Minnehaha Creek Watershed District’s (MCWD) Director of Planning, Projects and Land Conservation James Wisker has been named the 2011 Outstanding Watershed District Employee by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR). The award was presented Friday at the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts’ 40th Annual Meeting and Trade Show in Alexandria, MN.
Wisker oversees the planning and implementation of the MCWD’s Capital Improvement Program. In 2011, Wisker led the watershed district's efforts to develop and implement a restoration plan for the Minnehaha Creek corridor through the cities of Hopkins and St. Louis Park.
This work will protect open space, improve stormwater management, stabilize the streambank and re-meander Minnehaha Creek to filter runoff, control flooding and improve habitat. This project involved collaborative planning with staff and elected officials from both cities, the business community and local residents.
Wisker also was responsible for coordinating water quality projects in other communities across the District in 2011 including Minnetrista, Victoria, Orono, Long Lake, Edina, Minneapolis and Richfield.
“James Wisker has done amazing work for the MCWD which serves as a model for other watershed districts across the state,” said BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke. “His dedication, diligence and vision are key reasons for his selection as the Outstanding Watershed District Employee of 2011.”
In addition to his work on the Capital Improvement Plan, Wisker spearheaded the process of revising the MCWD’s rules, which was completed in 2011. While the rule revisions involved considerable public debate, participants complimented Wisker on a transparent, fair and inclusive process in which all of their concerns were heard and fairly discussed. He also is assuming a larger role in the district’s land conservation and restoration program.
“Throughout his career at the district, James has overseen a number of technically and politically challenging projects,” said MCWD Administrator Eric Evenson. “To accomplish these tasks, he brought considerable technical skills and an inherent capacity to build positive relationships and partnerships with diverse stakeholders.”
Wisker joined the District’s Regulatory Program in 2005 and moved to the Planning Program in 2009. He is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Water Resource Science and Natural Resource Management with a minor in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota.