Russian Riverkeepers

About Russian Riverkeepers

Our Mission: to Inspire the Community to Protect the Russian River Forever.

Russian Riverkeeper has been fighting since 1993 to ensure a thriving river system and your rights to fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters.

Unfortunately, clean water is under new attacks from a rapidly warming climate, big agriculture and our government. Now, more than ever, your river needs vigilant enforcement of environmental laws and the care and commitment of people like you.

With your help, Russian Riverkeeper will:

  • Respond to catastrophes that are starting to feel like our new normal. Our community has come together to help each other respond to fires and flood.
  • Defend our rivers, streams, wetlands, and other waterways across the nation from White House attempts to gut Clean Water Act protections.
  • Save summer by ensuring that swimming, paddling, and splashing stay safe. Last year, Russian Riverkeeper successfully kept dangerous bacteria out of the river and reduced toxic green algae blooms.
  • Mobilize volunteers to clean up over 400,000 pounds – as much as a blue whale – of trash. Trash strangles our river ecosystem and local economy, and turns our ocean into a garbage patch.
  • Restore 360 acres of historical floodplain just west of Windsor, which is critical habitat for juvenile steelhead, and coho and Chinook salmon. It’ll also give families a place to enjoy and learn about the watershed.
  • Expand our outreach with special attention to underserved and BIPOC communities.

 

Member of The Waterkeeper Alliance

 Waterkeeper Alliance ensures that the world’s Waterkeeper groups are as connected to each other as they are to their local waters, organizing the fight for clean water into a coordinated global movement.

Member of California Coastkeeper Alliance

 California Coastkeeper Alliance uses law, policy, science, and creative media to help Waterkeeper programs advance statewide policies and programs for healthy and clean waters.


WHAT WE DO:

Drinkable. Fishable. Swimmable. We fight for clean water.

Russian Riverkeeper represents our river community’s interest in clean water by providing science-based advocacy and by influencing policy to better protect our watershed. We hold our government officials accountable for enforcing our bedrock environmental protection laws and stopping polluters.

Russian River Watershed’s watchdog.

Our advocacy program actively reviews regulatory permits including development proposals, stormwater pollution control permits, water flow levels and other issues that affect the health of the River. We partner with other local organizations, hire expert scientists and attorneys, and engage our members in speaking out and advocating for a healthy Russian River.

As a Waterkeeper, advocacy is our DNA.

Russian Riverkeeper coordinates closely with California Coastkeeper Alliance,  Waterkeeper Alliance and other local Waterkeepers, and partners to strengthen water policies at the state and federal levels.

We tackle tough issues.

Other Information

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Testimonials

Kind Charity Spotlight: Russian Riverkeeper in Sonoma County, California

A short interview with Don McEnhill, Russian Riverkeeper Read more

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Blog

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Don McEnhill has made it his mission to protect one of Healdsburg’s most prized assets…its water. Making sure the water stays clean and healthy is important not only for its economic impact on the surrounding agriculture, but also for preserving a way of life with recreational opportunities for generations to come.

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Watershed Map
Watershed Map

The Russian River is 110 miles long with headwaters North of Ukiah, near Willits, that flow southward to Forestville where it runs West and empties into the Pacific at Jenner.

The watershed area is roughly 1500 square miles, with large dams Lake Mendocino in Ukiah and Lake Sonoma near Healdsburg. In Potter Valley a PG&E hydroelectric facility diverts water from the Eel River into the East Fork of the Russian River.

The Russian River was first known among the Southern Pomo as Ashokawna, “East water place” or “water to the East;” later an 1843 Spanish Land Grant referred to it as Rio Grande.

The river gets its current name from the Russians of the Russian American Company who settled in Fort Ross just North of Jenner in the early 1800’s and explored the river using native Inuit’s from the far North to trap fur bearing river otters and sea otters off the coast. After the Russian American Company left Fort Ross, the next wave of settlers were drawn to the plentiful redwoods and logging became the principal industry in the watershed, with mills and railroads sprouting up to cut and transport centuries old redwood to the San Francisco Bay Area to construct buildings and ships.

