By Elizabeth Lockyear
Marcy Leavitt, Texas/New Mexico Branch Chief of the Albuquerque District's Regulatory Division, recently received two honors recognizing her work that has helped protect not just water quality, but also watersheds and headwaters -- precious resources in an arid state.
Leavitt received the Karl Souder Award Dec. 11. She also received the Radical Center award from the Quivira Coalition in the "Civil Servant" category Nov. 16.
The Karl Souder Water Protection Award honors hydrologist Karl Souder, who worked with communities across New Mexico to protect local water resources, said Douglas Meiklejohn, New Mexico Environmental Law Center executive director. "After his death in 1991, we received an anonymous donation to give an award in Karl's name. The award honors an outstanding individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the protection of New Mexico's water."
"We are pleased to be able to honor Marcy Leavitt with the Karl Souder Award," Meiklejohn continued. "She richly deserves this Award for her long and illustrious career as a guardian of New Mexico's water resources."
Leavitt joined the Corps in January 2012 and she works with what she said is a great team responsible for Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting and compliance in New Mexico and West Texas.
Prior to this Leavitt spent 23 years with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) where she held various positions, including director of the Water and Waste Management Division and bureau chief of both the Surface and Ground Water Quality Bureaus.
While with the NMED, Leavitt was responsible for many initiatives to improve New Mexico's water quality, including designation of wilderness headwater streams as Outstanding National Resource Waters and statewide watershed and ecosystem restoration projects. She also worked on development of legislation, regulations and policies and was involved in successful stakeholder negotiations that resulted in agreements with the public and regulators.
In November Leavitt was recognized with the Quivira Coalition's Annual Award. These awards are chosen internally by the Quivira Coalition staff and are given in four categories: ranchers, conservationists, civil servants, and researchers. The awards recognize individuals who "have shown remarkable and enduring leadership in the difficult job of working in the Radical Center - the place where people are coming together to explore their common interests rather than argue their differences, as author and conservation leader Bill de Buys has described it" according to the coalition's webpage.
Two conservationists and a rancher founded the Quivira Coalition in 1997. The coalition is a non-profit organization based in Santa Fe, N.M., dedicated to building economic and ecological resilience on western working landscapes. The name comes from the Spanish Colonial era where mapmakers used the word "Quivira" to designate unknown territory beyond the frontier; it was also a term for an elusive golden dream.
"I was honored to receive these awards from groups that have a strong commitment to water quality protection, an issue I've been involved in since the mid-1980s. Public servants don't often get acknowledgement of the work we do, so it was nice to get feedback that my efforts had an impact. And of course, I couldn't have accomplished anything without the great teams I've been fortunate to work with during my career," Leavitt said about receiving the honors.
"Coincidentally, Karl Souder was the person who hired me for my first job at the environment department in 1986," Leavitt said.