Willow Flycatcher Willow Flycatcher
Photo Credit: Tom Grey

Our History

In Memoriam

Throughout its history the Central Valley Joint Venture has benefited from the contributions of many gifted individuals. We remember the following advocates, scientists and partners whose contributions to the CVJV and the waterfowl and wetlands of the Central Valley continue to be felt.

Dennis Raveling

Dennis Raveling was Professor of Waterfowl & Wetlands Ecology at UC Davis throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. He was a highly respected leader in the waterfowl field, particularly as it related to ecology, population and behavior. He was one of the great researchers of the Pacific Flyway and was deeply involved in the protection of certain species of waterfowl. What made him particularly unique was his recognition of the potential of the hunting community. He was a great proponent of the ‘big voice’ of hunters. He encouraged them to be educated about the issues and vocal in their advocacy of their needs. During the 1970’s there were only a handful of people from academia who could be comfortable with both hunters and environmentalists. He organized some of the first joint workshops for duck club owners and wetland managers so that both parties could be involved in the stewardship of a shared resource. Dennis was also a great mentor. He had many students who went on to become Joint Venture leaders in their own right, including Bob McLandress with California Waterfowl Association (CWA), Mickey Heitmeyer (CWA/DU) and Mike Miller at USGS.

Dennis was very encouraging of the concept of the joint venture within state and federal agencies, and later the private sector. He insisted that joint ventures be built on good science, not political considerations. He wanted to know how the birds used the habitats, why they used it, and what the joint venture could do to improve those habitats. He worked hard to get the program off the ground, supporting the early efforts of the original Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture Coordinators Gary Kramer and Dave Paullin. He was profoundly respected by everyone who knew him and had a passion for waterfowl. Sadly, he died of bone cancer just as the joint venture was gaining momentum, but he was a critical academic proponent that the program go forward – and that it go forward based on solid science. That objective guides the CVJV to this day.

Dave Widell

Dave Widell, General Manager and Director of Governmental Affairs of Grassland Water District was without equal in his passion about wetlands and water issues. Having grown up in Los Banos, a love of hunting was in his blood. It is no surprise that he spent most of his professional life working to protect Central Valley bird habitat. In his various professional roles over the years at the Resources Agency, State Parks, California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited and at the Grassland Water District (GWD), he contributed to Central Valley Joint Venture goals in countless ways. He helped make the CVJV a stronger, more effective organization through his participation on various committees, and tireless advocacy at the state and federal levels of government. He brought extraordinary skill, enthusiasm, and expertise to his work with the Joint Venture, particularly as it related to wetland water supplies.

Dave was very involved in the Joint Venture from his initial work as Assistant Director at GWD. GWD supported the CVJV early on by hosting tours, meetings, and pushing NAWCA. Dave served on several committees and was a big proponent of the CVJV speaking up about water issues, urban encroachment and anything else that involved its mission. During his tenure at CWA and DU, he was deeply involved in the committee structure of the JV, pestering the committees to be stronger, focused and more effective. While working for the Resources Agency, Dave earned the distinction of being the first Management Board member from the Agency. Along with Fritz Reid, he personally appealed to then Secretary Mike Chrisman to get the Agency involved. Dave’s presence on the Management Board elevated the stature of the CVJV within the Agency, which proved to be extremely helpful. While at DU he helped write a substantial portion of the 2006 Implementation Plan’s Water Chapter. As the General Manager of Grassland Water District, he pushed hard – and regularly – for the CVJV to step up on the CVPIA because of the language in the law, and its requirement of Level 2 and Level 4 water supplies for refuges. He regularly went back to educate and lobby Congressional Representatives and staff about our issues, particularly as they related to refuge water supplies. His was a uniquely powerful voice that is profoundly missed.

Holly Andre

Holly Andre grew up in the Delta and her family was involved in the grape growing business. As Chief of Staff for State Assemblyman Phil Isenberg, she worked on a wide variety of environmental issues affecting the Central Valley. She became Ducks Unlimited's first Director of Policy at the regional level. As Director of Policy, she worked hand in hand with Dan Chapin during his last years at California Waterfowl Association – an extremely productive and politically effective time for the Joint Venture.

As the lead on policy issues for the CVJV, she was deeply involved in getting funding to the Wildlife Conservation Board that could be used for CVJV related projects and priorities. Holly worked tirelessly to make sure the budgets worked for us. It was her ability to figure out how to get funds from the Army Corps of Engineers to DU that made her an instrumental player in the Yolo Basin project. To cap her achievement, she orchestrated the participation of then-President Clinton in the dedication ceremony. She also worked closely with Congressman Miller’s office to implement the next phase of the CVPIA.

The CVJV was not the only joint venture to benefit from Holly’s talent. She was instrumental in helping start the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture and was one of its founding board members and chairs.

Holly had a real gift for getting people to work together. She created a feeling of camaraderie and a sense of common purpose; something that continues to define the Central Valley Joint Venture partnership. Her untimely death from leukemia was a blow to DU and the CVJV. Her dedication and skill continue to be missed.

John Nagel

The CVJV was the lucky beneficiary of the tremendous talents of John Nagel, a man who migrated to the Central Valley from the Great Basin. John had a full career at the Utah Department of Wildlife which included management of all waterfowl refuges around the Great Salt Lake. After leaving government service he went to work for Ducks Unlimited. He helped open DU’s Regional Office in 1989 and directed their wetland restoration efforts throughout the west until his retirement.

John worked hard for the enhancement and restoration of state and federal wetlands throughout the Central Valley. He was involved in the Central Valley Joint Venture from its beginning. While Mickey Heitmeyer served as the original Management Board member for DU, John was critically involved in delivering the joint venture related restoration work that DU was implementing on the ground. He knew the wetlands of the Central Valley extremely well, which helped the CVJV stay focused on opportunities and priorities. He was a strong supporter of joint venture activities and worked closely with Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture Coordinator, Dave Paullin. John’s reputation with private landowners also conferred credibility on the CVJV– an invaluable service that continues to pay dividends.

Seeing the successes of the CVJV, John played a crucial role in the development of the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV). He became one of the founders of the IWJV and was instrumental to it taking off in a positive way.


The CVJV partnership has earned an impressive record of accomplishment since its inception in 1988, and is making great progress towards meeting the objectives identified in its 2020 Implementation Plan.