Secretary's Partner in Conservation Awards Program

  Restoring the North Platte River

It’s been a labor of love for students of the Wyoming Conservation Corps. These students are participants in the North Platte River Project in Casper, Wyoming.

Removing litter along the North Platte River. 
Removing Russian Olive branches. 
Litter cleanup along the riverbanks. 
For part of the project, fencing was needed to segregate the river frontage from upland areas. With their “youthful energy and stamina” to aid them, these college students from a variety of disciplines put their muscles to work in order to accomplish the project’s goals.

The younger generation is also involved. As part of their outdoor environmental education, eight-year-old members of the Boys and Girls Club study balls of mud to learn about soil texture. More than 200 children have gone afield and applied their new skills in tree planting or litter clean-up, some roasting hot dogs on the campfire for the very first time!

Public Lands Day—another part of the project’s outreach—involves the community in clean up and restoration of the North Platte River.

More than six miles of river frontage have been committed to preservation through the project. The Conservation Fund (TCF) has been working with the BLM to acquire lands along the river to enhance recreational use and protect natural resources. TCF negotiated four of six land acquisitions. More than 1,000 acres have been acquired and brought into public land management.

Many diverse partners joined ranks with TCF and the BLM to fulfill the project's goals by contributing additional funds, material, and labor. Seven million dollars have been invested in land acquisitions. Substantial funding has also gone into infrastructure development in this ongoing, multi-year effort.

Eve Skillman, Outdoor Recreation Planner for the BLM Casper Field Office, has been the leader in reaching out to potential partners.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has been a valuable partner. They have supplied funding, manpower, and technical guidance and have brought an educational bent to the overall program.

The City of Casper has been another valuable partner. In recent years, The Public Lands Day event has been carried out in concert with the local community focused on clean up and restoration.

This partnership to restore and protect the North Platte River has engaged Federal, State, county and local governments, a mixture of private and nonprofit organizations, and a user base that spans the Rocky Mountain Region and attracts and serves the public from across the nation.

BLM-Wyoming (Randy Sorenson, Realty Specialist) nominated this program for the Secretary’s Partners in Conservation Awards. The Department will announce those selected for formal recognition October 18.

The Interior Department’s Partners in Conservation Awards Program recognizes partnerships that promote conservation, protect natural and cultural resources, use innovative approaches for resource management, and engage youth and diverse entities in accomplishing the Interior Department’s mission.

  Working Group Benefits Sage-Grouse, Other Species in Southwest Wyoming

Wyoming’s vast expanses of sagebrush are home to a large number of greater sage-grouse, a wide-ranging species that has suffered dramatic population declines throughout the 20th century.

In order to enhance sage-grouse conservation in Wyoming, the State Game and Fish Department in 2004 established seven local sage-grouse working groups. Each working group would help implement the state-wide Wyoming Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Plan by conducting a conservation assessment and developing localized plans for their respective regions.

The Southwest Wyoming Local Sage-Grouse Working Group is one such group and their work is critically important because southwest Wyoming’s sagebrush habitat supports some of the highest densities of sage-grouse in North America.

This local working group has brought together a dozen individuals representing diverse interests to develop a plan for enhancing habitat in the lower Green River and Bear River drainages in Southwest Wyoming. The plan focuses on improving habitat, enhancing populations, and supporting monitoring, research and education. Although primarily geared to benefit sage-grouse, measures in the plan will also benefit the large number of additional species that use sagebrush habitats in the area.

Members include representatives of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department; the BLM ; the Natural Resources Conservation Service; county government; agriculture, mining, energy and recreation interests; and the public-at-large.

This group has worked for almost a decade on sage-grouse conservation, funding a number of habitat restoration projects along the way.

The greater sage-grouse is a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that proposing the species for protection is precluded by the need to take action on other species facing more immediate and severe threats. But that decision will be revisited, and more than 60 local sage-grouse working groups are working West-wide to help sage-grouse populations rebound.

BLM-Wyoming (Gavin Lovell, Assistant Field Manager – Resources, Rock Springs Field Office) nominated this program for the Secretary’s Partners in Conservation Awards. The Department will announce those selected for formal recognition October 18.

The Interior Department’s Partners in Conservation Awards Program recognizes partnerships that promote conservation, protect natural and cultural resources, use innovative approaches for resource management, and engage youth and diverse entities in accomplishing the Interior Department’s mission.