Inland Deserts Fisheries Program

panoramic view of Hot Creek and surrounding mountains

The Inland Deserts Region Fisheries Program manages diverse fish and amphibian resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public. The Region spans 43,326 square miles across 5 counties (Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Riverside, and San Bernardino) serving a population of over 4.8 million people and containing a multitude of unique habitats supporting a wide variety of aquatic species. These diverse resources range from Sierra Nevada Mountain Yellow Legged Frog populations in the Eastern Sierra mountains (at 11,000 feet above sea level), to Death Valley Pupfish (at 200 feet below sea level); from wild trout throughout Mono, Inyo, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties, to recreational fisheries in urban and rural lakes and reservoirs. Environmental Scientists lead numerous threatened and endangered fish recovery efforts throughout the Inland Deserts Region. Additionally, Interpretive Staff support public aquatic education programs, including the Trout in the Classroom Program, and provide free fishing opportunities with equipment available for loan throughout Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. We encourage you to explore our shared natural resources and contact us via the below staff links with questions.

Inland Deserts Fisheries Staff

Fisheries Supervisor (Inland Deserts Region) - Russell Black

Russell smiling with a frozen alpine lake in the backgroundRussell is a Senior Environmental Scientist Supervisor for the Inland Deserts Region. Russell is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who served during 9/11, after which he studied Marine Biology and graduated from Humboldt State University. He is an enthusiastic fish biologist who has worked previously with aquatic invasive species in Humboldt county and coastal southern California, Pacific Halibut in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, Coho and Steelhead monitoring in central California, San Francisco Bay Herring studies, and reservoir fisheries management in coastal southern California. As the fisheries supervisor he oversees fisheries staff in three offices and is involved with Inland Fisheries projects across Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino, Inyo, and Mono Counties.

Contact Information

Russell Black
Senior Environmental Scientist Supervisor
Inland Fisheries
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Inland Deserts Region (6)
Murrieta, CA 92562
Russell.Black@wildlife.ca.gov
Cell: (951) 852-6386

Education and Event Coordinator (Imperial / Riverside / San Bernardino Counties) - Hillary Grez

Hillary giving a presentation on fish handling at a Fishing in the City event.Hillary Grez is a Fish and Wildlife Interpreter I, leading both the Fishing in the City Program and the Classroom Aquarium Education Program, for Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. She is a graduate of California Sate Polytechnic University, Pomona with a bachelor's degree in Zoology. Hillary grew up in a family of anglers and has been fishing since she was old enough to hold her own pole. Hillary began her career with CDFW as a Scientific Aid in 2012 assisting both the Fishing in the City Program and the Classroom Aquarium Education Program in the South Coast Region, serving Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. Hillary loves that her programs help bridge a gap between the department and the public and she is excited to be a part of them.

Project Goals and Objectives

Trout in the Classroom
  • Trout in the Classroom will improve teacher and student understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of fishes, while creating an awareness of the needs of the aquatic environment through the use of classroom aquaria.
  • Duties include providing permitting and authorization for participants to transport and rear eggs and fish, organizing and maintaining program equipment, providing technical assistance to program participants regarding the freshwater system and the hatching and releasing of fish, conducting trainings for qualified potential participants, and assisting with fish releases to ensure student safety and present information on aquatic ecosystems.
  • Duties also include ensuring program compliance with state and federal guidelines, for the protection of natural aquatic ecosystems and California's native species.
Fishing in the City
  • Fishing in the City works to inspire and encourage families and communities to learn to fish, while increasing understanding of local lakes, ponds, and aquatic resources.
  • Duties include establishing community partnerships to provide public fishing instruction clinics that promote inland fisheries opportunities with a conservation message, coordinating trout events with local hatchery stocking schedules, providing rod loans at fishing events, and providing public information related to CDFW at events.

Program Links

CDFW staff and volunteers pose for a photo at a Fishing in the City event.

