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BLM Presents 2013 “Making a Difference” National Volunteer Awards

The Bureau of Land Management presented its prestigious “Making a Difference” National Volunteer Awards to four individuals, one couple, one group, and one BLM employee for outstanding volunteer service or volunteer leadership on BLM-managed lands.

The Making a Difference Award is an annual award presented by the BLM that recognizes its most exceptional volunteers, whose efforts include trail repair, visitor services, habitat restoration, and many other duties.  The award was presented to recipients at a recognition event via live video conference hosted at the BLM’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.  The event included remarks from Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior; Neil Kornze, Principal Deputy Director of the BLM; and Carl Rountree, Assistant Director for the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships.

Principal Deputy Director Kornze expressed his appreciation for the volunteers’ hard work in helping the BLM fulfill its multiple-use mission. “Volunteer efforts – the seeing, the doing, and the leading – have helped us to fulfill that responsibility on the public lands,” Kornze said.  “Your labors have made a lasting imprint, and you have left a legacy for others to follow.”

The volunteers selected for this year’s awards were: Ray and Linda Panter, Central Yukon Field Office, Alaska; Annette Froehlich (Lifetime Achievement), Las Cruces District Office, New Mexico; Joshua Barlow, Price Field Office, Utah; Upper Ridge Wilderness Association (Lifetime Achievement), Redding Field Office, California; Illa Willmore (Lifetime Achievement), Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Montana; and Pat Williams (Milestone Award), Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada.  Warren J. Trogden, Sr. Challis Field Office, Idaho, is the winning BLM employee.

A national panel of BLM specialists and partner representatives selected the award winners from a record number of nominees submitted by BLM state offices.  The winners were selected for their exceptional contributions to the conservation and management of public lands.

In Fiscal Year 2012, more than 30,000 volunteers contributed more than 1.1 million hours of their time in assisting the BLM.  That is the equivalent of 637 “work years.”  The value of volunteer contributions as compared to project-related dollars expended by the BLM was 26 to 1

Alaska volunteers Linda and Ray Panter received their awards at a ceremony at the BLM-Alaska State Office in Anchorage.

ALASKA Volunteer Winners

Linda and Ray Panter, Central Yukon Field Office, AK:  Over the past two years, Linda and Ray Panter have greeted nearly 10,000 summer visitors annually at the BLM’s Yukon Crossing Contact Station, located beside the Yukon River along Alaska’s remote 414-mile Dalton Highway.  This important BLM visitor station provides valuable services to travelers from around the world as they venture north to the Arctic Circle and beyond.  Linda and Ray answer thousands of questions, distribute brochures, track visitation, provide critical safety and travel information, maintain the contact station itself, and monitor the nearby rustic campground.  Their record sales of books and merchandise have strengthened BLM’s partnership with the Alaska Geographic Association, the local non-profit cooperating association.  Linda and Ray have also initiated projects and programs to enhance visitor experiences, including short programs on Arctic tree growth, during which they compare tree rings from Alaskan species to those of trees from their native Oregon.  They lead walking tours for visitors interested in the local fauna and flora, have produced a stunning photo program based on their discoveries, and planted a small garden to demonstrate the speed with which plants must develop during the short Arctic growing season.  Ray even hauls in local spring water each day so that visitors can literally “get a taste of the Arctic.”  Linda and Ray staff the contact station every day of the week, working long hours amidst such luxuries as a satellite phone and an outhouse.  These special hosts obviously love what they do, happy to welcome Yukon Crossing visitors with warmth and hospitality.

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