About Us

The River Exchange is a non-profit organization located in Dunsmuir, California. We promote healthy watersheds in Siskiyou County through community involvement in stewardship, restoration and education. 

We began as a project of the City of Dunsmuir in 1996, created in the aftermath of the disastrous Cantara Loop railroad spill that destroyed all plant and animal life along a forty mile stretch of the Upper Sacramento River. Since that time we have grown into an independent and self-sustaining organization.

Along the way, we have taught thousands of schoolchildren about the importance of rivers, and how to be good stewards of their watersheds. We have also organized dozens of community events around watershed stewardship, participated in numerous restoration projects throughout the region, and created partnerships with federal, state and local agencies, other conservation groups, and the business community. 

Each year the River Exchange hosts the Great River Clean-up in the fall, and the River Celebration! in late spring. We also host a series of informational gatherings on watershed sustainability. Check our Events Page for event dates and information.

Our members live throughout California and in other parts of the country. They share the common desire to see the spectacular rivers and watersheds of far northern California remain healthy and productive, and to be sustained for future generations to enjoy. 

Community Partners

We regularly partner with the following organizations and agencies:

Watch Our Video

View the President's Message

River Exchange Strategic Plan; Vision 2020

In June 2011, the River Exchange adopted its Vision 2020 Strategic Plan, which will guide our activities for the next 10 years. You can view our strategic plan in pdf format by clicking: Vision 2020 Strategic Plan

You can contact our office at (530) 235-2012 or email us at mail@riverexchange.org.

Our Team

River Exchange Staff

Phil Detrich
Executive Director, Board President

photo by Richard Dupertuis

photo by Richard Dupertuis

Phil Detrich joined the River Exchange Board of Directors in June 2011, and has served as our Executive Director since November 1st, 2013. Early in his career as a wildlife biologist, he did research on birds of prey on Shasta Lake and in the forests of the Mt. Shasta region. From 2001 until 2010, he supervised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) office in Yreka, CA, and represented the USFWS in the Klamath River settlement negotiations on hydroelectric dam relicensing, irrigation deliveries, and river management.

Phil has lived in Mt. Shasta for 15 years, and enjoys birding, rafting, and fly-fishing.

Molly Hansen
Executive Assistant

Molly sm.jpg

Molly's experience includes working with the environmental organizations Amargosa Conservancy in Shoshone, CA, and Californians Against Waste in Sacramento. She has served as a spokesperson to bring national attention to threats to Native American hunting, fishing, land and water rights, has co-organized rallies to educate the public about the health and environmental threats that coal and uranium mining bring to Native American communities in the southwestern states, and was a founding board member of Chalk It Up to Sacramento (a nonprofit that raises funds for children’s art programs through an annual arts event). Her volunteer experience also includes Burrowing Owl surveys, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge education program for children, and interpretive walks in the lower Amargosa region. She organized, promoted and managed a large fundraising concert for Loaves and Fishes (a local food kitchen and homeless persons’ outreach center). 

Molly enjoys birding, skiing, kayaking and hiking.


Phyllis Skalko
Finance Director


Phyllis is the River Exchange's bookkeeper and numbers guru. Having spent over 30 years in the accounting field, she is an invaluable addition to the REX staff. Prior to her "retirement" to Dunsmuir, Phyllis was the Controller for The James Irvine Foundation in San Francisco.

When not keeping us on our toes at the River Exchange, she loves to read, dance, collect unusual fabrics, and help out with the Dunsmuir Railroad Depot Historical Society and Dunsmuir Railroad Days. 


River Exchange Board of Directors

Chris Stromsness
Founding Member and Board Vice President


Chris is a Cal anthropology graduate and a Hastings law graduate. He had a law office in Dunsmuir from 1968 until 1992 and retired as a Superior Court Judge in 2004. Chris has been fishing since 1947; he's spent time on the Klamath River since 1952, and on the Sacramento River since 1950. In 1997 he became a flyfisher, and he is also an avid birder.

Chris is a charter member of the River Exchange Board and is active in Mt. Shasta Audubon Society and many other conservation and community groups. Chris continues to live in Dunsmuir.

Gene O'Rourke
Board Treasurer


Gene, a life-long fly fisherman, was introduced to the Upper Sacramento River by Ted Fay when Gene was 16. He and his family live in San Francisco and have been fishing, camping, climbing and hiking the rivers and mountains of Siskiyou County for 50 years. Gene is a CPA and banking consultant and has sat on the board of publicly held companies.

He jumped at the opportunity to join the River Exchange as a board member to help protect for future generations the watershed he has come to love.

Spencer Adkisson
Board Secretary


Spencer joined the River Exchange Board of Directors in 2015. Spencer came to the Mount Shasta area in 1999 as a mountaineering guide with Shasta Mountain Guides. He moved to Arcata and then Reno to complete his schooling, earning a degree in Geography and a teaching credential. He moved back to Dunsmuir in 2011 and taught 7th and 8th grade math and science at McCloud Elementary and Dunsmuir Elementary schools. He is currently the Watershed Education Coordinator for Dunsmuir Elementary School. Aside from education, his passions include drumming, fly fishing, climbing, skiing, backpacking, gardening, and all things nature related.

Mellen Colberg



Mellen’s relationship with the Upper Sacramento River started in 1991 after the Cantara Loop spill. For the next several years she worked as a biologist surveying for amphibians, reptiles and bats over the 40 miles from Box Canyon Dam to Dog Creek and all the tributaries in between, and was amazed by the biological diversity and beauty. Since then Mellen has made Mt. Shasta her home. 

Her love and stewardship for the river continues through her involvement with The River Exchange, especially through the Watershed Education Programs that mentor students and educate the community.