Steve Box
Executive Director
Water Steward

In 2006, Mr. Box founded Environmental Stewardship and developed it into a leading advocate for water conservation, preservation, and ecology. He holds a Master of Science in Environmental Science & Ecology and a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Fisheries Science from Oklahoma State University. His primary interests are ecology, water availability and quality, and environmental outreach & education. He has twenty-five years of aquatic toxicology, environmental advocacy and regulatory experience, and sixteen years of business management and marketing experience in the food ingredient industry. His other passion is sailing.

Mr. Box used his environmental science education and global business experience to encourage the development of mutually acceptable solutions that balance human, socioeconomic, and environmental needs through the involvement of public, private, and governmental participation.

Over the past ten years he has focused on protecting the surface and ground waters of the Colorado River basin, Matagorda Bay, and the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer Group by encouraging a better scientific understanding of the interaction and relationship between groundwater and surface waters in order to inform public policy decisions. He has developed a thorough scientific, legal, and public policy understanding of water issues and management practices in Central Texas through participation in processes and debates related to:

  • Lower Colorado River Water Management Plan (LCRA WMP);
  • Colorado and Lavaca Rivers and Matagorda and Lavaca Bays Area Stakeholder Committee (CL BBASC) and Bay and Basin Expert Science Team (CL BBEST) establishment of environmental flow standards;
  • Groundwater Management Area 12 (GMA-12) development and adoption of desired future conditions;
  • Local Groundwater Conservation District permitting (Lost Pines and Post Oak Savannah GCDs);
  • Regional Water Planning involving Regions G, K, and L;
  • Texas Legislature discussion and debate regarding water issues facing the state; and
  • On-the-ground development of paddling trails; hike and bike trails; river access points; spring, creek, wetland and watershed protection and restoration projects; regional and community planning; and river festivals.

Along with these public policy activities, he was a leader in developing the Lost Pines Nature Trails along the Colorado River in Bastrop. He supervised a water diversion and wetlands project there to improve water quality of storm runoff going into the river and provide habitat for waterfowl. He solicited grants from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Lower Colorado River Authority, and others to enable this work.

He is an avid sailor. His sailboat, Ariel, is a Nor’Sea 27 slipped in Rockport, Texas. He is looking forward to exploring the Texas Gulf Coast including Matagorda, Lavaca, Aransas and Baffin bays.

His business experience, and environmental education and experience, along with his leadership skills have enabled him, as Executive Director, to seek and find creative solutions, develop strategic plans, and implement programs involving a diverse group of stakeholders (Resume). Mr. Box has served on the board of directors of the following organizations:

Envision Central Texas (2008-11)
Austin Youth River Watch Foundation (2006- 2010)


Melanie Phillips
Land Steward

Ms. Phillips has a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering with emphasis in Construction, graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1991. After serving 25 years in the industrial and commercial construction management industry, Ms. Phillips started her own private sector General Contracting business, specializing in low maintenance/xeroscape landscape design/installation and small home renovation and repair projects.

Ms. Phillips’ love of the natural environment has led her to bring awareness to City officials of Smithville, Texas, where she resides, of how the rapid development of the area without specific tree protection ordinances is endangering the lives of some of the largest and oldest trees in Smithville.

She has a strong interest in the protection of our rivers and bays, for ecological as well as recreational purposes, with particular interest in the Colorado River and Lavaca and Matagorda Bays, where she spends most of her free time recreating and reflecting. Ms. Phillips understands the symbiotic relationship we have with our natural environment and is an advocate of educating others to come to the same understanding – that when we harm our natural environment, we harm ourselves. She emphatically believes that there is a way to sustain all of life if we will work together toward that common goal.


Michael Wunderlin
Funds Steward

Mr. Wunderlin has a Masters Degree in Economics and a Bachelors Degree in Automotive Bodymaking. Mr. Wunderlin is owner of Wunderlin Classic Body and Paint and was CEO of MAB, an international company providing purification equipment for industrial and municipal waste water treatment systems. While with MAB he spearheaded an effort to provide water treatment systems to rural areas of Mexico. Having grown up in Europe with a passion for fishing and camping, he has seen first hand the impact of population and industrial pressures on European rivers such as the Rhine, Mine and Mosel. Having fished and camped on rivers in Germany, Austria, Italy, New Zeland, Nigeria, the Puerto Montt area of Chili and US rivers in Montana, Wyoming and Texas, Mr. Wunderlin has an appreciation for the ecological, cultural, and health value of river systems. With more than 20 years in the US, Mr. Wunderlin brings his international corporate experience and global awareness of environmental issues to the banks of the Colorado River. He is a strong believer in education and outreach to the communities along the river as a means of protecting the resource for current and future generations.


Philip Cook

Mr.Philip Cook has been an environmental activist in the Lost Pines area of central Texas for over 30 years. He helped organize the Cedar Creek Landowners Association in 1985 and the Bastrop County Environmental Network in 1990. More recently, he has worked within the Lone Star Sierra Club as a regional activist focusing on protecting and preserving groundwater and surface water in the Lost Pines area, closely allied with Environmental Stewardship, Neighbors for Neighbors, and other conservation and environmental organizations. He received a BA in Philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1970. He is a retired teacher of English and Reading. He has lived in Bastrop County for over 40 years.