49 episodes

For more than 10 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on an initiative called Engineering With Nature that uses natural processes and systems to deliver a broad range of economic, environmental, and social benefits. EWN, as it is called, is developing and implementing nature-based solutions for infrastructure, engineering, and water projects. EWN brings together a growing international community of scientists, engineers, and researchers, from all kinds of disciplines to collaborate on how best to harness the power of nature to innovate, solve problems, and create sustainable solutions. This podcast tells their stories.

It’s a show about innovation and collaboration. It is about combining natural and engineering systems. And it is about amazing results for infrastructure, the environment, and communities. Scientists and experts will talk about how they are transforming traditional approaches to infrastructure challenges across the US and around the world by applying the principles and practices of EWN.

Sarah Thorne of Decision Partners has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the EWN initiative for the past decade, and, through this podcast, will share stories of the people, their unique collaborations, and a broad range of projects that exemplify the principles and practices of EWN. We hope you’ll listen to the show and be inspired!

EWN - Engineering With Nature USACE and iContact Productions

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

For more than 10 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on an initiative called Engineering With Nature that uses natural processes and systems to deliver a broad range of economic, environmental, and social benefits. EWN, as it is called, is developing and implementing nature-based solutions for infrastructure, engineering, and water projects. EWN brings together a growing international community of scientists, engineers, and researchers, from all kinds of disciplines to collaborate on how best to harness the power of nature to innovate, solve problems, and create sustainable solutions. This podcast tells their stories.

It’s a show about innovation and collaboration. It is about combining natural and engineering systems. And it is about amazing results for infrastructure, the environment, and communities. Scientists and experts will talk about how they are transforming traditional approaches to infrastructure challenges across the US and around the world by applying the principles and practices of EWN.

Sarah Thorne of Decision Partners has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the EWN initiative for the past decade, and, through this podcast, will share stories of the people, their unique collaborations, and a broad range of projects that exemplify the principles and practices of EWN. We hope you’ll listen to the show and be inspired!

    The Heartland Tour: Five Rivers in One Day

    The Heartland Tour: Five Rivers in One Day

    Welcome to the summer feature podcast miniseries—EWN On The Road. As we teased in Episode 5, in this special series, Todd Bridges, Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program, is sharing some highlights of his travels across the country over the past 2 years visiting people, places, and projects relevant to EWN. The miniseries includes 4 episodes and will post August 3, 10, 17 and 24:
     
    Episode 1—The San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge: A Natural Landscape Revived Episode 2—The San Joaquin Valley: Past, Present, Future and from the Air Episode 3—The Heartland Tour: Five Rivers in One Day Episode 4—Rivers as Resources to be Valued  
    We hope you’ll find these special podcast episodes enlightening and easy listening for your summer travels. You can read more about Todd’s travels and see additional pictures in the EWN On The Road blog on the EWN Website. 
     
    In Episode 3, Todd Bridges talks with host Sarah Thorne about part of the trip that he and his wife Anita—the unofficial EWN driver—took in the summer of 2021, traveling across 14 states from Mississippi to Montana and back in what Todd calls the Heartland Tour. On one day of the tour, August 7, they visited five rivers in one day—Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers near Missoula, Montana, and the Jefferson, Madison, and Missouri Rivers near Bozeman, Montana—experiencing a wide range of history between people and rivers, as Todd says, “damming, contaminating, undamming, restoring, exploring, experiencing.” He adds: “That day made a strong impression upon me, to see so many different contexts and to link together a whole range of human activity. We’ve seen that whole progression over the last 150 years, and it was revealed in that day when we visited five rivers. . . . I was thinking a lot about what the rivers had been before people began to, if you will, ‘mess with them,’ engineer them for a variety of purposes. I was also thinking about what the future of our relationship will be with rivers and how we can apply the principles and practices of Engineering With Nature to recover some of the services and some of the values that rivers can provide to us, while at the same time reduce some of the challenges that climate change and other pressures are bringing to our rivers.”
     
