripple. 

Be well, and do good work!

Lori Faeth: Conservation on Capitol Hill

U.S. Capitol

In this episode, we hear from Lori Faeth, Government Relations Director of the Land Trust Alliance. Lori’s story takes us to Capitol Hill and the halls of Congress where she is a voice for those working in land and water conservation.

Lori Faeth (second from right) acknowledging conservation achievements of Senator Debbie Stebenow of Michigan (center).

 We’ll learn about a decades long effort that led to the permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the American Great Outdoors Act. And we’ll hear from Lori about key policy priorities for land trusts and get her thoughts on what the horizon looks like as the Biden-Harris Administration begins to take shape. Along the way, we’ll follow Lori’s career path and gain insight into her passion and experience that fuels being a successful advocate for conservation at the national scale. Our episode concludes with Lori sharing a note and tip about Big Bend National Park.

Loyalsock Creek, at Worlds End State Park, Forksville, Pennsylvania. The woods of Lori’s youth and a special landscape she continues to enjoy.

To find out more about Lori Faeth’s work, go to the Land Trust Alliance

We’re excited to be able to bring Lori’s story to you and thank you for listening.

All rivers have stories that ripple. 

I’m Dave Koehler. Be well, and do good work!

Sinjin Eberle: Giving Voice to American Rivers

San Juan River

In this episode of RiverSpeak Podcast, we hear from Sinjin Eberle, Communications Director of American Rivers.   

Sinjin grew up running rivers in Colorado and the Southwest.  We’ll learn about the San Juan River and the important role it’s played in shaping his passion for giving voice to rivers.  We’ll follow Sinjin’s career path to American Rivers and have front row seats into making films that tell the compelling story of protecting our rivers.  

Sinjin Eberle, Communications Director,
American Rivers, Photo by Forest Woodward

We’ll also get a view of what’s on the horizon for river conservation as a new Biden-Harris White House Administration begins to take shape.  The episode includes a deep dive into some of the issues facing the Colorado River, and the importance of the outdoors during the Pandemic.  

We conclude with Sinjin joining a recent river ecology survey in the Grand Canyon and his thoughts on how we can all engage in local efforts to save our special places.  

 For additional information about Sinjin’s work, visit American Rivers.  Be sure to check out one of their most recent films, Water Flows Together— “For time immemorial, the Diné (Navajo) have considered the San Juan River sacred.” The film is told from the perspective of Colleen Cooley, and explores the ways in which her upbringing and her native identity have shaped the way she interacts with the world. “The film is a meditation on the challenges Colleen and her community have faced, the unique relationship she has with the San Juan River, and the unique opportunities her role as a river guide affords as she seeks to create positive change.”

We’re excited to bring Sinjin Eberle’s story to you, thanks for listening. 

All rivers have stories that ripple. 

I’m Dave Koehler.  Be well, and do good work. 

Ed Roberson: Arkansas River in Colorado

Ed Roberson, Conservation Director Palmer Land Trust, Creator and Host of Mountain & Prairie podcast. Photo by Russ Schnitzer

In this episode, we hear from Ed Roberson, Conservation Director with Palmer Land Trust and the Creator and Host of Mountain & Prairie podcast. 

Through Ed’s story we discover the Arkansas River in Colorado.  As you’ll hear in his voice, Ed loves the American West. We’ll learn how a high school kid from North Carolina got connected to the Arkansas River and the evolution of his career into conservation work. 

Along the way, we’ll explore the Arkansas River and gain insight into the tangled web of land and water in Colorado’s Front Range of the Rockies. We’ll also discover an important conservation approach Ed is leading to develop a system of protecting water and valuable farmland in the Lower Arkansas Valley by exchanging key parcels in less fertile areas. 

Our episode concludes with Ed sharing his passion around creating the Mountain & Praire podcast and experiences in the American West with his family.

For additional information about Ed’s work to preserve farms and ranches, visit Palmer Land Trust. And go to Mountain & Prairie podcast to listen and subscribe to Ed’s wonderful podcast series on the American West.  

We’re excited to bring Ed Roberson’s story to you, thanks for listening. 

All rivers have stories that ripple. 

I’m Dave Koehler.  Be well, and do good work. 

Risa Shimoda: River Choreography

Prepare to get wet.

In this episode, we hear from Risa Shimoda, Executive Director of the River Management Society and Chair of USA Freestyle Kayaking and International Whitewater Hall of Fame. Risa’s story begins with her passion for dance and choreography evolving into the world of whitewater, and then developing skills that have carried her into competing on nine championship USA Freestyle Kayaking teams. 

