Outstanding Public Lands Professional Awards - 2002
Manager/Managerial - Administrative Category
THE PUBLIC LANDS FOUNDATION has named Clinton Oke (pronounced Oak), Assistant Field Manager for the Elko Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management as the Outstanding Public Land Professional for 2003.
Foundation President George Lea announced the selection, which recognizes Oke for not only an outstanding career with BLM but for his planning and directing the ending of season-long livestock grazing use in the South Fork Little Humboldt River Basin. What ensued was a bitter legal battle involving intensive data gathering and personal attacks on Oke. Throughout the conflict, Clint made every effort to reach a compromise and implement a grazing system with the ranch. It took a while, but diligence led to success.
Concerns about conditions in the South Fork Little Humboldt River (SFLHR) Basin in northeaster Nevada had been raised for nearly 20 years by state and federal agencies when Oke visited the Little Humboldt Allotment in 1998. Streams in the SFLHR Basin supported the Lahontan cutthroat trout, a federally-listed threatened species, but further soil erosion was likely to intensify with spring runoff.
In January 1999, Oke issued a full force and effect decision to end the decades long pattern of season-long grazing on streams in the SFLHR Basin. Various rulings were issued: some favorable for BLM, others favorable for the appellants. As the years went by, the legal wrangling showed no signs of ending. Oke showed perseverance and personal conviction in sticking to this decision.
Last June, the appellants agreed to dismiss pending legal filings against BLM. For the first time in perhaps a hundred years, streams on the allotment were rested from grazing and given a chance to begin the healing process. In resolution, Oke developed a working relationship with the ranch owners to ensure the improvements achieved in 2002 will be continued over the long term.
Lea described the national award, now in its fourteenth annual presentation, as a “Hall of Fame” recognition for action by professional public lands managers that constitutes special professional achievement, courage, and not simply good performance. This achievement will be permanently inscribed on the “Hall of Fame Award” board at BLM Headquarters in Washington, D. C.