About Us

River Design Group Team

The RDG Team

RDG's staff members demonstrate experience and competency within their individual disciplines. Equally important, as a team, we have established a track record of successful collaboration on multi-disciplinary projects. RDG project managers recognize the need to be responsive to client requests, and our employees understand that restoration projects require a careful balance of flexibility and leadership.

RDG maintains two offices, one in Whitefish, Montana and another in Corvallis, Oregon. While our staff focuses on projects serviced by their home office, we also promote inter-office collaboration to share ideas and techniques. Our Whitefish office assists clients in Montana and Idaho, while our Corvallis staff works with clients primarily in Oregon.

John Muhlfeld

John Muhlfeld

Principal Hydrologist

John manages RDG's hydrology services and is RDG's president. In over 15 years of professional experience, John has managed over 70 watershed related projects throughout western Montana and other regional systems in the Pacific Northwest.  His technical area of expertise is geomorphology and applying geomorphic and hydrologic principles to the planning and design of channel and floodplain restoration projects.  John is involved with all project phases including field assessments, conceptual and final restoration design engineering, master plan development, regulatory permitting, and construction management.

Recent projects managed by John include 1) restoration of the O'Dell Creek headwaters near Ennis, Montana, which has culminated in over nine miles of spring creek habitat restoration and the creation and enhancement of approximately 500 acres of riparian wetlands; 2) co-managing implementation of channel and floodplain restoration designs on the Clark Fork River following removal of Milltown Dam; 3) designing and implementing channel and floodplain restoration designs on Crow Creek to improve bull trout habitat in the Lower Clark Fork River valley of Montana; and 4) restoration of approximately 68 acres of prior converted wetlands and two miles of channel on Therriault Creek in northwestern Montana.

John is a member of the American Water Resources Association, American Fisheries Society (Montana chapter), and has completed the suite of stream restoration classes offered by Wildland Hydrology, Inc.  John has also completed the 40 hour Hazwoper certification and maintains his certification through the annual 8 hour refresher course.  He routinely presents at regional conferences and speaking at restoration project field tours.        

Matt Daniels

Matt Daniels, PE

Principal Engineer/Project Manager

Matt is a principal and founding shareholder of RDG. In over 20 years of experience as a civil engineer, he has participated in the planning, design and implementation of over 60 water resources projects in Montana, Idaho and Oregon. His expertise includes project management, technical support and construction oversight for large-scale, inter-disciplinary restoration projects. Matt is an accomplished technical writer and collaborates regularly with RDG technical staff to produce high quality deliverables derived from GIS, CAD and hydraulic models. Matt frequently speaks at design symposiums and conferences on the subjects of river restoration, fish passage and project case studies. He is a licensed professional engineer in seven western states. Outside of work, Matt enjoys mountain biking, fishing, skiing, and playing hockey.
Andy Belski

Andy Belski, PLS

Principal Surveyor

Andy has over 20 years of experience in applied surveying and computer aided design including 15 years working on natural resources projects. At RDG, Andy holds responsible charge of boundary, topographic and hydrographic surveying as well as supporting calculations. His primary areas of expertise are land surveying, GPS, geodesy, LiDAR, and 3D terrain modeling. Andy routinely coordinates with construction contractors to provide RDG’s grading plan designs in formats that can be used by equipment with GPS capability. Andy is licensed as a Professional Land Surveyor in Montana and Idaho. In addition, he has established a record with the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying and has completed the 40-hour Hazwoper certification.
Troy Brandt

Troy Brandt, MS

Principal Biologist

Since RDG’s founding in 2003, Troy has managed assessment, design, and implementation projects in Oregon and Montana. He is often responsible for overseeing and completing stream corridor assessments that include broad stakeholder groups. Over the last three years, Troy has managed watershed and reach assessments in central and eastern Oregon, and on tributaries in the Willamette River Basin. Troy typically compiles assessments characterizing historical and current conditions, identifying limiting factors affecting the stream corridor, and formulating prioritized projects that address limiting factors. Troy works with RDG’s engineering staff to prepare project designs that enhance stream corridor, improve fish passage, and address landowner needs.

Recent efforts Troy has overseen include fish passage in the Upper Deschutes and Goose Lake basins, meadow conservation through knickpoint stabilization, and off-channel habitat enhancement on the Calapooia River. These projects typically require a collaborative effort between Troy and RDG’s engineering staff to ensure that restoration projects not only achieve channel stability goals, but also enhance fish habitat.
Gary Decker

Gary Decker

Senior Hydrologist/Project Manager

Gary joined RDG in 2015 after working as a principal and founding shareholder of WestWater Consultants, Inc. With over 36 years of professional experience in private practice and government, Gary has implemented hundreds of watershed-scale restoration projects. Gary formerly served as a Forest Hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service (Bitterroot National Forest), and as a principal and founding shareholder of WestWater Consultants, Inc. Over the past 10 years, Gary has frequently teamed with River Design Group on large-scale restoration projects including Therriault and Grave Creeks near Eureka, the Jocko River near Arlee, Ninemile Creek west of Missoula, and restoration of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers following removal of Milltown Dam. Gary serves as a senior hydrologist and project manager helping our multi-disciplinary design team with a wealth of experience and knowledge only gained through decades of work. Gary will also be on site for construction oversight on critical restoration projects.
Nate Wyatt

