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Central California Life Magazine

Local Spotlight: San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust Protects The River's Resources

May 17, 2016 11:37AM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Paddling down the San Joaquin.

San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust has been a big part of the community since 1988, their primary mission to preserve and restore San Joaquin River lands having ecological, scenic or historic significance. They also aim to educate the public on the need for stewardship, to research issues affecting the river, and to promote educational, recreational and agricultural uses consistent with the protection of the river’s resources.

The San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust, Inc. (River Parkway Trust), a 501(c) 3 non-profit, public benefit corporation, was created to establish a continuous greenway along 33 miles of river in the rapidly urbanizing Fresno-Madera region. 

The Parkway reach of the San Joaquin River is anchored on the upstream end at Millerton Lake State Recreation Area and Friant Dam; on the downstream end it is anchored at Skaggs Bridge Park at State Highway 145. 

In addition, the River Parkway Trust provides outdoor education programs for youth, as well recreational opportunities for the community.

We had a chance to connect with the Director of Business Development Finn Telles and hear his inspiring mission to bring awareness to the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, as well as the great things that are happening this year. 

Also, don't forget to check out the great video about the River Parkway Trust below.

Tell us a little about the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust. How long have you been a part of their team?

FT: I have worked for the River Parkway Trust since September of 2014. I started as the Community and Outreach Manager focusing on marketing and outreach for our community programs and education programs. I now work as the Director of Business Development, focusing on building relationships with local businesses through sponsorship opportunities and corporate membership called Parkway Partners.

For more detailed information about the history of the River Parkway Trust, head to the Mission and History page on their website.

What are your goals for the River Parkway Trust and where do you see it heading? 

FT: I want to help to increase our community’s awareness about this precious resource right here in our backyard which offers recreational, educational, health, community and environmental benefits.

What's something people usually assume? What do people usually assume that's incorrect?

FT: People assume that the parklands that we operate on the San Joaquin River including Sycamore Island in Madera, Camp Pashayan and the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies in Fresno, are operated and maintained by local government. In fact, we are a non-profit organization that works to keep parklands open along the river for the benefit of our community. These parks could not be open if it were not for the support from our membership.   

What is your personal favorite aspect of the group and your mission?

FT: My favorite aspect about our organization is the wide range of programs that we offer to educate our community from all ages about the San Joaquin River and surrounding lands. We have field trip programs and summer camps that serve thousands of students/kids from both Fresno and Madera counties, who will be the stewards of the river in the future. We offer a number of programs for adults and families including nature walks, and guided canoe and Kayak Tours

I also really like our monthly “River Stewards” volunteer program which allows the public to come out and work on projects with our restoration technicians including native tree planting, invasive species removal and trash cleanup.   

What's the funniest, strangest, most unusual thing people have asked you? 

FT: “We have a river in Fresno?”

Are there any recent or upcoming changes that people should know about?

FT: We now have summer camps in both Fresno and Firebaugh along the San Joaquin River catering to more kids and we offer scholarships for campers and families who would not otherwise be able to afford a week at camp. Every third grade student and every sixth grade student will go on a field trip with us somewhere along the parkway. We depend on our members to help keep parklands open to the public along the San Joaquin River including the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies and Camp Pashayan in Fresno, as well as Sycamore Island in Madera. 

We offer outdoor recreational opportunities all year long including guided nature walks on protected properties to allow people to experience the wildlife and ecology of the river.

Can you tell us more about the activities that you mentioned? What do these activities typically cost? 

FT: Many of our activities are free to the public, including nature walksvolunteer programs, and tours of the historic ranch house at the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies. Other programs like River Tours, River Camp, require a fee for service. We offer discounts to our members for all of our paid programs, as well as scholarships for River Camp for families who cannot afford to send their kids to camp. We hope to get new people out to the Parkway this year!

To check out events and activities they have going on, head to their Events Page or you can visit our calendar. You can also visit their website for more information on their mission, summer camps, volunteer programs, and more!

What is the San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust?

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It is the mission of Cen Cali Life Magazine to spotlight what makes our Central Valley a unique and integral part of the Golden State. To learn more about us and our mission, click on the "About Us + Advertising Link" at the top of this page.

Happy Reading,

Karen Maroot