Russian Riverkeeper has been successfully protecting the River since 1993. Russian Riverkeeper, originally Friends of the Russian River, actively pursued conservation and protection of the River’s mainstem, tributaries and watershed through public education, citizen action, scientific research and expert advocacy. The original founders of Friends of the Russian River were Marty Griffin, David Bolling, Joan Vilms and Albert Slenderbrock who organized to address excessive gravel mining, collapse of our once great salmon and steelhed runs and pollution in the Russian River watershed. Among our early successes include a landmark conference in 1994, “The Russian River in Peril”, attended by 300 people including experts on fisheries, drinking water, and hydrology in addition to representatives from regulatory agencies and elected officials. Out of the conference came the agreement that the Russian River basin needed a comprehensive master plan that would provide a shared vision of restoration and enhancement of the River and its watershed.
In 2001, Russian Riverkeeper was launched as the 65th member of The Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots advocacy coalition of over 250 Waterkeeper organizations. Waterkeeper members are all locally directed and funded with a common purpose to preserve our rights to fishable, swimmable and drinkable waterways free of pollution.
Since 2001, Russian Riverkeeper has operated three main programs, Advocate, Educate and Celebrate to fulfill its mission to inspire the community to protect the Russian River forever. Our long-term goal is focused on regenerating the health of the Russian River by seeking opportunities to restore some of the over 80% of river and wetland area that has been lost over the last 100 years to channelization, gravel mining, agricultural and urban development. In doing so, we can recover tens of millions of dollars in ecosystem services such as groundwater recharge, flood protection, pollution sequestration and wildlife habitat we have lost that are so critical to making our community and wildlife resilient to the effects of our changing climate.