News: Spotlight on USACE Galveston District’s Lavonne Collins
Story by Sandra Arnold
GALVESTON, Texas – Behind the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Regulatory Branch Legal Instruments Examiner Lavonne Collins’ long job title lies an even longer list of responsibilities – most of which directly impact the preservation of Texas wetlands and assist in keeping the state’s waterways open for navigation.
The 21-year-career employee is tasked with processing more than 200 permits annually, coordinating requests for internal reviews to determine if proposed work will interfere with federal projects and for maintaining the district’s regulatory database.
“Right now, I’m working with staff and the Texas General Land Office on the proposed pier and oilfield development projects as well as pier, boathouse and bulkhead projects in Lake Livingston with the Trinity River Authority,” said Collins. “These projects all fall under the Department of the Army’s Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which requires that applicants gain permits from the district so we can regulate activities that could obstruct or alter navigable waters of the United States.”
When the district transferred the permit evaluation process for certain Oil Field Development General Permits to GLO in 2008, the district’s permitting process was streamlined to minimize the time it takes to obtain authorizations to explore for state minerals in specific acreage located in the bays, estuaries and Gulf of Mexico, while retaining compliance and enforcement responsibilities. Similarly, the district partnered with TRA in 1977 to issue general permits at the Lake Livingston Project, saving permit applicants a substantial amount of time and taxpayers thousands of dollars each year.
With more than 700 miles of coastline, rivers, channels and lakes to oversee, Collins says she is thankful for the continued commitment of partner agencies to combine resources and assure maximum value added to the nation and to the Corps’ biggest stakeholders – the American public.
“The projects we work on help to keep the nation’s waters safe and navagible, wetlands preserved and the environment cleaner,” said Collins. “I remember when pelicans and porpoises were not seen for about 20 years in the Galveston area prior to the district’s programs that are now in place, but have thankfully began returning over the last decade.”
Collins was awarded the 2013 Regulator of the Year award for effectively managing a variety of responsibilities in support of the district’s Regulatory Branch and contributing to the successful execution of its programs.
A native of Houston, Collins earned an Associate of Applied Science from Galveston College as well as numerous Army commendation medals for her work during hurricanes Rita and Ike. In her spare time she enjoys collecting minerals, traveling, crocheting and panning for gold.
For more information about the district’s Regulatory Branch visit http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/BusinessWithUs/RegulatoryBranch.aspx. For news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.