Outstanding Public Lands Professional Awards - 2013

Technical/Operational Category

Roy Smith
Left to right: Ruth Welch, BLM Colorado State Director; Roy Smith; Bruce Rittenhouse, Resource Group Supervisor, Colorado State Office; Lee Barkow, PLF; and Doug Koza, retired BLM.

ROY SMITH, Water Rights Specialist in the Colorado State Office received his 2013 Outstanding Public Lands Professional Award in the Technical/Operational Category on September 8, 2014 at the Colorado State Office.  The Citation states:

Roy Smith’s career as a water rights specialist has focused on significantly improving the ability of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to manage and protect water resources.  Roy has helped to build BLM’s reputation, skills, and effectiveness in dealing with state governments, which have been given the authority to allocate water.  He has also focused on building the capacity of stakeholders to assist BLM in dealing with water resource management challenges.

As the BLM liaison to the “Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Stakeholder Group,” Roy has educated the group on the requirements of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  The education process helped enable the group to develop a plan that meets legal requirement while empowering the group to develop water management alternatives.  The alternative developed by the stakeholders who use water, recreate on the river, and manage water supply facilities was endorsed by Colorado’s governor and chosen by BLM as the preferred river management alternative.

Roy has had a profound impact on the interdisciplinary team that reviewed and developed the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Southern Nevada Water Authority Groundwater Development Project.  When interests wanted to minimize any long-term commitment to avoid and minimize impacts associated with groundwater development, Roy led the way in helping to develop a mutually agreeable, long-term plan that meets FLPMA requirements to “minimize damage to scenic and aesthetic values and fish and wildlife habitat or otherwise protect the environment.”

Roy continues to work with a broad array of stakeholders to develop an innovative approach for implementing the water protection provisions of the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009 as they pertain to the Dominquez Canyon Wilderness, located south of Grand Junction.  Roy proposed an instream flow water reach in which wilderness needs as well as those of upstream land owners could be accommodated.  Ultimately, the Colorado Water Conservation Board appropriated instream flow water rights based upon BLM’s recommended approach.

One of the most challenging project Roy has taken on is trying to secure flow protection for warm water fish species that appear on BLM’s sensitive species list.  On the lower San Miguel River in southwest Colorado the State of Colorado ultimately adopted BLM’s protection proposal.  In advocating for the proposal, Roy convinced state officials of the value of having protected flows and local control over water management rather than having a stream reach designated as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act.

Roy has made a major commitment to work with the National Training Center to build and implement training courses that teach BLM employees how to utilize state water right systems to protect and manage resources.  This effort by Roy has greatly enhanced BLM’s ability to work with others to try to resolve water issues throughout the West.

Roy Smith’s participation in numerous water management efforts has resulted in positive outcomes for public lands and the people who use them and warrants his recognition as the Public Lands Foundation’s Outstanding Public Land Professional Award in the Operations/Technical category for 2013.

Edward Shepard
December 30, 2013