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Managing Rivers in Changing Times: Training Tomorrow's River Professionals


The River Management Society (RMS) hosted Managing Rivers in Changing Climes: Training Tomorrow’s River Professionals April 14-18, 2014 in Denver.  This 12th biennial training symposium provided a unique opportunity to meet and learn from professionals who work on rivers for a wide array of organizations.  Comparing notes with federal and state river managers and planners, recreation specialists for utilities, professors conducting river study projects and rive conservation advocates….offered a ‘boat full’ of river-specific experience and connections.

Nashville Mayor Karl DeanJeff Shoemaker, The Greenway FoundationJane Polansky - Program Co-ChairKen Ransford - Chair









Sponsors included engineers who have restored rivers and built whitewater parks that have withstood 100 year floods. Our first morning keynote speaker Jeff Shoemaker, the Denver-based Greenway Foundation’s Executive Director,walked us through the restoration and rediscovery of Denver’s birthplace from the mind-numbing flood of 1964. Thursday's keynote speaker Mayor Karl Dean from Nashville kept us spellbound as he told the hour-by-hour story of his city’s devastating flood in 2010.  RMS members hailing from Colorado fueled much of the event preparation, notably our Chair, Carbondale resident Ken Ransford and Rob White from the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Park Manager in Salida.

Current and past RMS leaders and sponsors Robin Fehlau, Lynette Ripley, Bunny Sterin, Coriat Waters, Lelia Mellen, Cathi BaileyBill Hansen, National Park ServiceWorkshops on hydropower relicensing, collaboration and project funding were led by representatives of private, state and federal agencies. A training was held or those who write National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) assessments and comment on Environment Impact Statements (EIS). A multi-day workshop taught by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) helped agency and other hydropower project stakeholders understand what will be expected from the information provided in the the FERC Form 80, due April, 2015.  
Professional development sessions included advice and suggested strategies from the Southwest Conservation Corps and Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education. Other topics included
  • River Studies and Leadership Certificate
  • Leave No Trace awareness 
  • Personal Safety training, invaluable for all who work with the public
  • Recreational Whitewater: Keys to Successful Management
  • Techniques for using chain saws in and on the water
  • Paddlesports instruction for adaptive needs paddlers.
  • River management law and floodplain management (continuing education credits offered)


Joy Lujan, National Park ServiceColin Maas, MT Fish, Wildlife and ParksField demonstration during 'Chainsaw In/On W0ater' TrainingExhibitors included Bureau of Land Management, CXT Concrete Buildings, McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group, Wild and Scenic Rivers, Jack's Plastic Welding, and

Scott Bosse, American Rivers 









See more images from the symposium at the RMS Facebook page, and read on to review the program abstracts and presentations...



2014 Training Workshops and Presentations

Session Abstracts, by Track:

Marine Metes, candidate for MS at University of Maryland, Baltimore CampusDennis Willis, RMS President

Ben Nielsen, McLaughlin Whitewater Design GroupPeter Hark, RMS-Midwest Chapter President, MN Department of Natural ResourcesHarry Williamson, hydropower consultantLindsay Smith, Portland General Electric and Lynette Ripley, RMS-Northwest Chapter PresidentJeff Shoemaker, The Greenway Foundation; Dave Bennetts, Urban Drainage and Flood Control District; Brooke Seymour, McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group

















...and the 2014 River Management Awards go to...

The River Management Society (RMS) congratulates winners of the 2014 River Management Awards, individuals who have exhibited outstanding achievement and leadership among river professionals in their stewardship of our rivers. Here are this year’s awardees, nominated by their peers and reviewed by the RMS Awards Committee:

River Manager of the Year - Mary Crockett, Congaree Land Trust, RMS-Southwest Chapter President 
Contribution to the River Management Society - Risa Shimoda, RMS Executive Director
Contribution to River Management - Bob Martini, retired, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Frank Church Wild and Scenic Rivers Award - Nancy Schweiger, U.S. Forest Service, retired

Join us in applauding this year’s winners.  These honors, open to both members and non-members, represent the highest form of peer appreciation. Nominations are submitted by individuals from the river management community, and the selections are made by a committee of RMS members led by the National Secretary.

