Cheyenne – Matt Kunze demonstrates an impressive dedication to the environment, the public and student mentorship. He manages the three seamlessly and far beyond the expectations for his job.
That’s how he earned the recognition as DEQ’s Public Servant of the Year for 2020 on Friday at the agency’s annual all-staff meeting.
Kunze is a natural resources program supervisor within DEQ’s Land Quality Division (LQD). He began working for the agency in 2007.
“Matt consistently performs at a high level, providing quality and trusted work out puts,” said Todd Parfitt, DEQ Director. “He is a great example of the high-quality staff within DEQ that we can all aspire to emulate. Congratulations to Matt for a job well done.”
Kunze leads the completion of Cumulative Hydrologic Impact Assessments (CHIA), writes legally defensible reports about potential material damage from coal mining, leads the statewide LQD Hydrology Group, leads the LQD Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Workgroup, as well as develops and maintains LQD’s hydrology database and geodatabase.
But that is not an exhaustive list of his tasks and accomplishments.
Muthu Kuchanur, LQD Natural Resources Program Manager, said Kunze tackled some unique challenges in his work in 2020.
“Some of these challenges are what I consider as once-in-a-decade kind of opportunities. He took those challenges head on and succeeded in them too,” Kuchanur said.
For example, Kunze lead the completion of a CHIA for a high-profile mine permit, and the LQD Attorney General requested a last-minute revision on a Friday afternoon. Kuchanur explained that the CHIA was due that Monday, and Kunze voluntarily completed the revision over the weekend to ensure it was thoroughly done.
“Because of Mr. Kunze’s commitment to having a high-quality work product, the CHIA was completed on time and met the requirements of DEQ. He received written compliments from the AG and Deputy Director appreciating his work,” Kuchanur said.
Kunze also took the initiative to find a new way to present the LQD web viewer that allows the public to view all the mine sites the LQD permits. Kuchanur said Kunze recognized that with the web viewer wouldn’t work after Adobe Flash became obsolete in December 2020, and he dove ahead to find an alternative.
Kuchanur explained that Kunze worked with LQD Administrator Kyle Wendtland to purchase GeoCortex, a product that allows LQD staff to develop the web viewer and saves the agency money that previously went toward hiring a contractor to do that work.
“I have received compliments from the staff on how the new viewer is a better functioning tool that helps them to search for various mine sites,” Kuchanur said.
Kunze also worked with Kuchanur and Wendtland to set up a new internship program with the University of Wyoming. Kuchanur said the LQD’s first intern is just completing her experience and gave first-rate feedback regarding Kunze’s mentorship, showing that he has strong management skills.
“Above all, he is always willing to assist his co-workers, operators and the public to his best ability with a smile on his face,” Kuchanur said.
In addition to Kunze’s award, several other DEQ employees were recognized for their work within the divisions:
DEQ Team of the Year Award: Air Quality Pinedale Office – Staff Polk and Cindi Etcheverry
Abandoned Mine Lands Division: Melissa Bautz
Administration: Wendy Croissant
Air Quality Division: Tyler Ward
Industrial Siting Division: Joe Hunter
Solid and Hazardous Waste Division: Drew Martin
Water Quality Division: Nicole Twing