River Policy Director

South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL)

Nevada City, CA, United States 🇺🇸

The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL – pronounced circle) was founded in 1983 by grassroots activists determined to protect the South Yuba River from dams. Ultimately, SYRCL won permanent protections for 39 miles of the South Yuba River under California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Today, SYRCL is the central hub of community activism to protect, restore, and celebrate the Yuba River watershed. With nearly 35 years of achievements, 3,500 members and 1,000 active volunteers, SYRCL is doing great things for the Yuba watershed. SYRCL is a leader in the Sierra headwaters for addressing statewide and regional issues – challenging new dams, recovering endangered species, addressing climate change and drought, water security and water quality. Together, we are extending our powerful coalition from the summit to the sea.


People Can Save a River is SYRCL’s guiding principle. Since our founding, SYRCL has defended the Yuba River time and time again. Today, the core of SYRCL’s advocacy work is focused on stopping the proposed Centennial Dam on the nearby Bear River, advocating for wild salmon, negotiating for improved flows and other environmental outcomes in hydropower dam relicensing forums, and always remaining vigilant and prepared for unexpected threats to the watershed.

We are seeking an effective River Policy Director who is a seasoned advocate and manager with excellent leadership, communication, community organizing and coalition-building skills. The Director will be highly skilled in using policy, advocacy, legal, scientific and communication tools to protect the watershed.

The Director will also be experienced at managing grassroots campaigns, building strategic coalitions, mentoring program staff, and raising funds. The Director’s duties will be primarily dedicated to the Stop Centennial Dam and Yuba Salmon Now campaigns as well as communications and general advocacy on a variety of current issues.  The Director will manage at least one community engagement staff-person in this growing department and coordinate closely with SYRCL staff across departments.


  • Bachelor’s degree required; an advanced degree in law, environmental policy, or related field a plus.
  • A minimum of four years’ experience in water and/or environmental policy and advocacy, hydropower licensing, or a related discipline. Experience in water law a plus.
  • Effective leader with vision and excellent judgment that combines political savvy and strategic acumen with analytical, communications, and messaging skills.
  • Demonstrated experience running grassroots environmental campaigns and mobilizing volunteers.
  • Ability to build consensus, develop effective coalitions and collaborate with diverse interests.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop effective advocacy strategies, solve problems, raise funds, and manage internal budgets.
  • Strong research, writing, negotiation, media and public speaking skills.
  • Knowledge of federal and state level politics relevant to water and river management.
  • Understanding of natural resource policy and management issues relevant to the conservation of salmon and steelhead and their habitats; advocacy experience in legislative and administrative forums a plus.
  • Ability to use social media for organizing advocacy campaigns as well as other digital and web-based and video production.
  • Demonstrated media relations ability to write press releases and Op-Eds, organize press conferences and public relations events, and cultivate media coverage by working with reporters and editorial boards. 
  • A sense of humor, outstanding written and public speaking skills, strong organization skills, and the ability to work independently.


The successful candidate will help set and advance SYRCL’s advocacy priorities including:

  • Direct SYRCL’s leadership role in the Stop Centennial Dam campaign (www.damwatchdog.org) using a variety of tactics including creative media and social media campaigns, coalition building and grassroots advocacy as well as engaging in all relevant regulatory and legal arenas.
  • Direct the Yuba Salmon Now campaign to restore wild salmon and steelhead in jeopardy of extinction; develop and implement effective, science-based strategies and messages to promote large scale salmon habitat restoration projects, including fish passage at dams. Advance the vision and opportunities for restoration projects on the lower Yuba River with River Science staff, governmental and agency leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Work to secure improved stream-flow and habitat through the process of relicensing hydropower dams in the Yuba and Bear River watersheds.
  • Lead other direct-action campaigns as needed to protect the Yuba River from inappropriate developments, industrial mining and agriculture, clear-cutting, dam building, etc. through community education, engagement and mobilization.
  • Build and maintain strong relationships with key elected officials, policy-makers, agency staff and resource managers at the federal, state and local level, agencies, commissions, legislatures and other organizations; reporters and editorial boards; represent SYRCL strategically in public policy, planning, and collaborative processes and forums that impact the watershed.
  • Initiate and participate in fundraising, including drafting proposals and reports, identifying and cultivating potential donors, and ensuring grant obligations are met. 


  • Able to work on a computer, including sitting at a desk for extended periods; to read a computer screen; and manual dexterity to operate a keyboard.
  • Able to speak clearly on the phone and in person and be understood by others.
  • Able to occasionally lift objects weighing up to 30 pounds.


Salary and benefits are competitive with other Northern California not-for-profit conservation organizations; salary is commensurate with experience plus paid time off (PTO) and 100% individual health insurance benefits. The position requires occasional travel within California (Sacramento and Bay Area).  Available to work some nights and weekends.


Application due by January 31st at 5pm; however, this position will remain open until filled. Cover letter and resume required.

SYRCL is an equal opportunity employer.