River Manager of the Year - Mary Crockett (Columbia, South Carolina)

Following her retirement from South Carolina Department of Natural Resources as River Manager, Mary joined the staff of Congaree Land Trust, where she now serves as Land Protection Director. For thirty years, Mary has been instrumental in protecting lands adjacent to South Carolina rivers, conserving natural wetlands, and educating future generations about the importance of protecting our waterways. Mary’s many accomplishments include: multiple successful grants secured ensuring over 25,000 acres of conservation easements are in place; over 25 miles of river corridor protected and recognized with National Recreation Trail status and/or Blue Trail designation; and well-trained staff and volunteers that monitor conservation easements. Mary has instructed children and adults in watercraft safety at multiple events across the state, offered many presentations about SC rivers and river issues, and published 8 Baseline Documentation Reports.
Her roles with RMS began as an active Southeast RMS chapter member in 2000, and as Southeast Chapter President for seven years. She has been a “mover and shaker” with chapter officers across the country, encouraging them to conduct annual float trips, membership drives, and promotion of RMS as an organization, and she has been a stalwart resource for RMS journal articles. Well-respected among her peers, Mary provides a strong voice for the Southeast chapter and organization as a whole. In addition to her passion for rivers, and her planning and management skills, the board meetings benefit from her talent as a patient, open, direct and sincere contributor.

Contribution to the RMS - Risa Shimoda (Takoma Park, Maryland) 

Risa serves as Executive Director for the RMS and although her job performance has been rated by the Board as Excellent, this is afterall, her job. It’s Risa’s determined commitment and how she goes above and beyond her half-time contract with a can-do attitude to continually develop and promote RMS while always expanding the scope and reach of our organization. In just a two year period of time, she has created significant growth and positive change for the RMS organization. She has provided exceptional contributions to national policy, planning, and program development that impact how RMS protects and enhances river systems by bringing new and improved recognition to RMS as a leader among professional organizations. Her leadership within RMS has created sustainable positive change leading numerous focus groups, representing RMS at agency meetings, continuing fundraising efforts, grant writing, and cheerleading Chapter efforts. She continually donates over and above her normal paid schedule to ensure the success of RMS. She has brought new and positive private and public awareness of the RMS in academia via a new river certification and learning program with participating colleges and universities. She has increased membership substantially, developed and/or located new sources of funding or resources for the RMS. Simply put, RMS would not be where it is today without the work of Risa Shimoda.

Contribution to River Management  -  Bob Martini (Rhinelander, Wisconsin)

In the early 1970’s and subsequent to passing the Clean Water Act, Bob took on the economically powerful and politically influential paper mills that lined the banks of the Wisconsin River where they deposited their waste. He and his colleagues used the law and science to eventually work the paper industry into compliance. Bob convinced industry leaders they could actually make money by not throwing useable product into the river. Sections of river once biologically dead are now healthy and popular recreation stretches. The mills also take pride in the part they played in saving the Wisconsin River. Later in his career, Bob helped his agency reorganize river management in a way that benefitted and highlighted rivers and citizen awareness. Long before citizen water quality data collection was mainstream, Bob advocated his agency to incorporate this to engage citizens. He also urged more forceful promotion of small dam removal projects.

During his career and since retirement, he has been a staunch and consistent advocate with and for many river groups; helping to start up and later lead the River Alliance of Wisconsin, several water and land conservation organizations; and a member of his county board, where he has made water and land conservation a serious topic. At every opportunity, Bob combines his expertise about rivers and river management with an undying passion for flowing waters. He embodies a rare package of scientific knowledge and passion for rivers, making him one of the most credible voices for rivers to the general public in the state of Wisconsin. He was described by one colleage as having a “…dedication to rivers and the public trust that is legendary.”

Frank Church Wild and Scenic Rivers - Nancy Schweiger (Gold Beach, Oregon)

This award recognizes Nancy's ability to resolve challenging issues and advance awareness and stewardship as a river Manager on the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest  of four National Wild and Scenic Rivers - the Rogue, Chetco, Illinois, and North Fork of the Smith. These rivers host over 200,000 visitors annually, and their management includes 80 conservation easements and almost one hundred special use permits. During the final seven years of a 30 year career in natural resources, Nancy changed an adversarial environment (her district was singled-out for “how not to steward Wild and Scenic Rivers,” and the Chetco was listed by American Rivers as one of our nation's most endangered rivers) into one that supported the river through improved conservation easement enforcement and support of the non-profit organization “Trash Dogs"  to pick up cars, trailers, refrigerators, and other debris. Thanks to Nancy, who recognized  that employees needed to spend more time in-the-field stewarding the lands they administered, employee time on the water increased by fifty percent, and so too did on-the-ground stewardship and compliance.

She was a founder of the Southwest Oregon and Northern California Symposium on Wild and Scenic Rivers held in 2011 to increase understanding of the protection requirements associated with managing Wild and Scenic Rivers. She was a leader of the 2-day “Cherish the Chetco” event in 2012 to promote local awareness and stewardship and featured educational programs and volunteer stewardship projects involving 12 community organizations. In 2013, Nancy served on the steering committee for  “Experience the Elk” which promoted stewardship of the Wild and Scenic Elk River.


