Northwest Chapter

Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming

Fall 2023 RMS Journal

The most recent RMS Journal with a Northwest focus was Fall 2023.

Welcome to the Northwest Chapter of the River Management Society! Comprised of RMS members from the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming the NW Chapter is the largest RMS chapter averaging 150 members. Our goal is to further the mission of RMS by providing a regional forum for members to network, learn, and expand their knowledge of river management through participation and involvement in NW Chapter activities while also enjoying themselves. The chapter has a diverse membership, representing private, educational and governmental institutions and organizations.

Your chapter officers work hard to represent you and facilitate an active membership. Chapter Bylaws provide direction for the functioning of the NW Chapter. Chapter accomplishments are many and we hope upcoming activities will interest youJoin RMS now!

Any professional member is eligible to run for office; officers serve a 3-year term. Candidates should be informed regarding and Chapter Officer Roles be willing to be an active participant. Contact any Northwest Chapter officer to become involved in local or national RMS activities.

Responsible Recreation Videos

RMS participated with Montana PBS and State and Federal Agencies along with the Flathead Rivers Alliance in the development of these responsible recreation videos:

Know Before You Go Safety Overnight Camping

Montana River Recreation:
Plan Ahead (Know Before You Go)

Montana River Recreation:
Safety and Recommendations
Montana River Recreation:
Overnight Camping

River Studies and Leadership Certificate Schools in the Northwest

Institutions offering the RMS River Studies and Leadership Certificate in the Northwest include University of Montana Western and Western Washington University. Below is a group of UMW students and U.S. Forest Service staff from the Flathead National Forest, who partnered on a variety of projects benefiting the forest. Photo by USFS. Learn more about these projects in this StoryMap.

University of Montana Western Students work with US Forest Service employees. Photo by USFS.

Upcoming Trips and Events

Day Trips: 

  • Nooksack River, Washington - June 22, 2024 (Trip Information)
  • Middle Fork Flathead River, Montana – July 17, 2024 (Trip Information)
  • Rogue River, Oregon  August 10, 2024 (Trip Information)
  • Main Payette or Snake River, Idaho – October 6, 2024 (Details coming!)

If you want to add a trip to this list, please contact Lelia_Mellen(at)nps.gov.

Rogue River by Patrick Kollodge

Past Chapter Events


Dearborn River MT by Cannon Colegrove

Dearborn River, Montana  May 2024


River Ranger Rendezvous 2023 North Fork Flathead River.  Photo: USFS

North Fork Flathead River, Montana – River Ranger Rendezvous  Summer 2023

Snake River, Wyoming – Fall 2023


Blackfoot River Montana. Photo by Cannon Colegrove.

Blackfoot River, Montana Summer 2022: NW Chapter members participated in a 3-night trip on the Blackfoot River in July of 2022. We had a great wood fired and Dutch oven BBQ night one at the Blackfoot Clearwater Game Range, home to abundant wildlife including elk, grizzly bears, and variety of birds. We had local cattle ranchers discuss how the rural community works to conserve the river for cold water trout habitat and recreation and preserving the land for wildlife habitat and soil health while cattle ranching. The next three days were filled with warm summer temperatures, good food, beautiful scenery, and great conversation while floating on the river and camping at reservable float-in campsites. Montana PBS was working with RMS and agency partners to build responsible recreation videos for Montana, which you can find on our Northwest Chapter page.



Lower Salmon Trip 2019

Lower Salmon River Trip, hosted by BLM Cottonwood Field Office (September 27-30, 2019) - The Northwest Chapter experienced a plethora of weather on their 4 day Lower Salmon Idaho trip during the end of September. Nevertheless, the group was nothing but smiles, laughter, chatter, and thrilled to be assisting the BLM with river ranger duties along the river. Tires and other trash debris were collected from the banks and camps and the group stopped at Eagle Beach to chat about projected/in progress projects the BLM is working on, such as boat ramp improvements, road improvements, and interp signage along the river. Keep an eye out for a more detailed article about the trip in the upcoming RMS Journal.

