San Joaquin River Parkway agency names interim chief

The state agency went with a Fresno native while looking for a permanent executive officer.

One month after firing the former executive officer, the San Joaquin River Conservancy has found an acting replacement until a permanent hire is made. 

The backstory: In early April, the San Joaquin River Conservancy Board ousted former executive director John Shelton after four years on the job. 


  • At the time of Shelton’s removal, Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi, who serves as the board chair, thanked him for his service and did not expand on the board’s decision to let him go. 
  • The San Joaquin River Conservancy manages the 22-mile San Joaquin River Parkway that runs from Highway 99 to Friant Dam. 

The big picture: Wednesday, the board voted unanimously to hire Karen Buhr as the Interim Executive Officer. 

  • Buhr, a Fresno native, has served as the Executive Director of the California Association for Resource Conservation Districts and the Deputy Executive Officer of the Delta Conservancy. 

What they’re saying: “The board of the San Joaquin River Conservancy is excited to welcome Karen Buhr as the Interim Executive Officer,” Karbassi said. “We are confident that the experience and knowledge Ms. Buhr will bring to the Conservancy will further the goals set out to preserve the beauty and nature found in and around the river, while also increasing access for the residents of Fresno and Madera to enjoy all that can be found at the San Joaquin River.”

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