The Russian River drew people since the first Native American settlers because of its bountiful fish populations and abundance of basket making materials. The Russian River is still home to endangered and threatened runs of Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout.

Today the Russian River is a cornerstone to the local community and the greater San Francisco Bay area, providing water to over 600,000 residents and summer recreation to almost a million visitors a year. The Russian River’s recreational opportunities to swim, sunbathe, float a tube, canoe or kayak, fish, bird watch, relax, or just get away and connect with nature have drawn visitors and summer residents from the northern California for over a 100 years.


Watershed Tribal Map
Watershed Tribal Map

Resources

KRIS supplies technical information about fish, water quality and watershed dynamics.

The North Coast Resource Partnership has many pages of information about the Russian River watershed.

Sonoma County Regional Parks lists river access points.

Swim Guide is a smartphone app that helps you discover beaches along the Russian River and California coast. It shows you the current status of each beach so you know where the water is clean enough to swim every single day. It also allows you to report pollution to your closest Waterkeeper.

Staff

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Don McEnhill 

Riverkeeper & Executive Director

Don McEnhill grew up on the Russian River while spending his summers at his family’s cabin on Fitch Mountain where he formed a lifelong bond with the River. With his business background, he effectively works with citizen groups, businesses, property owners and government agencies to safeguard our most important community resource.  He has researched and advocated on water quality issues, developed our education programs and Riverkeeper Stewardship Park, while managing our growing organization since 2001. Don is an avid bicyclist, white water paddler and most enjoys playing on the River with his kids!
 

Birkin Newell

Education and Restoration Director

Birkin Newell developed a love of nature from growing up in Modjeska Canyon, nestled in the Santa Ana Mountains of Southern California.  After completing his Bachelor of Science Degree in Aquatic Biology from U.C. Santa Barbara, he has built a career around the outdoors.  He has worked as a naturalist for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the YMCA Point Bonita Outdoor Center, and Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, where he managed a nature preserve.  Habitat restoration and natural resources management have also been a career focus, working for the U.S. Forest Service, UCSB’s Museum of Systematics and Ecology, the Sonoma County Water Agency, and Audubon Canyon Ranch.  He lives on a farm outside of Cotati and enjoys hiking with his family, playing music, surfing, fishing, and mountain biking. Birkin can be reached at birkin@russianriverkeeper.org
 

Carol Shumate

Clean Camps Coordinator


Jaime Neary

Staff Attorney

A California native, Jaime Neary grew up spending all her time outdoors and quickly made the ocean her second home. She has a B.S. in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz and a J.D. from Vermont Law School—both degrees with focuses in environmental conservation. Her goal is to combine the two interests and help bridge the gap between the science and legislative worlds to create effective and long-lasting change. To date, some of her more notable experiences are working with adaptive marine management, and helping to file a citizen suit in San Diego County for egregious Clean Water Act violations. In her spare time she enjoys: sailing, scuba diving, surfing, swimming, photography, jiu-jitsu and muay thai. Jaime can be reached at jaime@russianriverkeeper.org.
 

Ariel Majorana

Environmental Justice Outreach Specialist

Ariel has lived in Northern California her whole life, and can’t get enough of its natural beauty.  She left Point Arena to pursue a Bachelors degree in Communications and Liberal Studies and a Masters degree in Equity and Social Justice at San Francisco State University, while working in informal science education and youth development for 10 years.  She now lives in Guerneville and is committed to protecting the Russian River watershed and advocating for accessible, clean water for all people.

Her drive to work toward principles of environmental justice come from a combination of growing up off-grid, as close to the natural environment as you can get, and studying inequities in every aspect of our social structure. Ariel takes a personal interest in protecting the environment and people living in it by applying an intersectional lens, raising awareness, fostering community engagement, and by creating space and partnerships to empower stewardship.  In her spare time, you can find her exploring and photographing the natural world, long distance running, and playing music on the guitar or ukulele.  Ariel can be reached at ariel@russianriverkeeper.org.


