Outstanding Public Lands Professional Awards - 2017

Technical/Operational Category

Cindy Fritz
Brian Steed, BLM's Deputy Director, Policy and Programs (l) and PLF Director John Fend (r) present the award to Cindy Fritz.

The Public Lands Foundation is proud to award Cindy Fritz, Supervisory Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR) Specialist, at the Boise District, the Outstanding Public Land Professional Award in the technical/operational category.  Cindy’s technical and operational work with the District has spanned over 30 years, and she has consistently demonstrated exceptional results related to the criteria established by the PLF for this award.

One of the most significant problems facing the Great Basin is the expansion of invasive annual grasses.  In recent decades, the frequency of wildland fire has dramatically increased, contributing to a cycle of fire and invasive annual grasses that has led to the large-scale conversion of a historic sagebrush-steppe ecosystem into invasive grasses.  This cycle has resulted in increasing fire suppression costs, loss of wildlife habitat, impacts to private property, and significant economic impacts to the livestock grazing industry.  For nearly 25 years, Cindy has dedicated her career to finding innovative solutions to this widespread problem.  Cindy leads the development of up to 15 post-fire rehabilitation plans per year, including working closely with interdisciplinary teams, agency partners, affected permit holders, and other stakeholders and developing treatments to enhance resistance and resilience following fires. To put this pace and longevity of work into perspective, Cindy has facilitated over 1.2 million acres of ESRtreatments on public land in the Boise District over her career.

Cindy has also shown extraordinary courage in seeking the long-term benefit to public lands and resources.  After the 2015 Soda Fire, Cindy faced both internal and external resistance to implementing the vision of a comprehensive approach to ESR, including layered treatments using adaptive management to improve the likelihood of success.  This innovative method challenged a longstanding BLM approach to post-fire rehabilitation treatments in which a failed treatment had no further opportunity to recover and multiple-year treatments were not an option, making the success of ESR efforts heavily dependent on weather conditions in the year following a fire. Cindy recognized that the ability to re-treat an area or to develop multi-year layered treatments created new opportunities for successful treatments.

She is also regularly recognized as a leader in her field.  She has been called upon for multiple public presentations to local, regional, and national organizations, and for BLM and DOI leadership.  Most recently, she has been asked to lead a national “lessons learned” discussion based on her work on the Soda Fire ESR effort, and in the past two years, she has presented to the Office of Management and Budget, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, and the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, sharing her ideas and solutions for the ESR program.  She is recognized by her peers as a leader in the ESR program and is frequently consulted for reviews of policy guidance, best practices, and development of treatments.

Her leadership has directly contributed to important shifts that have improved the way BLM conducts post-fire rehabilitation, including changes in the way the agency purchases and prepares seed, improvements in the design of treatments, and efficiencies in structuring and staffing a program to ensure timely implementation during key seasons.  Her contributions have increased the success of the BLM’s program over time and her work has made a difference in management of public lands.

Because of her consistent demonstration of exceptional results, the Public Lands Foundation is please to recognize Cindy Fritz with it’s Outstanding Public Lands Professional Award in the Technical/Operational category for 2017.


Edward Shepard
April 12, 2018