New director to lead American Rivers conservation efforts in Pacific Northwest

October 10, 2016

Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

October 10, 2016

(Washington, DC) – American Rivers announced today that Wendy McDermott will assume the role of Director of the Puget Sound – Columbia Basin Program, leading the national river conservation organization’s efforts in the Pacific Northwest.

McDermott was previously an associate director with American Rivers working in Washington on protecting rivers through new Wild and Scenic River designations in the North Cascades, enhancing recreation opportunities in the Nooksack River basin, and preventing harmful new hydropower projects on the Skykomish and Snoqualmie Rivers.

“We are thrilled that Wendy is stepping up into this new role. She has extensive expertise as a river conservationist and valuable experience finding solutions and bringing people together,” said Chris Williams, Senior Vice President for Conservation at American Rivers. “This region is full of opportunity for river conservation and I am confident Wendy will maximize our impact.”

“Rivers are the lifeblood of this region. Our economy, health, environment and quality of life all depend on clean, healthy rivers,” said McDermott. “There’s a lot at stake, and I am excited to make a difference in my new role. I look forward to working closely with our partners and supporters to create positive, lasting solutions for the region’s rivers and communities.”

The mission of American Rivers is to protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers and conserve clean water for people and nature. American Rivers works on a wide range of issues in the Puget Sound and Columbia River Basins, including securing new Wild and Scenic River designations, removing outdated and unsafe dams, improving flood protection and ensuring sustainable water supplies.

Key priorities for American Rivers in the region include:

  • Protecting new Wild and Scenic Rivers and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 2018
  • Removing outdated dams and improving operations at other dams
  • Restoring wild salmon and steelhead in the Snake and Columbia rivers
  • Implementing comprehensive salmon recovery and water supply solutions in the Yakima Basin

American Rivers has a long history leading river conservation efforts in the Pacific Northwest. The organization was instrumental in landmark dam removal and river restoration successes including removal of Condit Dam on the White Salmon River and the two dams on the Elwha River. American Rivers also played a key role in recent Wild and Scenic River designations on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, Pratt River and Illabot Creek. In recent years through its annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign, American Rivers has shined a spotlight on threats facing key rivers including the Green-Duwamish, Columbia, White and South Fork Skykomish.

Before coming to American Rivers, McDermott was River Program Director for the San Juan Citizens Alliance in Durango, CO, where she worked on collaborative watershed planning projects including improving flows in the Dolores River. Prior to her time at San Juan Citizens Alliance, McDermott was Executive Director for the High Country Citizens Alliance in Crested Butte, CO, where she worked on issues including defending the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park’s rights to environmental flows for the Gunnison River and preventing a large-scale, industrial molybdenum mine on Mt. Emmons. She has a Master of Science in Cultural and Environmental Resource Management from Central Washington University and Bachelor’s degree in biology from Western State College of Colorado.

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 250,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

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