Brian MurphyHealthy Rivers Program Manager

Brian Murphy

Born and raised in the Spokane, Washington, Brian Murphy (he/his) now lives and works in Denver, Colorado, on Arapaho and Cheyenne lands.

Brian joined River Network in 2022 as Healthy Rivers Program Manager. Dr. Murphy has worked in the water resources engineering and river science field for over 20 years. Brian holds a PhD from Colorado State University. His PhD research focused on assessing urban stream processes and emerging management paradigms that integrate social-ecological values. He founded his own consulting practice, River Works, to focus on the “wicked problems” caused by natural and anthropogenic changes on river physical conditions. Brian has published multiple journal articles on urban river management and conservation. He also recently wrote a chapter for the upcoming book titled, Rewilding the Urban Frontier: River Conservation in the Anthropocene.

Outside of work, Brian is active mountain enthusiast, exploring Colorado’s Front Range with his wife and three children.


Which River Network value most speaks to you?

Balance. Progressive disruption of urban areas along river corridors, and limited awareness of the inherent dangers of living on floodplains, requires a major shift in management actions to address these problems and bring about balance between human needs and ecological function.

What motivates you to go to work everyday?

I am a parent of three, so I firmly believe in passing on a legacy and an environment that is sustainable and even a little bit better (than what was given to me and my generation).

What called you to work in water?

Ever since I was young I have had a strong connection to the land and water. As I have grown into my professional career, that ethic has translated into me realizing that conserving, protecting, and restoring the natural environment is my passion and purpose for working in water.

What was the most inspiring aspect of your work over the past year?

Completing my PhD was a huge accomplishment. The world is complicated and being an expert in all parts is not possible. I found time to be an expert in what I love: studying rivers, which inspires me to advance the river ethic. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “far and away the best prize that life offers is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.”

How do you recharge outside of work?

By skiing, cycling, hiking, reading (fiction and non-fiction), all of which I do with my wife and kids.