|Cody Field Office range, fuels and wildlife staff: Tricia Hatle, |
Gerald Jech & Destin Harrell (kneeling); Bryan McKenzie, Mike Stewart, Jack Mononi & Criss Whalley (standing). Not pictured: Dennis Saville
|Mike Healy of the LU Ranch, recipient of the Excellence in Rangeland Stewardship award.|
|LU Ranch landscape.|
|BLM firefighter Emily Hake treats the LU grazing allotment with prescribed fire.|
The grass is always greener . . . in the Wind River/Bighorn Basin District! Three BLM-nominated awards were presented in three months to BLM permittees and partners in the Wind River/Bighorn Basin District for exemplary land management collaboration and stewardship.
BLM’s Rangeland Stewardship Through Collaboration Award
This award award was presented on Sept. 24, in Twin Falls, Idaho, to grazing permittees as well as various groups and the general public, who have worked with the Bureau’s Cody Field Office staff. This is the first time the BLM has presented this particular award.
Cody Field Manager Mike Stewart and Jack Mononi, Cody lead rangeland/fuels management specialist, attended the presentation. "The purpose of the award is to recognize the large number of people that helped create a very special success story," Stewart said. "All these stakeholders and partners have done the work to develop and maintain good relationships and to be part of finding the solutions to resource challenges." Mononi added, "The entire Cody Field Office range, fuels, and wildlife staff agree this long term collaborative effort with the partners has resulted in improved land health on a landscape level for all who use and enjoy public lands."
Public Lands Foundation’s Landscape Stewardship Award
The Public Lands Foundation presented this award to the Kirby Creek Coordinated Resource Management Group on Oct. 22 at a BLM event at the Washakie County Fairgrounds in Worland. Mike Phillips, Worland Assistant Field Manager for Resources, nominated the group for its commitment to the improvement of the Kirby Creek Watershed, located in Hot Springs County, and for the leadership, cooperation, and stewardship qualities that the group exemplifies.
The Kirby Creek Coordinated Resource Management Group is made up of individuals, landowners, and state, federal and local agencies. Various improvements made since 2001 have resulted in better livestock distribution which in turn has improved sage grouse and riparian habitat. Increased cottonwoods and willows and beaver activity can be seen along Kirby Creek.
Society for Range Management’s Excellence in Rangeland Stewardship Award
The LU Ranch, nominated by the Worland Field Office, was presented this award by the Society for Range Management during a banquet held on Nov. 18 in Cheyenne. The LU Ranch is located in the western Bighorn Basin in Hot Springs, Park, and Washakie Counties, in the foothills of the Absaroka Mountains. They are the largest grazing permittee in the Bighorn Basin and the ninth largest in Wyoming.
While LU Ranch accomplished many range improvements over the past 20 years, the most dramatic visible improvement has been along several miles of both Grass and Little Grass Creeks. Stream segments that once had few willows now have enough of this important riparian vegetation to support a healthy beaver population. Trout were introduced to Grass Creek in 1998 and are now reproducing in spite of the severe drought. An aggressive prescribed burn program, development of more summer pastures, and an adjustment of livestock numbers during the drought have resulted in improved upland range health.
Eddie Bateson, Wind River/Bighorn Basin District Manager, is proud of the collaboration between the Worland and Cody Field Offices and their partners. “This proves that strong partnerships and hard work can result in long-lasting, award-winning improvements to our public lands. I look forward to continuing this type of approach to public land management throughout the district and further developing the positive working relationships with our constituents that are so important,” Bateson said.