Risa Shimoda, Executive Director, River Management Society

We’ll learn about her work at the River Management Society (RMS), leading the way in support of professionals who study, protect and manage the use of North America’s rivers. RMS provides programs and services including an international symposium every other year, a national rivers geospatial database , a river training center, a river studies certificate program and much more.

We’ll also discover the Anacostia River, that flows from Maryland into D.C., through a story that challenges us to be intentional about addressing environmental justice and equity in providing access to the outdoors.

Our episode concludes with finding out why Risa considers the Middle Fork of the Feather River in California and the Watauga River, that flows from North Carolina into Tennessee, as two of her most favorite gems.

River Management Society Chapter Symposium
on the Tuolumne River, CA

Risa oversees a couple of great web resources that are available to everyone:

1) the River Management Society provides access to an array of programs and services we discuss in the podcast. Here you can find information about their international symposiums as well as sign-up to join the organization. There is also timely information about COVID-19 river opening guidance and be sure to check out the fun #TheRiverIsMyOffice video series.

2) the National Rivers Project has interactive maps, paddling and access information for thousands of unique sections of river in the United States.

Risa’s story includes recently co-authoring a book about her father and professional photographer, Midori Shimoda. The title of the book is, Photographic Memories: A Story of Shinjitsu. “Despite frequent reminders of the fear and distrust facing Japanese immigrants during WWII, Midori’s love of photography and drive to excel is a story of passion, resourcefulness, and diligence for sharing beauty through the lens of a camera.”

We’re excited to bring Risa’s story to you, thanks for listening!

All rivers have stories that ripple. 
I’m Dave Koehler. Be well and do good work.

Kristina Ortez: Rio Fernando de Taos

Photo: With Kristina Ortez on the Rio Chama near Taos, New Mexico

“Querencia,” is a word used by the people of Taos and northern New Mexico to describe their sense of rootedness in place.

In this episode, we hear from Kristina Ortez, executive director of the Taos Land Trust. While working in Indonesia about twenty years ago, thousands of miles away from her home, Kristina had an experience that developed her passion for protecting the environment and community engagement. Through her story, we’ll learn how she became connected to rivers and Taos. Along the way, we’ll discover the importance of Rio Fernando de Taos to her community and take a trip on the enchanting Rio Chama.   

Kristina Ortez, Executive Director, Taos Land Trust, at the Rio Chama, New Mexico

Over the last ten years, Kristina has become rooted in Taos and northern New Mexico. We’ll learn how Kristina and the land trust worked to protect an important 20-acre wetland and agricultural property in Taos as well as efforts that led to forming the Rio Fernando de Taos Revitalization Collaborative. We’ll also hear from Kristina about the importance of racial and cultural diversity within environmental organizations in order to reflect and address the needs of the communities they serve. 

As we learn from Kristina, her community is indeed “doing the work” to steward their cherished lands and waterways.  

Kristina highlights the importance of play in the outdoors. Fittingly matching Kristina’s energy and passion, our episode concludes with a river trip to discover the wild and scenic Rio Chama.  

We’re excited to bring Kristina’s story to you on World Rivers Day 2020. To learn more about her work and the Rio Fernando de Taos Revitalization Collaborative, go to Taos Land Trust.   

Visit RiverSpeak Podcast for photographs and other news and information related to our episodes.

All rivers have stories that ripple.  

I’m Dave Koehler. Be well, and do good work.

Monty Schmitt: Water for the Navarro

In this episode, we hear from Monty Schmitt, senior project director of The Nature Conservancy’s Water Program. Monty’s years of creek hopping and frog chasing in his youth led him into a career as a water resources scientist and well-known specialist in salmon ecology.  We’ll hear how his experience and expertise is translating into successful strategies for increasing flows and wild salmon populations in our California coastal watersheds. 

Monty Schmitt, Senior Project Director, The Nature Conservancy’s Water Program

Monty began his career in river reforestation projects and these experiences fostered his deep interest in river science, which in turn led him to earn his Masters of Science in Watershed Management from Humboldt State University. Then from 2000 to 2016, Monty was a water resources scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council and a key member of a team leading successful efforts to put water and salmon back into the San Joaquin River. 

Monty’s work is now focused on California’s coastal watersheds and we learn why The Nature Conservancy is prioritizing its work on the Navarro River. Salmon and steelhead are fundamental to the health of the Navarro’s watershed, but their falling numbers tell a troubling story. We’ll hear from Monty about what’s being done to reverse this unacceptable trend by developing solutions that preserve water for salmon and people. Plans are in place to take proven strategies that work for the Navarro and implement them in other river systems as well. 

Our episode concludes by taking a road trip with the Schmitt family to waterways in the Pacific Northwest and we’ll gain a little insight into the ripple effect of river lovers. 

