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Meet the woman behind the Carson River roadshow

by Christy Chalmers

Meg Getty’s career path has always taken her outside.

She knew it would from the moment she first studied a leaf through a microscope at the age of 8.

“I loved learning about the outdoors,” she said.

The love led to a bachelor’s degree in forest biology and a master’s in water resources.

Her jobs since then have included public and private sector work dealing with water, land use and regulations. She also helped her husband Dink run a ranch and a pack outfit near Bishop, Calif. Now she’s the Carson River watershed coordinator.

The job was created in 1999 and is funded by the Carson Water Subconservancy District, a four-county cooperative that oversees river-related issues, the university cooperative extension and the state.

Getty is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the different groups with a stake in the Carson River’s health. She describes it as “bringing everybody to the table.”

Lately, Getty has been touring the region and addressing town, city, county and special district boards about the integrated watershed planning process – conducting a one-woman road show on a set of principles that will help guide long-range planning along the river.

“We’re kind of at a crossroads with the process,” said Getty. “Right now it’s going strong, and we want to capitalize on the momentum we’ve got. It’s very encouraging that everyone shares an interest in a healthy watershed.”

Getty can compare the region to a few other places. She grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. and earned her degrees from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

After college, she worked in upstate New York for five years, then moved to California in 1987 and began working in the Mammoth area.

She met her husband Dink in 1988; her firm was doing work for his. After they married, she helped him run a pack outfit that was based in June Lake. They also raised horses and cattle and offered trail rides and related activities on a 1,000-acre ranch outside of Bishop.

The Gettys and their children, now 7 and 5, relocated to Missouri in late 1994, returning in 1995 and looking for a Nevada address. They now own Genoa Trees and Landscaping Materials, located on Highway 395 at Genoa Lane north of Minden. The business, which is also home to some mules and horses, will soon be expanded by 23 acres from the original 20.

Getty had been telecommuting to the job she held in Missouri since returning in 1995, but was looking for flexible work that dealt with water issues when she happened to see a classified ad for the river coordinator. She started in July.

Ed James, the Subconservancy District’s general manager, says Getty’s work is already yielding results.

“A key element is communication, and having a coordinator gives us an opportunity to get that word out,” he said. “A lot of the time people can’t always make it to a meeting, so it gives us an opportunity to go to them.”

Though Getty says she’s still learning about the region and nuances of Northern Nevada water politics, she says the pressures on the Carson are similar to those in other Western U.S. communities.

“I think we’re ahead of the game because we’re not in a position where we can only prevent mistakes,” she said. “We’re in a position where we can prevent concerns from arising.”

Getty welcomes comments from residents. She has been publishing a monthly newsletter and inviting anyone interested to participate. Six subcommittees that meet regularly have agreed on the principles that are the foundation of the planning process Getty has been promoting.

She hopes the interest remains.

“This cooperation we have here is pretty unique, and it’s something to strive for,” she said. “The process is only as strong as the participation. A lot of the credit should go to them.”

For more information on the watershed planning process, call Meg Getty at 887-1260.