Nelson, who serves as Vice President of Western Rivers Conservancy, developed a passion for all things rivers while working as a whitewater guide in the Sierra Foothills in the 1980’s. After a stint practicing law in California, Nelson followed his passion and went to work managing The Trust for Public Land’s river conservation efforts in the West. During his 27-year tenure with the organization, he worked to conserve more than 100,000 acres of land with recreational, historic and environmental significance.
Nelson grew up in the foothill town of Placerville, California, and presently resides with his wife, Joanne, daughter, Casey, and son, Theo, in Bend, Oregon. He earned a B.A. in Economics from U.C. Davis and a law degree from U.C. Los Angeles. He is a member of the California Bar. Nelson continues to lead trips as a whitewater guide and serves as the chairman of the board of directors for the American River Touring Association (ARTA), a private, nonprofit rafting company. He is also an avid fly fisherman and skier.