Three geomorphic considerations that underpin the design and implementation of realistic and strategic river conservation and rehabilitation programs that work with the nature are outlined. First, the importance of appreciating the inherent diversity of river forms and processes is discussed. Second, river dynamics are appraised, framing the contemporary behavioral regime of a reach in relation to system evolution to explain changes to river character and behavior over time. Third, the trajectory of a reach is framed in relation to downstream patterns of river types, analyzing landscape connectivity at the catchment scale to interpret geomorphic river recovery potential. The application of these principles is demonstrated using extensive catchment-scale analyses of geomorphic river responses to human disturbance in the Bega and Upper Hunter catchments in southeastern Australia. Differing implications for reach- and catchment-scale rehabilitation planning prompt the imperative that management practices work with nature rather than strive to 'fight the site.'