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Roundtable: Fish Barriers and Free-flowing Rivers: Challenges of Native Fish Recovery
Tuesday, September 12, 2023, 3:30 AM - 4:30 PM EDT
Category: Events

Fish Barriers

Fish Barriers and Free-flowing Rivers: Challenges of Native Fish Recovery

River Management Roundtable
Sep. 12 | 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. ET

This Roundtable aims to continue a conversation about seemingly divergent priorities: protecting native fish species with fish barriers and maintaining the free-flowing characteristics of rivers.

Invasive, non-native fish species have been threatening biological diversity in North American rivers for over a century after being introduced to numerous rivers and lakes. A common approach for native fish recovery includes creating physical barriers on stream corridors that prevent upstream travel of invasive fish species. Traditional fish barrier designs outside of Wild and Scenic River corridors appear like dams, alter river channel morphology, cause aesthetic impacts, and pose hazards to river recreationists. Constructing fish barriers within eligible and designated Wild and Scenic River corridors pose challenges to conservationists seeking to recover native fish species and require novel approaches that meet fish management objectives, while protecting Wild and Scenic River values and free-flowing character.

The topic is not limited to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, however this is where the issue is coming to a head in the west. Fish barriers constructed on federally designated free-flowing rivers may challenge their protective designations or make them ineligible for protection in the future. 

Join us to discuss the issue with topic experts who are aiming to balance recovery of native fish with the preservation of the remaining free-flowing rivers.


 Kestrel Kunz

Kestrel Kunz is the Southern Rockies Protection Director for American Whitewater. She directs American Whitewater's river protection work in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Kestrel primarily works on public land management, Wild and Scenic River legislation, water quality protections, and other grassroots river advocacy in the region. She has a passion for free-flowing rivers and has worked to find collaborative solutions for proposed fish barriers in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Kestrel grew up paddling with her family in Vermont and Canada, and later found her passion for protecting rivers while kayaking in Ecuador during high school. She has a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences focused around the question, “How can we best manage freshwater resources?” She currently lives in Crested Butte, Colorado, where she works for American Whitewater and as a ski patroller on the weekends.

Brian Hodge

Brian Hodge is a Fisheries Scientist for Trout Unlimited (TU), where he works with other TU staff and collaborators to provide and synthesize science that informs conservation of coldwater fishes.  His research interests include fish movement, life history, and temperature relationships, as well as watershed restoration and restoration effectiveness monitoring.  Brian holds a B.S. in Hydrobiology from the University of California at Davis, M.S. in Fisheries Biology from Humboldt State University, and FP-C (Fisheries Professional Certification) from the American Fisheries Society.  Prior to joining TU’s Science Team, he spent a dozen years in TU’s Western Conservation Program, where he planned, implemented, and monitored watershed and fisheries restoration projects.  Brian and his family reside near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Sam Swanson

Sam Swanson is a water resource engineer for McLaughlin Whitewater, a Denver-based firm that specializes in urban river restoration, recreational whitewater, and wave design. Sam’s passionate about restoring rivers for the benefit of local communities, ecology, and the environment. His Master’s thesis studied hydraulics and fish behavior near engineered structures. In his free time, Sam’s paddling for fun or volunteering with a kids kayaking club on his home river, the White Salmon.

Steve Chesterton Steve Chesterton is the USDA Forest Service Wild & Scenic Rivers National Program Manager, based in Washington, DC. His position responsibilities include national program oversight and policy coordination for the designated rivers that the Forest Service is involved in managing as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, along with the rivers and streams found to be candidates for future designation. He also serves on the Interagency Wild and Scenic Rivers Coordinating Council. Steve received his B.S. in Environmental Studies from Santa Clara University, and his J.D. from University of Colorado-Boulder Law School.
Risa Shimoda

Risa Shimoda, Executive Director of the River Management Society, supports the River Management Society program staff and board with a background in design engineering, consumer products marketing and non-profit leadership. She received a BS in Engineering / Product Design from Stanford University and trained as a consumer products marketer at Procter & Gamble, M&M/Mars and Coca-Cola USA before directing marketing, sales, and product development for kayaks and paddlesports accessories at Perception, the world’s largest kayak manufacturer (prior to its purchase in the late ‘90s). As Executive Director of American Whitewater (AW), she and her team represented river users in the relicensing of hydropower projects and pursued the right of public access on precedent-setting cases. She pioneered corporate support for AW and developed its first event-based business model for the Gauley River Festival, the largest U.S. river-based annual fundraising event. An avid whitewater paddler, Risa co-founded the Outdoor Alliance and has served on the boards of the Conservation Alliance, North American Paddlesports Association, American Whitewater, Nantahala Outdoor Center, International Whitewater Hall of Fame, and World River Center.



River Management Roundtables are free and open to River Management Society members and non-members. Registrants will receive a link to the recording following the discussion. You can also access dozens of previous Roundtables, webinars and workshops in our River Training Channel.

Watch the recording

About RMS River Management Roundtables

Each month, the River Management Society hosts virtual conversations with professional river, greenway, and water trails leaders, planners, and managers whose community, region, state and federal river will benefit from the experiences of peer-to-peer sharing. Our goal is to facilitate an open forum to support your work managing rivers. We work together to tackle common issues by asking questions, sharing solutions and building comradery.