Contact Information

3602 Inland Empire Blvd.
Suite C-220
Ontario, CA 91764
Hillary.Grez@wildlife.ca.gov
Cell: (909) 315-1688
Office: (909) 944-0210

Education and Event Coordinator (Inyo / Mono Counties) - Julia Swanson

Julia gives a lesson on fish anatomy at a Fishing in the City eventJulia Swanson is a Fish and Wildlife Interpreter I for the Eastern Sierra. Julia coordinates both the Classroom Aquarium Education Program (Trout in the Classroom) and Fishing in the City outreach events. Julia received her Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolution from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2014. She has since provided environmental education throughout California. As a Fish and Wildlife Interpreter, her passion is to interpret our natural resources, to help people connect with, care for, and protect our environment and the wildlife that inhabits it, so that these resources may be enjoyed for generations to come. Fun Fact: Julia participated in Trout in the Classroom as a student in 1999!

Project Goals and Objectives

Trout in the Classroom
  • Trout in the Classroom will improve teacher and student understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of fishes, while creating an awareness of the needs of the aquatic environment through the use of classroom aquaria.
  • Duties include providing permitting and authorization for participants to transport and rear eggs and fish, organizing and maintaining program equipment, providing technical assistance to program participants regarding the freshwater system and the hatching and releasing of fish, conducting trainings for qualified potential participants, and assisting with fish releases to ensure student safety and present information on aquatic ecosystems.
  • Duties also include ensuring program compliance with state and federal guidelines, for the protection of natural aquatic ecosystems and California's native species.
Fishing in the City
  • Fishing in the City works to inspire and encourage families and communities to learn to fish, while increasing understanding of local lakes, ponds, and aquatic resources.
  • Duties include establishing community partnerships to provide public fishing instruction clinics that promote inland fisheries opportunities with a conservation message, coordinating trout events with local hatchery stocking schedules, providing road loans at fishing events, and providing public information related to CDFW at events.

Trout in the Classroom Links

Fishing in the City Links

Julia releasing her trout with the help of a volunteer in 1999

Contact Information

Bishop Field Office
787 North Main Street
Suite 220
Bishop, CA 93514
Julia.Swanson@wildlife.ca.gov
Cell: (760) 628-5244
Office: (760) 873-8968

Heritage and Wild Trout Biologist (Inyo / Mono Counties) - Nick Buckmaster

Nick holding a brown trout in a creekNick Buckmaster moved to Bishop (and CDFW) in 2013, after finishing graduate school at the University of California, Davis. Nick has bachelor's degrees in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Biology and Geology, as well as a Master's in Ecology. He is an avid fisherman and outdoorsman and enjoys living in the Eastern Sierra. Nick has worked as the Wild Trout Biologist in Inyo and Mono Counties since 2019.

Project Goals and Objectives

  • Protect and enhance the Eastern Sierra's heritage and wild trout resources, while providing opportunities for high quality wild trout fishing.
  • Monitor designated wild trout waters and other wild trout populations in Inyo and Mono Counties.
  • Undertake monitoring and research to inform wild trout management and planning.
  • Conduct outreach and coordinate with other agencies on wild trout management.

Program Links

Biologists hiking along a ridge to toward a ravine with a creek

Contact Information

Bishop Field Office
787 North Main Street
Suite 220
Bishop, CA 93514
Nick.Buckmaster@wildlife.ca.gov
Cell: (760) 920-8391
Office: (760) 872-1110

Heritage and Wild Trout Biologist (Riverside / San Bernardino Counties) - Jennifer Hemmert

Jen smiling on a boat on a lakeJen Hemmert is an Environmental Scientist in the Heritage and Wild Trout Program. She has worked as a Wild Trout Biologist for CDFW in the Inland Desert Region in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties since 2017. Prior to her wild trout work and within the Department, she was a Reservoir Fisheries Biologist for the same two counties, plus Imperial County since 2011. She has experience in riverine, lake, and mountain meadow ecosystems. Before working for CDFW, she moved to the Sierra Nevada to pursue a career in stream ecology and fisheries in 2007. She has conducted research related to anadromous fish species of steelhead, spring-run and fall-run chinook salmon in the Sierra Nevada, Bay-Delta, and Southern California. Jen graduated from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology and an emphasis in Freshwater Fisheries. 

