Balancing Environment and Economics
Joshua Carpenter is on a mission to protect and educate
people about aquatic resources. Carpenter, who graduated from Northern Arizona
University in 2006 with a BS in Forestry, works for the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers Albuquerque District Regulatory Division in Pueblo, Colorado, where
he conducts environmental reviews for proposed projects and assesses potential
environmental impacts. His work covers various types of activities in southern
Colorado, from highways to subdivisions and other public and private
developments. Through his efforts, he helps ensure that federal laws and
regulations, such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the
National Historic Preservation Act, are upheld.
"I have a tough job of balancing the economic needs
of applicants with the environmental needs of the public, such as habitat,
water quality, and flood storage," Carpenter says."The work is
rewarding, but it can be demanding because people don't like to be told what
they can and can't do on their own property. But when you work with someone to
accomplish their goals while avoiding and minimizing unnecessary impacts,
particularly impacts to their neighbors upstream or downstream which they had
not considered, they usually gain a little more appreciation for the job we do.
It's not always easy to get them to come around, though."
Settling disputes over unauthorized activities is a whole
other challenge, Carpenter says. "Considering the emotions that are
involved with violations, I would say this is the tougher part of my job. But
conflict resolution is one of my strengths, so I kind of enjoy it."
Carpenter's dedication to protecting the aquatic
environment started while he was an undergraduate student in the Student Career
Experience Program (SCEP). Upon graduation, Carpenter was hired on full
time. "What I enjoy about it is
being able to work with people to help them achieve their goals and project
purposes without unnecessary impacts to aquatic resources," says
Carpenter. "It is an opportunity for education as much as it is about
anything else. To me it is almost more important to educate people than to
regulate their activities, which is ultimately what I am helping to do."
The university’s School
of Forestry is nationally recognized for its unique approach to
undergraduate education, which encourages internships and field experience.
Carpenter says that approach helped him cultivate a sense of open mindedness in
"I work with folks indirectly on a national level
from all over the country, and I probably would not have been offered the job
in Pueblo if I had not developed the perspectives that I gained at NAU,"
says Carpenter. "NAU broadened my perspective to be able to think outside
the box. That outlook has prepared me to develop a more rewarding career."
The Mississippi native was an undergraduate at
Mississippi State University when he came to Flagstaff through the National
Student Exchange (NSE) program. Carpenter fell in love with Northern Arizona
University’s approach to education. "I felt like I found a part of me that
was waiting to come out," Carpenter says. "The faculty work really
intimately with their students. They really care. If you have an interest in
forestry, they are going to help you develop into someone that you weren't when
you got here. You will learn a lot from these folks and it will help your
As part of the forestry program, Carpenter spent time in
the Centennial Forest,
which the university owns and manages. He also developed an appreciation for
desert ecology and the variety of Arizona’s beautiful landscapes.
"The wilderness areas in the Southwest are really
phenomenal, because you really can just go get lost and not run into anyone.
There is not a whole lot of public land like that back in the East,"
Carpenter says. "If you are into environmental sustainability and an
ecological approach to forestry and land management, this is certainly the
place for you."