By U.S. ArmyMarch 6, 2019
William DeRagon exhibited superior leadership, management, professional, and technical abilities during his 25-year tenure with the Environmental Resources Section of the Albuquerque District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
William started working, as a biologist, with the District, on April 8, 1991. He retired Dec. 30, 2016. During that time, he developed a culture of professionalism among his colleagues. His enthusiasm and professionalism encouraged others to rise to a higher level of performance and commitment.
William is recognized as an expert in avian and wildlife biology, hydrology and hydraulics, geomorphology, riparian zone ecology, and restoration ecology.
William worked on a number of high profile projects, which greatly contributed to the reputation of USACE. He demonstrated thorough and meticulous knowledge, pertaining to water operations and environmental compliance, as demonstrated by his contributions to the Upper Rio Grande Water Operations Environmental Impact Statement.
William completed the Cochiti Level I Natural Resources Inventory, an exhaustive baseline of environmental conditions at this important Corps Project location. This thorough document serves as an example, and a template, for base-line inventories at other Corps' locations.
He served as the biological lead for the San Acacia Project. He was instrumental in clarifying information, with Fish and Wildlife Service for a final Biological Opinion. He demonstrated that effects to the endangered Southwest Willow Flycatcher were not just from the Corps' activities, but also from the actions of other local, state, and federal agencies. He reduced the project mitigation acreage from 239 acres to 50 acres: this saved the government a tremendous amount of money, and enabled the project to remain cost effective.
William served as the biological team lead on FWS re-consultation, with regard to river operations on the Rio Grande. He was the leading proponent for an independent USACE Biological Opinion for River Operations.
During the 2001 permanent drawdown of Jemez Reservoir, a number of Sand Hill Cranes became stranded, and stuck, in the wet muck of the pool area after drawdown. This situation received considerable media attention, and had the potential to become a public relations blemish for the District. William initiated a bird rescue operation, in conjunction with biologists from other agencies, turning the PR nightmare into a heroic rescue story, and resulted in positive media stories.
William's honesty, and professional integrity, benefitted the Corps in his work with Tribes, particularly the Pueblo de Cochiti and Pueblo of Santa Ana. He personally fostered improved relations, and built trust with these Tribes by following through on restoration projects. William continued, after retirement, to provide guidance, as a rehired annuitant, to the Albuquerque District, upon request.