We’re excited to bring Monty’s story to you and discover the Navarro River. To learn more about his work, go to The Nature Conservancy’s website and see their feature story on “Protecting Salmon and Steelhead in the Navarro River.”

Visit RiverSpeak Podcast for photographs and other news and information related to our episodes.

All rivers have stories that ripple.  

I’m Dave Koehler. Be well, and do good work.

Sharon Weaver: San Joaquin River Parkway

Photo: San Joaquin River near Ledger Island, courtesy San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust

In this episode, we hear from Sharon Weaver, executive director of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust. Sharon’s story gets started with writing a term paper for an environmental politics class at U.C. Davis and evolves into her career leading an organization that is the catalyst for creating a regional treasure of protected lands, education programs, and recreational trails on the San Joaquin River near Fresno. 

Sharon Weaver, Executive Director, San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust

Discovering the San Joaquin River Parkway includes learning about the river and citizens’ efforts in the San Joaquin Valley to unite around protecting its floodplain, restoring wildlife habitat, and creating access and programs for people to live, learn and play on its banks. Sharon takes us on a tour of the programs her land trust offers to the community and we’ll get to plant trees, go on a school field trip, paddle the river and have big fun at River Camp. 

Sharon also helps us discover the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies, an 1890‘s ranch complex restored and repurposed to an interpretive landscape. There, visitors can step into the river’s rich history and experience what the San Joaquin River Parkway has to offer. 

The San Joaquin River Parkway is located in the Valley’s Fresno-Madera metropolitan area. The City of Fresno, with more than half a million people, is one of the most racially diverse cities in the United States. We’ll hear from Sharon how her team is serving the community and steps her board of directors has taken toward creating leadership representative of the people they serve.  

One of the programs Sharon is most passionate about is her team’s role in ecological restoration of the river system and we hear about wildlife she sees returning to the area. 

We’re excited to bring Sharon’s story to you and discover the San Joaquin River Parkway. To learn more about her work, River Center, and organization, check out the River Parkway Trust. 

Visit RiverSpeak Podcast for photographs and other news and information related to our episodes.

All rivers have stories that ripple.  

I’m Dave Koehler. Be well, and do good work.

Julie Rentner: Bringing Life Back to Rivers

Photo: Dos Rios, reforestation at the confluence of San Joaquin and Tuolumne Rivers, courtesy of River Partners

In this episode, we hear the story of Julie Rentner, president of River Partners and discover her work of bringing life back to rivers in California. Through projects like Three Amigos on the San Joaquin River, we’ll hear how her work with rivers’ natural systems is restoring floodplains and regenerating riparian forests.

Julie Rentner, President, River Partners

Julie’s story starts in the forest along Marsh Creek on Mount Diablo and evolves into leading fundamental redesign of California’s approach to water management.  Her passion for forests early in life set her on a pathway to groundbreaking large-scale wildlife habitat restoration. 

We’ll step inside her approach and learn the details of uniting cutting-edge science and agricultural practices to undertake massive restoration projects in a way that nourishes ecosystems and communities of California. Riparian forests are powerful protection at the front lines of climate change. 

Intrinsic to Julie’s nature, and to the culture of River Partners, is to do this work alongside a wide-range of interests and organizations. She exemplifies collaboration and puts the word “partner” in River Partners. 

We’re excited to bring Julie’s story to you, discover some of the rivers she works on and share her trips to forests, pick-up rides and swimming holes. To learn more about her work and organization, including photographs, videos and news clips, please check out River Partners website. 

Sara Press: Russian and Gualala Rivers

Russian River Estuary

Photo: Russian River Estuary at Jenner Headlands by Stephen Joseph, courtesy of Sonoma Land Trust

RiverSpeak Podcast makes its debut with the story of Sara Press, land acquisition program manager of Sonoma Land Trust. Through Sara, we’ll discover the Russian and Gualala Rivers and learn about their vital importance to communities of the region. We’ll also hear about a key project to help protect water, the scarce life-giving resource threatened by patterns of misuse and a changing climate. 

Photo of Sara Press
Sara Press standing near Loch Trool in southwest Scotland

Sara’s story and her interest in land and water got started early in life on the Northern California Coast. We’ll hear how those early experiences of her youth developed into a passion for geography and then evolved into her career in land and water conservation.  Along the way, we’ll learn about the Russian and Gualala River Watersheds, and a partnership of focused priorities for conservation. Sara’s story includes sharing what she learned by being part of a project team that made an assessment of water assets Sonoma Land Trust holds in their land portfolio and then published a guidebook so that others can more easily protect water resources for our rivers. 

We’re excited to share Sara’s story with you. To learn more about her work and to download a copy of Evaluating and Protecting Environmental Water Assets: A Guide for Land Conservation Practitioners, go to Sonoma Land Trust