RMS extends a hearty 'thank you' to the RMS Awards Committee: before the award nominations came rolling in this year, we welcomed two new award committee members Alan Vandiver (retired Forest Service) and Bo Shelby (Oregon State University). These new members, together with existing committee members from Washington D.C., Alaska, Colorado, and Idaho helped to round out representation across the country.

To individuals who submitted nominations, and to the RMS Awards Committee members who have dedicate many hours of thoughtful consideration to the annual awards process: thank you!

Congratulations again to all honorees!






Managing Rivers in Changing Times: Training Tomorrow's River Professionals
April 14-18, 2014     Denver, Colorado

 Event Details and Registration  Pre-registration discounts end April 1. Sponsorship Opportunities

Join us at the 12th biennial River Management Society week of training for agency managers, planners, watershed and watertrails practitioners, where you can update skills, discover new planning tools and update best practices that you can take back to your desk or field-based job. Workshops and presentations are offered in the following tracks:

River Planning and Management - Update your skills or resource knowledge regarding  launch site planning, interactive map development for water trails; low hazard engineered river park development; recovering from major flood events; and the process of collaboration that has empowered a new generation of river stewards. 

Legal and Legislative - Learn the array of federal, state, and 'administrative' tools that affect how river water is owned, appropriated and made available for use. These include legislation; state specific rules; recreational use statutes; and the relicensing of hydropower dams.

Environmental - You may know it cold, can you write National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessments effectively? Save hundreds of dollars and increase your topic expertise with the NEPA writing skills and interpretation trainings. Get the updates on alternate energy options and their impact on rivers.

Wild and Scenic Rivers - Training workshops will be held on Wild and Scenic Rivers Management, conducting WSR Studies, and  making a Section 7 determinations.

Funding Rivers - Panels will discuss state funding options, the yin and yang of federal funding and perspectives from private foundations who support river work.

Professional Development:- Sessions will include discussion of workplace opportunities with Youth Conservation Corps; the new River Studies and Leadership Certificate, personal safety training for river and non-river encounters; and removing woody debris with chainsaws in and out of water!  An American Canoe Association Paddlesports Accessibility Workshop will also be conducted.

Special Workshops - Legal, Floodplain Management, Hydropower FERC Form 80

April 14 - One day, standalone

River Management Law - Continuing Legal Education, Inc. will host a one day standalone workshop Monday, April 14th, offered in partnership with RMS.  see program here. CLE is offering a very generous, special registration price for RMS members: visit the Managing Rivers in Changing Climes Registration Site for pricing and instructions how to sign up for this special workshop. (7+ continuing education credits are available).

Floodplain Managers Workshop - This one day, standalone workshop offers 10 continuing education credits from our Association of Flood Plain Managers trainers and 9 CECs approved by the State of Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Insurance (DORA) for  in the Property/Casualty Category. Courses are listed on the SIRCON website, Provider: PLANS & MORE, LLP, Provider #: 203873, Course No. 54059 - 54065.



Register for this workshop on the Managing Rivers in Changing Climes Registration Site. If you'd like to register for this workshop AND others during the week, you'll need to set up another registration: sorry about this extra step. Click here for the Course Agenda, Course Overview, and Pre-requisite information.

April 15-18

FERC Form 80 - A multi-day workshop taught by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will help agency and other hydropower project stakeholders understand the important processes of completing the FERC Form 80 correctly by hydropower companies in 2015.  You can register just for this training or as an add-on to the full Tuesday-Thursday event: see the Managing Rivers in Changing Climes Registration Site for program details.

Field Sessions

Complement classroom sessions see "Field Sessions" on the registration site.

Location / Lodging

Renaissance Denver Hotel - Book Deluxe Room -  $145  per night  - Group rate is being held open as long as there are rooms available!

3801 Quebec Street, Denver, Colorado 80207
(303) 399.7500

• Check-in: Sun Apr 13, 2014
• Check-out: Sat Apr 19, 2014
• Special rate available until: Mon Mar 24, 2014

Click here for details and to register.  We look forward to seeing you soon! 






Poster Session/Contest

This is an opportunity to promote your organization and to better educate individuals about initiatives taken to promote one or more of the four themes identified above.  Individuals may enter a poster in one or more of the theme categories.  Symposium participants will have an opportunity to cast votes to determine awards that will be given to winners in each category. 

Poster Session Links

Need assistance  justifying your attendance? 

In this environment of tight travel budgets and general expense austerity, you may need to present a strong case for attending Managing Rivers in Changing Climes: Training Future River Professionals. This sample justification letter may be help you pursue your ability to join your river management colleagues in Denver!