    Related Links
    EWN Website ERDC Website Todd Bridges at EWN Todd Bridges at LinkedIn EWN On The Road EWN On The Road: The Heartland Tour Stops 14–17 Clark Fork River Mega Site Clark Fork Coalition NPS: Three Forks of the Missouri – Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Montana FWP: Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park

    • 14 min
    The San Joaquin Valley: Past, Present, and Future, from the Air

    The San Joaquin Valley: Past, Present, and Future, from the Air

    Welcome to the summer feature podcast miniseries—EWN On The Road. As we teased in Episode 5, in this special series, Todd Bridges, Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program, is sharing some highlights of his travels across the country over the past 2 years visiting people, places, and projects relevant to EWN. The miniseries includes 4 episodes and will post August 3, 10, 17 and 24:
     
    Episode 1—The San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge: A Natural Landscape Revived Episode 2—The San Joaquin Valley: Past, Present, Future and from the Air Episode 3—The Heartland Tour: Five Rivers in One Day Episode 4—Rivers as Resources to be Valued  
    We hope you’ll find these special podcast episodes enlightening and easy listening for your summer travels. You can read more about Todd’s travels and see additional pictures in the EWN On The Road blog on the EWN Website. 
     
    In Episode 2, Todd Bridges shares his perspective on the transformation of the wider San Joaquin Valley where he grew up. In December 2021, he took a helicopter tour of the Valley with an eye toward the landscape transformations that are evident. In 1772, Pedro Fages and his company—the first Europeans to visit the San Joaquin Valley—described the valley as filled with a diversity of wildlife and immense lakes and wetlands. The arrival of the Spanish, other Europeans, and eventually the Americans transformed California’s landscape. Dams, reservoirs, levees, canals, pumps, tunnels, and pipelines associated with the major rivers were the tools used to transform the San Joaquin Valley, draining the wetlands and lakes, resulting in a system that is unsustainable. As Todd describes it, “It’s clear to me that today’s and tomorrow’s climate cannot be reconciled with current practices in the valley and its landscape. It’s also clear to me that nature provides a source of hope for the valley’s future. A new balance could be achieved by resurrecting natural features and processes that were ‘engineered out’ of the Valley in the 20th century. Applying the principles and practices of Engineering With Nature could provide the means to realign the social-ecological system for enduring sustainability, water, and social resilience, and to produce the diversity of benefits and values that nature can provide.”
     
    Related Links
    EWN Website ERDC Website Todd Bridges at EWN Todd Bridges at LinkedIn EWN On The Road EWN On The Road: The California Swing EWN On the Road Blog: The California Swing: The San Joaquin Valley: Past, Present and Future from the Air EWN On the Road Blog: The California Swing: Engineering Water in California and the Case of the San Joaquin River Garden of the Sun: A History of the San Joaquin Valley Pedro Fages expeditions to the San Joaquin Valley EWN Podcast S3E8: The Dreamt Land – California Water, Sustainability, and EWN EWN Podcast S3E9: The Dreamt Land – Rebalancing the System

    • 10 min
    EWN On The Road: The San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge: A Natural Landscape Revived

    EWN On The Road: The San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge: A Natural Landscape Revived

    Welcome to the summer feature podcast miniseries—EWN On The Road. As we teased in Episode 5, in this special series, Todd Bridges, Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program, is sharing some highlights of his travels across the country over the past 2 years visiting people, places, and projects relevant to EWN. 
     
    The miniseries includes 4 episodes and will post August 3, 10, 17 and 24: 
     
    Episode 1—The San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge: A Natural Landscape Revived
    Episode 2—The San Joaquin Valley: Past, Present, Future and from the Air 
    Episode 3—The Heartland Tour: Five Rivers in One Day 
    Episode 4—Rivers as Resources to be Valued 
     
