Landscape Stewardship Awards - 2017

Sandy and Geoff Freethey
PLF Director at Large Maggie Wyatt (r) presents the Landscape Stewardship Award to Sandy and Geoff Freethey.

The Public Lands Foundation presents Sandy and Geoff Freethey with its 2017 Landscape Stewardship Award and this Citation.  The Foundation grants this recognition to honor private citizens and organizations that work to advance and sustain community-based stewardship on landscapes that include, in whole or in part, public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

The Freetheys, who were nominated by the BLM Moab Field Office, have devoted untold time and effort towards managing responsible recreation on BLM-administered lands in the Moab area. For 10 years Sandy was chairperson of a county committee known as “Trail Mix,” and Geoff was a committed volunteer. Trail Mix engages with area Federal agencies in managing non-motorized recreation. Sandy and Geoff each worked at least 60 hours per week as volunteers while leading Trail Mix to a series of accomplishments.

BLM was experiencing difficulties with numerous unauthorized mountain bike trails. Trail Mix, led by the Freetheys, resolved to curtail the illegal bike activity and to help develop new trails that were consistent with the Resource Management Plan. They mobilized volunteers to help obliterate and block “pirate” trails. Geoff applied his extensive GIS skills to avoid resource conflicts involving possible new routes. These routes were then ground-truthed before being submitting to BLM for consideration. They then accompanied BLM resource specialists in the field to make further route adjustments.

Their leadership and vision helped accomplish the reality of a responsible mountain bike single-track trail system for the Moab area. They motivated the mountain bike community to build a trail system in cooperation with BLM rather than in confrontation. This trail system, which is about 150 miles, has revitalized the non-motorized recreation economy in Moab as well by avoiding conflicts between the mountain bike community and other recreational users.

These efforts have built trust among users. There is a sense of shared stewardship for the bike trails. Bike trail users and designers are proud of their small environmental footprint. “Rogue” cycling behavior is met with an immediate response, and illegal trail building is a thing of the past.

Sandy and Geoff have now “retired” from Trail Mix and are now each volunteering 60 hours per week at the BLM Moab Field Office. They recently received an award from the Grand County Council which referred to them as “our most venerable and hardest working county volunteers.”

The Public Lands Foundation is pleased to present the Sandy and Geoff Freethey with its 2017 Landscape Stewardship Award and this Citation for invaluable contributions to the stewardship of America’s public landscapes.

Jesse J. Juen
September 12, 2017