WALLISVILLE, Texas – Meeting people from different parts of the world is just one fascinating aspect of working at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Wallisville Lake Project according to Department of the Army Intern and Park Ranger Kenneth Finley.
With a passion for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and a wide variety of outdoor activities, the Memphis, Tenn., native feels at home among the majestic cypress trees, lazy rivers and peaceful hiking trails that welcome more than 200,000 visitors annually to the approximately 23,000-acre complex designed to prevent saltwater intrusion up the Trinity River.
As a park ranger, Finley assists in educating the visiting public on the park’s purposes, conditions, policies and regulations.
“I enjoy having the opportunity to speak with so many people on a daily basis; the public can reach out to me for questions, concerns or general information while they’re visiting the Wallisville Lake Project,” said Finley. “I like that I am not required to sit at a desk all day. I get out of the office, interact with the public and bring their comments back with me to resolve any issues and enhance future visits in the best possible way.”
The project’s pristine environment coupled with its recreational opportunities makes it easy to forget that Wallisville serves a vital function for City of Houston and Chambers County residents – an active saltwater barrier implemented during times of low river flows and drought on the Trinity River.
With the Texas water supply issue being a responsibility of multiple agencies, staff is actively partnering with local, state, federal and non-federal agencies to streamline its operations and incorporate strategic partnerships and alliances; demonstrate leadership and innovation in developing water policy; deliver comprehensive and lasting solutions; innovatively operate water resources infrastructure across a broad portfolio of business practices and processes; avoid needless redundancy and over-specialization and make a positive difference for Americans and their communities.
Finley’s efforts are part of the Corps-wide initiative known as the Civil Works transformation that is helping to improve methods of delivery at the Wallisville Lake Project Office.
“I monitor park facilities and other areas for operational safety and ecosystem stability; assist in the patrols on project lands and waters to provide visitor protection and assistance and interpret and enforce rules and regulations related to park management,” said Finley.
Tasks such as updating the project’s hunting programs to modernizing the visitor center are a few of the many initiatives that are contributing to the Corps’ goal of improving performance and responsiveness; increasing customer satisfaction, public trust and confidence; improving readiness and maintaining a competitive edge.
“In my short time here, I have come to understand that the Wallisville Project is unlike anywhere else in the Galveston District,” said Finley. “My work at Wallisville allows me to contribute to the Corps’ Civil Works transformation strategy by making a positive difference for our visitors while helping to protect our natural resources.”
Finley earned a Bachelor of Science in Fish and Wildlife Biology from Arkansas Tech University in 2011 and was recognized with the Summer Ranger Team of the Year Award from the USACE Little Rock District’s Russellville Project Office in 2010. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife, two stepsons and a recent addition – a baby girl born July 2013.
To learn more about the Wallisville Lake Project, visit http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Locations/WallisvilleLakeProjectOffice.aspx. To learn more about the Corps’ Civil Works transformation efforts, visit http://www.usace.army.mil/Portals/2/docs/civilworks/cw_tran/CWTran_factsheet.pdf. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.