River Partners' mission is to create wildlife habitat for the benefit of people and the environment.

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The River Partners Board

By Irv Schiffman

As is true with any successful organization, consistent and knowledgeable direction from the top is required. A smooth running and effective board of directors provides important support to the organization, which makes carrying out its mission that much easier.

River Partners is extremely fortunate in having such a board, although I might seem a bit prejudiced in saying so.

Our all-volunteer board is a small one, composed of ten members, which includes two present vacancies. Board membership is quite diverse and encompasses an array of agricultural, legal, political, business, administrative and financial skills. The board also includes the president of River Partners, John Carlon. Since River Partners has expanded its geographic area of influence, the board is seeking representation from the San Joaquin area.

The board teams with River Partners staff in setting the goals and direction for the organization. Through its committees and regular quarterly meetings, the board also provides the checks and balances that ensure that the implementation of its policies are consistent with such goals and directions.

Board members have played a key role in transitioning River Partners from a local organization focused on the Sacramento River, to a regional entity whose riparian restoration efforts now take place on eight California rivers and a handful of creeks and streams. The board has also been instrumental, through its strategic planning process, in charting new courses for the organization, particularly in the areas of public outreach, consultation, wetland bank mitigation, carbon sequestration, and land acquisitions. It has been consistent in advocating rigorous science as the basis of its restoration activities.

The annual strategic planning workshop is an all day affair, helped along by a professional facilitator and, to a large degree, by statistical data and commentaries prepared by the staff. As part of the process, past year efforts and future directions are discussed and a Strategic Plan with goals and objective is established for the coming year. The River Partners mission statement is reviewed for its continued relevance and proposed revisions are given careful consideration.

With the collaboration of board members and staff, River Partners has come a long way from its early wildlife habitat orientation to its present broader concern with sustainable river systems. I expect that the mission of the organization will continue to evolve and that board members will look for different ways in which River Partners can play a more effective role in its various areas of expertise, such as flood management practices and the environmental integrity of rivers.

The above article originally appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of the River Partners Journal.