NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 13, 2020) – Park Ranger Tyler Matthews, natural resources specialist at Lake Cumberland, is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Employee of the Month for September 2020.
Matthews is recognized for his work during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist visitors with reservations at Kendall Recreation Area and Campground and to make public safety a priority for those who recreate on the lake and at Corps facilities.
“He personally attended to many instances of overbooking and dealt with challenges with the online reservation system being temporarily unavailable and the Recreation.gov call center being closed because of pandemic protocols,” said Jonathan Friedman, Lake Cumberland resource manager and Mathews’ supervisor.
During the pandemic, Matthews designed, constructed, and installed plexiglass shields over the fee booths to enhance the protection of booth attendants and patrons. And when the visitor center wasn’t open during the early period of the pandemic, he would meet visitors to provide America the Beautiful passes at locations they could obtain them but also practice physical distancing and wear masks.
As a natural resources specialist and park ranger, Matthews patrols 250 miles of shoreline and 157 miles of fee-owned boundary line. His responsibilities encompass Wolf Creek Dam and tailwater and he serves as a liaison to the fish hatchery, Lake Cumberland State Park, and three commercial marinas.
Matthews is being lauded in particular for his relationship working with the district’s partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. He collaborated with James Gray, Regional Cold-Water Program supervisor, on the continued management of a cold-water trout stream that meanders through the Kendall Recreation Area and with a native fresh-water mussel rearing project.
Lt. Col. Sonny Avichal, Nashville District commander, congratulated Matthews and noted how he is responsible to a myriad of tasks including customer contact; explaining policies and regulations to visitors; meeting with adjacent property owners, civic groups, conservation associations and schools groups; and planning and execution of natural resources.
“He has done a tremendous job of working with the fish hatchery to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people,” Avichal said. “Tyler has really shined in his efforts to better the ecosystem of the Cumberland River waters.”
Matthews said he really loves his job because of his diverse duties. He said he also enjoys getting to patrol on the water and enjoy the outdoors while helping people who are recreating and enjoying Lake Cumberland.
“Rangers focus on visitor assistance, natural resources management and public safety,” Matthews said. “I’m also responsible for the boundary line management program, Kendall Campground, buoys, signs, and vessel management for the Lake Cumberland project.”
As for being selected employee of the month, he said he was shocked when he received texts congratulating him.
“It is a nice feeling to be recognized for the work that we do,” Matthews said.
Matthews said he considers his team at Lake Cumberland to be like family, and the relationships they have are the greatest contribution to the success within the team.
He is a native of Jamestown, Tennessee, and graduated from Tennessee Technological University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in conservation biology. He joined the Corps of Engineers in 2008 and is married with two children.
“My family is very supportive of me and my job,” Matthews said. “They think I have the coolest job ever and my little boy loves wearing my ranger hats.”
Friedman said he couldn’t be happier with Matthews’ selection as employee of the month because the recognition speaks highly and lends credit to the entire staff at Lake Cumberland and Wolf Creek Dam.
“It doesn’t matter what project Tyler is working on, or who he is working with. Everyone knows Tyler will execute the mission to the best of his abilities,” Friedman said.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also follow Lake Cumberland on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lakecumberland.)