Laura Lenzen
Nebraska Department of Roads
Lincoln, Nebraska

Laura Lenzen is a self-taught professional who began her career with the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) as a typist and worked her way up to wetlands engineer. She developed NDOR’s Wetlands Unit, one of the premier programs in the country, and she also developed Nebraska’s first mitigation banking agreement. She managed the planning and construction of more than 400 acres of wetlands at more than 20 sites across the state in the early 1990s, to mitigate for wetlands that were destroyed or disturbed by road projects. Many states and private entities have used her work as an example in drafting their own guidelines, including Nebraska’s first private mitigation banking instrument, which was recently completed.

Early on, Lenzen turned to the federal and state resource agencies for information and assistance. She learned that by working with these agencies, all interested parties (and the resources they represent) could benefit. Roads could be constructed while wetland resources were protected. Lenzen also began wetland training sessions for NDOR employees and county engineers, allowing them not only to understand wetland regulations but appreciate the wetlands’ functions and values. Lenzen’s work has vastly increased the environmental commitment of the state roads department; as a result, she and her department have an excellent reputation in the wetlands arena.

— Mark A. Brohman, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission