Chris Brown

For over 30 years, Christopher (Chris) Brown has been a champion of our nation’s rivers.

As the Conservation Director and Acting Executive Director with American Rivers, Chris led campaigns to protect over 1,000 river miles and secure $25 million in appropriations. He participated in coalitions to save the Penobscot, Tuolumne and Kings rivers and was a leader in the successful effort to add 5 rivers to the Wild and Scenic Rivers system in 1984 after a prolonged drought in W&S River designations: the Verde (AZ); Tuolumne (CA); Au Sable (MI); Owyhee (OR) and the Illinois (OR) were added that year.

In 1988, Chris joined the National Park Service as Branch Chief for Technical Assistance, where he helped to create the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program. RTCA staff continues to provide technical assistance to communities so they can conserve rivers, preserve open space, and develop trails and greenways. He worked extensively with urban river coalitions, hydropower relicensing, water trails, floodplain management; spoke at numerous conferences – including River Rally and authored over a dozen publications, including Conserving Rivers: A Handbook for State Action. Additionally, Chris co-founded the Interagency Wild and Scenic Rivers Coordinating Council and served on the planning team for President Clinton’s American Heritage Rivers Initiative.

In 2006, Chris became the Director of Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers for the U.S. Forest Service; in this capacity, he was responsible for 35 million acres of Forest Service Wilderness and 4000 miles of Forest Service-administered Wild and Scenic Rivers. Two years later, Chris led the national celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Chris retired in 2011 and is an avid cyclist and canoeist, and continues to be involved with forestry and social service. Chris has paddled, rafted or fished on rivers in 36 states; a life goal is to descend the entire 380 miles of his home river: the Potomac.