Environmental Policy Consultant
Fort Worth loses 50 acres of open space every week to development, raising concerns about increased flood risks due to impervious surfaces. To address these challenges, the City aims to establish data-driven regulations and policies for riparian corridor preservation, partnering with FUSE to conduct research and develop recommendations to promote responsible long-term growth.
Fellowship Dates: October 23, 2023 – October 21, 2024
Salary: Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual base salary of $80,000. Fellows can also access various health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Compensation for this year of public service is not intended to represent market-rate compensation for the experienced professionals in our program.
ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP
FUSE is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.
When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and can effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.
Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. They receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE throughout their fellowships to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.
Fort Worth, Texas, is built at the convergence of the two branches of the Trinity River, the West Fork and The Clear Fork. The West Fork flows southeast from Lake Bridgeport through Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth and into the City of Fort Worth. The Clear Fork begins north of Weatherford and flows southeast through Lake Weatherford and Benbrook Lake, then turns northeast to join the West Fork near downtown Fort Worth. There are 31 watersheds in Fort Worth comprising numerous streams and creeks that feed local reservoirs, some of which provide drinking water to City of Fort Worth residents and neighboring municipalities. These areas also benefit the community, including stormwater infiltration, vital habitats, water quality services, and recreational opportunities. Riparian areas along these streams and creeks still feature bur oak, pecan, American elm, cedar elm, chittamwood (gum bumelia), green ash, and cottonwood as the dominant species.
Fort Worth is the thirteenth largest city in the US and is growing rapidly. The population grew by 24% between 2010 and 2020, and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is expected to double in size to 15M people by 2050. The city is losing 50 acres of open space to development every week. As more homes and infrastructure are built, increasing impervious surfaces can raise flood risks in some areas.
In recent years, the City has focused on communicating the importance of preserving riparian corridors through several methods, including updating future land use maps to show the floodplain as undeveloped. At the same time, the City does not have regulations that prevent development in the floodplain or require preserving any part of the riparian corridor. Fort Worth aims to promote thoughtful, data-driven regulations and policies that address current community needs and future development demands.
In 2019, the City formed an interdepartmental group to develop strategies to address rapidly disappearing natural areas across the City. This group formed the Open Space Conservation Program, whose mission is to conserve high-quality natural areas as the city grows to provide environmental benefits and recreational opportunities that support economic development and enhance the livability and desirability of Fort Worth. In 2022, City Council adopted the Fort Worth Open Space Strategy Report which identifies high priorities for open space conservation, including riparian habitat. Riparian preservation also achieves strategies identified in the Transportation and Public Works Department’s Stormwater Management Division Stormwater Master Plan, the Park and Recreation Department Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, and the currently underway Development Services Department Urban Forest Master Plan.
The City of Fort Worth will partner with FUSE to analyze and craft riparian corridor preservation recommendations to take to City Council. The FUSE Executive Fellow will research and benchmark riparian corridor preservation regulations and policies in comparable cities and develop a set of regulatory and/or policy recommendations for the City Council to consider for adoption. As a result of this work, the City of Fort Worth can promote responsible long-term growth through sustainable riparian corridor regulations and/or policies.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
Starting in October 2023, the FUSE Executive Fellow conduct research and benchmarking on riparian area regulations and policies. For this study, they will examine what Fort Worth’s current riparian area-related regulations and policies are, as well as regulations and policies Fort Worth’s peer cities have put in place, as well as what “best in class” cities are doing to promote riparian area preservation. The Executive Fellow will review the City’s Subdivision Ordinance and recommend updates. In addition, the Executive Fellow will work with the Stormwater Division to understand the ongoing erosion potential study and feedback from stakeholders that may influence decision-making. At the same time, the Executive Fellow will conduct an extensive desk review to identify best practices and innovative approaches to protecting riparian areas in communities similar to Fort Worth.
Next, the Executive Fellow will meet with various critical stakeholders to understand their perspectives. This will include local government officials (e.g., Stormwater Division, Parks and Recreation, Development Services), City Council members, advisory boards and commissions (e.g., the Development Advisory Committee, Plan Commission, Zoning Commission), the development community, local environmental advocates, and members of the public to understand the strengths, needs, opportunities, and aspirations these partners have for riparian corridor protection.
Finally, the Executive Fellow will synthesize the findings from the research, benchmarking analysis, and stakeholder engagement meetings into a draft ordinance amendment. They will support City staff in securing a recommendation for adopting the amendment by the City Plan Commission and adoption by the City Council.
By October 2024, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:
- Research & Benchmarking Analysis – Analyze the regulations, policies, and best practices currently being implemented by a selection of comparable cities and the cities that are the “gold standard” of riparian corridor preservation. Identify Fort Worth’s strengths, weaknesses, and gaps.
- Stakeholder Engagement – Facilitate meetings with members of the Fort Worth government, advisory boards and commissions, the development community, local environmental organizations, and members of the public on riparian preservation regulations and policies.
- Policy Synthesis – Synthesize the findings from the research, benchmarking analysis, and stakeholder engagement. Develop a draft ordinance amendment and facilitate securing the recommendation for adoption of the amendment by the City Plan Commission and adoption by the City Council
- Executive Sponsor – Jennifer Dyke, Assistant Director; Transportation & Public Works Department
- Project Supervisor – Brandi Kelp, Senior Planner; Transportation & Public Works Department
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a property development and sustainability background and a certification in environmental or floodplain management are strongly preferred for this project.
- Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
- Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
- Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
- Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
- Communicates effectively verbally and in writing and excels in active listening and conversing.
- Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision-making.
- Establishes and maintains strong relationships with diverse stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, particularly community-based relationships.
- Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
- Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.