 

Tamara Evans

Bookkeeper

Tamara came to the Russian River in Healdsburg when she met her husband in 1990. In the summer cabin he renovated, they raised their son in the water, on the banks, and among the hills across from Fitch Mountain. She feels lucky that the river is part of her daily life, and is proud to be supporting Russian Riverkeeper’s work. With a background in education and accounting, Tamara has worked for non-profits including the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, and currently volunteers with the Ceres Community Project. She enjoys hiking, singing and cooking, and spends most evenings ballroom dancing.

 

 

Lola Dvorak

Communications Director

Lola grew up along the Mississippi River in rural Wisconsin before moving to California and falling in love with its iconic coast and many natural wonders. She has a passion for science communications, environmental protection, and member advocacy. Most recently, she fought for drinkable, fishable, swimmable waters as a consultant for grassroots groups including California Coastkeeper Alliance. She holds a B.A. in conservation biology and environmental studies and a M.S. in water resources management from the University of Wisconsin. Lola can be reached at lola@russianriverkeeper.org


 

Bob Legge

Special Projects Manager

Bob is a Northern California native. He grew up spending his summers paddling on the Russian River. An outdoor enthusiast, he loves backpacking, bicycling, trial running and has an affinity for aquatic ecosystems. A graduate of Sonoma State University who received a Bachelors of Science in the Water Program under Steve Norwick, Bob spent over six years monitoring North Coast Rivers and their tributaries for the local State Water Resources Control Board in Santa Rosa.
Bob gained many certificates and licenses over the last few years. He is proficient with GIS, a Qualified Stormwater Practitioner (QSP), a Bioassessment Practitioner, a Drinking Water Treatment Operator (T2) as well as a Water Distribution Operator (D2). “If it has anything to do with water, I have a passion for learning everything I can about it” is Bob’s mantra. He looks forward to applying all his skills toward fulfilling the mission of the Russian Riverkeeper and directing policy toward protecting the Russian River Watershed for all its inhabitants now and forever. Bob can be reached at bob@russianriverkeeper.org


BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

Ed Burdett

President

Ed worked in investment banking for 39 years raising money for State and local projects.  He specialized in utility financing and worked for a number of city, county and irrigation district issuers on a variety of clean water, wastewater, water storage and water conveyance projects.  He retired as a Managing Director from Bank of America.  He has been a Russian River watershed landowner since 1989 and moved up permanently in 2010. He is now focusing on making wine and olive oil.  A former triathlete and marathoner, Ed now stays active biking and rowing.
 

Karen Kline 

Vice President

Karen grew up in St. Louis, MO, in a family whose concern for the environment led to recycling paper and “tin” cans as far back as the 1950s.  Although she never lost her interest in the environment, her passion has been leadership education for women.  Thus she has made a career of volunteer service in the not-for-profit sector with organizations supporting young people.  Because of this passion, she was asked to lead a $1,000,000 campaign to fund a leadership education endowment.  She then took a 5-year “hiatus” from volunteer service to become Director of Development for Amigos de las Americas in Houston, TX.  Since moving to Healdsburg in 2011, while still involved in developing future leaders, her life-long desire to help preserve the environment has returned as a major interest.
 

Paul Dolan

Treasurer

Paul Dolan believes that business leaders can help make a better world, and he sees Mendocino County, California, as fertile ground to grow this vision. In Paul’s time at Fetzer Vineyards he led a transformation that put the company at the forefront of organic viticulture and business sustainability and continues to his efforts to improve sustainability. His ultimate intention is to develop the agricultural community into an example of sustainability for the rest of the business world. Paul’s passion is winegrowing at his family’s Dark Horse Ranch in Mendocino County near the Russian River.
 

Brian Burwell 

Board Member

Brian is a partner in Bridgespan’s San Francisco office. He joined Bridgespan to follow his passion and commitment to make a difference on critical social issues including the environment, education and healthcare.

Brian’s focus at Bridgespan has been with both nonprofit organizations and with leading foundations, philanthropists and collaboratives. Brian is also leading Bridgespan’s multi-year initiative designed to work with nonprofit organizations to strengthen their business models for impact and to build organizational effectiveness.

