Prairie dogs, pronghorn, birds, native fish and cattle call the 45,000-acre Las Cienegas National Conservation Area home. Looking after these creatures and their grassland and riverside habitats is a collaborative group of partners – scientists, ranchers, agency representatives and others – who provide input to the Bureau of Land Management, which manages Las Cienegas.
Now this partnership, which includes The Nature Conservancy, has been nationally recognized for its work in promoting innovative conservation and resource management. The Cienega Watershed Partnership received one of five 2013 Bureau of Land Management “Partners in Conservation” awards from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
Award winners were selected from a large slate of nominees and honored for their special contributions to conservation and management of the public lands.
The Conservancy’s Gita Bodner, a member of the partnership, travelled with a group to Washington D.C. to accept the award on January 16.
“This national award is quite an honor. Perhaps the best about this award is how it energizes the partners to keep up the good work,” she says.
At Las Cienegas, the Conservancy began working with the partnership in 2004. Since then their work has helped recover populations of native fish and threatened leopard frogs, develop refuge habitats, eliminate nonnative aquatic species, establish native aquatic plants and engage local communities. The partnership has brought together numerous players to involve youth in restoration work, giving them valuable work experience for careers in natural resources; conduct scientific investigations in the watersheds of the area; offer training in erosion control and water harvesting techniques; and encourage cultural preservation of the region through the recording of oral history interviews.