Support the Russian River!


And my three day kayaking excursion to promote its health

Dear Friend,

Lisa-Micheli-HeadshotBeginning Wednesday, September 7th and extending through Friday, September 9th, I’m leaving land behind as I embark on the second leg of the Russian River Headwaters to Ocean Descent, a ten-day kayaking adventure traversing over 100 miles of the Russian River. During this journey, I will paddle, eat and sleep along the length of the River with other leaders working to protect and enhance the River.

I’m a busy CEO. Why would I be taking off to kayak the Russian River? The reason is simple:

The Russian River is critical to the well-being of Sonoma County and its future is in danger if we don’t move now to cooperate across sectors and interests.

With the Descent, I hope to draw attention to the importance of the Russian River and the issues facing it, while having the unique opportunity to connect with multiple partners to forge innovative, bold solutions that will ensure the health of the River and a vibrant Sonoma County.

Today, I’m asking for your support.

Donate Now


600,000 people rely on the health of the Russian River. And if you’re reading this, chances are you’re one of them.

The Russian River is the lifeblood of Sonoma County. Because of the Russian River, we have:

  • Drinking water for 600,000 people
  • Abundant and diverse agriculture
  • Globally significant biodiversity
  • World-class wines
  • Soaring tourism (think water sports, mountain biking, hiking, beach and tide-pool explorations, bird-watching, and ballooning!)
  • Thriving economies

The Russian River is a key ingredient to making Sonoma County great!


Current problems facing the Russian River include:

  • Impaired water quality
  • Struggling populations of native fish
  • Drought and climate change impacting our water supply


The Russian River Descent will accomplish a first:

Bringing together over 30 important stakeholders who seek to work more effectively as a collective. On the River we will discuss priorities and positions, working together to solve the big challenges facing the River – challenges not solvable without teamwork. The fact that we’re on the River is no coincidence…It publicly highlights the River’s importance and the issues facing it.

Our paddling together to arrive at the ocean is symbolic of our working together to achieve a healthy River. On the River we will break through historic differences and preconceptions. After all, there is no “walking away”…we’re in the middle of the River! On the River we will listen to and learn from each other, utilizing each others’ greatest strengths and unique areas of expertise to focus on large scale problems and time-sensitive solutions designed to ensure a robust future for the River and Sonoma County.

Pepperwood is a key part of the discussion as a partner on science and education focused on watershed health.

Our preserve comprises 3,200 acres of Russian River headwaters. One of our core targeted outcomes is a clean and abundant water supply. And proper stewardship of headwaters is critical to the overall health of the River.

In addition, Pepperwood has now conducted the first climate change assessments of the Russian River which provide invaluable data for land and water managers. We therefore already have relationships with many of the stakeholders involved in the Descent. Pepperwood is also the technical advisor to multiple agencies working on the river at a regional scale. The information we provide helps agencies understand the Russian River as a whole.

And that’s what the Descent is all about:

Understanding the Russian River as whole so we can do the best for Sonoma County as a whole.


Please support the Descent and a healthy Russian River
with a donation today.

Donate Now


Lisa-MicheliThank you so much for your support!


With gratitude,

Lisa Micheli, PhD
President & CEO
Pepperwood Foundation

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