Project Goals and Objectives

  • Manage and conserve wild trout resources within Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
  • Conduct resource assessments to evaluate wild trout and their habitats in streams.
  • Provide watershed planning by collecting wild trout data for streams within the sub-basins.
  • Work on local wild trout water designations with the review of current management plans, assessing designated wild trout streams, and updating and preparing new management plans.
  • Implement stakeholder involvement by using volunteers to assist with data collection and stream assessments. Present the results of assessments and identify wild trout angling opportunities.

Program Links

Contact InformationBiologists standing on an electroshocking boat on a lake

Murrieta Field Office
Murrieta, CA 92562
Cell: (951) 634-8793

High Mountain Lakes and Recreational Fish Biologist (Inyo / Mono Counties) - James Erdman

Jim smiling and holding a frog beside a lakeJames is an Environmental Scientist for CDFW in the Inland Desert Region, based out of Bishop, California. James received his bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. He has been with CDFW since 2005 and he is involved in managing the recreational fisheries of Inyo and Mono Counties in the eastern Sierra. James is also the lead biologist for the High Mountain Lakes Project which involves the restoration and recovery of the Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog. James' passion is alpine ecology and the wilderness areas of the Sierra Nevada.

Project Goals and Objectives

  • Ensure viable fisheries through a balance of stocking, maintaining wild trout populations, regulations and native species management. Collect data to inform management decisions. Adapt regulations to changing conditions. Ensure quality habitat for fish and other aquatic species.
  • Restore and recover the Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog through habitat improvement, population monitoring, translocation, reintroduction, research, disease monitoring and treatment.
  • Prepare, review, and improve annual stocking allotments, Pre-Stocking Evaluations (PSE's), Private Stocking Permit applications, Fishing Contest applications and fishing regulation changes.

High Mountain Lakes Links

Contact InformationJim standing in front of an alpine lake

Bishop Field Office
787 North Main Street
Suite 220
Bishop, CA 93514
James.Erdman@wildlife.ca.gov
Cell: (760) 873-6071
Office: (760) 567-0413

Heritage Trout Biologist (Mono County) - Whitney Philbrook

Whitney holding a carpWhitney Philbrook is an Environmental Scientist for CDFW. Her current work is heavily focused on the management and conservation of native trout, particularly Lahontan cutthroat trout that are endemic to the Walker Basins. Whitney began her career in the Eastern Sierra in 2016 conducting various animal and habitat surveys involving threatened and endangered fish and native amphibian species. She also has experience with native flora and fauna in the surrounding areas and has previously worked with Mojave desert tortoise. Whitney obtained a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Criminal Justice with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Project Goals and Objectives

  • Conduct field surveys that employ standard survey and fish sampling techniques to identify the present status of Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT) populations in the Walker River Basin.
  • Conduct habitat surveys and implement habitat restoration projects in support of LCT recovery within their native range.
  • Coordinate and participate with other agencies and stakeholders to provide recommendations and implement recovery/ restoration projects.

Program Links

Contact Information

Bishop Field Office
787 North Main Street
Suite 220
Bishop, CA 93514
Whitney.Philbrook@wildlife.ca.gov
Cell: (760) 507-6440
Office: (760) 873-3124

Reservoir Fish Biologist (Inland Deserts Region) - Quinn Granfors

Quinn holding a bass and a fishing rod on a boatQuinn Granfors was born and raised in southern California fishing many of the lakes and reservoirs in the area. He graduated from Humboldt State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries Biology. Quinn has been an Environmental Scientist with an emphasis as a Reservoir Fisheries Biologist, CDFW Inland Desert Region (Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties) since 2007.

Project Goals and Objectives

  • Manage California's reservoir fishery resources through a balance of stocking, monitoring wild populations, habitat enhancement and regulations.
  • Duties are primarily to monitor reservoir/ lake fisheries through the collection of data to make informed management decisions. Including evaluation of trout stocking programs, conducting various fishery surveys, enhancement of quality habitat for various lentic fishery species, and adapting regulations to changing conditions.
  • Additional duties include preparation, review and approval of annual trout stocking allotments, Pre-Stocking Evaluations (PSEs), Private Stocking Permit applications, Fishing Contest applications and fishing regulation changes.

Program Links

Two scientific aids holding nets at the front of an electroshocking boat

Contact Info

Murrieta Field Office
Murrieta, CA 92562
Quinn.Granfors@wildlife.ca.gov
Cell: (909) 553-0735