Tuesday, April 29, 2008

BLM, partners honored

CARLSBAD — The Bureau of Land Management Carlsbad Field Office and its partners in the Restore New Mexico Partnership has been held up as a model conservation project.

At a ceremony in the nation's capital last week, the BLM and its partners from Eddy County were among 21 recipients nationwide of the U.S. Department of Interior's Cooperative Conservation Award.

Dorothy Morgan, BLM Carlsbad Office assistant field manager for resources, accepted the award in Washington on behalf of the Restore New Mexico Partnership. She was accompanied by Doug Berger, BLM district manager, Debbie Hughes, New Mexico Conservation Districts Association executive director, and Vicky Sanchez, representing Devon Energy.

The 21 awards recognized the work of more than 700 groups and individuals who achieved excellence in conservation through collaboration and partnerships.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who came to Eddy County last year to tour the work of the Restore New Mexico Partnership, presented the awards.

"These outstanding partnerships and cooperative efforts represent a fundamental way in which our department provides stewardship for America with integrity and excellence," Kempthorne said in a news release announcing the winners. "They embody a broad spectrum of conservation work from restoring wetlands, rangeland and mine lands to protecting wildlife, conserving water and fighting invasive species to teaching conservation values to the next generation,"

Morgan said the partnership was among many federal agencies that submitted projects last year to the Department of Interior. She said the local BLM learned that the partnership was nominated for the award in November.

"I guess what we have done here through our partnerships, and continue doing, was considered worthy to be nominated and to receive the award," she said. "It feels good for us to be acknowledged that our work is appreciated. We hope it leads to even more successes both here in Eddy County and other parts of the state and country where similar projects can benefit the land."

Morgan said the Restore New Mexico Partnership began statewide in 2005. However, the BLM Field Office in Eddy County had a head start over other areas in meeting the program's goal because it already was working with partners from federal, state and local agencies, the ranching industry and the oil and gas industry.

"We had been working together for a number of years on grassland and riparian restoration and oilfield reclamation," she explained. "We have had a lot of success and we have been a model for other areas in showing what can be achieved through partnerships. When Secretary Kempthorne was here last year he saw first-hand what we have accomplished and he highlighted them in his speech during the award ceremony."

Morgan said that following the awards ceremony, there was a two-day workshop where the Carlsbad contingent presented a 15 minute documentary showing the conservation efforts that have been successful in Eddy County.

"The movie documentary was produced in cooperation with the Eddy County Media Group and New Mexico State University at Carlsbad," she said.

The award presented to Restore New Mexico Partnership recognized the group's initiative and leadership in achieving the vision of restored grasslands and riparian ecosystems in southeastern New Mexico including the removal of salt cedar from river corridors that allowed the natural biodiversity to return, and introduction of fire to the landscape.

Since 2005, brush control on 500,000 acres has been completed on public lands and almost 10,000 acres on private and state lands. Native riparian vegetation was re-established on 36 miles of river, replacing salt cedar that had invaded the river banks. About 800 acres of well pads, roads and power lines were reclaimed, reconnecting more than 80,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

Restore New Mexico Partnership (New Mexico) Members:

Ranching Partners: Monty Beckham, Daniel C. Berry III, Lewis Derrick, Robert Jolley, Bill Marley, Robert Mathis, Mathis Land & Cattle Inc., Mark McCloy, Stacy Mills, Kelly Myers, Alisa Ogden, Jimmy Richardson, Joe Stell

Volunteers: Stan Brisco, Howard Gebel, Larry LaPlant, Gerald Orr, Brezel Sanchez, Roy Stovall, Mack Wilemon

Bureau of Land Management: Eddie Bateson, Doug Burger, Cindy Dreps, Ron Dutton, Don Ellsworth, Dave Evans, Russell Fox, Tony Herrell, Jesse Juen, Ray Keller, Dorothy Morgan, Linda Rundell, Jim Stovall, Eddy Williams

Carlsbad Soil and Water Conservation District: Judy Bock, Nathan Jurva, Judith Ortego

Dawson Geophysical Company: Brian Freidenbloom, Steve Jumper, Ray Tobias

Devon Energy Corporation: Wyatt Abbitt, Joe Johnston, Don Mayberry, Victoria Sanchez, Steve Zink

Marathon Oil: Tom Breninger

Marbob Energy Corporation: Rand French, Johnny C. Gray, Ray Miller

Natural Resources Conservation Service: Dennis Alexander, Philip Carter, Ty Carter, Hollis Fuchs, Garth Grizzle, Tim Henry

New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts: Mary Lou Ballard, Troy Hood, Debbie Hughes, Kenneth B. Leiting, Bill See

New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish: Dale Hall, R.J. Kirkpatrick, Bruce Thompson

New Mexico State Land Office: Jim Carr, Pat Lyons, Myra Myers

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