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Project Updates

Welcome New Staff

Michelle Boercker joined the River Partners team as a Restoration Biologist in June 2009. Michelle earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA) and a Master’s of Science degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2006). Michelle’s graduate work focused primarily on plant-pathogen and plant-insect interactions. As part of River Partners’ science staff, Michelle is participating in various field monitoring activities, elderberry transplants, and canoe and kayak excursions with the public.

Born in Humboldt County, Amanda Freeman completed her undergraduate work in Environmental Science and International Studies at Northwestern University. In 2000 she started her restoration efforts on California’s rivers through the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Project based in Fortuna, CA. After serving as Program Director of the Mattole Restoration Council in Humboldt County, Amanda returned to law school and earned a JD degree from University of Oregon, with a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources law and a focus on water law. Amanda is happy to return to California to join River Partners as its Western Regional Deputy Director.

Jessica Hammond joined River Partners as a Restoration Biologist in June 2009. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University, Jessica attended CSU Chico where she conducted her master’s thesis research on Yellow-billed Cuckoo habitat along the Sacramento River. Jessica is excited to be a new member of River Partners’ staff and is looking forward to gaining more experience with riparian restoration ecology.

Julie Rentner joined the River Partners team as a Restoration Ecologist in January of 2009. Julie has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Forestry from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master’s of Science degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Hawaii, Manoa (2005). She is also a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. Based in River Partners’ Modesto office, Julie has worked to restore the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, interacted with the Endangered Species Recovery Program to develop plantings for the riparian brush rabbit, and conducted restoration planning on the San Joaquin and Kern rivers.

River Partners Expands Website’s Science Content

Collaborating with Tom Griggs, Restoration Fellow, Meghan Gilbart, has worked to package River Partners’ expertise into a format that can help people understand what the organization does for wildlife and for public safety. The information will be distributed on the River Partners’ website and possibly used in other outlets.

Tom Griggs, both before and during his time working for River Partners, has amassed a huge wealth of knowledge about riparian restoration. For 20 years he has learned not only how to grow riparian plants, but how to create forests of wildlife habitat that will improve flood safety through combinations of individual plants. This knowledge is not easily found in scientific literature, yet is critical to successful riparian restoration design. Restoration design requires an understanding of the structure of individual plants as well as the structure that is formed when certain plants are combined.

Gilbart and Griggs are currently working on two major sections; the first section, Vegetation as Wildlife Habitat, is ready to go on the website and the second section, Vegetation and Flood Conveyance, will be launched soon. Two major goals – the creation of wildlife habitat and the protection from flood damage – are the driving forces behind the restoration designs that River Partners’ creates.

Meghan Gilbart began her yearlong fellow position with River Partners in January 2009. She recently earned her masters in biology at CSU Chico, defending her thesis, “The relationship between health of blue elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) and colonization rates of the Valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus) in restored riparian habitat.”

To see this new content, visit: www.RiverPartners.org/riparian-ecology. A sampling of this content appears on pages 4-5 of this issue.

The above article originally appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of the River Partners Journal.