Matt Clifford Selected to Lead Trout Unlimited’s California Program

Clifford, a veteran TU staff member in California, will lead TU’s conservation programs in the state; former state director, Brian Johnson, to focus on water and climate initiatives  


ARLINGTON, VA – Matt Clifford, a staff member in Trout Unlimited’s California program since 2013, has been named the California Director effective March 25th. 

Brian Johnson, who directed the California program since 2011, is taking on a new role as Senior Policy Advisor, Western Water and Climate.   

“Matt is exceptionally well-qualified to lead the California program,” said Rob Masonis, Pacific region vice president. “With more than two decades of policy advocacy and legal experience at both the federal and state levels spanning a range of subjects, including water allocation and management, abandoned mine clean-up, hydroelectric dam regulation, and salmon recovery, Matt has the breadth and depth of knowledge that positions him well to lead TU’s largest state program.” 

Clifford, who earned his law degree from the University of Montana and an undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University, had previously led the California program’s legal and policy work. Prior to joining TU’s staff, Clifford served as policy director for Carpe Diem West, a non-profit organization focused on reforming federal and state water law, and as policy director and staff attorney for the Clark Fork Coalition, a non-profit organization focused on restoring Montana’s Clark Fork Basin. He also has been an attorney in private practice. 

“Matt is highly respected by our many partners working to restore California’s rivers and streams and recover the Golden State’s imperiled salmon, steelhead and trout,” said Johnson. “His expertise and commitment to collaboration have earned Matt the trust required to bring together different interests to solve complex problems. And he has earned the support of his fellow California staff.”    

In his new role, Johnson, a graduate of Duke University and Stanford Law School, will apply his expertise and experience to high-profile projects in California, including dam removals on the Eel River and Battle Creek, as well as regional and national strategic initiatives focused on water and climate.  

“Brian is one of the most experienced and highly regarded conservation leaders not just at TU but in the conservation community as a whole,” said Masonis. “Removal of the Klamath River dams, improved state streamflow policies, and the major expansion of TU’s conservation work in the Golden State are just a few of Brian’s impressive accomplishments while leading the California program for more than a decade. In his new role he will have an opportunity to apply his knowledge and skills to advance TU’s mission across the West and the country.”