Tag Archives: Emerging Leader

Drew Beckwith, 2017 Emerging Leader Award

This Friday, May 12th, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education will celebrate water education and water leadership at its annual President’s Reception.  Each year, CFWE honors the recent work of a young Colorado professional with the Emerging Leader Award. This year, CFWE will recognize Drew Beckwith with Western Resource Advocates with this award.

Register here to attend the President’s Reception this Friday at 6 p.m. at the Denver Art Museum. We’ll enjoy refreshments, a fun evening with friends, and our first ever LIVE AUCTION. We can’t wait to see you there!

Drew Beckwith, 2017 Emerging Leader Award

By Greg Hobbs

beckwithphotoDrew Beckwith, water policy manager for Western Resources Advocates, devotes himself to Colorado’s water conservation future. His particular focus is municipal water conservation and land use planning. A member of CFWE’s Water Leaders’ class of 2013, Drew helped shape the Citizen’s Guide to Water Conservation, Second Edition (2016). This guide explores a wide range of water-saving innovations for use in homes and cities, commerce and industry.

Drew’s a scholar, author and outdoorsman with west-wide perspective and experience. Growing up in Oregon, he graduated from Colorado College, where his senior geology thesis took him to Alaskan glaciers for the study of landforms and sedimentology. Drew then went on to obtain a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California at Santa Barbara. In southern California, he collaborated on stormwater control and reduction strategies for two watersheds around the City of Santa Barbara.

In Colorado, he dedicates his efforts to “healthy rivers and growing cities that have the water supply they need.” Achieving both of these are leading components of Colorado’s Water Plan. Drew is a frequent and articulate participant in water conservation workshops up and down Colorado’s Front Range. He cooperated with Colorado legislators to pass the rain barrel bill as a way to educate homeowners about the value of Colorado’s scarce water supply.

He especially enjoys helping local land use planning and municipal water supply entities get to know and work closely with each other. For example, he has helped convene city council persons, city managers, planning staff, and water providers of Aurora, Arvada, Broomfield, Castle Rock, Commerce City, Lakewood, Parker, Thornton, and Westminster for conservation workshops. He sees water reuse, good landscaping choices, and private sector expertise woven together in the design of attractive water-conscious communities. The three member team he leads for Western Resources Advocates is also assisting the Colorado River Basin states and the Bureau of Reclamation with implementation of water conservation savings and reuse measures throughout the basin.

Drew is a skier, a rafter, and a volleyball player. His wife, Melissa, a ceramic artist, has her own graphic design business. They settled in Louisville to enjoy the life and views of a great small town with their two young children, Macy, who is six, and Miles, three.

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Water Manager and Restoration Specialist, Heather Dutton

This Friday, May 20th, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education will celebrate water education and water leadership at its annual President’s Award Reception.  Each year, CFWE honors recent work by a young Colorado professional with the Emerging Leader Award. This year CFWE will recognize Heather Dutton, the new manager of the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District with this award. Join the celebration later this week. Register here to attend this Friday at 6 pm at Space Gallery. We’ll enjoy refreshments, a famous game of “Wine Toss,” exciting new activities, and a fun evening with friends.

By Justice Greg Hobbs

heather_dutton_webHeather Dutton, the newest manager of the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District, glories in the heritage of the Rio Grande River. She’s a fifth-generation daughter of the Valley’s farming and ranching community, like her father Doug, who farms in the center of the Valley. A 2008 graduate of Colorado State University, she double-majored in rangeland ecology and natural resources management, adding a Master’s of Science in agriculture in December of 2010.

She’s also a student of the river and those who work and love the waters and the land. “Right out of school, I had the good fortune of landing a job with the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project.” Sandwiched between older brother Cory and younger brother Chris, she had to learn “how to take stuff apart and put it back together.”

“The river’s like that, too,” she says. “It’s a big hydraulic system. Years of alteration, eroding stream banks, loss of anchoring vegetation, and putting stuff in the river took it apart. Restoration is about putting it back together.”

Land and water right owners up and down the Rio Grande care about the river’s health because erosion capsizes stream banks, resulting in property loss and damage to diversion structures and critical habitat for threatened or endangered bird species, such as the willow flycatcher and the yellow-billed cuckoo. Increased sedimentation interferes with operation of local water rights and the delivery of water necessary to meet Rio Grande Compact obligations.

