BLM honors outstanding volunteers at ‘Making a Difference’ awards ceremony

Contributed Photo: From left, Gila District Manager Scott Feldhausen and Safford Assistant Field Manager Tom Schnell pose with Kathy and Walt Horsfall, along with BLM Arizona Associate State Director Karen Kelleher. The Horsfalls were recently given a Lifetime Achievement award for their volunteer efforts.

Contributed Article

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will honor some of their most dedicated volunteers this week at the agency’s 2019 Making a Difference National Volunteer Awards. Volunteers play a critical role in helping the BLM welcome millions of visitors annually to more than 245 million acres of public lands across the American West.

The annual awards, which recognize exceptional volunteer service on BLM-managed lands, will be presented during a special awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 22 at 1:00 p.m. EDT in Washington, D.C., and live via video teleconference on www.blm.gov/live.

“It’s important to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by our dedicated volunteers,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “I’m continually humbled and inspired by the enthusiasm and hard work of these outstanding individuals as each of you have made a lasting impact on our public lands. Thank you on behalf of the places you safeguard for all Americans and thank you on behalf of the people whose lives you’ve touched through your generosity.”

In 2018, over 30,000 volunteers contributed nearly one million hours of service, providing the equivalent of more than $24 million in labor and enabling BLM to help more Americans experience their public lands. These hard-working volunteers help monitor trails, manage wild horses, keep campers safe, and provide environmental education, interpretation, and other visitor services.

“The BLM has only about 9,000 employees to sustainably manage hundreds of millions of acres of public lands for a range of multiple uses. While our employees are exceptionally dedicated, the support they receive from our volunteers is essential to helping our agency achieve its mission for the American people,” said Casey Hammond, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, exercising the authority of the BLM Director. “It is a privilege to recognize these incredible people for their tireless efforts.”

The 2019 awardees and their BLM nominating offices are:

  • Tracy Greenwood, Lifetime Achievement, Mother Lode Field Office (CA), for consistent management of the Briceburg Visitor Center at the Merced River Recreation Area since 2000.
  • Walt and Kathy Horsfall, Lifetime Achievement, Safford Field Office (AZ), for their service to the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area, collecting data on hundreds of miles of roads around the Gila Box Riparian NCA.
  • Phil & Chriscinda Jamison, Lifetime Achievement, Northeastern States District (ES), for more than 15 years in support of the Wild Horse and Burro Program in the BLM Eastern States Office.
  • Thomas Parkinson & Peter Kearns, Outstanding Achievement, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (AZ), for 400 hours of volunteer service in 2018, contributing to multiple programs on the Parashant.
  • Pedal United Chapter of IMBA, Group Excellence, Billings Field Office (MT), for helping to develop more than 28 miles of mountain bike trails and a trailhead facility over the last four years.
  • Blake Ramos-Manz, Sergio Ramos-Manz, & Dylan Brennan, Outstanding Achievement, Wild Rivers Recreation Area (NM), for helping to manage the Wild Rivers Recreation Area, including five campgrounds, 27 campsites, and over 36 miles of trail.
  • Roy Thornton, Outstanding Achievement, Cottonwood Field Office (ID), for his volunteer service at the BLM’s Cottonwood Field Office recreation sites and campgrounds over the last eight years A national panel of BLM specialists and partner organization representatives selected the winners for their exceptional contributions to conservation and management of public lands.

For 13 years, Walt and Kathy Horsfall have been excellent stewards of the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area, helping the BLM Arizona to provide public access to a myriad of recreational activities while sustaining the area for the benefit of current and future generations. At the completion of this season, Walt and Kathy surpassed 20,000-logged hours of volunteer service worth approximately $500,000. 

Just as important, through their service, they have actively engaged youth crews each year introducing them to shared conservation stewardship principles and instilling in them the value of their public lands. Walt and Kathy provide visitors with their vast knowledge of the area’s natural, recreational, and historic resources. They contact up to 1OO visitors per day during the peak season and average around 30 visitor contacts per day during each volunteer period.

Walt and Kathy maintain facilities that include a popular campground, several day-use picnic areas, a wildlife viewing area, a river rafting launch and take out area, and a large group picnic area.

In addition to their day-to-day duties, their other accomplishments are impressive. Walt and Kathy played an integral role in the field office’s route inventory and evaluation process, collected data on hundreds of miles of roads in and around the Gila Box Riparian NCA, and supported and supervised at least two 10-person conservation youth crews each year. Walt and Kathy conducted wilderness monitoring throughout the field office focused on looking for vehicle intrusions into wilderness areas and ensuring boundary signs are intact. 

Most recently, Walt and Kathy worked to install new signage throughout the Gila Box Riparian NCA. They also recruited two other active site host couples for other high use recreation areas. 

For more information, please contact Linda Schnee, BLM National Volunteer Program Lead, at (202) 912- 7453 or lschnee@blm.gov.

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