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Roundtable: Protecting Endangered Fish AND Free-flowing Rivers
Tuesday, August 13, 2024, 3:30 AM - 4:30 PM EDT
Category: Events

Protecting Endangered Fish AND Free-flowing Rivers

Fish barriers, ladders, and other damming elements have been erected on rivers for decades as means to both promote fish passage and segregate native from invasive species.

When native species that are federally protected by the Endangered Species Act and invasive species can be effectively separated by a constructed barrier, AND the river is designated Wild and Scenic River or included in the National Rivers Inventory of rivers eligible for designation (federal protection, as well), must we violate one law to accommodate the other? Specifically, when might we justify the basis for approving the construction of a fish barrier on a national wild and scenic river that is required to remain free-flowing?

Join us in continuing this discussion, which will include at least one example where the pro-barrier case "won" and potential "in-between" measures to consider. Our expert panelists have first-hand experience wrestling with this issue and can share the process they have used to help you if and when you are faced with this important responsibility of balancing our rivers' needs.


Kevin Colburn

Kevin Colburn has served as the National Stewardship Director for American Whitewater since 2005, four years after joining the organization to work on behalf of its river conservation efforts, and leads a staff of Regional Stewardship Directors, besides playing point in the Southeast. One of the nation's experts on establishing recreational flows from hydropower dams, he focuses on river management, natural resource law, and regulated river restoration.

Kate Day

Kate Day is the Watershed Program Manager on the Coconino National Forest in Flagstaff, AZ. Relatively new to the Southwest, Kate has been a hydrologist for the Forest Service for nearly two decades in Georgia, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington working on watershed planning and collaboration, forest plan revision, stream restoration, water rights adjudication, and aquatic organism passage improvement projects. Kate has also represented the Forest Service on several hydropower licensing and implementation processes for hydropower projects on the Pend Oreille River, and Lower Columbia River tributaries. In that role Kate participated in negotiating hydropower license conditions and overseeing hydropower mitigation projects on National Forest System Lands.

Kestrel Kunz

Kestrel Kunz 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.

Matt O'Neill

Dr. Matt O’Neill is a new biologist with the Bureau of Reclamation, where he works in the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam protecting natural resources such as the iconic humpback chub. He likes to think he is still on the front lines of desert fish conservation, but truthfully he has moved on to middle management as he helps develop and shape the multi-agency response to smallmouth bass invading the Grand Canyon. He previously spent 6 years running a research hatchery for endangered fish with the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, and another 6 years as a fish biologist with the US Forest Service.


On the second Tuesday of the month, the River Management Society hosts River Management Roundtables (virtual discussions) with professional river, greenway, and water trails leaders, planners, and managers whose river will benefit from the experiences of peer-to-peer sharing. Our goal is to facilitate an open forum in which you can ask questions, share solutions and build comradery. There's no fee or membership requirement to attend, but registration is required to help us set expectations and improve our outreach. We will record the discussion and send it out to registrants within the week.


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.