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FOR Logo Friends of the River
 The voice of California's rivers

Our Staff


Eric Wesselman, Incoming Executive Director


Eric WesselmanFor the last eight years, Eric served as the Executive Director of the Tuolumne River Trust (TRT) where he doubled the size of the staff and delivered cutting-edge programs to protect and restore that river.  Now he is looking to do the same on behalf of more rivers in California at Friends of the River (FOR).  Prior to TRT, Eric worked with the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C..

Eric joins FOR as California’s rivers face mounting threats such as Governor Brown’s plan to build two giant tunnels through the Delta that would divert more water from rivers that flow into the San Francisco Bay-Delta, and Congressman McClintock’s unprecedented effort to drown a stretch of the Merced River by introducing legislation to remove its designation as a protected National Wild & Scenic River.  You can reach Eric Wesselman at (916) 442-3155, Ext. 218 or by email to

Ron Stork, Senior Policy Advocate

RonRon is a national expert in flood management, federal water resources development, hydropower reform, and Wild & Scenic Rivers. He joined Friends of the River as Associate Conservation Director in 1987 and became its Senior Policy Advocate in 1995. Ron was presented the prestigious River Conservationist of the Year award by Perception in 1996 for his work to stop the Auburn dam. In 2004, he received the California Urban Water Conservation Council’s Excellence Award for statewide and institutional innovations in water conservation.  Prior to coming to Friends of the River, Ron was Executive Director of the Merced Canyon Committee, where he directed the successful effort to obtain Wild and Scenic designation for the Merced River. He is a former member of the Governor's Flood Management Task Force and currently represents Friends of the River on the Sacramento Regional Water Forum. Ron holds a BS degree in Plant Science from UC Davis and he loves to visit and botanize in California’s wild places. You can reach Ron at (916) 442-3155 ext 220 or by email to


 Steve Evans, Wild & Scenic Program Consultant


Steve coordinates Friends of the River's Wild & Scenic Rivers program. Steve was hired by Friends of the River in 1988 and has served as Conservation Director from 1990 until June 1, 2011. He has more than 35 years of conservation policy experience in public lands and resource issues. He successfully encouraged federal agencies to identify more than 3,000 miles potential Wild & Scenic Rivers and has played a key role in the legislative expansion of the federal and state Wild & Scenic Rivers Systems in California. Steve co-founded and has served on the steering committees of many of the coalitions administered by Friends of the River, including the California Wild Heritage Campaign, the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, and the California Hydropower Reform Coalition. He previously was Executive Director of the Butte Environmental Council in Chico. Steve is an avid hiker, rafter, and outdoor photographer. You can reach Steve at (916) 442-3155 ext 221 or by email to


 E. Robert Wright, Senior Counsel

 bob wright 2015Bob is an AV Martindale-Hubbell rated lawyer for Friends of the River. He has practiced law during his career as a California Deputy Attorney General, Environmental Unit,  law firm partner (shareholder), and Assistant U.S. Attorney including  environmental and white collar crime prosecution in Sacramento and Fresno prior to joining Friends of the River in 2011.  Bob was also Adjunct Professor of Environmental Law at San Joaquin College of Law in Fresno from 1990 to 2003.  His most significant legal victories have included obtaining the decision in the case challenging the Army Corps of Engineers’ rule prohibiting any vegetation other than grass on all of the Nation’s levees denying the Corps’ motion to dismiss, Friends of the River v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 870 F.Supp2d 966 (E.D. Cal. 2012); the decision in the national class action that school buildings are damaged by the mere presence of asbestos, In re: Asbestos School Litigation, 1991 WL 175819 (E.D. Pa., 1991); and the decision finding that the nationwide U.S. Forest Service anti-wilderness land management planning known as RARE II (roadless area review and evaluation) violated the National Environmental Policy Act, California v. Berglund, 483 F.Supp. 465 (E.D. Cal. 1980), affirmed, 690 F.2d 753 (9th Cir. 1982). He also led the inter-disciplinary planning team that developed the Regional Plan adopted by the California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 1975. He obtained a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966, and after serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army, obtained a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1971. He has been a member of the California Bar since 1972. Bob loves backpacking, running, bicycling, river rafting and beautiful natural scenery. You can reach Bob at (916) 442-3155 ext 207 or by email to


 Toby Briggs, Engagement Coordinator

Toby Briggs on the StanislausToby Briggs joined FOR in 2015 as the Engagement Coordinator.  She discovered FOR through the Rafting Program and trained as a white water raft guide in 2014.  Soon was volunteering as Gear Chair on the Board of Elected Volunteers in 2014-15 and now works as staff with a dynamic team of folks.

She brings a strong background in environmental and adventure education from over 10 years in the field.  She connected young people to their environment for NatureBridge-Yosemite, Westminster Woods and in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She coordinated conservation projects for the Student Conservation Association (SCA) throughout the country. Most recently she transitioned from working as a Program Coordinator for Playworks in San Francisco for under-served schools.

Toby is excited to engage the Friends of the River community and beyond in meaningful action, play and conversation that supports our rivers in California!


 Mandi Garcia, Development Director













e37Mandi began as an office volunteer in July 2008 and joined FOR's staff in November 2008 as Operations Associate. She manages our membership mailings, event planning, and organizational development. Mandi is a certified Field Ecologist and volunteers doing bat and ringtail research. She discovered her passion for rivers right here at Friends of the River and took guide training the summer of 2010 to join our community of volunteer rafting guides. You can reach Mandi at (916) 442-3155 ext 214 or by email to

 Johnnie Carlson, Operations Director

Johnnie Carlson at Mono Lake 2015Johnnie was hired by Friends of the River in 2004. Johnnie is a veteran campaign and political organizer having worked in both the higher education and recycling fields prior to join FOR. Johnnie led or organized winning campaigns to fight student fee increases, flawed technology initiatives, and to implement electronics recycling in California. He provides operational support to the conservation staff and Board of Directors. He publishes our e-newsletter The River Advocate and Headwaters our mailed newsletter, maintains our website, and manages human resources.

After 9 years on staff Johnnie got bit by the river bug and has been kayaking on a regular basis ever since, visiting (so far) Mono Lake, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Tomales Bay, Clear Lake, Lake Natoma, Folsom Lake, and the Yuba, Napa, Moklumne, Cosumnes, San Joaquin, Sacramento, and American Rivers.

You can reach Johnnie at (916) 442-3155 ext 211 or by email


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