2020 Stewardship Awards recognize commitment to public rangelands and sagebrush steppe

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – In recognition of exemplary rangeland management and outstanding accomplishments in restoring and maintaining the health of public rangelands, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has named two permittees and two collaborative groups as recipients of the 2020 Rangeland Stewardship and Sagebrush Steppe Stewardship awards. 

“It is a great pleasure and honor to recognize the hard work of these individuals and groups in furthering our efforts to provide healthy functioning plant communities, riparian areas and wildlife habitat on America’s public rangelands,” said Dr. David Jenkins, Assistant Director for Resources and Planning. “Their partnership is key to solidifying important aspects of the BLM’s multiple use mission.”

"Grazing on federal lands is a critical part of our country’s food supply chain but also in managing America’s grasslands and natural resources,” said Niels Hansen, Public Lands Council President. “Ranchers take land and habitat management seriously. We all understand the importance of what we do, and that is what makes these awards so prestigious. These awardees represent the best of the best when it comes to improving the land they work on.

“I want to congratulate all of the 2020 winners and thank them for continuing the tradition of public lands ranchers as true conservationists and environmental stewards,” Hansen continued. “I also want to thank the Bureau of Land Management for being productive and engaged partners with these operations. It is really something special to have the federal government recognize the importance of livestock production and grazing on public lands, year after year.”  

S & W Hall Company, Inc., of Newcastle, Utah, and the Soda Targeted Grazing Group of Owyhee County, Idaho, each received Rangeland Stewardship awards.

  • The mother and son team of Sophia and A.J. Hall has worked with the BLM, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Utah’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration to complete 3,500 acres of vegetation treatments on public land on the Spanish George and Atchison Creek allotments, with more planned on the Atchison Creek allotment this fall. The Halls have also collaborated with the BLM to restore important wetlands that provide water for wildlife.
  • Livestock producers Ted Blackstock, Daniel Richards, Tim and Jason Miller, Levi Loucks and the Junayo Ranch comprise the Soda Targeted Grazing Group and have implemented targeted grazing treatments to establish and maintain a 30-mile system of roadside fuel breaks across multiple allotments adjacent to lands affected by the 2015 Soda Fire. In close coordination with the BLM and with support from the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation and Idaho Department of Lands, the group has developed innovative fuels reduction techniques and adjusted their respective operations to ensure consistent achievement of targeted grazing objectives. 

The Sagebrush Steppe Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding example of enhancement, restoration, or reclamation of sagebrush habitats, in addition to accomplishments that merit the Rangeland Stewardship Award. Blair Ranch, LLC, of Belle Fourche, S.D., and the Jordan Meadows Collaborative, based in Orovada, Nevada, were named recipients of this award for 2020.

  • The Blair Ranch has made conservation of sage grouse and improving vegetative conditions through proper livestock management the primary goals of managing the Two Top Butte Allotment and its base property. The allotment contains one of South Dakota’s largest leks, which benefits from restoration of native vegetation and more active grazing rotation. The Blairs’ willingness to share their ideas and listen to others sets an example of the benefits of coordination among diverse groups. 
  • Formed in 2016, the Jordan Meadows Collaborative includes Home Ranch owner John Falen, manager and son-in-law, Lyod Sherburn, and representatives from the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, the Quinn River and Paradise/Sonoma Conservation Districts and Trout Unlimited. The group focuses on creating a common understanding of what is needed to maintain and improve riparian and upland conditions on the Jordan Meadows Allotment in north-central Nevada, which is considered the most important Greater sage-grouse habitat in a three-state area. The collaborative has worked to improve three riparian areas with Lahontan cutthroat trout, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. 

The awards were announced by BLM Idaho State Director John Ruhs, who joined the annual fall meeting of the Public Lands Council remotely. The Public Lands Council represents more than 22,000 cattle and sheep producers who hold public lands grazing permits to provide food and other resources for the nation in active partnership with the BLM, the National Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local land management offices.


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in the 11 Western states and Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.

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Bureau of Land Management