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Tongass Engineer Earns National Recognition


March 24, 2004
Wednesday - 1:00 am

A Tongass National Forest engineer and resident of Petersburg, Alaska, recently garnered national recognition.

Bob Gubernick, engineering geologist and lead fish passage engineer for the Tongass National Forest, Petersburg Supervisor's Office, earned the U.S. Forest Service's Engineer of the Year Award for outstanding achievements in technology applications. He will receive his award April 5 during a ceremony at the Forest Service's National Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Gubernick has worked for the Tongass National Forest for 20 years, beginning his Forest Service career here as a civil engineer technician. He's lived in southeast Alaska since 1981.

"I want to congratulate Bob for earning national recognition for the outstanding work he's done," said Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole. "It's a great achievement and a reflection of the high caliber of people we have taking care of the Tongass."

Gubernick credits others with his success.

"It is wonderful to know that you can work hard and do innovative work even in a remote forest like the Tongass," he said. "There are a number of people that I work with who have contributed to the success of my program of work and I also look at this as a group award for those involved in the Tongass fish passage program."

Some of the highlights that earned Gubernick national recognition include his work with fish passages, water and road interaction aquatic species studies, canopy penetrating radar, or LIDAR, applications and Forest Highway design.

Gubernick has been instrumental in the research and implementation of uses for LIDAR applications in increasing efficiency of layout of roads, road design, timber harvest units and vegetation delineation.

Forest Service officials said during the last advance of the Hubbard Glacier in Russel Fiord that threatened the small town of Yakutat, Alaska, Gubernick was assigned the role of geomorphologist responsible for predicting where the future glacial moraine breach would occur and where the resulting flow pathway would affect the community. This required merging several technologies including surveying, satellite photography, LIDAR, hydrology and geology to make very accurate measurements that aided greatly in educating the community on what can and will occur at some point in the future when a breach actually occurs.

According to the award nomination, Gubernick is in high demand as an instructor for design of culverts to provide fish passage and has presented sessions in several regions of the Forest Service as well as for numerous other agencies. He is continually being requested to put on training sessions for engineers and biologists engaged in fish passage design across the nation.

He helped organize and present at an international fish passage conference in Ketchikan sponsored by the Forest Service Alaska Region and was a frequent presenter at the Water and Road Interaction Workshop, sponsored by the hydrology and engineering staffs of San Dimas Technology and Development Center in California. Gubernick also presented a session on Forest Service methods for designing and constructing culverts to provide fish passage for the Oregon and Washington Bureau of Land Management Engineering Workshop and recently at the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation.

Gubernick's public service efforts have reached out to some of the most remote locations in Alaska.

"Working in Alaska has provided me the opportunity to provide technical assistance in many remote places in Alaska," said Gubernick. "I have had the opportunity to do survey, engineering geology, design and contract administration work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Native villages along the Yukon river, the Eskimo village of Wales at the tip of the Seward Peninsula, St. Paul Island in the middle of the Bering Sea, and the Aleut villages of Sandpoint on the Alaska Peninsula and Seldovia on the Kenai."

"Bob is well known within the Alaska Forest Service organization and among other Alaska Agencies as a top technical specialist who is willing to work anywhere under remote, adverse conditions on complicated and unique projects that require innovation, perseverance and vision to accomplish targets," said Larry Dunham, forest engineer for the Tongass National Forest. "His reputation in Alaska speaks for itself."

In the technology arena, Gubernick was on the development team led by Mike Furniss of the Pacific Northwest Research Station and helped put into action computer software, called Fish-Xing, to help in the assessment and design of culverts to provide fish passage. This state-of-the-art method for culvert assessment and design to provide passage for desired species of fish and his continual improvement of design processes has resulted in overwhelming acceptance of the Tongass fish pipe program and recognition of program successes throughout the Forest Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

According to Forest Service officials, Gubernick was instrumental in developing the fish passage protocols upon which the entire Alaska Region fish pipe replacement program is based. This program is the model after which numerous other forests are developing similar fish passage improvement programs. His efforts have been crucial to the Tongass's developing a unified approach to the design and construction of fish crossing structures.

Gubernick also is involved in the analysis of the road condition survey data to determine how to identify crossings needing improvement. He tracks fish passage improvement accomplishments and plans future projects to support a $2 million a year fish passage improvement program. His efforts are vital in the design and construction of 50 fish passage sites per year across the Tongass National Forest.

Gubernick, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., earned a bachelor's degree in geology from Utah State University. He also accomplished one year of graduate research in geomorphology at the University of Washington, and in the future, plans on completing his master's degree in geology and geomorphology. He recently passed his Professional Geologist certification in Washington and is currently working on obtaining an Alaska registration.


Source of News Release:

U.S. Forest Service - Tongass National Forest
Web Site



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