Board of Directors

George Olive, President

A New Englander until 1975, George learned about fish and their habitats from his grandfather and the locals at the village store. He heard about creeks feeding Maine’s Kezar Lake in the Mt Washington Valley from mountains in New Hampshire, his first exposure to watersheds. George’s undergraduate and graduate degrees were earned at Harvard and his education credentials at Sac State. Living in Marin County, George and his spouse Suzanne discovered the Yuba in 1978, fishing around Downieville. Their South Yuba baptism occurred in July, 1980 while they hunted for housing. George taught at Nevada Union; Suzanne was a botanist with the Tahoe Nat’l Forest. Among George’s students was Caleb Dardick, later SYRCL’s executive director. Along the way, George moved into school administration and worked in Nevada City’s, Chicago Park’s and North San Juan’s elementary school districts. In 1994, he helped establish the Yuba River Charter School. Over three decades, George has explored the Yuba’s three forks and their many feeder creeks. SYRCL offers him an opportunity to give back to, and know more fully, this engaging, living system that calls for our protection.

Fran Murphy, Vice President

Escaping the busy life of Sacramento, Fran and his wife purchased a five-acre homestead in Penn Valley in 2005 and began Clarran Farms. In addition to summer fruit and vegetables, the warm microclimate of Clarran Farms produces a wide variety of citrus including lemons, oranges, limes, kumquats, and grapefruit. Living 15 minutes from the entrance of the South Yuba River State Park, Fran often enjoys taking in the river scenic views of Buttermilk Trail or appreciating the majestic oaks while hiking Point Defiance.

In his previous life, Fran worked for a large telecommunications company for over 36 years and retired as an Associate Vice President of Operations. He holds a Business Administration Degree and MA in Organization Management from the University of Phoenix. He is highly skilled in leadership development, business strategy, and budget management. Over the past few years, Fran provided support as the Venue Logistics Manager for the annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival responsible for much of the event’s setup, tear down, changeovers, and daily operational tasks.

John Regan, Secretary

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.

Jeffrey Odefey, Treasurer

Jeffrey Odefey is the Director of Clean Water Supply Programs for American Rivers, where he helps to lead a multi-disciplinary effort to promote integrated management of water resources through progressive regulation, sustainable financing, and policy reforms. His work focuses on urban water systems, including green infrastructure, water conservation, and integrated water management as pathways to preserve and protect healthy waters and communities. Currently, many of his efforts are directed as fostering resilient water management policies and programs in the Lower Colorado River Basin. His past experience includes stints as a staff attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance and for Hudson Riverkeeper. A native of Colorado, Jeffrey holds a B.A. in English and Art History from the University of Colorado, an M.A. from the University of Montana, and is a magna cum laude graduate of the Pace University School of Law. He now lives in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California with his wife and baby daughter.

Jeffrey Adams

Jeff grew up in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and has lived in the Yuba watershed since 2005. Jeff currently works as a licensed architect at Atmosphere Design Build where he practices a daily commitment to sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of buildings. He previously served as the Executive Director of the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center on the San Juan Ridge overseeing the execution of two California Humanities Community Stories grants, which deepened his connection to this place and community. Jeff received a broad education in engineering, architecture, and the humanities, first at Princeton University (B.S.E.) and then at UCLA (M. Arch.). Jeff is a father to a young daughter and an emerging adult son and husband to a midwife. In his spare time, he cooks a mean meal, grows a garden, and backpacks in the High Sierra. 

Joseph J. Bell

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.

Syd Brown

A third generation native Californian, Syd has called northern California “home” all her life. As a child, she spent summers tent camping, hiking, and whiling away the hours next to trout and steelhead rivers with family. She had a dream career, as the geologist for California State Parks, and worked to protect and manage the full spectrum of mountains, beaches, rivers and watersheds from Angel Island State Park to Zmudowski State Beach.

Syd and her husband Jesse moved to Nevada County in 1983, and built their home on previously mined land just outside of Nevada City, where they raised their two children, Parker and Hilary. After commuting to her Sacramento office for more than 30 years, Syd retired in late 2012, and began to immerse herself in community activities, volunteering and later working for the Center for the Arts. She continues her support activities for State Parks, serving on the Friends of North Bloomfield & Malakoff Diggins Executive Committee, and most recently as a director for the Sierra Gold Parks Foundation.

Peter Burnes

Peter was born and raised in Palo Alto spending most of his free time hiking, fishing, and skiing in the Sierra and biking the peninsula coast range. A lifelong conservationist, he grew up with the Sierra Club Bulletin on the family coffee table. Peter received a BA in Environmental Studies and Biology from UC Santa Cruz and spent most of his career creating and implementing water quality, hazardous materials, and other environmental regulations and programs at the City of Palo Alto and Stanford University. Peter and his wife Diane moved to Grass Valley in 2011, started volunteering for SYRCL at the 2012 Wild and Scenic Film Festival and never stopped.

Amy Guy Wagner

Amy was born and raised a few miles from Edwards Crossing bridge. She spent formative childhood and teenage years hiking, swimming and basking on rocks at the Yuba River and has a deep connection with the land and the watershed. She was an early volunteer at SYRCL and wrote articles and spent time in Sacramento as a part of the early team that won the Wild and Scenic designation. 

Amy has a BS and MS from Stanford University in Earth Systems, an interdisciplinary program around energy and environmental studies. She has a second masters degree in Management Science and Engineering also from Stanford. Amy’s career has always focused on climate and energy but has evolved from working directly on direct building improvements with energy efficiency audits and renewables to advising on city and state level policies to advising new technology companies including solar, wind and battery companies to enable their growth. Amy is currently a Senior Expert at McKinsey and Company, a global management consulting company which advises clients around the world. She is a global leader in the Sustainability and Energy practices. Amy moved back to Nevada County a few years ago with her husband Eric and their two young boys, Reed and Bryce, who have also fallen in love with the river.

Kurt Lorenz

Kurt grew up on a farm near St Louis, MO, earning a BA from Kenyon College in Ohio, and an MAT from Webster University in St. Louis. He 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. All along he installed solar panels, well pumps, and worked on construction projects. He retired from teaching eleven years ago, and with his wife Nancy, spent ten 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.

Dustin Harper

Dustin has a six-year relationship with the Yuba Watershed; one that began weeks before the birth of his second daughter. His children and wife, Amy live with him a mile from the Jones Fire scar and his mother, Kathy lives in Lake Wildwood. One of his first weekends in Nevada City and initial exposure to SYRCL was The Wild & Scenic Film Festival and his family enjoys participating in the annual river cleanup. His respect for pure water as the ultimate resource and intrigue with water systems comes from his father.

Dustin has a BS in Economics from UCLA and an MBA from SFSU. He is currently the Chief Strategy Officer at Institute on Aging, a statewide non-profit serving older adults and people with disabilities. Dustin has led significant growth, innovation, and expansion of services in his tenure there and brings considerable experience developing new initiatives at the local, state, and national level. Dustin was formerly the President of the MSSP Site Association and also has experience developing public health programs for individuals living with HIV.  

Dustin believes SYRCL and the Yuba can be a national source of inspiration in an era of extraordinary strain on watersheds (and the communities who rely on them). He is also excited to have more reason to take his family to the river!