Outstanding Public Land Professional Group Award Outstanding Public Lands Professional Awards - 2002

Technical/Operational Category

THE PUBLIC LANDS FOUNDATION is naming eight members of the Upper Snake River District as Public Lands Outstanding Professional Employees for the year 2002.

The group includes Bill Baker, Theresa Hanley, Andy Payne, Joe Russell, Glen Burkhardt, John Sabala, Curtis Jensen, and Dennis Smith.

Foundation President George Lea announced the selection, which recognizes the group for implementing the National Fire Plan on public and non-public lands in south-central Idaho.

The group is involved in managing one of the five largest wildland fire suppression programs in the western United States.

They used a grassroots approach with participation from all landowners, communities, and fire departments to reduce the frequency and size of wild fires.

The group also took the leadership to develop and implement an effective program, with emphasis on developing partnerships at the local level, which included fuel treatment methods ranging from chemical to mechanical, including prescribed fire.

Efforts included:

  • South Central Idaho BLM has established agreements with 51 local Rural Fire Departments and distributed over one-half million National Fire Plan dollars for equipment, training, and prevention activities since the beginning of fiscal year 2001.
  • As a result of the National Fire Plan, the group immediately put together a strategy and action plan and has signed agreements with 16 separate communities for various hazardous fuels reduction projects and public education for homeowners living in the wildland-urban interface.
  • South Central Idaho BLM sold 22 surplus fire engines and three fire command vehicles to local fire departments in the area for a fair market prices.  This equipment enables the rural fire departments to respond to approximately 89-percent of BLM wildfires in the area, helping to keep fires smaller an saving taxpayer dollars.
  • In 2000, before the inception of the National Fire Plan, south-central Idaho BLM fuels program treated 34,938 acres.  In 2002, that number increased significantly to 50, 874 acres, which accounts for 75-percent of Idaho BLM’s total accomplishment and 19-percent of the BLM fuels accomplishments nationwide.