BLM Idaho Falls District partnership and employee receive national awards

Story by Bruce Hallman, Public Affairs Specialist. Photos by BLM.

On March 10, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) partner, Itafos Conda LLC, and Idaho Falls District employee Ryan J. Beatty received national recognition during the 87th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. The conference is the annual forum to set conservation policy in North America.

The BLM Conservation Leadership Partner Award went to the Southeast Idaho Habitat Mitigation Fund, funded by Itafos Conda LLC. The award recognizes external organizations or individuals representing a conservation organization for outstanding partnership in the development and implementation of conservation programs and activities that have directly benefited fish, wildlife, and/or native plants on public lands. Itafos Conda LLC voluntarily provided nearly $1.2 million to establish a regional Habitat Mitigation Fund to mitigate the impacts of the Rasmussen Valley phosphate mine. BLM officials then worked with the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust in Pocatello and tribal, state, and federal agency partners to leverage the initial $1.2 million Habitat Mitigation Fund and expand the funding and scope of habitat-mitigation projects. The strategy worked: Itafos Conda’s contribution led to additional investments of $3.5 million in federal, state, and private funds for a total of $4.7 million to create or enhance wildlife habitat.

woody material on the banks of a stream. A phosphate mine is operating in the background.
Pictured is an example of streambank stabilization/habitat improvement with woody material located within the State of Idaho’s Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area. Work was paid for, in part, by the Mitigation Fund. Itafos Conda LLC’s Rasmussen Valley phosphate mine is operating in the background. The company worked with BLM to establish the Fund to mitigate for environmental impacts and ensure sustainability of fish and wildlife habitats in the vicinity of the mine.
Group of Itafos employees with Habitat Improvement Team members standing in tall green grass on the streambank with the mine operating in the background
Itafos employees with Habitat Improvement Team members on a restored streambank with the Rasmussen Valley Mine (the mitigation fund was established in response to BLM’s processing the approval for the mine) in the background. Staff pictured are left to right: Lynn VanEvery (IDEQ), Jon Goode (Itafos), Jason Beck (IFG), Mick McCullough (Itafos), and Matt Lucia (Land Trust).

The other honor, the Jim Yoakum Emerging Professional Award, went to Ryan J. Beatty, a fisheries biologist for the BLM Upper Snake Field Office in Idaho. The award recognizes the accomplishments of early to mid-career BLM wildlife or fisheries biologists who have shown the initiative to make notable contributions to their profession and have demonstrated a high level of professionalism, leadership, and commitment to managing wildlife and fisheries on public lands. Ryan began his career as a Fisheries Biologist with the BLM in 2007 and has been with the Upper Snake Field Office since 2015. Ryan hit the ground running with complex bull trout issues in the Little Lost Valley and has helped transform how the field office performs aquatic monitoring, ramping up multiple indicator monitoring throughout the field office. He also established an adaptive livestock management process on bull trout streams whereby grazing indicators were monitored during the grazing season. 

Ryan Beatty smiling and holding a water bottle and wearing a BLM hat
Ryan Beatty is captured in a joyful organic moment at the Aquatic Invertebrate Table during a Wild and Scenic River Youth Outreach Event.

Ryan also excels at teaching and mentoring and his enthusiasm for fisheries science is infectious. He welcomes opportunities to engage with local youth in area schools, and his elementary school presentations and activities are hugely popular. Ryan has a proven track record of collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. He is a member of the American Fisheries Society and represents the BLM on four interagency councils and committees. Ryan has recently worked with Trout Unlimited, the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust, and BYU-Idaho on various fisheries projects and research. Among the rural communities BLM serves, Ryan is well regarded for his ability to communicate with ranchers. He fosters working relationships that help resolve conflicts and develop collaborative efforts that benefit both fisheries and families whose livelihoods depend on public lands.

Four people with nets catching fish in the river.
Ryan Beatty operates a backpack electrofishing unit. This effort was to determine presence/absence of bull trout in an unnamed spring tributary to the Little Lost River. No previous documented fish sampling had been conducted, and Ryan Beatty has always sought opportunities to fill data gaps and look for Special Status Species in places perhaps overlooked by others. And Bull Trout were found!
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