Nate Wyatt, PE

Project Engineer

Nate has over 12 years of experience working on restoration projects and is an integral part of RDG’s design team as a Professional Engineer. Nate’s skills include CAD design for construction drawings and construction oversight for project implementation. Nate is proficient using AutoCAD Civil 3D, Excel, HEC-RAS, Eagle Point and other software tools that support RDG’s design process. In the field, Nate has experience with data collection, data processing and providing site evaluations for potential projects. In the office, Nate’s skills are expanding into project management and design analysis. When Nate is not working at RDG he enjoys boating, fishing, snowboarding and live music.
Josh Lenderman

Josh Lenderman, PLS

Survey Party Chief

Josh has over 12 years of experience participating in field surveys for projects in Montana, Idaho and Oregon. He is a Professional Land Surveyor proficient using survey-grade GPS and total station along with single beam sonar for bathymetric surveys. He also contributes to RDG construction drawings using CAD and GIS skills. Josh joined RDG after completing his Associate of Applied Sciences degree in Land Surveying from Flathead Valley Community College. Josh is a Professional Land Surveyor in the state of Montana. Mr. Lenderman has also completed the Level 1 and 2 classes offered by Wildland Hydrology, Inc.

Selita Ammondt, GISP

GIS Analyst, Restoration Ecologist

Selita has nine years of experience as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) professional, and three years of professional experience as a Restoration Ecologist. She utilizes her expertise in geospatial analysis and remote sensing to analyze river and wetland ecosystems and provide technical support for restoration designs, and is proficient in cartography and geodatabase management. Selita’s expertise also includes riparian vegetation restoration and wetland ecology and management. She develops restoration plans for riparian and wetland ecosystems and performs wetland delineations. She is proficient with ESRI ArcGIS software, has completed training by Wetland Training Institute, Inc. to comply with the U.S .Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual, and has completed professional training though the Corps of Engineers in riparian zone ecology, restoration and management. Ms. Ammondt has a Bachelor of Science in Earth Sciences – Geography from Montana State University, and a Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has presented research in professional conferences across the U.S. and is published in Restoration Ecology and Applied Vegetation Science.
Chris Long

Chris Wells

Controller

Chris Wells is RDG's full time controller and certified contracts officer. Chris brings specialized expertise in maintaining financial records, overseeing RDG's human resources' responsibilities, and analyzing RDG's business operations. With over 15 years of experience in financial planning, analysis and accounting principles, Chris has a proven capacity to improve and maximize overall business and finance function integration through effective communication and experience. In addition to her accounting expertise, RDG also relies on Chris for coordinating and reviewing government contracts.
Scott Wright

Scott Wright, PE

Principal Engineer/Project Manager

Scott has over 23 years of private and public sector water resources experience and has been the engineer of record and project manager for numerous monumental stream, river, and wetland restoration projects. Scott's skills include field assessment, hydraulic modeling, restoration design, design-build management, and comprehensive project management with a solid understanding of construction practices. His focus areas are dam removal, fish passage, fish passage barrier assessments, large-scale in-stream structures, and river structures. Scott has been the project manager for multiple design-build dam removal projects including the Gold Ray and Gold Hill Dam removal projects on the Rogue River, Oregon. Scott was also part of the consultant team that authored the Environmental Impact Statement/Report for the Klamath River Dams. Scott's comprehensive knowledge of construction techniques, permitting, and water resources provide exceptional solutions to complex water resources projects. Having completed his master’s degree under Dr. Peter Klingeman, Scott is a licensed Professional Engineer in Oregon and California and a member of the Project Management Institute.

Chris Nelson, PE, CFM

Water Resources Engineer

Chris has 12 years of experience as a water resources engineer. Chris has been applying his knowledge of river dynamics to fish habitat restoration and flood hazard mitigation projects since graduating from Montana State University’s Bio-Resources Engineering program in 2001. Chris enjoys all aspects of the design process, from project scoping and initial field surveys to final design and construction oversight. He has developed a wide range of skills including: topographic and hydrographic surveying and mapping; hydrologic analysis and hydraulic modeling using HEC-RAS; computer aided design using AutoCAD Civil 3D; and geospatial analysis using ESRI’s ArcGIS software suite. As a project manager he has led teams of hydrologists, biologists, surveyors and engineers in the implementation of habitat improvement projects for threatened and endangered fish species in the Pacific Northwest. As the lead for Snohomish County’s river and stream gauging program he helped improve the reliability of the County's Flood Warning System and completed numerous updates to the County's flood maps. Chris joined RDG in 2012 and has produced construction drawings, design reports, specifications and cost estimates for several aquatic habitat improvement projects. Chris is a registered Professional Engineer in Montana and Washington with experience working on private and public sector projects in Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.
Russell Bartlett

