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Bureau of Land Management Volunteers
Win National Award for
"Making a Difference"

Group photo of Volunteer Award winners

Nine outstanding Bureau of Land Management (BLM) volunteers and two exceptional BLM employees were recognized this morning at the "Making a Difference" 2000 BLM National Volunteer Awards ceremony, which was held at the U.S. Department of the Interior's historic South Penthouse and Roof Terrace in Washington, D.C. Ceremony speakers and presenters included Interior Chief of Staff Anne Shields, Acting BLM Director Tom Fry, and Deputy BLM Director Nina Hatfield. The festivities also featured a pre-ceremony reception, a guided discussion of Penthouse murals, and a multimedia tribute to the award winners and their diverse accomplishments.

The 2000 winners are some of our nation's most dedicated volunteers, having donated significant time and effort on behalf of America's 264 million acres of BLM-managed public lands. For example, a winning mother-daughter team documents ancient rock art at Arizona's Little Black Mountain. A group of devoted horse enthusiasts partners with BLM to manage the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area in Colorado. A couple in Twentynine Palms, California, welcomes public lands visitors with a smile, and winning BLM-Oregon employees have shepherded local volunteer programs to new heights in Eugene and Roseburg. This year's award recipients hail from or work in the States of Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Utah.

"The BLM's Volunteer Program is one of the best things going in the Federal government," said Tom Fry, Acting Director of BLM. "The volunteers and BLM employees honored today represent only a small fraction of the exceptional contributions that are made every day by thousands of people on public lands throughout the country. We are extremely proud of and grateful to those who give their time and talents freely to improve the public lands."

Click here to see images from the ceremony

Following the awards ceremony, the "Making a Difference" Award winners and their travel companions were offered a "VIP" National Park Service tour of area Monuments and Memorials, a special tour of the U.S. Capitol, and an opportunity for a meeting and photographs with selected Members of Congress.

The Bureau of Land Management recruits about 20,000 volunteers each year to perform a variety of jobs, from campground host to archaeologist to educator. In many instances, volunteers serve as BLM's first point of contact with the public, playing an important ambassadorial role for the agency. In some remote areas, campgrounds and other recreation sites would be closed were it not for volunteer assistance. In order to acknowledge these invaluable volunteer contributions, BLM initiated its "Making a Difference" National Awards in 1995, holding its first recognition ceremony in 1996. This year's observance marks the fifth annual presentation of these awards.

The eleven winning private individuals, teams, and organizations are: Bill Cook, Calico Mountains, Barstow Field Office, California; Shirley and Amy Craig, Little Black Mountain Rock Art Site, Arizona Strip Field Office, St. George, Utah; Friends of the Mustangs, Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area, Grand Junction Field Office, Colorado; Sherry Hayes, San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, San Pedro Project Office, Sierra Vista, Arizona; Red Hill Council, Red Hills Area, Glenwood Springs Resource Area, Colorado; Willie and Barbara Robb, Twentynine Palms Visitor Information Outpost, Barstow Field Office, California; and Ed Waldheim, Jawbone Visitor Station, Ridgecrest Field Office, California.

Two BLM-Oregon employees were also selected as winners for their outstanding work in the BLM Volunteer Program. They are David Erickson of the Roseburg District Office and Doug Huntington of the Eugene District Office.

A national panel of BLM and partner organization representatives selected the winners from a large pool of nominations submitted by several BLM State Offices. The award recipients were chosen for their exceptional efforts in management and conservation of the public lands and their resources, rather than for length of service or number of hours contributed.

"Making A Difference" 2000 BLM National Volunteer Award Winners

Photo of Bill CookBill Cook: Each day, Bill Cook of Yermo, California, patrols two popular canyons in the Calico Mountains, outside BLM's Barstow Field Office -- not once, but twice. Bill not only picks up trash, he takes the time to talk to 95 percent of canyon visitors. His presence deters vandalism and inspires a conservation ethic among public land users, many of whom pitch in and help when they see Bill working so hard to clean up the area. Bill's daily routine began as a follow-up to a National Public Lands Day event, during which volunteers removed more than six tons of trash from the area on that one day alone. When Bill offered to provide lunch for the event, little did he know that he would be feeding 500 hungry volunteers! Bill also once helped to rescue a teenager who had fallen into an abandoned mine in the area. His presence on the public lands and concern for their well-being have set a very high standard for volunteerism in BLM.


Photo of Shirley and Amy CraigShirley and Amy Craig: For many years, George and Shirley Craig of St. George, Utah, worked as volunteers for BLM's Arizona Strip Field Office, spending evenings and weekends documenting ancient rock art at the Little Black Mountain Rock Art Site. After their daughter, Amy, joined them in 1993, they began to share their expertise in rock art research with others, presenting papers and representing BLM on various occasions in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and California. In January 1993, they were named Regional Site Steward Coordinators and began conducting training and field trips for other Site Stewards. In 1995, they received the Regional Coordinator of the Year Award from the State of Arizona. George Craig passed away in 1996, but his memory lives on as Shirley and Amy continue the work that was so important to him. In addition to coordinating the Site Steward program, Shirley and Amy have continued their own rock art research and have recruited additional volunteers to assist.


