RiverSpeak: stories that ripple

RiverSpeak Podcast

RiverSpeak is devoted to inspire and inform river conservation. We explore rivers by telling the stories of people that would save them.

Rob Pirani: The Hudson River, A Clarion Call for Stewardship
Apr 21 2021
Rob Pirani: The Hudson River, A Clarion Call for Stewardship
In this episode--the 3rd in a mini-series titled "New Life for America's Big City Rivers"--we discover The Hudson River with Rob Pirani, program director of  The New York - New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program.The Hudson River is one of America's most storied and imperiled rivers. As the New York City Metropolitan Area grew over time, unabated dumping of waste water and industrial pollutants into the river took a heavy toll on the health of the ecosystem. In 1966, alarmed at the pollution of his beloved Hudson River, legendary musician and activist, Pete Seeger, built a 106-foot sloop--the Clearwater--and for years sailed numerous educational voyages on the waterway. Seeger's outreach that mixed music and environmentalism awakened thousands of people to use their voice for change; the effort is widely credited as pivotal in gaining approval of the federal Clean Water Act of 1972. Against this backdrop of history, we pick up the conversation with Rob Pirani and learn about improvements to water quality of the Hudson River today and the life that's returning to the Estuary.  Rob outlines what's being done to address residual pollutants in the river system the research and and the planning underway for new projects designed for adapting to climate change.  One of the important projects now taking place in the Estuary is the reestablishment of oyster reefs to provide breakwaters that can reduce wave velocity during storm surge, protect against erosion, and provide natural water filtration.  The Billion Oyster Project is embraced by the community and proving to be a success.  Rob’s passion for reconnecting people to the Harbor Estuary is impressive and we'll hear firsthand about his thoughtful approach to supporting communities and the need for providing equitable access. The episode concludes with Rob sharing experiences that have been fun and rewarding.For additional information and to support Rob's work, go to The Hudson River Foundation. We're excited to bring Rob's story to you, thanks for listening.  For photos and more information about our episodes, please visit RiverSpeak Podcast. All rivers have stories that ripple. I'm Dave Koehler.  Be well, and do good work.
Margaret Frisbie: The Chicago River, Friends to the Rescue!
Apr 21 2021
Margaret Frisbie: The Chicago River, Friends to the Rescue!
In this episode--the 2nd in a mini-series titled "New Life for America's Big City Rivers"--we discover The Chicago River with Margaret Frisbie, executive director of  Friends of the Chicago River. In 1673, indigenous people showed French explorers where they could portage their canoes from Lake Michigan into the Mississippi watershed with just a one-and-a-half mile carry. The spot became known as the Chicago Portage and the trade and travel route ultimately gave rise to the Chicago Metropolitan Area of today.  Through conversation with Margaret Frisbie, we learn the history of the Chicago River and its terrible state of pollution in 1979, the year that Friends of the Chicago River was formed. We learn that Friends founders could see past the sewage and create a vision for a healthy river system cherished by the community.  Friends has been working to improve the health of the Chicago River for the benefit of people, plants and animals; and by doing so, has laid the foundation for the river to be a beautiful, continuous, and easily accessible corridor of open space in the Chicago region.We learn about Friends work on the Chicago River in three program areas, including the Chicago River Schools Network, providing K-12 teachers the training and personalized assistance they need to immerse their students in the turbulent history, evolving ecology, and improving health of the Chicago River.  They empower schools with excellent tools for hands-on scientific experimentation, water quality monitoring, art/writing projects, and ecological restoration for students of all ages.Margaret's passion for paddling, wildlife, and community is reconnecting people to the Chicago River, resulting in a healthier ecosystem that's become central to the region's quality of life. For additional information and to support Margaret's work, go to Friends of the Chicago River. Friends also has a podcast, "Inside, Out & About," created to take listeners on a series of expeditions along the Chicago River system where beauty and nature abound.We're excited to bring Margaret's story to you, thanks for listening.  For more information about our episodes, please visit RiverSpeak Podcast. All rivers have stories that ripple. I'm Dave Koehler.  Be well, and do good work.
Laura Jasinski: The Charles River, Dirty Water No More
Apr 21 2021
Laura Jasinski: The Charles River, Dirty Water No More
In this episode--the 1st in a mini-series titled "New Life for America's Big City Rivers"--we discover The Charles River of Boston & Cambridge through conversation with Laura Jasinski, executive director of The Charles River Conservancy.  Water quality and the health of The Charles River was on a long downward spiral for hundreds of years beginning with Boston's founding in the 1600's. In 1995, the Environmental Protection Agency launched the Clean Charles River Initiative  setting a goal to make the Charles fishable and swimmable again.  We'll learn about dramatic improvements in the health of the river system over the last 25 years as well as explore the many challenges that lie ahead, including climate change. The Charles River Conservancy strives to make the Charles River and its parks a well-maintained network of natural urban places that invite and engage all in their use and stewardship. Their work includes an array of active programs and projects such as creating floating wetlands, a future swim park, and restoring urban wild.Our episode highlights Laura's passion and vision for creating parks and open spaces in her community. For additional information and to support Laura's work, visit The Charles River Conservancy. We're excited to bring Laura's story to you, thanks for listening.  For photos and more information about our episodes, please visit RiverSpeak Podcast. All rivers have stories that ripple. I'm Dave Koehler.  Be well, and do good work.
Sinjin Eberle: Giving Voice to American Rivers
Dec 1 2020
Sinjin Eberle: Giving Voice to American Rivers
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.  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.  For photos and more information about our episodes, please visit RiverSpeak Podcast. All rivers have stories that ripple. I'm Dave Koehler.  Be well, and do good work.
Risa Shimoda: River Choreography
Oct 21 2020
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. 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.There are a couple of great web resources for river professionals that Risa supports and they’re available to you as well: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, and local managers 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. For photos and more information about our episodes, go to RiverSpeak Podcast.  All rivers have stories that ripple. I’m Dave Koehler. Be well and do good work.
Kristina Ortez: Rio Fernando de Taos
Sep 27 2020
Kristina Ortez: Rio Fernando de Taos
“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.   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
Sep 26 2020
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 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
Sep 25 2020
Sharon Weaver: San Joaquin River Parkway
In this episode, we hear the story of 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. 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
Sep 24 2020
Julie Rentner: Bringing Life Back to Rivers
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’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, please check out River Partners website. Visit RiverSpeak Podcast for photographs and other fun news and information related to our episodes.All rivers have stories that ripple.  I'm Dave Koehler. Be well, and do good work.
Sara Press: Russian and Gualala Rivers
Sep 23 2020
Sara Press: Russian and Gualala Rivers
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 some patterns of use and a changing climate. 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. Visit RiverSpeak Podcast for photographs and other fun news and information related to our episodes.All rivers have stories that ripple.  I'm Dave Koehler. Be well, and do good work.