Wetlands Specialist | Knoxville, Tenn.
TVA wetlands biologist Kim Pilarski-Hall can give you a dozen reasons why preserving wetlands is important.
“Wetlands—swamps, marshes, bogs, river banks—play a key role in life on Earth,” she explains. “They’re home to a disproportionately high number of plant and animal species compared to other areas. And they perform a variety of ecological services, from providing fish and wildlife habitat to removing pollution, trapping floodwaters and recharging groundwater supplies.”
“I'm a hiker, a gardener. I'm an avid outdoorswoman. I'm a steward of our environment. I'm part of a team that looks out for the Valley's land. I've been a member of the TVA family for 22 years.”
At TVA, protecting wetlands and other sensitive natural resources isn’t just an environmental issue, says Pilarski-Hall. It’s built into every aspect of the company's work, including energy production and transmission, and economic development.
“Before we begin any kind of project at TVA, we take a careful look at the natural resources that could be impacted,” she says. “That allows us to make adjustments to minimize those impacts in the planning stage—for example, routing a new transmission line around an area with sensitive natural resources such as a federally listed plant species or managing the vegetation under the line to protect those species.”
Such reviews are required under the National Environmental Policy Act, says Pilarski-Hall, and help TVA to provide safe, reliable, affordable power while minimizing impacts on the environment. “Practically every power project—new construction, upgrades to existing projects and even minor maintenance such as painting a handrail at one of our dams or hydro plants—starts with an environmental review.”
Kim sees that as another aspect of TVA’s commitment to reliability.
“Not only can people count on us to provide the power they need; they can count on us to provide that power in a way that protects the environment,” she says. “To me, that’s reliability, too. Reliability links to dependability and trust. The people we serve can trust TVA to balance the needs of the Valley in terms of energy, economic development and natural resource stewardship.”
Making a Difference
That’s one of the reasons why Pilarski-Hall loves her job.
“I feel like what I do makes a difference. The Tennessee Valley is a wonderful place to live. There’s so much natural beauty, so many recreational opportunities and such a diversity of resources, and I’m helping to keep it that way.”
Making a difference is important to Pilarski-Hall for very personal reasons.
“I lost my husband in March 2014, and then my dad just two weeks later,” she remembers. “Both left such wonderful legacies. A legacy comes from a life well lived. It isn’t about the stuff you’ve accumulated. It’s about the difference you’ve made and the people you’ve loved and touched.
“Losing people you love is sad, but the experience gave me a new appreciation of life—of friends, family and being happy. It instilled in me a new joy for life. It made me realize how important it is to live life fully, to be kind, to make a difference.”
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