Western Rivers Conservancy Project Manager — Completed

Offer extended; announcement pending

View PDF: Western Rivers Conservancy Project Manager Position Description f

Western Rivers Conservancy

Project Manager OREGON

(The California Project Manager Position has been filled)

Position Description


Painter Executive Search is supporting Western Rivers Conservancy in a search for and additional Project Manager to develop and steward land transactions along key river systems in California and Oregon.

Founded in 1988 in Portland, OR, Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) is the nation’s only land acquisition program dedicated solely to the protection of riverlands. WRC seeks out riverlands with high conservation values, focusing on properties that allow for a meaningful, long-term impact through land acquisition. WRC negotiates with willing sellers—including corporations, families and utilities—to gain control of those lands for the sake of conservation. Using creative funding strategies, WRC transfers the lands to public or private stewards for long-term conservation management. When it comes to conserving rivers, land acquisition is direct, tangible and effective.  Western Rivers has over 25 years of experience honing its skills at identifying and securing key riverlands.  While other forms of conservation can be effective, WRC still firmly believes that sometimes to save a river, you have to buy it. 

Western Rivers Conservancy acquires land along river corridors to conserve critical habitat, provides public access for compatible use and enjoyment, and cooperates with other agencies and organizations to secure the health of whole ecosystems. WRC has protected outstanding rivers in the eleven contiguous western states: Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Hundreds of miles of river frontage on such rivers as the Snake, Smith, Hoh, Sandy, Madison and Chetco have been protected through WRC’s efforts. Most recently WRC has been creating a 47,000-acre salmon sanctuary and Tribal forest preserve on the lower Klamath in California, one of the earth’s biodiversity hotspots. Blue Creek, the single most important cold-water tributary on the Klamath River, is a lifeline for returning salmon and steelhead and a river sacred to the California’s largest Native American Tribe, the Yurok. The transactions developed to secure this important sanctuary demonstrate the sophistication and commitment WRC brings to the table in protecting scientifically and culturally important riverlands.  To learn more about WRC’s current projects and conservation accomplishments, go to www.westernrivers.org/projectatlas.

WRC has set the professional standard in dealing with issues unique to river corridors – issues of resource assessment, valuation, title, funding and management. The boutique focus and specialized nature of its niche transactions have allowed WRC to remain strong and agile through many economic cycles. The results-focused culture at WRC provides the flexibility to work both opportunistically and creatively while retaining a clear mission of protecting whole river systems.  WRC has established itself as a valuable and flexible partner to a wide range of partners, including local, regional and national government agencies, private corporations, Native American tribes, family landowners and many others. Its expertise in creatively seeking funding for land transactions is deep and growing to include private market, carbon and other sources.

WRC is hiring two Program Managers, one that will likely be located in the Sacramento or Bay Area regions of California and the other to be based in their headquarters in Portland, Oregon.  In both regions, WRC has existing portfolios of transactions in development, as well as a number of targeted river systems.


Reporting the Director of Lands, Project Manager work independently and with a team to advance opportunities for land conservation in key river ecosystems. Project Manager play a key role in WRC’s mission by developing new opportunities for conservation efforts, shaping purchase agreements, and aligning the resources necessary to complete these transactions. Each Project Manager is expected to identify and acquire important riverlands and convey these lands into protective ownership, stewarding a portfolio of projects in various stages of development.

Each Project Manager is responsible for developing a strategy for each new project including target acquisitions, potential partners, core relationships and potential funding sources, with the following strategic objectives:

  • Create sanctuaries that provide permanent protection for river ecosystems.
  • Create refuges to protect certain critical parts of the life cycles of salmonids or other key species.
  • Act opportunistically to ensure valuable river land is moved into permanent protection.


Project Identification and Development

  • Work with fisheries biologists, recreation planners and others to focus on riverlands that have high resource values;
  • Communicate with citizen groups, environmental organizations and public agencies to identify river corridors that should be conserved through public land acquisition;
  • Research ownership and contact landowners;
  • Work with public and nonprofit agencies to secure funding to buy land and transfer it to permanent stewards.

Transaction Management Activities

  • Work through all phases of complex and politically sensitive real estate transactions;
  • Work with landowner and purchaser to gain commitments on purchase and sale of property;
  • Negotiate donations and purchases of riverlands from private owners, including corporations;
  • Work with landowners, appraisers, attorneys, public officials, surveyors, consultants and title companies to complete the transaction;
  • Work with purchasing agencies, public or private, to help them secure funding for purchase and coordinate with them in the acquisition process;
  • Work with public agencies (primarily federal and state) to complete the sale of riverlands to them for long-term protection.

Public Support and Funding Development

  • Develop local support for land acquisition projects;
  • Work with other environmental organizations to gain support for projects;
  • Identify funding sources;
  • Assist in the completion of grant applications;
  • Assist in the process of lobbying for funds;
  • Participate in the completion of grant reports.



A successful Project Manager candidate will likely have:

  • A deep love of rivers;
  • Significant experience in conservation real estate and/or land transactions;
  • Strong track record demonstrating initiative and results in a complex environment;
  • Proven negotiation and deal sourcing skills;
  • Strong communication skills, both oral and written;
  • Demonstrated ability to attract support, build relationships and develop strategic partnerships;
  • Political savvy, particularly for the California role, experience navigating the complex political landscape;
  • Undergraduate degree in business, real estate, or natural resources, with a post-graduate degree preferred.


  • Capable of managing diverse tasks;
  • Emotionally mature, someone who is both confident and competent and truly enjoys working with people;
  • Both a self-starter and highly collaborative; inspires confidence and trust;
  • Tenacious, able to respond creatively to challenges; a person who can see how to move things forward;
  • Solutions-oriented with attention to detail; pragmatic with an eye to the future;
  • A hard worker, willing to be hands-on and brings optimism and a high energy level to daily work;
  • Someone who loves the “art of the deal”;
  • Exercises high ethical standards.

For additional details or to submit your experience for review, please contact; Nancy@painterexecutivesearch.com

(415) 202- 6240

Nancy Painter