Brian brings extensive management consulting experience working with some of the world’s leading corporations and nonprofit organizations on strategy, execution, organization, and leadership. Brian’s experience has spanned six continents and numerous sectors, including education, the environment, healthcare, consumer products, retail, and hospitality.

Prior to joining Bridgespan Brian spent over 35 years as a partner at Marakon, a strategy and organization consulting firm, where he also served as CEO and was a member of its San Francisco, London, New York, and Melbourne offices. Prior to Marakon, Brian was a research manager with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and an economist with an environmental research group at the University of California, Davis.

Brian is deeply involved with sports, charitable, and educational organizations. He is the chair of the Dean’s advisory council at the University of California, Davis, on the boards of Russian Riverkeeper and Actify, a San Francisco based software company, and continues to serve as a senior advisor for Marakon.

Brian received his AA from Santa Rosa Junior College, BA in economics from the University of California at Davis and MBA from Stanford University. He and his wife, Beatrice are the parents of three adult sons, and grandparents of two girls and a boy.


Jill Young Fisher

 

Board Member

 
 
 

Jill has spent many years in California helping to brand and market consumer products, wineries, hospitality and real estate businesses, in addition to Pro-Bono work for the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet and the Napa Valley Wine Auction and Grace Cathedral. Jill fell in love with Healdsburg and the Dry Creek Valley and in 2007 she and her husband, Jay, purchased their home on West Dry Creek Road.

Jill’s experience has included virtually everything involved in the creation and implementation of marketing and promotional programs. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati, in addition to a full fellowship from Yale School of Music and Art and she was also awarded the Wilder Traveling Scholarship for studies in Europe.

Gardening and growing Sauvignon Blanc is a passion for Jill. In addition to serving on the DCVA Outreach and Valley Protection Committee, she also was a Raven Theatre board member for 3 years. She has been a guest lecturer for the Academy of Art and the University of San Francisco. Jill was Vice President of San Francisco’s Fort Mason Community Garden for nine years. She is an equestrian and a member of the Hannovarian Society since 1978, raising and breeding Hanovarians. She is an active member of the California Water Color Association and has exhibited in museums and numerous local and national juried show.


Julien Gervreau

Board Member

A Sonoma County native, Julien grew up on the Russian River near Digger’s Bend in Healdsburg where he gained a deep appreciation for the role the river plays in our region’s psyche. Julien is the Director of Sustainability at Jackson Family Wines where his main areas of focus include setting strategies and tactical implementation of water and energy efficiency, onsite renewable energy generation, GHG emissions reductions, and waste diversion for the company’s California and Oregon operations. He has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco and is passionate about designing, developing and managing sustainable business systems that enhance the triple bottom line of economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social equity. Julien lives in Cloverdale with his wife and two young children, where they all share a tandem kayak that needs two additional seats!
 

Marc Kahn

Board Member

Originally from Northeast Ohio, Marc received his undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati and graduate degree at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. After internships with the Urban Institute and Council of State Community Affairs Agencies, he embarked in a career as a writer and editor for a leading housing publication in Washington, D.C, which focused on federal housing programs, community development, taxation, and legislation. He co-founded the Bancroft Foundation in 1999 to concentrate his energies on environmental and water quality issues, land conservation and stewardship, and education. Since permanently moving to Sonoma County in 2015, Marc has increased the Bancroft Foundation’s portfolio to include mental health issues, workforce development, and diversity and youth leadership in the environmental movement.
 

Virginia Strom-Martin

Board Member

Virginia is a former assembly member having served the 1st Assembly District from 1996-2002. She taught elementary school in Santa Rosa for 23 years prior to her election. While in the Assembly, she chaired the Joint Legislative Fisheries and Aquaculture Committee, the Budget Resources Sub-Committee, and the Education Committee. In 2000-2010 she served on the North Coast Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Marine Life Protection Act. Virginia has lived on the Russian River in Duncans Mills for 40 years this July and is a 5th generation North Coast resident. Her wish is to see that our precious and life-sustaining environments remain pristine for generations to come.