    We hope you’ll find these special podcast episodes enlightening and easy listening for your summer travels. You can read more about Todd’s travels and see additional pictures in the EWN On The Road blog on the EWN Website. 
    In this epsiode, Todd Bridges talks about his visit to the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge where he observed the effects of restoration efforts and ongoing management of the area by the US Fish and Wildlife Service; the California Department of Water Resources; the US Army Corps of Engineers; and River Partners, a nonprofit engaged in river and riparian restoration in the region. Over the last 15 years, 600,000 native trees have been planted as a part of the restorations. As Todd describes it, “The landscape that is emerging from these efforts is getting close to what I imagine Pedro Fages and his companions saw as they became the first Europeans to venture into the San Joaquin Valley in 1772.” Aligning natural and engineering processes produces a host of environmental, social, and economic benefits for flood risk management. “My visit to the Refuge has inspired me to think about how Engineering With Nature could support scaling-up restoration and nature-based solutions across the San Joaquin Valley and the nation to achieve a balance between humans and nature on our shared landscapes.” Related Links EWN Website ERDC Website Todd Bridges at EWN Todd Bridges at LinkedIn EWN On The Road EWN On The Road: The California Swing San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge San Joaquin River Restoration Program USFWS San Joaquin River Restoration Program River Partners San Joaquin River NWR CA DFW San Joaquin River Restoration Program EWN Podcast S2E7: EWN Collaboration with the California Department of Water Resources USACE Lower San Joaquin River Project

    • 6 min
    A Conversation about Leadership and EWN with Brigadier General Kelly, Commander of the USACE South Atlantic Division

    A Conversation about Leadership and EWN with Brigadier General Kelly, Commander of the USACE South Atlantic Division

    Leadership and vision are essential to implementing Engineering With Nature to create landscape-scale climate resilience. We’re focusing on leadership and EWN in conversations with two inspirational USACE Division leaders – Colonel (P) Antoinette Gant, Commander, and Division Engineer of the South Pacific Division (SPD), and Brigadier General Jason Kelly, Commander of the South Atlantic Division (SAD). 
     
    In Episode 7, Host Sarah Thorne and Todd Bridges, Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program are talking with BG Kelly about the challenges facing the South Atlantic Division. From restoration in the Everglades, to deepening the Charleston Harbor, to ongoing flood control initiatives, to disaster preparedness, we’re talking about the leadership needed to address landscape-scale challenges in innovative ways and how Engineering With Nature is an important part of infrastructure solutions. 
     
    With an education in mathematics and statistics from Georgia Tech, BG Kelly spent the first 20 years of his career as “time in a formation with a rifle and a pistol” leading men and women as soldiers. When he took command of the Norfolk District in 2015, he was unsure if he would be as excited about navigation, recreation, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and regulatory permitting as he had been about preparing soldiers for combat, but he found that he was: “I'm curious by nature, so, this job certainly fits the bill. I come into work every day and have the opportunity to engage subject matter experts, folks that know more—have forgotten more—than I'll learn during my tenure as the Division Commander in SAD. We're all committed. We're all trying to deliver for the nation.” He is driven by curiosity, a desire to collaborate, and a personal quest to become a better communicator: “I strive to better communicate as an ambassador for the great work that's happening in my organization. I'm excited about what we're doing.”
     
    The South Atlantic Division faces many challenges—and opportunities—from hurricanes and impacts from climate change, to moving populations, and a range of issues related to aging infrastructure. The USACE is leading innovation to deliver 21st century engineering and infrastructure solutions that leverage EWN to solve problems and create value. From BG Kelly’s perspective, leadership is critical: “I think it's important that the senior most members of our organization lean in. As the senior leader in the South Atlantic Division, I am afforded the opportunity to know the EWN solutions that are available, but that's not always the case for some of the practitioners in the districts. I think it's important that the senior-most leaders get active, specifically with my position as a Major Subordinate Commander, sitting at the nexus of execution in the districts and policy in Washington, DC – rules and tools – trying to make all of that come together so we can do some collateral good. I don't think it happens without that nudge from leaders. Leadership matters.”
     
    Todd agrees: “Hearing leaders talk about, communicate, and message about EWN and innovative approaches, is so important for the vertical team within the Corps, but also to our sponsors and stakeholders and those that we're building things for. They need to hear us talk about what we're trying to do and how we're going to achieve it.”
     
    BG Kelly notes that strengthening communication is being strongly promoted by the Honorable Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works as one of his ‘lines of effort’, along with other factors that directly relate to EWN: “His insistence that we strengthen communications and relationships to solve water resource challenges, is front and center. I try to do that from my perch in Atlanta. His insistence that we modernize our Civil Works programs to bette

    • 39 min
    A Conversation about Leadership and EWN with Colonel Gant, Commander of the USACE South Pacific Division.

