US Army Corps of Engineers
Sacramento District

image - construction at Folsom Dam

Love for American West inspires Corps regulator

Published July 6, 2016
Seeking a view of Colorado from up high, Matt Montgomery is seen here climbing Longs Peak, elevation 14, 259 feet. Longs Peak is located in Rocky Mountain National Park, outside Estes Park, Colorado.

Seeking a view of Colorado from up high, Matt Montgomery is seen here climbing Longs Peak, elevation 14, 259 feet. Longs Peak is located in Rocky Mountain National Park, outside Estes Park, Colorado.

Matt Montgomery takes a turn at the oars while rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in October 2015.

Matt Montgomery takes a turn at the oars while rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in October 2015.

Desert beauty seen along the trail as Matt Montgomery and his motorcycling pals travel along Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.

Desert beauty seen along the trail as Matt Montgomery and his motorcycling pals travel along Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.

Matt Montgomery pauses at an artist’s shop outside San Felipe, Mexico. Montgomery and friends stage an annual motorcycle ride down Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula to the Sea of Cortez.

Matt Montgomery pauses at an artist’s shop outside San Felipe, Mexico. Montgomery and friends stage an annual motorcycle ride down Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula to the Sea of Cortez.

Protecting the natural resources of Western Colorado is a job that’s tailor-made for Matt Montgomery, a lifelong outdoorsman and senior regulatory project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Montgomery has experienced the beauty of the American West firsthand while climbing mountains, rafting rivers, skiing the powder and motorcycling on twisting backwoods trails.

He was introduced to career opportunities in the Corps through the Student Career Experience Program while studying at the University of Colorado in Denver.

“I really enjoyed learning what goes into government decisions that affect our waterways,” Montgomery said of his initial exposure to the Corps.

His enthusiasm for the regulatory mission led to a fulltime position after earning a degree in environmental studies with an emphasis on water resources. Montgomery helps examine permit requests for proposed developments that impact waters in Colorado’s Western Slope, which includes anything west of the continental divide.

Away from the job, Montgomery continues to enjoy a variety of outdoor adventures in the wide open West. He organized a Colorado River rafting trip through the Grand Canyon in October 2015 with a dozen close friends who’ve boated together numerous times over the past 10 years.

“When you travel for 20 days, rowing all day and setting up camp each evening, cohesion in the group is important,” said Montgomery. “Our trip was great because everyone always contributed to the total effort.”

Their Grand Canyon expedition included eight boats – six rafts and two kayaks – and required months of planning.

Only a limited number of rafting expeditions are permitted within the Grand Canyon each season and all waste materials must be carried out by the expeditions to lessen negative impacts to the site.

Montgomery also enjoys riding an off-road motorcycle along trails through Colorado and Utah. The trail from Denver to Durango is one of his favorite weekend getaways.

Born in a small agricultural town of about 13,000 people in Martinsville, Indiana, the natural beauty of the American West has always had a strong pull on him. Montgomery lived in Texas and Arizona before moving to Colorado.

“I’ve traveled to Colorado for years [for recreation], so I decided to settle here and it’s been great,” Montgomery said. He’s really fallen in love with life in Fruita, Colorado, where he notes it’s nice to be part of a small agricultural town of about 13,000 folks.

The parallel between his hometown and current residence is not lost on Montgomery.

“I guess a person gravitates to what they know best.”