CDOT 2021 Environmental Award Winners Announced

Nineteen total submissions across four categories were carefully reviewed. The selection panel comprised seven representatives from three regions and the Environmental Programs Branch (EPB) and included a broad range of experience and disciplines. CDOT is happy to share the four 2021 winners with you:

Innovative Environmental Process Winner - CDOT Donations of Rare Plants and Shale Rock to Denver Botanic Gardens Display 

Submitted by: Vanessa Santistevan, Region 4 Environmental 

Team Members Involved: Jason Roth, CDOT Region 4 Environmental Project Manager; Christopher Willis, CDOT Nederland Patrol; Mike Bone, Denver Botanic Gardens; Kevin Williams, Denver Botanic Gardens; Sonya Anderson, Denver Botanic Gardens; and Jennifer Ramp Neale, Denver Botanic Gardens 

Summary: CDOT’s Region 4 Environmental Project Manager, Jason Roth, and CDOT’s Nederland Maintenance Patrol worked together to help identify and confirm two rare plant species in CDOT’s right-of-way. The rare plants are not federally or state protected and were in a location planned for a safety improvement project. The advance coordination initiated by the Maintenance team allowed time for Roth to reach out to several local and state groups about the plants, who directed him to the Denver Botanic Gardens. Jennifer Ramp Neale, Ph.D., director of research and conservation at the Gardens, responded, and they coordinated to rescue and salvage the plants and seeds that were at risk of being destroyed by the project. 

On top of that, CDOT was able to offer shale rock from the areas where the plants were found. The rare plants and shale rocks are now on display in the Conservation Garden showcasing the Colorado rare species. 

Maintenance Winner - Chattanooga Beaver Exclusion Fence Project 

Submitted by: Tim Funk, Region 5 Environmental 

Team Members Involved: Clint Rhoades, Region 5 Maintenance; and Kyle Benke, Region 5 Maintenance 

Summary: Beavers have regularly clogged a small culvert on US 550 at MM 77.6 near the abandoned mining community of Chattanooga, north of Silverton. Instead of trapping the beavers, the Maintenance Patrol contacted the Region 5 environmental unit about potentially installing a non-lethal beaver exclusion fence around the culvert. A qualified local contractor (Alpine Water Resources, LLC ) was then identified and hired to design and install the fence. This is the first such non-lethal beaver control project employed by CDOT in Region 5 (and potentially anywhere in the state). 

Special Contributor Winner - Presley Fowler, Region 1 Deputy Communications Manager: Region 1 History Videos Project 

Submitted by: Barbara Stocklin-Steely, Region 1 Historian

Team Members Involved: Presley Fowler, R1 Deputy Communications Manager; Barbara Stocklin-Steely, R1 Senior Historian; and Jamie Shapiro, R1 Staff Historian 

Summary: Beginning in January 2021, Region 1's public information officer, Presley Fowler, had the idea to begin producing monthly feature videos on Region 1's history and the region's history compliance program. She coordinates closely with Region 1 Historians, Barbara Stocklin-Steely and/or Jamie Shapiro, on each video to select the topic and to develop interview questions. She then interviews the historian(s), assembles current and historic photos and maps, edits the videos, and publishes the completed videos on YouTube

Each month's topic is a well-kept secret which actually adds to the videos’ popularity. These videos help to create awareness and appreciation of CDOT's history, and its Region 1 history compliance program, as well as help Region 1 staff to better understand how environmental staff coordinate with and fit into the project planning and development process.

Project Winner - Partnering Creates Environmental Wins for US 36 Flood Recovery  

Submitted by: Brian Varrella, Region 4 PE II 

Team Members Involved: Stacy DeWitt, R4 PE I; Brian Varrella, R4 PE II; Monte Malik, R4 PE I; Nicholaus Schipanski, R4 Environmental; Jason Roth, R4 Environmental; Various other CDOT specialty units and staff; Flatiron Construction; US Forest Service; Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Atkins Global; RockSol; and Jacobs Engineering

Summary: This $9 million construction project returned the headwaters of the Little Thompson River to its pre-1930's alignment, created mammal passage beneath the highway to reduce wildlife strikes, removed a rock wall visual impairment to prevent head-on collisions and installed a tunnel and culvert to prevent US 36 from eroding in the next major flood. All of these efforts were prepared to prevent US 36 between the Towns of Lyons and Estes Park from being isolated in the next major flood disaster.  

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all those who submitted their valuable entries! View the 2021 Environmental Award Winners document to read full details about these projects, and about why they were chosen as winners.