2020 Impact Awards: Scott Chenue, Biologist III | Water Enterprise, Natural Resources and Land Management Division

This year, we received 60 nominations in the individual category. Nominators took the time to tell us about their amazing SFPUC colleagues and partners. They thoughtfully shared with us why they nominated these impactful individuals. Their written nominations also give us a view into other departments and areas we may not be familiar with. We hope reading the written nominations will inspire you as much as they did us.

Scott, thank you for having such a profound impact on those around you and SFPUC! 

Award: Organizational Excellence Award

Nominators: Neal Fujita and Brian Sak

It is a privilege and honor to nominate Scott Chenue (Biologist lll, Sunol/Moccasin Biological Resources Section, Natural Resources and Land Management Division) for a Golden Pride Recognition Award for his excellence in performance managing the East Bay Bioregional Habitat Restoration (BHR) program in the Alameda Watershed over the past decade. Scott’s dedication and attention to detail fully support the SFPUC’s mission of sustaining the resources entrusted to its care, while his commitment to stewardship and organizational skills help to advance many of the organization’s environmental goals.

Scott manages BHR projects encompassing 1,785 acres of restored and enhanced habitat at Goat Rock, Goldfish Pond, Grimes, San Antonio Creek and Sheep Camp Creek. Each of these five sites serves as mitigation for impacts associated with the Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) by preserving, enhancing, and restoring or establishing native habitats that include streams, ponds, wetlands, riparian areas, woodlands, scrub and savannah.  These ambitious mitigation projects, all mandated by permits issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United State Army Corps of Engineers, National Marine Fisheries Service, Regional Water Quality Control Board and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, require management-intensive activities such as extensive vegetation planting, geomorphic restoration, pond repair, and infrastructure construction. Each has specific compliance measures, performance goals and success criteria that must be met at varying time intervals. Although these mitigation sites are mandated by regulatory agencies, they ultimately serve as highly valued environmental enhancements to the Alameda Watershed ecosystems.

Each BHR project requires ongoing maintenance, routine monitoring, data analyses and reporting utilizing the support of consultants and contractors that are directed, managed and budgeted by Scott. Each BHR site is complex and success depends on organizational optimization to keep all involved operating in an efficient, effective manner while staying on budget. Monumental projects like the East Bay BHR typically take multiple people to manage them, however, Scott operates with minimal direction and support within his regular work schedule by navigating methodically and often creatively to achieve objectives and goals.

Scott recognized the need for a collective BHR effort and has consequently fostered an environment of collaboration and team work to address BHR demands. Effective management requires tactful and honest communication skills to work well with consultants, contractors and regulators, each with multiple employees with varying personalities. Scott’s communication skills consistently meet the need for clear directives, problem resolution and honest evaluations to achieve impressive results. Scott has built trust with all involved by always being fair, honest, and supportive, thereby inspiring others to do their best in return. Scott fully respects all the project-related relationships and is quick to show appreciation for jobs well done, freely giving credit when and where due.

Each BHR site has posed unique and difficult challenges over time, (limited resources, the control of plant pathogens, bird nesting limitations, infrastructure failures, etc.) but Scott’s commitment to excellence consistently results in positive outcomes and successes. Managing the BHR sites is a huge component of Scott’s job, but beyond that, Scott’s deep passion and appreciation for the natural resources throughout the SFPUC’s watersheds drive his commitment to the tireless stewardship needed to protect them.

In addition to Scott’s BHR-related responsibilities he continues to play an integral role in the support of other Sunol/Moccasin Biological Resources Section projects and tasks. He took a lead role in both the Calaveras Dam Replacement and Alameda Creek Diversion Dam projects, tracking progress, fostering communication and providing natural resources-associated input. Scott also participates in watershed monitoring including Oncorhynchus mykiss spawning and amphibian stream surveys, Alameda Creek fish trapping, Tuolumne River and Alameda Creek snorkeling and East Bay electrofishing.

Scott constantly adheres to strict safety practices and implements regular safety tailgates and trainings to minimize accidents to him and others working in the field. Scott takes a careful, conservative approach to getting work done, especially in remote areas, by always prioritizing worker safety. Scott also implements measures (fire safe practices, wildlife buffers, decontamination protocols, etc.) to ensure environmental protections and the well-being of all valued flora, fauna, water and other natural resources in the SFPUC watersheds.

To successfully manage the East Bay BHR sites, that have posed many challenges and issues over several years, in a manner that not only meets but often exceeds regulatory compliance and performance goals is a testament to Scott’s enduring leadership, perseverance, commitment and professionalism. The Alameda Watershed has and will continue to benefit from Scott’s great work. The Golden Pride Award is an ideal way to recognize Scott’s achievements and for being a stellar SFPUC employee.