Rocio Gonzalez, Executive Director and Riverkeeper
Rocio holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Los Lagos and is fluent in English and Spanish. As part of her community work, she also participates in the Town Environmental Committee (Comité Ambiental Comunal), having been elected its first President in 2015. Rocio is a native of the Los Lagos Region who has lived in the Futaleufu watershed since 2013. Before moving to Futaleufu, she worked for seven years as a government official in Puerto Montt. During her tenure she supervised over a hundred international volunteers. She first began working with Futaleufu Riverkeeper in 2014, most recently serving as Project Director where she supervised local zoning efforts and organized community events.
As the Riverkeeper, Rocio is responsible for monitoring the health of the waterways and documenting threats to the environment. There are currently over 300 Waterkeepers in 34 countries worldwide, including new groups on the threatened Maranon River in Peru and the Chagres River in Panama.
Patrick J. Lynch, International Director
Patrick is an environmental attorney and advocate from the U.S. who lives in Futaleufu. He is a Member of the World Commission on Environmental Law and writes and speaks on environmental and social justice issues, particularly in the context of river conservation.
In Chile, Patrick organizes and participates in environmental initiatives including the Citizens’ Committee on Climate Change, which presents studies on renewable energies to the Chilean government, as well as Acción Conservación, a new initiative to unite nonprofit leaders and outdoor groups.
As International Director, Patrick oversees outreach, fundraising, finances, and collaborates with Waterkeeper Alliance and other Waterkeeper members around the globe. He is a permanent resident of Chile, having lived there since 2010. Instagram: plynchile Twitter: plynchile.
Cecilia is a young mother, environmentalist and native of Futaleufu. Like many people in Patagonia, she was born in Argentinean Patagonia but spent her life on the Chilean side. Her grandparents and parents are founding settlers of the town.
Cecilia attended high school and technical school in Achao, Chiloe, currently the center of environmental conflict due to salmon farming. She returned to Futaleufu in 2014 together with her daughter Antonia, both of them determined to stay and live and fight for their homes.
“I couldn’t remain far away knowing that the Futaleufu River is in danger and feeling a great responsibility to defend it, for the community and especially for my daughter.”
Daniel Casado, Photographer, Videographer and Communications Advisor
Daniel is a Chilean environmental photographer and videographer with experience in documentary production and communications. Among the institutions he has collaborated with are Fundación MERI (northern Patagonia), Parque Etnobotánico OMORA (southern Patagonia) , and U.S. NGOs including the Chewonki Foundation, Maine Woods Forever, and Maine Farmland Trust.
Daniel is an active member of the Chilean Photoreporters Union and an activist in environmental causes.
Jens Benöhr, National River Alliance
Jens comes to us from southern Chile, where he is helping Futaleufu Riverkeeper and several other watershed groups develop a national river alliance to protect free-flowing rivers. Jens holds a degree in anthropology from Universidad de Concepción. His interest lies in ecology, especially the interaction between human populations and waterbodies. To date his work has focused on the use of sports as a tool for environmental education.
Lydia Bleifuss, International Relations Volunteer
Lydia is a river conservationist and whitewater guide largely based in Buena Vista, Colorado, USA. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, with a concentration in Surface Water Conflicts. For her thesis, she looked at social resistance to hydropower conflicts and transboundary basin management in Chile. In 2016 she traveled to Chile with the help of grant funding to meet with several watershed protection groups, including Futaleufu Riverkeeper.
Since returning to the U.S., Lydia has taken on an international relations role for Riverkeeper. She is currently strengthening contacts between Buena Vista and Futaleufu, with the aim of establishing a partnership between the two exceptional river towns. In addition to guiding and research experience, Lydia also interned with Waterkeeper Alliance.
Ivo A. Tadich G., Research Fellow
Ivo is a nature aficionado and loves trekking the wonderful Andes Mountains, as well as the beautiful and unique Chilean Coastal Mountain Range.
Ivo joined the Futaleufú Riverkeeper team in 2016 as a Fellow, to investigate Chile’s energy policy and assist in helping the community gain a better understanding of what this policy means for the Futaleufu watershed. He also works in situ studying new ways of understanding the ecosystem processes involved in this watershed from a scientific point of view. Ivo is an Environmental Civil Engineer from the southern Chilean city of Valdivia. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (Valparaíso) and a Master’s in Science in Water Resources from Universidad Austral de Chile (Valdivia).
Pía Weber Salazar, Volunteer Attorney
Pia is a Chilean attorney with a law degree from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, specializing in Administrative Law and Environmental Law. Pia is currently pursuing a Masters in Law (LLM) at the University of Melbourne, where she studies environmental law and is helping Futaleufu Riverkeeper research legal tools for the protection of wild and scenic rivers in Australia, including the Queensland Wild Rivers Act. Previously, Pia worked as advisory attorney for the Ministry of the General Secretariat of the Presidency and as Fund Analyst for Chile’s Transparency Council.
Jane Koopman, Kayak Stewards Alliance
Jane Koopman is an instructor in the river, sea kayak and horsepacking programs for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Jane started Kayak River Stewards as a Futaleufu Riverkeeper project to unite kayakers and set the stage for a national alliance to protect the the Fu and other waterways. She has spent the last two seasons traveling through Chile, paddling rivers, learning about conflicts, participating in festivals, and giving presentations about efforts to create the first alliance of paddlers in Chile.
Prior to her work in Chile and with NOLS, Jane worked for a US-based NGO, Teens To Trails, to make outdoor pursuits more accessible to all teens in the state of Main. Jane also spent time guiding, patrolling and teaching on Maine’s river’s and mountains. She grew up in San Francisco, California and holds a degree in Environmental Studies and Earth Science from Bowdoin College in Maine.
Paulo Urrutia, National River Alliance
Paulo is finishing his geology degree at the University of Conception. Outdoor sports has allowed him to find a deep connection with places removed from the hectic craziness of the cities. With interests in hydrogeology, photography, tourism and sports, Paulo searches for alternatives to enhance local development in a way that respects the environment and its inhabitants. The great beauty of southern Chile and the quality of its people led him to launch the Bestias del Sur Salvaje project with Jens Benohr, where they seek to create a sporting ethic committed to the communities where they develop their sports and the organizations that protect them. As part of Kayak River Stewards, he intends to link a network of committed kayakers to watersheds threatened by hydroelectric projects.
Pictured above: Ervin Redlich, Community Advocate and Rural Tourism Expert, Turismo Antuhuya.
Natalia B. Ibañez
Natalia is an experienced tourism guide and a native of Futaleufú. She learned English on horseback as a child working with her family’s rural tourism company in the watershed. For several years she lived in the Argentinean portion of the Futaleufú watershed, and is now connecting both Chile and Argentina to stand united against harmful development. She has presented at community events in Futaleufú and in Puerto Varas, and acts as Futaleufú Riverkeeper’s representative in Argentina. Natalia currently studies tourism in the regional capital of Puerto Montt. When she is not studying she lives in Esquel, Chubut Province, on the Argentina side of the Futaleufu watershed.
Ervin Redlich, Community advocate and rural tourism expert, Turismo Antuhuya, Futaleufú, Chile
Stephanie Haig, Filmmaker, Fighting for the Futaleufú, Connecticut, U.S.