DNR @ Work
Boating Facilities and Access Planning
It’s easy to love your job when it revolves around one of your passions. In or out of the office, recreational boating is always on the mind of Lisa Gutierrez.
Lisa first came to DNR as a Bay Program summer intern, while in pursuit of an Environmental Science degree from Virginia Tech. From there, she worked for the Virginia Regional Planning Commission and then the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River before returning to DNR in 1995.
As Boating Facility and Access Planning Division Director, Lisa works diligently year-round to ensure Maryland’s waterways remain clean, safe and accessible. At the height of boating season, which runs from April to October, Lisa and her team are conducting river surveys, collecting data, and working with local, State and federal partners on water trails and access projects. The rest of the year is no less hectic, as they work on plans, maps, regulations, policies and legislative initiatives related to boating.
To address the always-present need for funds, Lisa seeks new ways to utilize the resources she has to leverage additional funds for projects around the State.
Creativity comes naturally to Lisa, who also has a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Maryland. In fact, when she’s not out on the water, she enjoys painting landscapes. Such an outlet brings more than just relaxation; it provides a delicate balance in her work.
“If you asked me in college if this is what I’d be doing, I’d have had no idea,” she says, “but it’s really perfect. There’s definitely a balance between the creative and technical aspects. Planning for boating involves all of that. It really is the best of both worlds.”
She dedicates much of her spare time to competitive paddling and canoeing with her son James and husband Chip, a fellow DNR employee she met through paddling. They compete up and down the East Coast, always enjoying the thrill of the race and time spent together. At home, their collection of various stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, canoes and other boats is essential.
“Our backyard looks like a boatyard,” she exclaims, “I’m sure we must have at least one of everything that floats!”
Even when talking about the inevitable stress she sometimes experiences, Lisa’s smile never leaves her face. Between an obvious expertise and a humble determination, her work proves invaluable to the continued success of DNR and Boating Services.
“None of this would be possible,” she emphasizes, “without a fantastic staff. The people are what make my job so gratifying — you truly will not find a nicer or more dedicated bunch. We’re a small group, but a great team. Everyone has outstanding skills and thorough knowledge of what they do. They really care about boating, about getting people out on the water, about being safe and having fun.”
Plus, “We get to go out and be a part of it.” “We’re lucky because we get to help people do something fun that also connects them to the environment.”
Lauren Dorrill is a designer and staff writer with DNR’s Office of Communications.