Outstanding Public Lands Professional Awards - 2014

Manager/Managerial - Administrative Category

Richard Vander Voet
Richard Vander Voet

Under Rick’s leadership from 2011-2014, the Lander Field Office was successful in June 2014 in issuing the Record of Decision for the Lander RMP. The revision was started in 2007, and Rick is the fourth Field Manager to lead this effort. Rick’s tenacity, previous experience in leading RMP efforts in Idaho, and his knowledge of the BLMs planning system and the political realities of taking an RMP to the finish line were the keys to success.
The Lander RMP is of particular national significance because it is the FIRST of 15 RMP revisions or amendments nationwide that are focused on providing regulatory certainty for the conservation of the Greater Sage Grouse. Over 90% of the Lander F.O. area is sage grouse habitat, and represents over 40% of the sage grouse habitat in the western U.S. All eyes were on Lander RMP… and it did (and still does) attract broad public interest. As Director Neil Kornze pointed out during the signing ceremony, the Lander Plan sets the template for all of the other RMP efforts to follow that are “sage grouse centric”.

As a long term veteran in BLM, Rick is very well versed in virtually all aspects of FLPMA. He inherited the controversial Lander RMP effort when he was selected as the Lander FM in July 2011. Rick has worked tirelessly since then to establish effective working relationships with all sides (pro and con) for the Proposed Lander RMP. He has survived numerous FOIA’s, County Commissioner meetings, meetings with Cooperating Agencies, strong opposition mail, and some internal strife to bring the RMP to the finish line. He worked side-by-side with the Wyoming State Director, the W.O. Staff, the BLM Director, Solicitors Office, and the Wyoming Governor’s Office to ensure that all were well briefed and completely understood the contents and implications of implementation of the Plan.

Rick vision and foresight were the keys to success in taking the Lander RMP to the finish line. Rick quickly understood the problems that his predecessors had faced in moving the RMP forward, and quickly assembled a plan to address those problems and move forward. His key contact was one of the Fremont County Commissioners who has a long history in the Lander F.O. (and is a grazing permittee and RAC member). Rick developed a strong working relationship with this Commissioner and together they effectively took the Plan forward. This was not an easy relationship… and it had its dark times… but in the end the Commissioner was side by side in full support with Rick, our State Director and the Governor of Wyoming when the ROD was signed.

Rick continues to serve on BLMs National NLCS Team due to his strong background in wilderness and recreation… and his recognition nationally as a subject matter expert and recognition by his peers for his leadership and vision in the NLCS arena. The Lander Field Office was recognized in 2013 and2014 by the National Outdoor Leadership School with their annual Stewardship Award!! This recognition is for the balanced approach that the Lander F.O. applies to our Public Lands… from areas of intense development for oil and gas… to world class recreation and historic resources that are protected in perpetuity for future generations of public land users to enjoy.

Again, Rick’s legacy as an outstanding public land manager and his ability to make a difference will be marked in the future by the completion of the highly controversial Lander RMP. The RMP is an excellent example of great work done by the staff and our cooperators to indeed bring forth a Plan that truly exemplifies the balanced multiple use of our Public Lands that is at the forefront of our BLMs mission statement. It is truly Rick’s “can do attitude” and tenacity in the face of overwhelming adversity that provided the leadership needed to bring the Plan to completion.

Rick has been a very strong supporter of developing staff to move onward and upward in the BLM organization. He has the unique ability to work one-on-one with staff to help them not only achieve their true potential, but also to look far forward in understanding and embracing their role as stewards of our public lands. Several of Rick’s staff are recognized throughout BLM as subject matter experts in their field (instructors at NTC); another provides W.O. leadership and expertise in the wild horse and burro program; and others have moved on to positions of higher responsibility in the organization. Rick is also one to see the potential in our younger employees who may be in seasonal or term positions, and Rick does everything in his power to help these persons be competitive for permanent positions AND to try and retain them within BLM and the Lander Office. Overall, Rick has a relatively “young” staff and he is providing an outstanding environment for them to learn and grow in the BLM organization.