Northwest Chapter Officers (2024-2027)

Cannon Colegrove

President: Cannon Colegrove


Growing up in Montana, my passion for the outdoors started at a young age. As a child, my first overnight river trip was a 4-day canoe trip down the Smith River in Central Montana, which really sparked my interest in rivers.  After graduating from the University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in Natural Resource Management, I was fortunate for the opportunity to find myself back on the Smith River working as a River Ranger. During my time working on this incredible river, I really found a new appreciation for enhancing the recreation experience while preserving the unique cultural, historical, and natural resources that make the river a special place. I spent 5 years as a River Ranger in Missoula on the many western rivers in Montana including the Blackfoot River and Clark Fork River. Working in Missoula, I was able to build great connections with the landowners who have preserved these rivers for decades, the businesses that work on the river, and the public who enjoy these river resources within only minutes' drive from Missoula. The abundance of wildlife and mountainous landscapes makes Montana a special place to work and recreate. In 2022, My wife Holly and I moved to Great Falls, Montana where I now work as a Recreation Manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Great Falls divides the steep Rocky Mountain Front to the west and the rolling grass plains of eastern Montana to the east, which makes this diverse landscape an incredible place to work with an abundance or cultural and historical resources, fish and wildlife, and recreational opportunity. Outside of work and rivers, I volunteer as an EMT with Cascade County Search and Rescue and my interests include fishing, photography, bird hunting with my yellow lab, and traveling to new places.


Chris Elder

Vice President: Chris Elder


Chris grew up on the Blanco River of Central Texas and now lives on the South Fork of the Nooksack River in NW Washington, just outside of Bellingham. He works as a watershed management planner for a County trying to balance the high flows and low flows of the Nooksack in an agricultural and developing landscape. Floodwatch makes him giddy and rafting in the middle of winter when no one else is out there is where he finds peace. He went through guide training on the Nooksack about 10 years ago, bought a raft and started taking family and friends out as much as possible. He also runs a conservation planning company called Rivershed SPC and is currently working on a conservation project on the White Salmon River. He is dedicated to letting rivers run and trying to balance human and environmental demands in an increasingly challenging climate.

Chris is always working to improve access to and understanding of rivers and river ecosystems. He has grand ambitions of restoring riversheds and restoring the human connection to river systems. He is excited to bring his experience and motivation to the NW Chapter and contribute as best he can.

Echo Miller-Barnes

Secretary: Echo Miller-Barnes


I developed a passion for the natural world at a young age growing up in Colorado and spending weekends and breaks on rivers and public lands around the Four Corners area. That passion grew as I left Colorado for Portland, OR, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. Throughout college, I guided professionally on both the Deschutes River (OR) and Clear Creek (CO) and spent many weekends leading student outdoor trips around Oregon. A trip down the Rogue River introduced me to Wild and Scenic Rivers and sparked an interest in river work outside of guiding. I currently work for the US Forest Service as the lead river ranger on the Three Forks of the Flathead in NW Montana.

After being introduced to RMS a few years ago, I've found it to be a fantastic resource for professional and personal development, learning, and relationship building. It's great to be connected on a national level with people who are also passionate about rivers while also working to create more community among RMS members in the Northwest!

Lelia Mellen

Events Coordinator: Lelia Mellen


I have worked for the National Park Service Rivers & Trails Program for 30 years, focused on projects in northern New England before moving to Montana in 2023 to re-open an RTCA office. I work with river- and trail-oriented groups, community groups, local, state, and federal agencies, and nonprofits to help them with their outdoor recreation and conservation initiatives. I share her water trail management, organizational, fundraising, and land protection expertise with these varied groups, tailoring each approach to enhance outdoor recreation and conservation. I have helped with river recreational access and protection, trail building, and event planning, including the founding of the National Water Trail System in 2012 and the RTCA Rivers & Watersheds Community of Practice (COP). I have continued to work with the National Water Trails and support the COP. I received my Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University and my Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Dartmouth College. My river-running has mostly been canoeing, having learned white water alongside my father in the 1970s with our Grumman canoe. I still love river trips, even multiple-day flatwater trips.

I was introduced to RMS in 1993 when we worked together to start North American Water Trails, an inspiring group that sought to spread information about the new concept of water trails. Since then, I have worked with RMS on several projects, including helping to organize the 2008 Symposium in Portland, Maine; supporting the Economics of Water Trails project, the Public Access Guide for Landowners and Water Trails and River Managers (with a young intern named Jack Henderson!) and the River Access Planning and Design Guide; launching the River Management Roundtables; and probably a few more things... At various points, I have been the Events Coordinator and Vice-President for the Northeast Chapter. Can you tell that I love RMS?!