Employee Winner: Clay Stewart, Kanab Field Office, UT
Clay Stewart is an outdoor recreation planner who was an original member of the BLM’s Paria Management Team, which is tasked with managing recreation in some of the wildest backcountry in the nation: the Paria Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA). The SRMA encompasses such stunning locales as Coyote Buttes North (more famously known as “The Wave”), Paria Canyon, and Buckskin Gulch. All host incredible geologic features, including some of the longest slot canyons in the world. Permits to hike in the SRMA are limited and highly sought after, but seasonal extremes of temperature and weather can overwhelm novices. Temperatures range from freezing to well over 100° F. Snow, ice, rain, and flash floods are common. The natural elements, the remote, rugged landscape, and the lack of services, roads, and marked trails often pose serious trouble. In 2013, three visitors died at Coyote Buttes North. In response, the Paria Management Team developed a wilderness volunteer program to increase the number of SRMA patrols, with a special emphasis on The Wave. Although the team’s composition varied yearly, Clay Stewart remained, consistently dedicated to improving recreationists’ safety. Today, thanks to Clay’s efforts, BLM staff and volunteers provide seven-day coverage during the area’s hottest months, May through September. Patrol members carry water and provide a presence in case of emergency. In the summer of 2016 alone, Clay’s volunteers helped more than 100 people in the SRMA; some needed only bottled water, others actual lifesaving services. Clay would be the first to give all credit to other BLM staff and volunteers. But these safety improvements would not have been made without Clay’s efforts as the area’s volunteer program coordinator. Clay truly is an employee who has gone above and beyond to make a difference.
Learn more about volunteering with the Bureau of Land Management here: blm.gov/get-involved/volunteers
Photo by BLM.