Science Director

River Science · Nevada City, California
Department River Science
Employment Type Full-Time
Minimum Experience Executive

TITLE: Science Director
REPORTS TO: Executive Director
JOB STATUS: Full time, exempt
LOCATION: Nevada City, CA



The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL – pronounced circle) was founded in 1983 by grassroots activists determined to protect the South Yuba River from dams. Ultimately, SYRCL won permanent protections for 39 miles of the South Yuba River under California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. People Can Save a River is SYRCL’s guiding principle. Since our founding, SYRCL has defended the Yuba River time and again. Today, SYRCL is the central hub of community activism to protect, restore, and celebrate the Yuba River watershed. With 37 years of achievements, 3,500 members and 1,000 active volunteers, SYRCL is doing great things for the Yuba watershed. SYRCL is a leader in the Sierra headwaters for addressing statewide and regional issues – challenging new dams, recovering endangered species, addressing climate change and drought, water security and water quality. 



SYRCL’s interdisciplinary River Science team works to ensure a healthy and resilient watershed through diverse restoration, monitoring, and water quality projects. The Science Director develops and implements program strategies and workplans, overseeing a team of eight and working collaboratively with multiple federal, state, academic and local partners. 


Current projects include meadow restoration targeted at improving meadow hydrology, biodiversity and carbon sequestration; floodplain restoration projects targeted at improving salmonid and riparian habitat; mine remediation and monitoring for sediment and mercury; invasive species removal targeted at reducing fuel loads and impacts in riparian areas; forest health work targeted at landscape scale habitat restoration and climate resiliency; and water quality monitoring to investigate trends and issues across the Yuba watershed. This work is used to inform our on the ground management actions and science, policy, advocacy, legal, communications, education, and restoration work organization wide.



  • Provide vision and leadership for SYRCL’s River Science Program including river, stream, forest and meadow restoration, effectiveness monitoring, and water quality data collection with the goal of protecting and restoring the Yuba River watershed.
  • Supervise and develop SYRCL’s Interdisciplinary River Science Team, currently consisting of six FTE plus two AmeriCorps members, providing direction on project timelines, goals, and objectives.
  • Develop and implement annual program and project goals, plans, and budgets.
  • Participate on the organization’s Leadership Team and help guide a positive culture for the organization.
  • Fundraise, through grant writing, to support a program with an annual budget of $500k-$1m.
  • Work collaboratively with federal, state, academic, and local partners and contractors to develop and implement projects, maintaining existing relationships and fostering new ones.
  • Provide oversight and analysis support for all data collected as part of the water quality monitoring program and to assess restoration project effectiveness.
  • Design and develop protocols and monitoring plans for project specific monitoring.
  • Analyze data and report on findings through reports, peer reviewed journal publications, and presentations.



An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed below.


  • Advanced degree in an environmental, biological, ecological, or physical science, or a related field

Experience & Skills

  • A minimum of six years of experience in watershed science, restoration, fisheries, botany, ecology, geomorphology, or a related discipline. 
  • Ability to supervise, coordinate, train, develop, evaluate and motivate program staff.
  • Proven experience managing multiple, complex state and federally funded grant projects (3+ years).
  • Effective leader with strategic vision and excellent judgment that combines scientific knowledge with political savvy. 
  • Ability to build consensus, develop effective coalitions, and collaborate with diverse interests. 
  • Ability to manage multiple, complex projects in varying stages of development under time constraints with minimal supervision.
  • Strong collaboration, time management, organizational, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills, and a track record of working effectively across race, gender, sexual orientation, and other social identities.
  • Experience developing and implementing restoration projects from conception to completion, including design, permitting, implementation, etc.
  • Computer skills required including proficiency with Word, Excel, R, Access, and GIS.
  • Possession of a properly registered and insured personal vehicle, and a valid California Driver’s License.



Work Environment:

  • Ability to perform under general office working conditions and variable outdoor working conditions.
  • The position requires regular travel within the watershed and often to Sacramento.
  • Requires working some nights and weekends.

Physical Requirements:

  • Able to work on a computer, including sitting at a desk for extended periods; to read a computer screen; and manual dexterity to operate a keyboard. 
  • Able to speak clearly on the phone and in person and be understood by others. 
  • Able to hike long distances over variable terrain. 
  • Able to occasionally lift objects weighing up to 40 pounds. 



Salary and benefits are competitive with other Northern California non-profit conservation organizations; salary is commensurate with experience plus paid time off (PTO) and 100% individual health insurance benefits. 



This position is open until filled and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. No phone calls, please.


SYRCL is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other protected status.

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  • Location
    Nevada City, California
  • Department
    River Science
  • Employment Type
  • Minimum Experience