Outstanding Public Lands Professional Awards - 2007

Technical/Operational Category

Kirk Halford
Kirk Halford

KIRK HALFORD, Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office lead archaeologist, has received the Outstanding Public Lands Professional Technician Award for 2007.

“We are pleased to present Mr. Halford with this award in recognition of his many years of service in cultural resources management,” said PLF President George Lea.

Halford, a Bishop (California) resident, started his federal career in 1984 as a volunteer lookout in North Cascades National Park.  He worked at jobs including backcountry ranger, director of skiing at cross country ski resorts, and Forest Service and consultant archaeologist, before starting at the BLM Bishop office in 1994.  “Mr. Halford is a BLM employee whose impact and influence extends well beyond the geographic boundaries of the Bishop Field Office,” Lea said.  He has spearheaded a national archaeology program initiative with each state historic preservation office in the United States to develop a common approach to cultural resources data sharing.  Each BLM state now has tools available to share related cultural data quickly and easily with counterparts.

Halford recently addressed a volatile situation concerning a pinion pine fuels treatment research project by the Mono Basic Scenic Area in east-central California.  Although Native American communities around the site supported the project, intense opposition emerged from individuals outside the immediate area, alleging cultural resources were at risk.  He proactively and effectively communicated the project’s merits to the organizations, defused the issue’s emotional component, and demonstrated that there would be no impacts to cultural resources, allowing the project to proceed.

He has proactively addressed universities’ continued demands to conduct archaeological research on public lands while Native Americans demand limits to the extent of the research.  Halford has worked successfully to increase the universities’ sensitivity to Tribal concerns by building increased collaboration and consideration of each group’s needs.

Halford is a member of the American Society for Archaeology, the Society of California Archaeology, and a designated appointee for the National Historic Preservation Board.  He has authored several articles published in scientific and archaeological journals.  He has stimulated new theories related to the occupation of prehistoric peoples in the Volcanic Tableland north of Bishop.  Traditional beliefs hold that the area was sparsely populated during prehistoric times.  Kirk’s research and a growing body of evidence reveal the area may have been more densely populated than originally thought – leading to a reevaluation of current theory.

He has been a leader in forming the Society of California Archaeology’s Site Stewardship Program.  This partnership between archaeologists, BLM, Native Americans, and citizen volunteers was formed to protect cultural sites through systematic monitoring of archaeological sites on public lands.  The program has saved BLM thousands of dollars by augmenting the California BLM cultural resources program.

This achievement will be permanently inscribed on the “Hall of Fame Award” plaque at the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Washington, D. C.  This is another example of a professional career employee’s willingness to chart new direction in protecting and enhancing natural resources.