Salmonid Restoration Federation

Board of Directors

Eli Asarian


Principal Scientist, Riverbend Sciences

Eli is an aquatic ecologist/hydrologist at Eureka-based consulting firm Riverbend Sciences. He has worked in California and Oregon watersheds for over 20 years, specializing in statistical analysis of large, complex datasets and has authored many technical analyses on streamflow, water temperature, water quality, and algae in the Klamath and Eel River watersheds. He also assisted with development and implementation of salmon and steelhead recovery plans throughout California. Eli attended his first SRF conference in 2002, joined the board in 2015, then became vice-president in 2020 and president in 2023. He has co-organized more than 10 workshops or sessions at SRF conferences.

Sarah Phillips


Urban Streams Program Manager, Marin County Resource Conservation District

Sarah has over ten years of experience in the field of restoration and natural resource management with a focus on riparian systems and salmonid habitat enhancement covering a variety of sectors; non-profit (both international and national), private consulting, and state government. She received a degree in Environmental Studies & Planning: Restoration & Conservation with a minor in Biology (focused on vertebrate biology) from Sonoma State University in 2009. Since 2014, she has worked for the Marin Resource Conservation District (RCD) as their Urban Streams Program Manager. Her work at the RCD focuses on the following; education by organizing and leading hands-on technical trainings in a variety of areas of natural resource management, supporting fisheries monitoring with local partners, facilitating streamlined permitting approaches to restoration, educating the public on the value of habitat rehabilitation, and serving as the communication liaison between stakeholders and local, state, and federal regulatory agencies in support of regulatory compliance. She also carries out grant writing and project implementation relating to salmonid habitat enhancement and other restoration efforts. She really enjoys facilitating collaborative processes, loves tending to native plants in the nurseries, working with volunteers, and providing education through public engagement.

Sarah has served in a leadership role with the Lagunitas Technical Advisory Committee since 2016. Currently Sarah serves as an advisor to the Tomales Bay Watershed Council and Gallinas Watershed Council. She is the Vice President of the Redwood Empire Trout Unlimited Chapter. As well, she serves on the CoRenewal Board which is focused on the remediation of oil pollution in the Amazon Rain Forest in Ecuador using bacteria and mushrooms.

Sarah first attended the SRF Conference in 2011 in San Luis Obispo, realizing it was love at first sight. She is honored to continue to serve SRF on its Board as a director and on the Executive Committee as the Vice-President.

Gwen Santos


Gwen is a Natural Resources Specialist with NOAA Fisheries. Gwen has over 20 years of experience working throughout California, Oregon, and Washington specializing in biological and environmental site assessments, field surveys, and regulatory permitting. Gwen conducted her master’s thesis with San Francisco State University’s Estuary and Ocean Science Center on restoration of eelgrass (an essential fish habitat) in San Francisco Bay. Gwen previously led a team of ecologists throughout the Western Region of RES managing restoration and long-term monitoring for vernal pool habitats and wetlands. During her time with RES, Gwen was the lead ecologist for the restoration scope of the Klamath River Renewal Project overseeing and developing the revegetation program in collaboration with the Yurok Tribe and oversaw implementation of the terrestrial resource protection measures with her team. Gwen recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest and is now working on fish passage restoration throughout NOAA’s West Coast Region.

Gwen joined SRF in 2020 and was elected to the Board in May 2023. Gwen is thrilled to serve on the Board of SRF and the Executive Committee as Secretary.

Brian LeNeve


Carmel River Steelhead Association

Brian LeNeve started fishing for steelhead in 1950, studying steelhead in 1959, and formally working to save steelhead in 2006 when he joined the Carmel River Steelhead Association. After graduating from college with a degree in business administration, he ran a family-owned painting contracting company for 47 years. During that time he grossed between one and three million annually with 10 to 100 employees. This prepared him for budgeting, legal, and personnel issues faced by every business and non-profit. He has been president of the Independent Painting Contractors of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, was on the state wide board for the California Native Plant Society, and is currently president of the Carmel River Steelhead Association — all of which has given him an understanding of the complexities of a non-profit organization and problems in particular of salmonid restoration.

Don Allan

Don Allan recently retired as the Director of the Natural Resources Services Division of the Redwood Community Action Agency in Eureka. He has worked with non-profit organizations for over 25 years and spent 11 years working in private business. Don brings invaluable personnel, financial, and non-profit management skills to his role on the SRF Board and as the SRF Board President. 

Carla Avila-Martinez

Climate Action Program Manager, Surf Rider Foundation

Carla is the Climate Action Program Manager for the Surfrider Foundation where she leads their new naturebased solutions program. Carla has worked on the large scale restoration project called Redwoods Rising with Save the Redwoods League and many other Salmonid restoration projects throughout Humboldt County as a planner for Redwood Community Action Agency. Carla has attended SRF’s conferences, field schools, and Coho Confabs where she has enjoyed getting to meet other people passionate about Salmonid restoration work. She graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt with a B.S. in Environmental Science: Ecological Restoration. She also minored in watershed management, soil science, and geography

Michael Belchik


Senior Biologist, Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program

Michael Belchik is a senior water policy analyst for the Yurok Tribe, for whom he has worked for 25 years. He served as the Yurok Tribe’s Klamath and Trinity River leads as senior fisheries biologist in the late 1990s before turning his attention solely toward Klamath River restoration, including dam removal. He helps integrate Western science and Yurok values as part of his work, serving as advisor to the Yurok Tribal Council in complicated water and dam removal issues. He previously served as the Yurok Tribe’s technical lead during the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement negotiations.

