Two BLM Colorado fisheries employees reel in awards

Surprise! In February, two Bureau of Land Management Colorado fisheries employees were surprised to reel in awards from the Colorado Wyoming Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

Jay Thompson, Fisheries and Riparian Lead for the Colorado State Office, and Russ Japuntich, Fisheries Biologist in Colorado’s Southwest District, received awards at the virtual Colorado Wyoming American Fisheries Society meeting on Feb. 24, 2021.  

Jay received the prestigious Award of Excellence recognizing his significant contributions in the fishery-aquatic resource field throughout his career. Jay’s BLM career started in 1991 and took him from Glenwood Springs, Colo., to Phoenix, Ariz., back to Colorado where he has been the BLM Colorado Fisheries and Riparian Lead since 1998.

One of Jay’s notable accomplishments was elevating the BLM’s standing as a significant contributor to fisheries and riparian resources across the state. Jay helped develop robust fisheries and riparian programs in Colorado, established extensive partnerships, and helped grow the BLM Colorado fisheries program. Jay reviews resource management plans, provides consistent stipulations and management across jurisdictions and watersheds, sets program priorities, provides policy, manages statewide budgets, provides technical guidance, and provides leadership, expertise, and support. Jay has hosted trainings on how to assess the condition and functionality of riparian systems, held annual workshops, and served as a mentor for resource professionals within and outside the BLM. Jay is also part of several state, regional and national species, and technical teams.

Jay was nominated for the Award of Excellence by his peers who summed Jay up in three words, “passion, humility, and humor.”

Russ received the Max Rollefson Award of Merit for his superior and effective coordination with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to manage aquatic resources in southwest Colorado. Russ’s understanding, leadership and action helps the agencies achieve conservation outcomes. Russ’s leadership is most evident in the conservation of “green lineage” Colorado River cutthroat trout. Russ helped spearhead a successful reclamation project on Road Beaver Creek and led the design and implementation of an effective fish barrier to secure this future population from nonnative fish. Russ also completed a fish barrier on the South Fork of Mesa Creek for another cutthroat trout reclamation in three weeks, showcasing his coordination skills and ability to complete conservation work.

Russ also contributed to native species management and research, assisted Colorado Parks and Wildlife to maintain quality sport-fishing opportunities on BLM-managed public land through fish stocking efforts, and conducted research that led to better management of fisheries.

Russ was nominated by his peers at Colorado Parks and Wildlife who described Russ as someone who “brings positive energy and enthusiasm everywhere he goes.”

Jay and Russ are making a splash in the fisheries program in BLM Colorado. Congratulations!

 

by Kate Miyamoto, BLM Colorado Public Affairs Specialist