Outstanding Public Lands Professional Awards - 2022

Technical/Operational Category

Jeff Cundick
Former District Manager Joe Kraayenbrink (l) and Jeff Cundick (r)

The Public Lands Foundation is proud to present the 2022 Outstanding Public Lands Professional Award in the Technical/Operational category to Jeff Cundick, Minerals Branch Chief, Idaho Falls District, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

As leader of the BLM’s largest and most complex non-energy leasable minerals program, Jeff Cundick, has demonstrated outstanding professional performance while addressing major projects of broad public interest nationally.  He has lead efforts to complete four Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and approved site-specific, environmentally appropriate mine and reclamation plans required for phosphate mines to operate in a sustainable manner in southeast Idaho within the last four years. Completing these EISs and issuing well thought-out sustainable mine and reclamation plans is critically important to ensuring a continuing supply of phosphate for the nation and the world. Phosphate mines in southeast Idaho generate 22% of the nation’s and 2% of the world’s supply.

Because phosphate mines are located on surface lands managed primarily by the U.S. Forest Service,  Cundick developed and implemented a ”Service First” agreement to enhance planning and communication, government efficiency, and reduce costs of mine oversight to the taxpayer. In addition, Cundick played a key role in modernizing phosphate mining practices to prevent selenium contamination, including developing caps and covers to place over mine waste rock to prevent infiltration and subsequent transport of contaminated water. These efforts have saved potentially tens of millions of dollars in cleanup actions and have also resulted in affected waters being removed from Idaho’s Clean Water Act listings.

Cundick is considered the BLM’s top expert in non-energy leasable minerals, phosphate mining, and mining permit oversight. He is well respected by colleagues throughout the agency for his willingness to share his knowledge and mentor others. His best practices and environmental monitoring and adaptive management programs have been adopted in agencies and BLM offices around the country, furthering the BLM’s contribution to sustainability and leadership in this field.

Cundick has demonstrated sustained dedication to “make a difference” by working proactively with private industry and stakeholders to adapt phosphate mining practices and align them with advancing scientific knowledge and evolving public expectations.

Because of his commitment to public land management, the Public Lands Foundation recognizes Jeff Cundick with its Outstanding Public Lands Professional Award in the Technical/Operational category for 2022.


Mary Jo Rugwell, President

September 20, 2022