News Stories

Mobile District and partners team up to coordinate projects

USACE, Mobile District
Published April 25, 2024
Man in water doing testing.

Members from the City of Atlanta and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District, conduct a stream walk at Utoy Creek in Atlanta, Georgia, October 23, 2023. One of the key areas of the partnership between the District and the City of Atlanta is watershed management. (Courtesy photo)

By Chuck Walker

MOBILE, Ala. – Working together to get things done is a hallmark of success of any partnership endeavor, and it is precisely what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District is doing with its partners on environmental projects throughout the District.

From the City of Atlanta in Georgia to the rivers in the state of Alabama, the Mobile District and its partners are focused on working together to provide their customers with the best end product.

In light of Earth Day, the District and its partners are focused on ensuring that those projects are delivered on time without damaging the environment.

“USACE is required by law to coordinate projects with federal resource agencies, state agencies, and the public,” said T.J. Rickey, Mobile District biologist. “Partnerships allow USACE and other agencies to bank their resources and knowledge to work toward a common goal.”

The District’s partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to survey freshwater mussels in Alabama is one partnership in which this relationship between the project and the environment becomes evident.

In their projects with the District, USFWS and the District are focused on Ecosystem restoration and trying to limit the impact projects have on the surrounding environment, which is essential, especially in the Southeastern United States, according to Jeff Powell, Deputy Field Supervisor for the USWFS.

“Ecosystem restoration is a big, inclusive word that includes everything from plants and animals to us,” said Powell. “What we do on the landscape affects what happens in the rivers and terrestrial environment. Understanding and appreciating that concept is paramount to understanding topics like water quality in our streams, freshwater mussel population resiliency, and how physical habitats are being impacted. When it comes to restoration, it starts with us.”

The District’s partnership with the City of Atlanta is focused on Watershed management and ensuring their protection, restoration, and enhancement.

Joseph Rigdon, City of Atlanta watershed manager, said inter-organizational partnerships are critical in helping the environment, especially the watershed.

“Given the shared objective between the City of Atlanta and USACE in improving waterways, collaborating to achieve this goal is a logical step,” Rigdon said. “Partnerships facilitate the pooling of resources, enabling organizations to undertake more ambitious and impactful projects. It also brings together a diverse range of expertise, allowing for more comprehensive and effective completion of shared objectives.”

The Sustainable Rivers Program is a current District project in partnership with The Nature Conservancy in Alabama.

Jason Throneberry, Director of Freshwater Programs for the TNC, said that one of the significant benefits of its partnership with USACE is how it has promoted ecosystem restoration and support.

“The Sustainable Rivers Program focuses on the important area of overlap in the TNC and USACE priorities,” Throneberry said. “There are ecosystems in which USACE has locks, dams, and other implementations, overlapping aquatic biodiversity. SRP can be used as a tool for operational changes at these facilities to benefit ecosystem uplift, resilience, and other resource users.”

All in all, Rickey said the District’s partnerships with other outside agencies are essential to not only providing fantastic projects but also helping to protect the environment around us for everyone.

“USACE has a large and talented team of scientists and engineers, but so do these other organizations,” Rickey said. “For me, there aren’t many freshwater mussel experts out there. So when we can all get together and work on a project, we can pool our expertise and experiences to create a better project.”