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

We’re Popping Up September 27, On World Rivers Day 2020

Welcome to RiverSpeak, a new monthly podcast devoted to inspire and inform river conservation. It will debut on Sunday, September 27, World Rivers Day 2020.

RiverSpeak is curated and hosted by Dave Koehler, an experienced land conservationist who is passionate about rivers. Podcast episodes will explore rivers throughout our country by telling the stories of people that would save them.

Listen to enjoy interviews of individuals that have made river conservation their life’s work. We’ll dive into timely topics including preserving biodiversity, science based solutions to climate change, and actions for social equity and inclusion. RiverSpeak is discovery that will deepen our connections to rivers.