Lifetime Service Award

Robert D Nielson
Robert D Nielson

The Public Lands Foundation has awarded Robert E. (Bob) Nielson its Outstanding Lifetime Service Award.  This award is given for the purpose of perpetuating and enhancing the proud tradition of Public Service in the Bureau of Land Management and in recognizing Bob’s substantial contributions to the improved well-being of the public lands.

Robert D. Nielson, born in 1908 near Ephraim, Utah, devoted his life to the conservation and protection of the Nation’s public lands,  He began  work for the US Division of Grazing in 1935, as a Junior Range Examiner in Utah, and retired as the Utah State Director for the Bureau of Land Management, in 1973, with nearly 40 years of overall Federal service.

He filled responsible positions over the years as a Range Surveyor in Arizona and New Mexico, as a Utah District Grazier, as a Regional Range Examiner in Montana, and led the Missouri River Basin Land Classification Study.  He served as the State Supervisor for Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota, and as a Range Staff Officer in the National BLM Office.

In 1961, he was appointed State Director for BLM in Utah, and it was here that he perhaps made his greatest achievements as a professional land manager.  He implemented a multiple use concept in public land management.  He filled top positions with personnel who would practice and achieve conservation and proper multiple use of the public’s natural resources.  He required strict adherence to professional employee standards and performance and insisted on high quality staff work, and timely and effective manager decisions, in the public interest.

He hired some of the first professionally trained employees in recreation management, landscape management, wildlife biology, and archeology, and strongly supported projects such as the Slick-Rock Bike Trail and Little Sahara Sand Dunes Area for Off-Road use, while continuing to give appropriate and careful attention to the other activities.

He had excellent working relationships with other agencies and the political establishment.  He insisted on careful expenditure of funds and asked only for budgets that were fully justified.  His accomplishments are many and recognized by the Distinguished Service Award of the Department of the Interior, and the Jim Bridger Award from Utah State University.

He and his wife, Lenore, married in 1935, and raised four daughters.  Bob thinks young and is still active in expressing his views on proper land management.  He is most worthy of being recognized for the Award.

The Award was presented to Robert D. Nielson at the PLF Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada in September, 2000.