Kirby Creek CRM wins national stewardship awardWritten by Saige Albert
On Sept. 6, Nevada BLM State Director Amy Lueders presented the award on behalf of BLM Acting Director Mike Pool.
“These BLM partners stand out among their peers in their commitment to promoting well-managed public lands that provide for a variety of resource values and uses, such as wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, and livestock grazing,” Lueders said in a press release.
Lueders added, “While many people are aware that livestock grazing is one of the authorized commercial uses of public lands, it’s important to keep in mind that this activity can also help manage plant communities and accomplish conservation goals. In short, grazing is a method for reaching desired future land conditions.”
The Kirby Creek Watershed was identified as a sensitive watershed in a 1988 plan by BLM, with a resource management objective targeting stabilization of soils, increase of vegetative production and maintenance of water quality.
The CRM was organized in 2001 and has resulted in over $1.3 million in improvements, funded through various channels.
“The Kirby Creek CRM group’s mission is to assess, maintain and enhance the quality of the Kirby Creek Watershed through a cooperative process while protecting the quality of life, custom and culture, and the economic base of the community,” says the nomination for the group.
Since inception, Kirby Creek CRM has implemented water monitoring and become involved in helping a high school science class carry out testing.
Improvements have assisted in better livestock distribution, in turn improving sage grouse and riparian habitat, as well as increased cottonwood and willow growth and an upturn in beaver activity along Kirby Creek.
Aside from this year’s BLM award, the Kirby Creek CRM was given the Conservation Pace-Setters Award in 2004, sponsored by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.
In 2008, the Landscape Stewardship Award was presented to the Kirby Creek CRM by the Public Lands Foundation for efforts in stewardship in the Kirby Creek drainage.
“They were the first to receive a Small Water Improvement Project grant from the Wyoming Water Development Commission,” adds the nomination.
“It’s been a pleasure working with these guys,” says Worland BLM Field Office Assistant Field Manager in Resources Mike Phillips. “The work they are doing on a landscape basis, outside of ownership boundaries, really shows what the true West spirit is all about.”
The Kirby Creek CRM involves the work of 16 members, including Everett Jones of Kirby Creek Ranch; Jim and Terry Wilson of V Ranch; Tad and Vendla Henthorne of Henthorne Ltd. Partnership; Linda Reed of Reed Creek Ltd. Parnership; Birg and Debbie Mishurda of Mishurda Mountain Ranches; Tom and Colleen Anderson of Russell Ranch; Pat Kelly of Paradise K Ranch; Mike and Lisa Kimsey of Chuck Bunch Redland Ranch; Joe and Karen Gloyd; Brett and Isabel Belden; Barry and Cindy Nye; Project Manager Jim Kirsch; Jim Mischke and Dawn Peil of the Natural Resources Conservation Service; Amy Anderson of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department; and Carla Thomas of the Hot Springs County Conservation District.