Outstanding Public Lands Professional Awards - 2012

Manager/Managerial - Administrative Category

Bill Childress
Presentation of award (l to r): Former BLM New Mexico State Director Linda Rundell, BLM Las Cruces District Manager, Bill Childress, and BLM New Mexico State Director Jesse Juen.

BILL CHILDRESS BECAME the Bureau of Land Management’s Las Cruces, New Mexico District Manager in 2008.  The District had been involved with the Alamogordo Regional Water Supply Project for the previous five years. Conflict had brought the project to a standstill.  Bill reviewed the status of the proposal and recognized its importance even though there was much erroneous speculation and mistrust among the stakeholders.  He strongly engaged the stakeholders with great transparency using his skills to gain an understanding of the issues to bring the parties “back to the table.”  Bill focused specifically on problem-solving and building coalitions.  He proposed that the Las Cruces District, take lead agency status in preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and commanded the focus and direction needed to usher the project through the next four years towards the signing of a Record of Decision in August of 2012.

Bill focused on the use of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as tools to positively resolve the conflicts with the Alamogordo Regional Water Supply Project for the City of Alamogordo.   The contentious environment among the stakeholders was at such magnitude that security was needed during some of the public meetings in the early stages.  Bill used FLPMA and the NEPA process to create transparency in science and decision-making as a mechanism to focus the Purpose and Need for the EIS in a clear and concise manner.  Most importantly, Bill recognized that issues needed to be resolved through the best science available based on the sensitivity of the adjacent landowners and the Mescalero Apache Nation.

Bill accepted the challenges of this project with seemingly insufferable professional and personal consequences regarding political fallout and depicted the courage to create clear and decisive direction leading to the Record of Decision.  Given much opposition, he focused the team of stakeholders on the clear objectives and using transparency, worked through or coordinated the many project issues.  Bill has shown the highest level of dedication to public land management in the face of adversity.

Bill worked through this project with outstanding leadership while maintaining the general leadership and direction of the Las Cruces District, with over 5.4 million acres of jurisdiction and 125 employees.  He set an example towards how the BLM works with others, internally and externally, to guide projects towards successful completion.

Bill Childress’ exceptional managerial and leadership performance have earned him the Public Lands Foundation’s Outstanding Public Land Professional Award for Managers for 2012.