Photo of Friends of the MustangsFriends of the Mustangs (Judy Cady, President): For over 17 years, "Friends of the Mustangs" has been a major partner in the management of BLM's Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area, just north of Grand Junction, Colorado. Members of the group have donated thousands of hours of their time and have been key players in the success of the BLM Wild Horse Program in Grand Junction. In 1999, the Friends volunteered 2,540 hours, representing a savings to BLM of over $20,000 in labor. Members toil side by side with BLM employees in all phases of the Wild Horse Program, with an emphasis on management of the horse range. These volunteers inspect and repair springs, fences, and trails, and assist with range studies, horse monitoring, pre-adoption inspections, and adopted-horse compliance. They also promote the Wild Horse Program in parades, fairs, conventions, schools, and horse shows. In short, the Friends have become part of the solution in managing wild horses on the public lands, and are setting an excellent example for other volunteer groups.


Photo of Shirley HayesSherry Hayes: Sherry Hayes of Bisbee, Arizona, has made significant contributions to BLM's beautiful San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, the most important riparian complex in the Sonoran Desert. As a member of the "Friends of the San Pedro River," she donated over 600 hours of her time in 1999 alone, doing just about everything from marketing to bird banding. The mission of the Friends group is to support BLM in its stewardship of the Conservation Area, located south of Tucson. Sherry has lent her support in diverse ways. For example, she designed several computer database programs to track volunteer hours, purchase orders, and even bird locations. In addition, she redesigned the Conservation Area newsletter and started a web page for the Area. Whether indoors at the computer, or out on the land, Sherry has proven that one person can truly "Make a Difference."


Photo of Red Hill CouncilRed Hill Council (represented by Davis Farrar): The Red Hill Council is a grassroots group of volunteers, neighbors, and community partners who came together to help BLM preserve the recreational and aesthetic values of the Red Hills area in central Colorado. Over the past two years, the Council has facilitated public discussion, conducted biological and cultural assessments, and coordinated volunteer work to improve this area, which has become an increasingly popular recreation site for residents of the Roaring Fork Valley near Glenwood Springs. In addition, the Council has leveraged $80,000 in direct and in-kind contributions from community partners to support the management goals of the area. They have set high standards for community partnerships working for our public lands.


Photo of Willie and Barbara RobbWillie and Barbara Robb: Willie and Barbara Robb of Twentynine Palms, California, have donated over 1,600 hours (the equivalent of ten workmonths) of their time in welcoming visitors to the public lands in their area. They manage and staff an official BLM Visitor Information Outpost, saving the BLM well over $30,000 per year, and play a key role in representing BLM at the only public contact station within a community of about 90,000 people. In addition to selling maps, distributing free information, and answering myriad questions, the Robbs also promote good will within the community. Representing BLM at the local Earth Day event sponsored each year by the U.S. Marine Corps, they reach more than 7,000 community members and tourists, many of whom have never heard of BLM before. Willie and Barbara's dedication is also evidenced by the fact that they willingly take on such labor-intensive jobs as facility and road maintenance in their so-called "spare" time.


Photo of Ed WaldheimEd Waldheim: Ed Waldheim of Glendale, California, has volunteered for nine years in BLM's Ridgecrest Field Office, promoting wise off-highway vehicle (OHV) use on the public lands in Southern California. As the leader of BLM's "Friends of Jawbone" volunteers, he supervises staffing of the Jawbone Visitor Station and conducts weekend volunteer events. He also set up "Smitty's Volunteers," a group of 35 OHV volunteers who worked 14 weekends in 1999 in support of a six-year project to designate a 126-mile vehicle route across 63,000 acres in the Rand Mountains. The route will keep OHV users off sensitive habitat areas. Another group established by Ed in 1999 assists the BLM in implementing a 286-mile vehicle route system in the Jawbone-Butterbredt Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). These volunteers are restoring areas damaged by OHVs and are educating public land users in order to improve compliance with OHV rules. Ed also spearheaded a project to map OHV routes, obtained a $19,000 grant to distribute maps to users, and has been instrumental in obtaining additional grants to support various projects of the Ridgecrest Field Office.


Photo of David EricksonDavid Erickson: David Erickson, Outdoor Recreation Planner, has greatly expanded the volunteer program in BLM's Roseburg (Oregon) District. He has recruited volunteers to serve in a variety of roles, and they have accomplished work conservatively valued at $200,000. He recruited camp-ground hosts for seven recreation sites in the BLM's Swiftwater Resource Area; together, they contributed over 15,000 hours in volunteer service in 1999. Dave also scheduled inmate crews, who worked 1,200 hours to construct and repair trails, stabilize streambanks, clear hazardous tree debris, and install drains. He also has coordinated Boy Scout projects and Job Corps assignments. In planning and supervising this work, Dave keeps community interests in mind and has gone out of his way to design trails that are accessible to the physically challenged. Dave is well respected as a leader who can get things done.


Photo of Doug HuntingtonDoug Huntington: Doug Huntington has provided outstanding leadership to the volunteer program in BLM's Eugene (Oregon) District for many years. In 1999, his active involvement resulted in the recruitment of 277 volunteers who contributed more than 35,000 hours of service to our public lands. Doug takes a hands-on approach, guiding, training and supervising volunteers and carefully matching those with unique talents to special jobs. He also leads a special KidsArt program, which gives students an opportunity to create art with environmental themes. Students find mentors in local artists and display their pieces at an exciting "gallery opening" held in the BLM District Office. Doug coordinates Eagle Scout and other service projects and manages several large volunteer events each year, including National Trails Day, National Public Lands Day, and Good Neighbor Day. Without his dedication, many people would miss out on the satisfaction of "Making a Difference" for their public lands, and BLM would miss many outstanding opportunities as well.


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