Joseph J. Bell – President of the Board
Joe moved to here in 1980 to work as the [only] legal aid attorney in western Nevada County. A founding member of SYRCL, he was also its first lawyer for more than 10 years of administrative and federal court litigation, blocking proposals to build small hydroelectric dams on the Yuba River. He first visited the Yuba in 1972, after returning from his Peace Corps service in Ethiopia. He was then managing Reno’s first organic food store, Namascar, which sold Ananda products and herbs from David Copperfield’s shop in Nevada City. Though he has rafted waters and hiked, skied or climbed mountains from the Ozarks to Tahoe and Yosemite to Kilimanjaro, Hawaii, Maine and Chile, he treasures the Yuba watershed as a person “of [this] place.” In addition to his early work for SYRCL, Joe was a founder of the Sierra Nevada Group of the Sierra Club and he has counseled and assisted many non-profit organizations. He served as a Vice-President of the California State Bar in 1997 and he became a California Family Law Specialist in 1995. He has served on the Specialists’ Board of Directors for the past 10 years and was President of their Association in 2009. He is a trained mediator, arbitrator and pro tem Judge. His current practice includes litigation and mediation of most family, juvenile and civil disputes. In his spare time he attends and volunteers at film festivals, travels the world, and plays piano.
Barbara is a forty year resident of the San Juan Ridge. Through the years she has spent many summer afternoons enjoying the South Yuba. Barbara, her husband Mike, daughter Azriel, and son-in-law Michael operate the local movie theaters in Grass Valley and have been showing independent/alternative/foreign movies in Nevada City for 32 years. She’s an avid gardener, kayaker, skier, and “Nanna”.
Janet Peake – Treasurer
Janet grew up in Hawaii and Santa Barbara, always near the ocean. Work brought her to San Francisco in the mid-eighties. After seven years in the Bay Area, she knew the city wasn’t for her. Skiing regularly in the Sierra drew her to Nevada County and the Yuba River, needing to live near water. She settled here in 1992 and has had her Financial and Tax business on Broad Street since. She raised her two children here, who also fell in love with the Yuba River, spending most of their summer days swimming there. Janet loves the outdoors, hiking, skiing, and horseback riding. She also has studied and taught Tai Chi for many years.
A Massachusetts native, John Regan has lived in the Sierra Nevada for nearly twenty years. He moved to the Yuba Watershed after spending an afternoon on the South Yuba. He is president of Smart Campaigns, Inc, a national consulting firm specializing in policy research, strategic communications and advocacy campaigns. He lives in Nevada City with his wife Sarah, their daughter, Amelia Bee, and a redbone coonhound named Bella.
Brian first tasted the cold, clear waters of the Yuba while attending college at UC Santa Cruz, where he majored in politics and minored in the Grateful Dead. He pursued an even higher education as a ski bum at Squaw Valley, and settled for a time on the Monterey Peninsula as a landscape architect, before moving to Nevada County with his wife Ellen to raise their two girls, Emily and Elsie. Besides SYRCL, Brian has worked with the Rural Quality Coalition and the Bear Yuba Land Trust, among others, for the protection of our region’s natural and historic resources. His firm, Bisnett Design Associates, specializes in land-use planning and conservation-oriented development. Brian lives on acreage in south Nevada County, in the Bear River watershed, where he enjoys skiing, hiking, and live music.
Marty holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz and an MBA from San Francisco State University. She has spent a 30-year career as a business and marketing professional for non-profit organizations and in the business sector. In 2001 she moved to Nevada County for the sheer beauty of the northern Sierra foothill landscape and access to first class outdoor recreational activities. Right away Marty became a fundraising volunteer, then a Board member for Nevada County Land Trust (now Bear Yuba Land Trust). Bear Yuba Land Trust’s Executive Director since 2007, Marty remains passionate about protecting the environmental quality of this small, rural community. She is a commissioner on the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission, a board member of the Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council and an advisory board member for the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council. Marty is also a Land Ethics Leader with the Aldo Leopold Foundation.
Roger Hicks, MD
Roger first moved to the Yuba Watershed in 1979 because of the river. One of the founders of SYRCL, he was the spokesperson for the organization from 1984 -1988 and served as the first Board President from 1988 – 2000. He received his MD from Cornell, completed his medical training at UC Davis, and is co-founder of Yubadocs Urgent Care Clinic with his wife Linda. He is Medical Director of Yubadocs and of Harmony Health Medical Clinic in Marysville. Roger lives on Little Deer Creek, and enjoys whitewater boating and skiing.
Kurt grew up on a farm near St Louis, MO, and moved to his then home on San Juan Ridge (an incomplete garage with a partially broken roof) in 1976 and went to work teaching school in Camptonville and later for the Twin Ridges District and for Sutter County Office of Education. In between he installed solar panels, well pumps, and worked on construction projects. He retired from teaching nine years ago, and with his wife Nancy, spent seven years exploring coastal Mexico, US, British Columbian, and Alaskan waters on their sailboat, Raven. Kurt has been a lifelong community activist in environmental causes, and served four years on the Nevada County Planning Commission. Kurt’s adult daughter, Emily, lives in Portland, OR, and Kurt and Nancy live off the grid at 4,000’ on the San Juan Ridge with a black lab and a black cat.
Shana still vividly remembers the first time she smelled the Yuba Watershed in 1989. She was immediately put under the spell of Kitkitdizze and Ponderosa and California Bay Laurel, not to mention the seductive color of the iron red earth. She resolved at that time to make the Yuba Watershed her home. After rambling the earth for a while, she has been happily reunited with the Yuba for the past decade. Shana has a BA in Psychology and Adventure Education from Prescott College and an Ed.M from Harvard University. She spent ten years as an outdoor educator, and has also been a college professor, high school principal, river guide, and goat milkmaid. She was the Creative Director of SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival for two years, and is currently in the process of opening a brewery, bakery & wood-fired pizza restaurant in downtown Nevada City.
Isaac is an environmental attorney and organizer with deep roots in the Sierra Nevada. He grew up in the Placer County Foothills where a childhood spent exploring the nearby rivers, forests, and mountains instilled a lasting appreciation for unique beauty of the Yuba watershed. He studied environmental analysis at Pomona College and law at UCLA and has worked for environmental causes in Oregon, Colorado, and California. In his spare time you can typically find him playing outside, on the trails, the river, or in mountains with friends and his dog Odin.
If you ask Debra to name the place in the Sierra most special to her, she will tell you the cabin overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake that her great-grandfather built. Knowing firsthand what connection to place means to a child, she has spent the last 30 years working with youth, introducing them to conservation issues and activism, often through filmmaking. She and her husband, Tom, co-founded and direct Synergia Learning Ventures, a non-profit youth organization based on the San Juan Ridge.