New Extension Hire To Help Edwards Aquifer Stakeholders Find Balance
Contact(s): Dr. Neal Wilkins, 979-845-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Robert Gulley, 210-467-6575, email@example.com
Gulley’s primary responsibility will be facilitating activities for the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program, said Dr. Bob Shaw of College Station, associate director of the institute.
The aquifer recovery program is a cooperative effort between Extension and various Edwards Aquifer stakeholders representated by a 21-member steering committee named by the Texas Legislature, Shaw said.
“Dr. Gulley will be working with the committee, which consists of representatives of state agencies, various water authorities and districts, those involved in industry and recreation, those with environmental concerns and others, to produce a comprehensive and coordinated plan for aquifer use,” he said.
Gulley will work from the Extension office in Bexar County, located at 3355 Cherry Ridge Dr. in San Antonio.
He will provide leadership and be responsible for gathering input from stakeholder groups and developing a plan that best meets the environmental needs of the aquifer, Shaw said. Gulley will be especially mindful of threatened and endangered species concerns.
“Dr. Gulley will implement a protocol for stakeholder input and will be the person who is mainly responsible for developing a plan on how to manage a number of wide-ranging problems related to the aquifer,” he said.
A native of San Antonio, Gulley was chosen because of his familiarity with the aquifer and extensive experience with water and environmental issues, said Neal Wilkins of College Station, director of the institute.
“Dr. Gulley’s experience in contentious water issues, his scientific background and his knowledge of the Endangered Species Act makes him a uniquely qualified person to lead this effort,” said Wilkins.
Gulley’s experience includes more than 20 years as legal counsel on environmental issues for law firms, corporations and, most recently, the U.S. Department of Justice.
“For the past 10 years I have been involved in dealing with natural resource matters and issues arising from the Endangered Species Act,” Gulley said. “I look forward to bringing my ability to find solutions to this new role. It’s important to facilitate a solution that addresses the needs of water users with those of the environment.”
The recovery implementation plan will address a variety of issues relating to aquifer use, he said.
“Our ultimate goal is to balance what is needed for crop irrigation, human use and other use with what is mandated by law for the maintenance and protection of threatened and endangered species,” said Gulley.
Although the steering committee will be the primary driver for developing the new plan, Gulley said, the objective is to reach a consensus from all groups with a stake in the aquifer.
“We’re going to be as inclusive as possible so everyone with a stake in the aquifer has an opportunity to have their voice heard,” he said.
The steering committee currently has 21 members, but more may be added to further represent the interests of the aquifer, he said.
“There’s a lot to be done, and it will be challenging to identify, incorporate and reconcile the interests of all these groups, but I’m looking forward to the task,” Gulley said.
The deadline for the implementation agreement is Dec. 31, 2012, he said.