Jeff Opperman, Ph.D., lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Partnership, has been working to protect rivers and lakes for nearly 15 years. He has provided strategic and scientific guidance to freshwater conservation projects across the United States as well as in China, Africa and Latin America. Through scientific research, collaborations and technical support to field projects, Jeff focuses on improving the environmental sustainability of hydropower and protecting and restoring river-floodplain ecosystems.
Jeff in the News
Follow Jeff and his family as they travel down the Mekong River.
Jeff shares with Outside the story of how his family helped "rescue" steelhead from their shallow neighborhood creek.
On the Guardian's Sustainable Business Water Hub, Jeff writes about a project along the Penobscot River will increase fish populations, generate energy and provide an example for other projects to follow.
On Care2, Jeff shares why cloudy skies are good for freshwater.
In Grist, Jeff ponders what a going-out-of-business sale says about the environmental movement.
In Grist, Jeff ranks the climate change vulnerability of 50 American cities.
Climate Wire turns to Jeff for analysis on the Administration’s vision for improving the sustainability of hydropower.
Writing for National Geographic, Jeff reveals what it’s like to study the longest river in Honduras before it’s dammed.
Jeff talks to the BBC about his paper in Science urging changes in the way the world manages floodplains.
Jeff on the Blog
Jeff writes about the value conservation adds to peoples' lives.
Floods destroy, Jeff writes, but they also create.
Jeff reflects on the 2011 Mississippi floods by focusing on what worked — and how we can build on it for even better river management.
Jeff discusses the American penchant to live where it’s sunny and why that’s bad for water sustainability.
Water doesn’t come from the tap or grocery store shelves, Jeff writes. It comes from nature. We need nature for clean water.
In a personal tribute to his area of expertise, Jeff discusses why he’s always been drawn toward rivers.
Jeff writes on the importance of the world’s deltas and why human activity is threatening these valuable resources.
Opperman, J. J., R. Luster, B. A. McKenney, M. Roberts, and A. W. Meadows. 2010. Ecologically functional floodplains: connectivity, flow regime, and scale. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 46: 211-226.
Esselman, P. and J. J. Opperman. 2010. Overcoming information limitations for developing an environmental flow prescription for a Central American River. Ecology and Society 15 (1) article 6;
Opperman JJ, Galloway GE, Fargione J, Mount JF, Richter BD, Secchi S. 2009. Sustainable floodplains through large-scale reconnection to rivers. Science 326: 1487-1488.
Opperman, J. J. 2009. In the beginning: a river on fire; blaze on the Cuyahoga marked start of an era that needs to be celebrated. Op-ed piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 21, 2009.
Opperman, J., J. Mount, and P. Moyle. 2004. The rivers tell us how to reduce the flood peril. Op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee, April 25, 2004.
Jeff Opperman, Ph.D.
Lead Scientist, Great Rivers Partnership
Jeff Opperman, senior freshwater scientist, has been working to protect rivers and lakes for nearly 15 years. He has provided strategic and scientific guidance to freshwater conservation projects across the United States as well as in China, Africa and Latin America.
In his role at The Nature Conservancy much of Jeff’s focus is on improving the environmental sustainability of hydropower both by advancing sound policies and by supporting on-the-ground projects.
He is a member of the governing board of the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI), which certifies “environmentally preferable” hydropower and recently served on an Independent Review Panel that provided recommendations for floodplain management to California’s Department of Water Resources.
Jeff earned his B.S. in Biology from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Ecosystem Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He then studied floodplain ecology during a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Davis. His scientific and policy research has been published in journals such as Science, BioScience and Ecological Applications. Jeff strives to communicate the challenges and opportunities of protecting fresh water through op-eds, articles and blog posts in such places as The New York Times, Outside, Grist, and The Guardian.