DU manager receives Colorado award for work in addressing water needs

Greg Kernohan named Emerging Leader by Colorado Foundation for Water Education

DENVER, May 7, 2015 - Ducks Unlimited's Manager of Ecosystem Services for the Great Plains Region, Greg Kernohan, will receive the Colorado Foundation for Water Education's Emerging Leader Award at 6 p.m., Friday, May 8, at the Space Gallery in Denver.

"He has been entrepreneurial and innovative in leading the South Platte Wetlands Focus Area Committee, managing the Union Mutual Ditch Company and participating for the last 10 years as a member of the South Platte Basin Roundtable, most recently as its vice-chair," said Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs Jr., foundation vice-president.

Kernohan has served as a DU manger of conservation programs in Colorado for 10 years, helping farmers, cities and industry address water needs while benefitting waterfowl. Greg has helped develop river augmentation projects on agricultural lands by building or restoring wetlands that recharge alluvial aquifers while enhancing waterfowl habitat. These projects can satisfy municipal and industrial needs as well as help agricultural landowners.

"The river augmentation credits earned through these projects directly benefit farmers who couldn't irrigate without the credits," Kernohan said. "They are no-injury plans for water rights and birds."

Through Kernohan's efforts, Ducks Unlimited has helped access substantial investments for this collaborative work, through North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants matched with DU and partner dollars. Altogether, this work brought nearly $20 million to Colorado to protect water resources, construct infrastructure and provide wildlife habitat. "We've cooperated on more than a dozen recharge projects along the South Platte, restoring and protecting 2,150 acres of wetlands capable of retiming water for augmentation," Kernohan said.

He now helps direct Colorado Water Conservation Board's Flex Water Market grant project with participants including the Colorado Corn Growers Association and the City of Aurora. "We have been at odds with some agricultural interests elsewhere," Kernohan said, "but a solid foundation of successful projects, built in cooperation with agricultural and municipal friends, allowed this diverse group to navigate contentious issues and build trust."

Kernohan is a biologist with a Master's degree in environmental law and policy. He lives in Fort Collins with his wife, Niki, and daughter's, Devyn and Meghan.