BLM Employees Give Thanks for Our Public Lands
Bureau: Bureau of Land Management
To celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, Bureau of Land Management employees from across the country are sharing stories about why they give thanks for our public lands. The diversity of the stories and people reflect the breadth of the organization’s multiple-use mission and the multiple perspectives required to successfully manage public lands. The stories will be posted on the BLM Daily - the bureau’s daily internal blog - and through social media channels throughout the holiday weekend.
“This Thanksgiving holiday season gives me another opportunity to pause and appreciate the vast public lands that are adjacent to the area I live in, near Pocatello, Idaho. The very livelihood of my family is derived from my job as a BLM Minerals Manager regulating phosphate mining on public lands in southeast Idaho.These lands contain large deposits of valuable minerals that are recovered to produce fertilizer and phosphorus based chemicals. This development, part of BLM’s multiple-use mission, is an important basis of our American standard of living and contributes to healthy economies. Mineral development and processing provides employment and livelihood for hundreds of employees and their families.
In my free time, I feel fortunate to be able to take frequent trail runs, bicycle rides, camping trips and participate in a multitude of outdoor activities that the mountainous public lands above my home afford. The recreational activities offered by the public lands have been an important part of our family’s time spent together. Now our kids are grown and gone, but I continue to spend time acquainting my grandchildren with public lands and the special activities and experiences that they offer.” -Jeff Cundick, minerals manager, Pocatello Field Office
"Each year, just after Thanksgiving, my family and I visit our public lands to harvest our Christmas tree. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA where getting our Christmas tree in the 1970’s often meant driving to the local grocery store in the rain and selecting a tree from the vendors lot. Not bad, but I am thankful we live in Pocatello, Idaho where my family and I can enjoy romping through the forest, snow, and sunshine of Knox Canyon. A $10.00 BLM permit buys a ton of fun and great family memories. It’s one of my favorite traditions of the holiday season!" -Bill Stout, geologist/ mine inspector, Pocatello Field Office
“Vast landscapes have inspired people for centuries. Poets, artists, cattlemen and women, engineers and many others have all found solace entering these public lands. We are pulled to the vastness of space and beauty; and for better or worse, I am no different.
I love these lands that ‘no one wanted.’ The sunsets and sunrises explode with color, the recreation opportunities are never ending and the positive impacts it provides for my family is truly awe inspiring. I am thankful and grateful for people with the foresight to put these lands into public ownership. I am thankful for the public servants who do their best to make sure everyone can play, enjoy and make a living on public lands even with the many challenges associated with multiple use.
While parts of the desert may be bleak and barren, you will never experience a starry night quite as you do camping in miles of sage-brush. At the same token the sparsely vegetated lands in southern Utah give way to amazing red rock sculpted by the wind and rain. My family grows closer together on public land, where I can leave the stress of life behind and for a moment see life in its beautiful, serene and simplistic form. For that I am incredibly grateful.” -Sarah Wheeler, public affairs officer, Idaho Falls District
“My name is Joanna Tjaden, and I am a rangeland management specialist for the BLM's Shoshone Field Office in Idaho. The work I do means more to me than I sometimes express. My job is overwhelming some days. It is hard to grasp the vastness of these lands and what they mean to the many communities that surround them. I love seeing fathers showing their children how to hunt and families taking drives to their favorite spot to share a picnic. This feeling is even more intense when I run into a family vacationing in Idaho. Their sense of awe is palatable and it makes me realize again how lucky I am to be surrounded by lands that people drive hundreds of miles to reach. The families that use these lands are instilling a deep love and sense of commitment to their children. I feel compelled to continue doing my job the best that I can so that their children’s children can have the same experience.