    A Conversation about Leadership and EWN with Colonel Gant, Commander of the USACE South Pacific Division.

    Leadership and vision are essential to implementing Engineering With Nature to create landscape-scale climate resilience. We’re focusing on leadership and EWN in conversations with two inspirational USACE Division leaders – Colonel (P) Antoinette Gant, Commander, and Division Engineer of the South Pacific Division (SPD), and Brigadier General Jason Kelly, Commander of the South Atlantic Division (SAD). 
     
    In Episode 6, Host Sarah Thorne, and Todd Bridges, Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program are talking with COL Gant about the challenges and opportunities facing the South Pacific Division, and how EWN and leadership are being applied to meet those needs. 
     
    COL Gant grew up as the child of two teachers with the dream of being a chemist, until she met Patricia Sullivan, one of her mother’s students and a USACE employee, who introduced her to civil engineering. “It was just mind blowing to me what you could do as a civil engineer, the impacts that you could actually have on your community, and how you could change things. My mother always told me, ‘be the change you want to see.’ So, I decided that I would try my hand at civil engineering.” COL Gant joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as a way to pay for college and has served in the Army for 28 years. She has risen through the ranks and is slated to be promoted to Brigadier General soon. One of the ways she pays it forward is by being a strong advocate for STEM/STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics—and speaking to young people about her journey whenever she has the opportunity. 
     
    COL Gant leads the South Pacific Division, which covers a lot of territory—Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Albuquerque Districts—and has a diverse and complex set of missions and projects. As Todd notes: “The challenges—and opportunities—that we face today with respect to climate change are unprecedented and there are few places where this is more evident than in the West, where people have brought significant changes to the landscape (for example see EWN Podcast S3E8 about changes in agriculture and water use in California). COL Gant agrees: “I always say climate change is real. The rate of change is really accelerating. Where we used to see a hurricane every once in a while, we're seeing them almost every year. Wildfires are the same. How do you prepare differently for the same wildfire, the rising tides? These are all things that we are looking to design and implement, adaptive and equitable solutions that will work over time, and work for everyone.” As we learn in our conversation, environmental justice plays a prominent role in COL Gant’s thinking about these challenges and in her decision making about solutions.
     
    We discuss how EWN provides solutions that can produce a broader array of benefits than traditional engineering approaches, while supporting opportunities for substantive engagement with communities, including vulnerable populations and under-represented communities. As Todd explains, infrastructure must be a source of service and benefit to our communities: “What we're seeking to do with EWN is to diversify that benefit. So, when we make an investment in infrastructure—say a flood risk management project in a river that runs through a community like the Guadalupe River in San Jose—we are intentional, purposeful, about looking for opportunities to diversify the value that can be created for that community in that project.” He adds, “there's so much evidence emerging in the scientific literature showing how important access to nature is, in particular for marginalized or disadvantaged communities.”
     
    COL Gant agrees. Under her command, the South Pacific Division is taking a strong leadership role: “We're making a commitment to be the first Division that i

    • 41 min
    Coming Soon—Two Inspirational Conversations about Leadership and EWN

    Coming Soon—Two Inspirational Conversations about Leadership and EWN

    We’re really excited about our upcoming episodes 6 and 7.  Tune in July 20th as we discuss leadership and Engineering With Nature with two inspirational USACE Division leaders – Colonel (P) Antoinette Gant, Commander, and Division Engineer of the South Pacific Division (SPD), and Brigadier General Jason Kelly, Commander of the South Atlantic Division (SAD).
     
    Leadership and vision are essential to successfully incorporating Engineering With Nature and nature-based approaches into climate preparedness and resilience solutions to address landscape-scale challenges.
    In Episodes 6 & 7, Host Sarah Thorne and Todd Bridges, Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Lead of the Engineering With Nature® Program talk with COL Gant and BG Kelly about the some of the challenges facing their Divisions, how Engineering With Nature approaches are a key part of the solutions, and about the leadership needed to address landscape-scale challenges in innovative ways.
     
    Stimulating, thought-provoking and truly inspiring!! The future of EWN is bright.

    • 3 min

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