Meet Your Shenandoah Riverkeeper: Mark Frondorf

Mark Frondorf has big shoes to fill, but he’s the right man to fill them. On March 1st, Mark took the place of the much-admired Jeff Kelble, as our new Shenandoah Riverkeeper.

Mark’s intimate knowledge of the Shenandoah makes him a perfect candidate to see our current actions through and develop our work in the Valley. For over 20 years, Mark acted as a fishing guide on the Potomac and Shenandoah, as well as several other Mid-Atlantic rivers. As President of the Potomac River Smallmouth Club, he successfully lobbied both Virginia and Maryland officials to implement and expand catch and release regulations and he was instrumental in getting the federal government to revise the Code of Federal Regulations to permit wade fishing on portions of the Potomac. 

Mark’s passion for the river is largely what brought him to the position of Shenandoah Riverkeeper, and he has acted as a long-time supporter of Potomac & Shenandoah Riverkeeper through membership dues and in-kind services as a fishing guide for our Annual Shenandoah River Rodeo. 

Mark Frondorf comes to the Shenandoah Riverkeeper position accustom to hard work and cognizant of the importance of a hands-on approach to protecting our rivers. With over 25 years experience as a former Senior Policy Analyst, Defense Analyst, and Legislative Assistant, Mark has the necessary competency to tackle major issues affecting the Shenandoah. Among his many successes, Mark was also the principal investigator and author of a federal governement study examining the issue of ocean dumping of U.S. chemical weapons, exploring the full-range of issues, challenges, and potential solutions to this complex problem. In addition, Mark also served on the Board of Directors for the Mid-Atlantic Federation of Fly Fishers.

Much of our work at Shenandoah Riverkeeper revolves around the persistence of our staff, quality communications, and refined legal know-how, in an area where local economics and livelihood is embedding into industries like agriculture which can pose risks for a healthy river and must be approached on a personal and collaborative level.

Jeff Kelble leaves behind a legacy of excellence in his Riverkeeper work, including our Get the Cattle Out and Algae Elimination campaigns as part of his continual efforts to tackle nutrient pollution problems which result in the massive algae blooms that plaque the Shenandoah. Mark’s abilities in the legal realm, as well as his ability to strengthen established relationships and forge new ones within the Shenandoah Valley, will be a valuable resource in order to keep our progress flowing.

Mark is ready to bring forth his passion for the river to share with all who wish to discover it. He reflects upon his most intimate moments with his favorite rivers, explaining how they brought him into a lifetime of work to protect them. “Being a fishing guide, I’ve been a witness to some very poignant moments - fathers connecting with their sons, young girls catching their first fish, folks celebrating milestones and honoring those that have passed. And it all happened on our river. Thoreau said ‘people go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.’ They are after a connection with nature and each other. They are after memories,” explains Mark. “The work that the Shenandoah Riverkeeper organization accomplishes is so vitally important to ensuring that future generations can have such memories on a clean, healthy and vibrant river. I am proud to pick up the mantle from Jeff and continue to fight the good fight.”