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Courtesy of Ellen Wehr

Ducks Unlimited At-Large Board Member and Major Sponsor Ellen Wehr is dedicated to securing and protecting water supplies for wetlands across California’s Central Valley.


Ellen Wehr grew up in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York. At the age of 18, she followed her passion and moved across the country to the Pacific Northwest, where she pursued an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from The Evergreen State College in Washington. Her experiences working for a year as part of the Conservation Corps at Mount Rainier National Park cemented her love of being outdoors. As a hiking and backpacking enthusiast, she relishes time spent exploring natural spaces.

Ellen graduated from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, with a focus in water rights, and she spent the following decade in Sacramento, California, working on water and land use issues for private law firms. She now serves as general counsel for the Grassland Water District (GWD) in California’s Central Valley, where GWD delivers water to an extensive network of privately managed wetlands and state and federal wildlife refuges.

A full-time advocate for wetlands and the water they provide in the Central Valley, Ellen has devoted the past decade of her life to working toward achieving full water supplies for Central Valley refuges. She is an immensely valuable partner for Ducks Unlimited, working with DU to secure and protect water supplies for wetland habitat areas throughout the state. She regularly partners with DU biologists and policy experts to advance restoration projects, secure funding, and address regulatory and legislative issues.

Her work in California helps forge ties with many in the water and environmental communities. Her earliest connections to DU were through longtime volunteers Doug Federighi and Pepper Snyder, who she says inspired her to become more actively involved with the organization, where she is now a member of the board of directors. She feels that if she can get involved, anyone can, and she encourages others to seek opportunities to make a difference.

Motivated by the sheer scope of DU’s work, Ellen appreciates Ducks Unlimited’s unflinching ability to take on challenges and address a crisis while at the same time finding opportunities to share its achievements and celebrate our natural heritage. With so many things to fret about in today’s world, she believes inspiration is of paramount importance. Her ties to the East and West Coasts have provided her with opportunities to witness migrations from different flyways, which in turn broadened her appreciation and understanding of the importance of conservation across the continent.

When asked why conservation is such a deep-rooted passion, she said, “Beyond conserving habitat for wildlife itself, it is important to me that we retain and restore places where people can experience something bigger than themselves, wide open and quiet, filled with different creatures, a reminder that we are only one part of a beautiful and complex world.” Ellen is leaving her own conservation mark for wetlands, water, wildlife, and people through steadfast action and advocacy to make a positive difference across California’s Central Valley.