The BLM announces their 2023 Conservation Award winners

Story and photos by Daryl Ratajczak, Wildlife Biologist, HQ 230

There is a wise old proverb that reads, “Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.”

In this case, in either the act of giving or the act of teaching, the “fish” is pretty darn important!

This is why Timothy Sundlov, Fisheries Biologist out of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Glenallen Field Office in Alaska, took home this year’s coveted “Linda Seibert” Career Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the conservation of fish, wildlife, and/or botanic resources.

Over the course of his career, Tim has helped numerous BLM fisheries projects, but none were more gratifying than helping to restore 11 miles of the Little Tonsina River in Southeast Alaska. His work also involved reconnecting 70 miles of spawning habitat for Chinook and Coho salmon in the Copper River watershed. Due to his tremendous efforts supporting Alaska’s fisheries, Tim has helped ensure that countless native-Alaskan families are able to continue their life-long tradition of fishing, and quite possibly, giving some of those fishes to others.

A man stands in a creek holding a fish and smiling. Next to him is a blue bucket.
Timothy Sundlov from BLM Alaska - Winner of the "Linda Seibert" Award for Career Lifetime Achievement.

Another notable BLM award went to Christopher Keefe, Wildlife and Threatened and Endangered Species Program lead in Wyoming, who received the “Jim Yoakum” Emerging Professional Award. This award recognizes biologists who have demonstrated a high level of professionalism, leadership, and commitment to managing wildlife, fisheries, and native plants on public lands.

Chris has worn multiple hats during his tenure at both the Utah and Wyoming State Offices. He has shown incredible skill and leadership while coordinating internally across multiple programs and externally with multiple Federal, State, and non-profit organizations. What truly separates Chris is his humbleness and readiness to recognize, in his words, the true stars of the show, “the amazing folks in the field offices who are responsible for getting the work done.”

A man wearing a mask and looking down at a small animal in his hands.
Christopher Keefe from BLM Wyoming - Winner of the "Jim Yoakum" Award for Emerging Young Professional.
statue of a fish on the left and statue of another animal on the right
Linda Seibert and Jim Yoakum Award statues.

There were two other BLM Conservation Awards for achievements in FY22. The BLM Socorro Field Office in New Mexico received the Conservation Project of the Year Award for their work on the La Caja Wildlife Habitat Restoration project. Field office staff teamed up with volunteers from New Mexico Wild Sheep Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Bat Conservation International, and local volunteers to complete numerous conservation projects within the East Magdalena landscape focal area. Accepting the award on behalf of the field office was Wildlife biologist Carlos Madril and Abandoned Mine Land Coordinator Chris Teske.

A large group of Socorro Field Office staff and volunteers pose on a dirt road with a green hill in the background.
Socorro Field Office staff and volunteers, winners of the Conservation Project of the Year Award.

Lastly, the BLM’s Conservation Partner of the Year Award went to California’s Yuba Watershed Initiative. Over the course of the last 32 years, Yuba Watershed Institute has collaborated with the BLM and area residents to ensure that management actions are guided by long-term planning efforts. As active members of the community, the Institute’s involvement in project design on BLM-managed lands has increased community trust and receptivity to active management in the area.

A woman on the left and then 6 men are lined up holding their awards.
BLM staffers, left to right: Linda Cardenas (HQ 230), Jeffrey Jones (BLM California), Timothy Sundlov (BLM Alaska), Christopher Keefe (BLM Wyoming), Chris Teske (BLM New Mexico), Carlos Madril (BLM New Mexico), and Frank Quamen (HQ230), Headquarters Division Chief, Wildlife Conservation, Aquatics, and Environmental Protection.

All of this year’s BLM Conservation Award recipients received their awards at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri. Congratulations to all! 

Daryl Ratajczak, Wildlife Biologist

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