Outstanding Public Lands Professional Awards - 1994

Manager/Managerial - Administrative Category

Richard Hopkins
Richard Hopkins

RICHARD HOPKINS, Manager of the Bureau of Land Management’s Great Falls Resource Area in the Lewistown District in North Central Montana, has been named Outstanding Public Land Professional for 1995 by the Public Lands Foundation.

Foundation President George Lea announced the selection crediting Hopkins with outstanding courage and hard work through effective leadership among several federal agencies, private groups, and the tribes of Northern Montana.  He is looked upon as one of the few federal managers that truly listens and is concerned about all interest groups concerns and issues.

“Richard put his career on the line while exhibiting great patience and professionalism in  resolving a long-standing argument over BLM’s authority to manage the public lands, ” Lea said.  “This has not been easy and Richard has shown exemplary courage and risk-taking in tackling the problem.”  The issues facing him were whether or not the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Water and Air Quality Acts, the National Historical Preservation Act, and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act were complied with in the decision-making process.

Additional concerns addressed were the effect on all wildlife and their habitats that included all game and non-game species.  The end result was to maintain a healthy ecosystem in the Northern Continental Divide.  Richard’s approach was to involve the public and as a result of his tenacity in the face of strong opposition and personal threats, has resolved most of the problems.

The Lewistown District includes over 5.5 million acres in fourteen counties in North Central Montana.  “The Great Falls Resource Resource Area is one of the more complicated, controversial, and hostile management climates of the BLM resource areas in the west,” Lea  said.  The personal attitudes in the area are a complicated mix of conservation-preservation and multiple use and development-minded people.  The Tribes add an additional perspective that requires proper and responsible honor of “Mother Earth.”