America may have a short story, and her lands may not be riddled with medieval castles and centuries old museums, but what she lacks in time, she makes up for in land. America’s legacy won’t be found in a building or on some piece of paper. Her legacy is the lands that define her and I am so thankful to be a steward of these lands.” -Joanna Tjaden, rangeland management specialist, BLM Idaho
At Moonstone Beach, this is what Izaak said when I asked him why public land is important to him... "Public land gives me rocks to climb and jump and beach to build castles for my cars." Leisyka Parrott, interpretive specialist, BLM California
“At this time of the year, I am thankful that my herd of adopted BLM horses and burros trades in their slick, shiny summer coats for their fuzzy, woolly winter coats to keep them warm as the days get shorter, the nights get longer, and the weather gets colder. I am also thankful for having the good fortune to know and work with the wild ones.” -Amy Dumas, wild horse and burro program manager, BLM California
“I am grateful for the Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area for its fascinating geology, stretching all the way back to 1.7 billion years ago; I love exploring for fossils from ancient seabeds in the limestone crags.” -Lynne Scott, landscape architect, St George Field Office
“I am grateful for the coral pink dunes of Moquith Mountain Wilderness Study Area. During the winter, this area is a great place to get out and do some snowshoeing with my dogs. In the summer, the dunes are covered in giant yellow sunflowers called mule's ears. The dramatic contrast of colors and convenient access makes this one of my favorite places to take guests all year round.” -Misti Haines, park ranger, Kanab Field Office
“I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved in public lands through recreation and share my interests with others. I get to work with people and I get to enjoy our public lands and recreation daily, what more could a girl ask for? It is too hard for me to pick just one, I’m grateful for ALL public lands! I especially love exploring and discovering public lands with friends.” -Jennifer Evans, recreation planner, Richfield Field Office
“I am grateful for my ‘happy place’ — a shady beach-like area near the base of Lower Calf Creek Falls in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, where many break for lunch or play in the water nearby. Here you can just close your eyes, feel the mist on your face, and listen to the sounds of solitude. For me, it doesn’t get any better than this!” -Chad Douglas, public affairs, Utah State Office
“I am grateful for the beauty of the Kanarraville Creek Canyon located within the Spring Creek Wilderness Study Area. During the summer months, I enjoy hiking through the creek bed searching for the perfect photo!” -Yanavey McCloskey, public affairs assistant, Color Country District
“I am grateful for my job as a rangeland management specialist, working in Donkey Flats-Red Fleet area in Northeast Utah, the diversity of the landscape, plants and animals is amazing!” -Alec Bryan, rangeland management specialist, Vernal Field Office
"I am thankful for BLM maintained mountain bike trails surrounding the Moab, Utah area. These trails offer some of the most amazing vistas in Utah, not to mention an entire spectrum of difficulty ranging from short and easy rides to challenging single track that will test even expert riders." -Gordo Wood, VRM intern, Utah State Office
"I am grateful for the rich paleo resources at the Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah.” -Brian Barnett, natural resource specialist, Vernal Field Office
“I am grateful for “Speed Week” hosted annually at the Bonneville Salt Flats on the western edge of the Great Salt Lake Basin. Imagine 30,000 acres of open white plain alive with some of the fastest, noisiest, most awesome speedsters in the world.” -Jenna Whitlock, associate state director, Utah State Office
“I am thankful for the Lava Beds Herd Management Area northwest of Lovelock, Nevada because of the amazing rock outcroppings formed by northern Nevada’s unique geology. I am also thankful there are so many wondrous acres of public lands surrounding Winnemucca to observe the thousands of wild horses and burros residing here.” -Samantha Gooch, wild horse and burro specialist, Winnemucca District Office
“Public lands allow everyone, rich or poor, access to enjoy natural resources and landscapes, and opportunities for stewardship of their surroundings. There are chances for solitude and for friendship through outdoor recreation and study. Getting out of doors is a great tool for engaging youth and connecting them to nature.” -Destin Harrell, wildlife biologist, Cody Field Office
"I am thankful for public lands because they are full of amazing places where you can still be alone in nature. They provide unforgettable opportunities you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere: I saw my first peregrine falcon, took my first backpacking trip, and examined my first gabbro outcrop all on public lands." -Lisa Marks, geologist, Cody Field Office
“I am thankful for public lands because they offer diverse opportunities for recreation. These lands provide areas to enjoy these recreational opportunity values now and for future generations.” -Rory Glueckert, outdoor recreation technician, Cody Field Office
“Having grown up back east where there is limited public land, I’m grateful for our public lands because they provide a place to get away from it all.” -Aaron Kania, law enforcement ranger, Worland Field Office
“I am thankful for public lands because they provide a home for our wild horses and they provide great areas of open space where you can leave behind the busy 21st century. And I am especially grateful for the many opportunities that they provide our world.”-Tricia Hatle, rangeland management specialist/ wild horse specialist, Cody Field Office
“I am thankful for public lands because of the recreational activities they provide like hiking, fishing, camping and hunting.” -Myles Richards, firefighter, Wind River/Bighorn Basin District
"How can I not be thankful for public lands? Look at my office!" -Karen Hepp, range management specialist, Worland Field Office
To read more Thanksgiving stories and share with friends and family, visit the BLM’s My Public Lands Tumblr, using hashtag #BLMthanks: http://mypubliclands.tumblr.com/tagged/BLMthanks . The stories will be posted throughout the holiday weekend.
November 27, 2013