Bluff Lake’s new director David Mallery grew up hiking around the Florida Everglades. “Wetlands are something I’ve always known about. And when I saw how important wetlands are to this area, that was just another enticement to take this job.” Mallery, 57, is not unfamiliar with the Rocky Mountain west having visited here often with his wife who hails from Utah. Mallery is starting his new job three months after the departure of the prior director, Jeff Lamontagne.
Mallery’s entire career has been in the southeast and mid-west. His most recent position was executive director of the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, a state agency responsible for short term response and long term recovery for disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Deepwater Horizon, coordinating volunteers and voluntary organizations.
In Mississippi, he worked at the state as well as national level, co-chairing policy groups advocating for national service. While gratifying, he said he always missed being in touch with the tangible natural resources. “I was very eager to get back to some of the things I love doing the most. I had been a federal park ranger early in my career, built a youth camp, done environmental education working with youth. Those are the things that when you do them make you feel like you’re not doing work. I ran across the opportunity and the more I learned about this site, this facility and the work that this community has done to create this very unique opportunity – I though, wow, it felt like this is what my entire career has been building towards.”
In considering the new position, Mallery said he was impressed with the “very, very active and engaged board. I realized this is a nonprofit organization that is really poised to do as much as they want and as much as we can within the limits of the natural resources we have without overtaxing them. The one thing I can say that I have never experienced as I have here in the last week is the number of people calling me, wanting to share information, as opposed to me having to chase people down, it just really amazed me. The community ownership – that shows you have much people value this resource. I’m finding that to be really refreshing.”
Compared to the cultural values of the southeast, he said, “Here in Colorado the love of nature is almost a religion and it aligns with my belief system. Nature is a unifier. Nature doesn’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or the color of your skin.”
He said his immediate agenda is to get to know the Bluff Lake stakeholders. “I do hope to develop innovative solutions to issues such as lake draining but over time we will find a collective, slow waving of a wand to resolve these challenges.” He is optimistic about the future of the 123-acre natural site. Despite the prospect of big budget cuts in Washington, he believes that “even in the worst of times, some people and organizations do well. It’s how you position yourself.”
New Graffiti Mars First Field Trip
In between fielding questions from reporters and giving high fives to public school students on a field trip, Mallery was greeted on his first day in the field with spray-painted graffiti on a Bluff Lake gazebo, interpretive signage and seating. He contacted the Denver Police Department for help. DPD Lieutenant Ian Culverhouse said Bluff Lake is not known as a hot spot for such vandalism. He said he would ask the city’s graffiti removal unit to help with the clean-up. Culverhouse said the graffiti would be photographed and the pictures placed in a dossier. With many of the markings containing various gang markings, he is confident that the perpetrators will eventually be caught.