View the Gordan Becker Memorial River Advocate Award Presentation Slides.

Michael Dixon


Executive Director, Trinity River Restoration Program

A northern CA native, Mike Dixon currently manages the Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP). The TRRP is a partnership of eight federal, tribal, state, and local entities applying process-based techniques to restore the anadromous fisheries of the Trinity River. Mike previously worked as a conservation planner and later as a national wildlife refuge manager, both for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Colorado, where he became involved in stream restoration and endangered species recovery efforts. Mike also serves as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and sits on the Trinity County Fish and Game Advisory Commission

Anna Halligan


North Coast Coho Project Coordinator, Trout Unlimited

Anna Halligan is the North Coast Coho Project Coordinator for Trout Unlimited. She previously worked with the California Conservation Corps as a Fisheries Habitat Specialist, on implementation, planning, and monitoring of restoration efforts. She was also employed with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to work with the Coastal Restoration Monitoring and Evaluation Program. She recently was the Watershed Conservation Coordinator with the Morro Bay National Estuary Program (NEP). 

Jennifer Hemmert


Environmental Scientist, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Jennifer Hemmert is an Environmental Scientist for the Reservoir Inland Fisheries Program for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife located out of Winchester and works with sport fish in Southern California. Although she is regionally based out of the Inland Deserts Region, she takes directive from Fisheries Branch and works on sport fish related management and assessments in impoundments throughout the entire State. She has worked with nonprofit organizations for 8 years while working on fisheries and water quality issues related to anadromous fish in California. She has worked previously for the Department of Water Resources, UC Davis - Environmental Sciences and Policy Department, and South Yuba River Citizens League (AmeriCorps program through Sierra Nevada Alliance). She brings her volunteerism background to the SRF Board and has been on the Board since 2011.

Alison ODowd, PhD


Professor - Ecological Restoration, Cal Poly Humboldt

Alison O’Dowd is a professor in the Environmental Science and Management Department at Cal Poly Humboldt. Alison received her doctorate in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management with a focus on Aquatic Ecology from the University of California, Berkeley. Alison’s teaching and research interests include environmental science, ecological restoration and aquatic ecology. Her research primarily involves the use of benthic macroinvertebrates and fish to explore topics related to stream and wetland restoration, invasive species, wildfire, dams, and step-pool sequences in steep, mountain streams. Other than serving on the SRF Board as an alternate, Alison also serves on the Eel River Watershed Improvement Group Board of Directors. 

Freddy Otte

Freddy Otte

City Biologist & Stormwater Coordinator, City of San Luis Obispo

Freddy Otte is the City Biologist for San Luis Obispo, which is very progressive in resource protection and enhancement. This position is unique in that there are very few municipalities that employ a biologist. As the City Biologist, he interacts closely with planners and engineers during project design. He is dedicated to ensuring the protection of steelhead whose survival is threatened by urban development, water pollution, and other factors.

Freddy is the coordinator of the Stormwater Management Program that is mandated by the State Water Quality Control Board and overseen by the City’s Natural Resources Program. Freddy is involved with the Tri-County FISH Team which consists of organizations from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

Alison Willy

Alison Willy recently retired as the Watershed Planning Division Chief at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bay Delta Fish and Wildlife Office in Sacramento. She has spent over 40 years working in wildlife and fisheries habitat restoration, endangered species and water policy, data collection, and multi-party collaboration. Her interest is in restoration of riparian floodplain activation, including analyses of hydropower and water infrastructure effects on riparian ecosystems, salmonids, ESA-listed species, and other sensitive species.


Jason White


South Coast Habitat Restoration

Jason White is a project manager at South Coast Habitat Restoration, a small non-profit based in Santa Barbara County.  At SCHR, Jason oversees environmental restoration projects primarily focused on fish passage and habitat enhancement for the federally endangered Southern California Steelhead Trout.  As Project Manager for SCHR, he manages and coordinates multiple project elements including but not limited to: project development and scoping, grant writing and fundraising, contractor oversight, adherence to project schedules and budgets, permitting compliance, partnership formulation, and stakeholder/public engagement.  Additionally, he participates on the Gaviota Creek Watershed working group, Caltrans FishPac group, and the Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Plan working group committee. Prior to joining SCHR, he worked as a Stream Survey Technician for the U.S. Forest Service, conducting investigations related to wildfire impacts on Southern Steelhead Trout populations within the Los Padres National Forest.  Additionally, he has also worked as an Environmental Consultant performing environmental impact analysis for proposed actions subject to CEQA and NEPA.   In his free time, Jason enjoys surfing, fly fishing and all things outdoors.