Russell Bartlett, PE, LSI

Water Resources Engineer

Russell has over eight years of engineering and river restoration experience with his professional engineering license in the State of Oregon along with his land surveyor-in-training certificate. Russell assists in all phases of planning and design including field data collection, surface modeling, hydraulic modeling, project design, construction oversight, and project closeout documentation. Russell has worked on restoration projects in the states of Oregon, Montana, and Idaho. Russell has been involved in the removal of fish passage impeding dams including Gold Ray and Gold Hill Dams on the Rogue River, Sodom Dam on the Calapooia River, and Stearns Dam on the Crooked River.
Chris Smith

Chris Smith, PE, CFM

Senior Project Engineer

Chris has 13 years of private and public sector experience in Oregon, California, and Montana, where he has worked in the areas of water resources, fish passage, and wetland and river restoration. Since 2007, Chris has designed and implemented over 30 fish passage and screening projects throughout Oregon, and he recently completed two half-mile to mile-scale mainstem channel rehabilitation projects on the Trinity River in Northern California. Chris provides leadership and expertise in all phases of planning and design including: field data collection, surface modeling, hydraulic modeling, project design, construction oversight, and project management. Chris is a licensed engineer in Oregon (#77342PE).
Pete Gruendike

Pete Gruendike

Fisheries Biologist, GIS Specialist

Pete has over 10 years of experience in fisheries and GIS. Since joining RDG in 2009, Pete has been responsible for conducting field surveys, performing innovative GIS analyses, assisting with project designs, technical reporting, and regulatory permitting. Pete's extensive experience with fish passage and habitat restoration projects in Oregon provides RDG’s team with the critical link between engineering hydraulics and biological considerations. Pete is often relied upon to collaborate with clients and landowners, and provides critical input on fish habitat enhancement projects based on his professional experience and understanding of resident and anadromous fish populations. Pete’s understanding of eco-hydraulics ensures that fisheries objectives are met with project designs.

Pete completed his B.S. in Environmental Science at the State University of New York at Plattsburg and has extensive experience working in the public and private sectors. Pete is a member of the American Fisheries Society (Oregon Chapter), and has spoken at several fisheries and restoration based conferences and symposiums. Outside of work hours, Pete is typically found on the river chasing steelhead from his drift boat or on foot with his dog, Riffle.

Travis Forsman

Engineering Technician

Travis has eight years of experience in civil engineering and has worked on a variety of projects including floodplain mapping, residential and commercial development design, and airport facilities design. He graduated from Lane Community College with an A.A.S. in Flight Technology (2002) and from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Geography (2006). Travis is also a commercially rated airplane pilot and flight instructor. In his free time he enjoys the sport of cross-country paragliding and competes anually.
Jack Zunka

Jack Zunka, MS

Geomorphologist

Jack Zunka, MS, PhD candidate, Geomorphologist, has 10 years of research experience in theoretical and applied geomorphology with foci on morphological adjustments following dam removal and landscape evolution of meandering rivers. Jack’s skillset includes topographic and hydrologic surveying, geomorphic field assessments, hydromorphodynamic numerical modeling, and quantitative landscape analysis, where he employs tools such as ArcGIS and Matlab. He has developed novel metrics for quantifying geomorphologic changes and is published in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. Jack has a Master of Science in Water Resources Engineering from Oregon State University and is finishing a PhD in Geology also at OSU.
Ryan Richardson

Ryan Richardson, MS

Geomorphologist

Ryan Richardson, MS, Geomorphologist is the newest member to the RDG team and brings with him the latest tools and techniques in fluvial geomorphology and remote sensing. Before joining our team he obtained his Masters from the University of Wyoming. His work in the Fluvial Remote Sensing laboratory focused on expanding remote sensing techniques for rivers to the watershed scale. Ryan’s skills include GIS analysis, geomorphic change detection, structure from motion mapping, traditional geomorphic techniques, and has significant experience utilizing UAS technology for river mapping. These skills allow for RDG to expand our capabilities to collect and analyze geomorphic data for successful restoration projects. When Ryan isn’t out in the field conducting work on our projects he can be found in his kayak paddling down one of the many great rivers the Northwest has to offer.
Tess Hanson

Tess Hanson, MS

Water Resources Engineer

Tess Hanson is a Water Resources Engineer who is currently working towards becoming a licensed Professional Engineer. Over the past six years, Tess has earned both a B.S. in Ecological Engineering from Oregon State University and an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University. Her professional background has involved work for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, ICF International Inc., and various watershed councils on several restoration projects in Eastern Oregon. Tess’ contributions to these projects included construction oversight, surveying, hydraulic measurements, habitat data collection, and grant writing. Tess has been involved academically in research related to engineered log jam hydraulics and shear stress variability and bar formation in meandering rivers. Outside of work, she is currently preparing her master’s research for publication. Her academic and professional experience is grounded in engineering, but spans a wide variety of disciplines. At River Design Group, she provides technical support for restoration designs through hydraulic calculations and numerical modeling. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in the mountains, either trail running, rock climbing, or skiing.