ST. GEORGE – Bureau of Land Management employee Clay Stewart with the Kanab Field Office has received the prestigious “Making a Difference Award” for his contributions to the agency’s volunteer program.
Stewart was among five individuals, one couple, one sibling pair, and one group honored nationally for outstanding volunteer service or leadership on BLM public lands.
Stewart manages a committed cadre of community volunteers who have patrolled one of the BLM’s most recognized and popular recreation sites, the Wave, for the past four years, according to a press statement.
The Wave is located in the remote Paria Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness area along the Utah and Arizona border and is only accessible by permit.
The volunteers provide seven-day coverage during the hottest months of May to September; offering water to visitors, locating lost or late hikers, and performing life-saving measures to those who suffer accidents and health crises in the unforgiving backcountry.
Last summer, the volunteers provided life-saving assistance to over 100 visitors.
The Wave and the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness area experience both high visitor demand and extremely harsh summer conditions.
A California couple and an Arizona woman all died while hiking in the Wave in 2013. In response to the deaths, BLM reevaluated the existing permit and information system for hikers in the area and made several adjustments including the translation of educational brochures and a safety video into several foreign languages.
The BLM presents the “Making a Difference” awards once a year to recognize the Bureau’s most exceptional volunteers, whose efforts include trail repair, visitor services, habitat restoration and many other duties. Recipients received recognition during an event via a live video conference hosted at the BLM headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In 2016, 27,000 BLM volunteers contributed just under 1 million hours, equating $23 million worth of service. The annual “Making a Difference” Award recognizes exceptional volunteers who have contributed thousands of hours improving the public lands.
In addition to Stewart, other recipients include:
- Teresita “Tere” Calderon, Outstanding Achievement, California Desert District, California.
- Janice Shepherd, Outstanding Achievement, Grand Junction Field Office, Colorado.
- Norm Jenson, Lifetime Achievement, Cottonwood Field Office, Idaho.
- Rich and Linda Crooks, Lifetime Achievement, Yaquina Head Outstanding Area, Oregon.
- Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Group Excellence, Winnemucca District Office, Nevada.
- Ethan Diaz, Outstanding Youth, Colorado River Valley Field Office, Colorado.
- Alexis and Conner Worthen, Outstanding Youth, National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, Wyoming.
A national panel of BLM specialists and partner representatives selected the award winners from dozens of nominees submitted by BLM state offices. The winners demonstrated exceptional contributions to the management of public lands.
To learn more about volunteering for the BLM, visit: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/res/Volunteer.html
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