The San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District itself is sandwiched between the Rio Grande’s headwaters in the towering San Juan Mountains and senior surface water right owners on the Valley floor impacted by water well pumping north of the river, where much of the best of the Valley’s cropland exists. The District’s job under former manager Mike Gibson, and now Heather, includes shepherding well augmentation water from the Rio Grande Reservoir above Creede into the river to support agricultural, domestic, municipal and commercial uses in the Valley’s heartlands in cooperation with the Rio Grande Water Conservation District.

She sees her San Luis district board members as “big thinkers” who are highly motivated to cooperate with anyone who cares about the river and the Valley’s economy and environment. A remarkable alliance of governmental and nonprofit organizations and private property owners have united in the common interest of preserving the Rio Grande’s multiple land, water, wildlife and recreational functions. This includes the work of the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable and the Colorado Water Conservation Board as part of Colorado’s Water Plan, as well as its open space heritage fostered by the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust’s conservation easement program. “Engaging in hard conversations with mutual respect comes with the territory,” she says.

heatherpanamaweb

Heather, with husband Tanner Dutton traveling in South America.

In this milieu she thrives at work and play. “Luckily, I married a very adventurous guy, so we spend our weekends in the backcountry snowmobiling, skiing, backpacking, dirt biking, and camping.” Her husband, Tanner Dutton, who grew up in La Junta, is a range management specialist for the U.S. Forest Service’s sheep and cattle grazing program based out of Del Norte. Heather credits her mother, Julie Messick, as being “the person behind the scenes, keeping the family going!” She is also grateful to Travis Smith, Mike Gibson, and Steve Vandiver for “raising her up” in her career.

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Greg Kernohan, 2015 Emerging Leader

THIS FRIDAY, May 8th, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education will celebrate water education and water leadership at its annual President’s Award Reception.  This year, CFWE will honor Greg Kernohan with the Emerging Leader Award, and Jim Lochhead with the President’s Award. Join the celebration. Register here to attend at 6 pm this Friday, May 8 at Space Gallery. We’ll enjoy hors d’oeuvres, beverages, a famous game of “Wine Toss”, an art giveaway, a photo booth, and a fun evening with friends.

By Justice Greg Hobbs

Greg Kernohan helps farmers and cities address water needs while benefiting waterfowl. For more than 15 years, he has served as manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited in Colorado. He has been both entrepreneurial and innovative in leading the South Platte Wetlands Focus Area Committee, managing the Union Mutual Ditch Company, and participating for the past 10 years as a member of the South Platte Basin Roundtable, most recently as its vice-chair.

Focusing on wetlands as a nexus for meeting environmental,  agricultural and municipal needs, his expertise bridges many interests. Learning from leaders at the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District, Greg helped develop river augmentation projects on agricultural lands to recharge alluvial aquifers while greatly enhancing waterfowl habitat.

“The river augmentation credits directly benefit farmers that couldn’t pump without the credits,” Greg explains. “No-injury plans for water rights and birds, I call them.”

Greg and Ducks Unlimited also brought substantial investments to this collaborative work, accessing millions of dollars through North American Wetland Conservation Act grants. These grants require significant matching funds from diverse partners, which Greg’s team leveraged into nearly $20 million in Colorado for the purposes of protecting water resources, constructing infrastructure and providing wildlife habitat. “We’ve cooperated on over a dozen recharge projects along the South Platte, restoring and protecting 2,150 acres of wetlands capable of retiming water for augmentation.”

Greg’s passion for finding new ways to manage water led to him to participate in, and eventually direct, the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s FLEX Water Market grant project. Participants include the Colorado Corn Growers Association and the City of Aurora. “It’s the Corn Growers who got my supervisors’ attention. We have been at odds with some agricultural interests elsewhere,” Greg recalls, “but, a solid foundation of successful projects built in cooperation with agricultural and municipal friends allowed this diverse group to navigate contentious issues and build trust.”

Armed with a new degree in environmental law and policy, Greg looks forward to growing further into leadership roles that help Colorado address water resource issues. Luminescent and alive, rural and urban families shine like water off a duck’s back when they see and hear a mallard and his mate whir for a splash landing on a DU wetland recharge project.

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