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Dr. Robert Brumbaugh Retires Leaving His Mark

Published April 3, 2018
Robert Brumbaugh Photo

Robert Brumbaugh Photo

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA.  On Nov 30, 2017, Dr. Robert “Bob” Brumbaugh, a truly one-of-a-kind U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee, retired after 35 years of service, successfully living up to the old adage, “leave a mark on the organization a little better than you found it.”

Dr. Brumbaugh received his B.A. and M.A. in Geography from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles where his studies focused on fluvial geomorphology, plant ecology, and paleo-environmental analysis.  His field research areas included the Grand Canyon and Santa Cruz Island, CA.  Before coming to IWR, Bob worked in the Los Angeles District as a water resources planning study manager, including preparing a report that was approved by the U.S. Congress.

In 1988, he was selected to participate in the Planning Associate Program where he met Dr. Gene Stakhiv who saw firsthand that Bob was a man of ideas and was instrumental in bringing him onboard IWR to help with the National Drought Study and the Corps Strategic Plan ("Vision 21").            

From my first encounter with Bob, I noted his remarkable aptitude in not only conducting research and analysis but also in connecting the dots. - Dr. Gene Stakhiv.  

These were the qualities that made the next two projects that Bob was assigned successful. The first was the "Water in the Middle East" study, where Bob did most of the basic research on assessing the water availability and water problems of the Middle Eastern countries.  This became a critical document for the Department of State the in the multi-lateral water resources negotiations with some of the Arab countries after the first Gulf war ended in 1991. Bob later worked on a series of studies for the National Drought Study 1991-95, including lessons learned in California. 

In 2005, he moved into a management role at IWR, Group Manager/Supervisor.  He also became the technical support lead and an administrative officer for the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) for the Corps.   For the past four and a half years, Bob served as the Deputy Director of IWR.   

One particular area that seemed to capture Bob’s heart, passion, and energy, was the Regulatory Program.  Bob played several important roles in the program and his involvement was critical to the development and promotion of compensatory mitigation in the U.S.  He spearheaded the congressionally directed National Mitigation Banking Study (1992-1996) which established much of the framework for modern mitigation banking. This study identified the importance of practices including site protection, financial assurances, long-term management, and severance of mitigation liability.  He provided critical support for the Federal guidance in 1995 and the Mitigation Rule in 2008.   

Bob provided instruction for training courses in compensatory mitigation concepts for the Corps, other federal and state regulatory and resource agencies, and the private sector.  He taught the Corps Prospect Course on mitigation banking, and helped establish and teach the National Interagency Review Team (IRT) course along with regional mitigation courses.  His knowledge and leadership has greatly benefitted the Corps and the Nation and his legacy will be lasting. 

Bob also promoted a strategic approach to compensatory mitigation, encouraging site selection approaches that address environmental needs at the landscape or watershed level.  He led policy-related studies in support of the Corps Nationwide permits, water supply project decision-making, and cumulative effects analyses.  His knowledge of water resources planning, of mitigation policy and banking and his leadership has greatly benefitted the Corps and the nation his legacy will be lasting.   

Bob Brumbaugh was my mentor and one of the smartest and most dedicated professionals I have had the honor to work with.  He taught me much, gave me opportunities to grow, and pushed me to get out in the field to learn.  He always supported me in my career choices and was instrumental in my career growth.  And it was his generosity and kindness were felt by many of us who were lucky to call him a friend. - Meg Gaffney-Smith, Deputy Chief- Operations/Regulatory


– From the USACE Family –

Congratulations, Gratitude, and Good Luck to Bob!



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