Northwest Colorado volunteers honored at BLM Making a Difference awards ceremony |

Northwest Colorado volunteers honored at BLM Making a Difference awards ceremony

Craig Press staff report
The Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary, with its Sand Wash Advocates Team and area volunteers, gather for the 2016 rendezvous — an annual event to help with improvements to the wild horse management area — one of the many activities that earned GEMS recognition from the BLM in 2018.
Sasha Nelson/file

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Bureau of Land Management recently recognized the winners of the 2018 Making a Difference National Volunteer Awards; among the recipients, volunteers working in Northwest Colorado through the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary were honored.

The awards acknowledge winners’ exceptional volunteer service on BLM-managed public lands in 2017.  This year’s award recipients were honored during a ceremony that connected winners across the country via video teleconferences at BLM offices in several states and Washington, D.C.

“Through the years, volunteers on our public lands have ensured that Teddy Roosevelt’s ideal — the American conservation ethic — would endure,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “The BLM volunteers being celebrated today are champions of this conservation ethic, and it is an honor to recognize them for their extraordinary efforts.”

In 2017, more than 28,000 volunteers contributed nearly 1 million hours of service, valued at close to $23 million. The annual Making a Difference Award recognizes exceptional volunteers who have contributed thousands of hours to the improvement of public lands, helping the BLM monitor trails, manage wild horses, keep campers safe and provide environmental education, interpretation and other visitor services.

GEMS Sand Wash Basin Advocate Team is “working to support the Bureau of Land Management and the Sand Wash Herd Management Area in Northwest Colorado. We provide assistance with herd documentation, fertility control, special range projects and promotion of the land and wild horses,” according to the GEMS website.

The groups work earned honors for excellence.

The 2018 awardees and their BLM nominating offices are as follows.

• Pat and Phyllis Malato — outstanding achievement, Upper Snake Field Office (Idaho)

• Susan Murphy — outstanding achievement, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (Nevada)

• Miranda and Madison Dickinson — outstanding youth, National Historic Trails Interpretive Center (Wyoming)

• Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary — group Excellence, Little Snake Field Office (Colorado)

• David and Jane Styer — lifetime achievement, Fort Ord National Monument (California)

• Sandra and Geoff Freethey — lifetime achievement, Moab Field Office (Utah)

• Laura Olais — employee winner, Gila District Office (Arizona)

A national panel of BLM specialists and partner organization representatives selected the winners for their exceptional contributions to conservation and management of public lands.

For more information contact Linda Schnee, BLM National Volunteer Program Lead, at 202-912-7453 or