BLM Honors


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Oct 2, 2001
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For Release: May 17, 2002
Contact: Stephen Razo 909-697-5217; email

Local Bureau of Land Management volunteers among national award winners

Two local outstanding Bureau of Land Management (BLM) volunteers and one exceptional BLM employee have been selected to receive the agency's 2002 "Making a Difference" National Volunteer Awards. BLM Director Kathleen Clarke and BLM Assistant Director for Communications Larry Finfer will present these awards May 30 at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Pete Fish of the BLM Ridgecrest, California Field Office, and Leon Lesicka, of the El Centro, California Field Office, are among the nine national volunteer award winners. Fish, and his volunteer "Trail Gorillas," have undertaken major restoration work on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail during work events held twice each year since 1995. According to the BLM, Fish and his volunteers have contributed over 8,000 hours of volunteer labor at an estimated value of over $185,000. Pete's dedication to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail has contributed greatly toward preserving this treasure for the benefit of future generations.

Leon Lesicka, of the BLM El Centro, California Field Office, has been active for 20 years and has been in the forefront of a grassroots movement to improve and maintain California Desert wildlife habitat in Riverside and Imperial Counties. He, with his wife, founded Desert Wildlife Unlimited. In addition to countless hours of field work, Leon has been instrumental in garnering political support at all levels for conservation efforts on public lands in southern California. In 1995, California Rep. Duncan Hunter presented the Theodore Roosevelt Award to Leon for his work in wildlife conservation, and in July 2001, the San Diego Union Tribune chronicled his contributions under the headline, "The Real Desert Protectors."

"Your work is helping the BLM realize President Bush's goal for every American to give an individual commitment of time, heart, and effort in service to America," said BLM Director Kathleen Clarke. "You exemplify the thousands of volunteers who work for our public lands every day. "

In addition, Rose Foster, Volunteer Coordinator for the BLM Barstow, California Field Office, was one of three BLM employees selected for recognition for outstanding leadership in the BLM Volunteer Program. Foster has recruited more than 1,200 public lands volunteers, who have contributed over 15,000 hours of time in improving recreation facilities, strengthening partnerships, and generally enhancing the health and safety of BLM public lands. One particular project resulted in the removal of 173 tons of trash from illegal dump sites.

A national panel of BLM and partner organization representatives selected the winners from nominations submitted by BLM State Offices and National Centers. Award recipients are chosen for "Making a Difference" in management and conservation of the public lands and their resources.

These winners represent only a small fraction of the exceptional contributions that are being made every day by thousands of people on public lands throughout the country. Each year volunteers collectively donate about 700,000 hours to the agency, the equivalent of more than 400 work years. They perform a variety of jobs, from campground host to archaeologist to educator. The value of this work is conservatively estimated to exceed $11 million. In many instances, volunteers serve as BLM's first point of contact with the public, playing an important ambassadorial role for the agency. In some remote areas, campgrounds and other recreation sites would be closed were it not for volunteer assistance. Additionally, volunteers play an increasingly important role for the agency as growing populations in the West have placed increased demands on the public lands.

BLM initiated its "Making a Difference" National Awards in 1995 in order to acknowledge invaluable volunteer contributions such as these. BLM held its first recognition ceremony in April of 1996. This year's observance marks the seventh annual presentation of these awards.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, administers 262 million acres of America's public lands, located primarily in 12 Western States. The BLM sustains the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

-- BLM --

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