Presenters 2016

Dustin Pearce, Keynote Speaker

Dustin Pearce is the GIS Analyst with the Conservation Biology Institute. He will be presenting on the recently completed Western San Joaquin Valley Solar Assessment. He has focused geospatial and stakeholder engagement experience in the San Joaquin Valley of California on agricultural lands, natural lands, and renewable energy development. His experience and background allows him to work with diverse stakeholder groups bridging the divide between disciplines, and fostering trust among stakeholders.

2016 Presentation: Identifying Least-Conflict Solar PV Development In California’s San Joaquin Valley


Doug Drynan, Katie Tierney and Camdilla Wirth will be presenting on topics related to post-construction monitoring at the California Valley Solar Ranch and Topaz Solar Farms.

2016 Presentation: California Valley Solar Ranch Habitat Mitigation and Monitoring Plan Implementation

SPEAKER: Doug Drynan

Doug Drynan is a senior wildlife ecologist with H. T. Harvey and Associates based in their San Luis Obispo office.  He works on a variety of projects related to endangered species and regulatory compliance and has been involved in work out on the Carrizo Plain since 2010. Doug has more than 24 years of experience in field research and project management relating to birds and mammals of California.

SPEAKER: Katie Tierney

Katie Tierney, Range and Plant Scientist with Althouse and Meade, earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science with a minor in Rangeland Resource Management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and her Master of Science degree in Animal and Range Sciences from Montana State University, Bozeman.  She has experience with restoration and grazing plans, ruminant nutrition, invasive weed management, soil carbon sequestration, vegetation surveys, permit applications, GIS, wildlife and construction monitoring, environmental compliance, American beaver impact assessment, San Joaquin kit fox, American badger, and burrowing owl.

2016 Presentation: Energy, Agriculture, & Wildlife

SPEAKER: Camdilla Wirth

Camdilla Wirth, Conservation Biologist, joined Sequoia Riverlands Trust in 2015 to support SRT’s mitigation site management efforts, particularly in the Carrizo Plain area and west side of the San Joaquin Valley. She adds expertise and experience with the relevant geography, wildlife species and survey methods, complementing existing expertise with plants.


Dave Hacker and Craig Fiehler will co-present on Scrub Reestablishment on the Carrizo Plain.

2016 Presentation: Planning for Shrub Establishment on Former Crop Lands in the Carrizo Plain

SPEAKER: Dave Hacker 

Dave Hacker graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in March of 1998. Continuously since then, based in San Luis Obispo, Dave has worked throughout California’s Central Coast on biological inventories, impact assessments, and mitigation projects, both independently and at State agencies. Since 2008, Dave has been working for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in a regulatory capacity on utility-scale renewable energy projects, including the solar projects in the Carrizo Plains. Email Dave

SPEAKER: Craig Fiehler

Craig Fiehler is wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and manager of the North Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve.



Steve McMasters and James Caruso, will talk about the California Valley Lot Acquisition Program, and the urgency rules on marijuana cultivation.

2016 Presentation: California Valley Lot Acquisition Plan

SPEAKER: Steve McMasters

Steve McMasters, Environmental Division, Department of Planning and Building, San Luis Obispo County, will provide an update on the California Valley Lot Acquisition Program and the newly adopted urgency rules on marijuana cultivation. Steve has worked for the County of San Luis Obispo since 1987, and is currently a Supervising Planner in the Dept. of Planning & Building. While involved with all aspects of the planning process in his current role, his focus and specialty has been the CEQA process. Steve has processed or reviewed hundreds of environmental documents ranging from exemptions to EIRs. He has managed or had a major role in managing the environmental documents for several large projects in SLO County including the Topaz Solar Farm, the Avila Beach Clean-up Project and the Worldcom Fiber Optic Landing Project.

SPEAKER: James Caruso

James Caruso is a Senior Planner with the San Luis Obispo County Department of Planning and Building.  James has over 30 years of local government planning experience.  His varied career has included oil spill remediation, the rebuilding of Avila Beach, natural resource damage assessments, nuclear waste storage, water, energy, climate change and renewable energy policy. James is now back where he started in the Current Planning Division trying to impart some wisdom in the younger generation of planners before he retires.



Representatives from CDFW, Carrizo Plain National Monument/BLM and the Sequoia Riverlands Trust  have been invited to speak on emerging issues and news on the Carrizo Plain in a panel setting.


      Dave Hacker

      Craig Fiehler

Sequoia Riverlands Trust:

     Camdilla Wirth

     Hilary Dustin

Hilary Dustin has a lifelong interest in practical, sustainable relationships between people and their natural habitats. She has explored this in academia, government, private business and in the nonprofit sector with Sequoia Riverlands Trust. Prior to joining SRT as the Lead Land Steward in December 2003, Hilary received a B.A. in Biology from Cornell University and an M.S. in Range Management from the University of California at Davis; spent 15 years with the U.S. Forest Service as a range conservationist, timber sale planner, district ranger and public affairs officer; and co-owned a medium-sized architecture and planning firm.

Central Coast Salmon Enhancement:

    Steph Wald

Steph is Watershed Projects Manager for Central Coast Salmon Enhancement and served as an independent biological monitor for both of the solar plants on the Carrizo.


Neil Havlik, Event MC

Neil is currently the President of the Carrizo Plain Conservancy and is retired from the City of San Luis Obispo, Natural Resources Manager. Neil was active with the development of the Carrizo Plain National Monument and continues to be involved with the Friends of the Carrizo Plain.