River Management Society recognizes BLM Cottonwood Field Office employee as 2022 River Manager of the Year

Outdoor Recreation Planner Joe O’Neill selected for prestigious award

COTTONWOOD, Idaho – The River Management Society has selected a long-time recreation manager at the Bureau of Land Management’s Cottonwood Field Office as the 2022 recipient of the River Manager of the Year Award.  Joe O’Neill, an Outdoor Recreation Planner who oversees recreation activities along the 112-mile stretch of the Lower Salmon River, was recognized during an award ceremony in Cottonwood on July 25.  

The prestigious award is presented annually and recognizes key attributes including leadership in promoting and protecting natural resources, establishing partnerships to protect river corridors, working cooperatively with other agencies, user groups and the public, and a strong dedication toward advancing river management into the future.

O’Neill has served as an Outdoor Recreation Planner for the Cottonwood Field Office for over 15 years with a primary focus on management of the extremely popular 112-mile stretch of the Lower Salmon River from Vinegar Creek to its confluence with the Snake River. In this role, he manages over 60 commercial and non-profit permits that authorize use of this stretch of river, as well as the multiple recreation sites enjoyed by over 100,000 visitors each year.

Showcasing his passion and desire to provide a quality recreation experience for recreationists on the Lower Salmon River into the future, O’Neill has played a key role in improving public access to the river. He recently led a multi-year project working to enhance and improve seven popular boat launch sites. Through his dedication, he was instrumental in securing funding and developing partnerships to complete the enhancements that are now considered ‘world class facilities’ for the public’s benefit.

“Being selected as River Manager of the Year exemplifies Joe's dedication to the BLM and the Lower Salmon River,” said Cottonwood Field Manager Richard White. “His role in creating a world class recreation area which is enjoyed by many thousands of people every year cannot be overstated. He is extremely well-deserving of this honor.”

For information about recreation opportunities on the Lower Salmon River, please visit: https://www.blm.gov/visit/lower-salmon-river

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Release Date


Bureau of Land Management


Cottonwood Field Office


Suzanne Endsley