Lifetime Service Award

William Mathews
William Mathews

The Public Lands Foundation grants to William L. ‘Bill’ Mathews its Outstanding Lifetime Service Award.  The Foundation provides this award annually to deserving members who have perpetuated and enhanced the proud tradition of public service.  Bill exemplifies that tradition through a lifetime of service in managing and protecting the Nation’s Public Land Resources as well as rendering other service to the public.

Bill spent nearly forty years striving to balance the many conflicting demands on the Public Land resources.  His career ran from the Grazing Service era through the creation of the Bureau of Land Management and it’s later transformation into a multiple use agency.  He was a major player in these events.  He joined the Grazing Service in 1942, but soon entered the military.

After his military service he rejoined the Grazing Service in the Burley District and is one of the remaining survivors of the “McCarren Lay Off,” which shunted him to the Justice Department to do inventories on the Ute Reservation.  When BLM rose from the ashes of the Grazing Service and the General Land Office, Bill returned to the Burley District where he served as District Manager for seven years.  He became the Boise District Manager in 1956 and later served as Idaho Range and Forestry Officer.  He was soon called to serve in Washington D.C. where he toiled for eleven years, first as Branch Chief for Range Operations and later as Chief of the Watershed Management Division.  These were formative years in which BLM would become a multiple use agency.  Bill played a definitive role in making this happen.

Bill became Idaho State Director in 1970 and had that role for nearly ten years.  With his skill and keen judgment he steered BLM Idaho through crucial events and changes including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Wild Horse and Burro Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Bill’s non-agency tasks include chairing the local Combined Federal Campaign in 1973 and heading the arrangements for the 1974 national Society for Range Management meeting.  He has been President of the local chapter of NARFE and of the Idaho NARFE Federation.  He is a volunteer for an organization that transports elderly people to their medical appointments.

Bill was recognized with the President’s Award from the Idaho Chapter of the Society for Range Management, by the University of Idaho for his long support of the Point Springs grazing research.  He was honored in 1980 by the Idaho Statesman newspaper with its Portrait of a Distinguished Citizen.

The Public Land Foundation is honored to recognize Bill with this Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award was presented at the Foundation’s Annual Meeting in Boise, Idaho in September, 2004.