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Driven Doer: Kathy Evans

12.12.16 | Announcements
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Welcome to our Driven Doer series! Each month, we highlight the passionate, motivated people who help advance Delta’s mission of achieving a resilient Great Lakes environment and economy.

This month, we introduce you to Kathy Evans, resident of Muskegon, Michigan, relationship builder, and a Delta partner on many projects.

What do you do?

I am the Environmental Program Manager at the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC). The WMSRDC is a regional planning agency with programs in economic development, transportation planning, environmental planning, local government services and homeland security. The environmental program focuses on water quality and natural resources, but all of its projects include a strong sustainability component.

Kathy by a pile of concrete that was removed from the shoreline.

Kathy by a pile of concrete that was removed from the shoreline.

I’ve worked in the conservation field since the early 1990’s. I can’t say enough good things about what it’s like to work for an organization that addresses a variety of disciplines under one roof. Project outcomes are more sustainable when they are planned with a multi-disciplinary approach. For the past nine years at WMSRDC, the environmental program has managed extensive restoration projects to improve fish and wildlife habitat in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern, developed a water trail plan for the shoreline of Lake Michigan from Indiana to Wisconsin, implemented green infrastructure to improve water quality, and even identified illicit connections between storm drains and sanitary sewers with the use of a “sewer sniffing dog!” I love the variety.

What drives you and inspires you to get up in the morning?

I get up every day, eager to see our natural resources improved and more opportunities for people to interact with healthy water resources. Most of my work with restoration has been in former industrial, urban areas along waterways. There are few things more satisfying than seeing the look on someone’s face when they see a beautiful restored Muskegon Lake shoreline, or when they use the Lakeshore Trail bike path. It’s so great to know that local people understand that a formerly degraded, industrial shoreline can become a beautiful, natural area.

I also love meetings. Meetings are important for engaging stakeholders and the public in the decisions that affect the quality of their lives. Many of these projects are years in the making and we work with a lot of great local, state and federal partners to accomplish our goals. It’s awesome to know that the public and stakeholders have given their input on a plan that turns into action and on-the-ground natural resource improvements with socio-economic benefits.

I’ve been told I have persistence. The WMSRDC does not let plans sit on the shelf. We make sure they are used to involve partners, seek grants and implement projects. That’s what inspires me to come to work every day.

How did you first get involved with Delta?

The Delta Institute facilitated public involvement for the U.S EPA’s Lake Michigan Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LaMP). I represented the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern in the Lake Michigan LaMP Forum for many years. Delta facilitated a LaMP sustainable ports and harbors initiative, and Muskegon Lake was selected as one of the communities for the project. From that point forward, we found ways to partner with Delta on a variety of projects that focused on the restoration and sustainability of the Great Lakes region, like phytoremediation, resiliency planning,, road/stream crossing improvements, watershed planning, and public outreach.

Delta in 4 words or less:

Expert – Fun – Unique – Diverse

Favorite place in the Great Lakes region:

That’s not easy. But, I guess my favorite place in the Great Lakes region is still my hometown, Muskegon Michigan (I love Calumet and Leland’s Fish Town, too).