Outstanding Professional Award to BLM manager

Gary Torres recently received the 2021 Outstanding Public Lands Professional Award from The Public Lands Foundation. 
Torres has served in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for more than 30 years. He currently serves as the Manager of the Canyon Country District of the BLM, which covers millions of acres in southeastern Utah, including San Juan County.
“This award is really a recognition of all the good people I have been blessed to work with,” said Torres.  “I have always thought that I may not be able to solve the big problems of the world, but I could try my best to help take care of a small corner of it.  Fortunately, for me I have been able to come back and try to give back to all the good people in San Juan County.”
Torres, a long-time writer for the San Juan Record, adds that the award is probably all due to his wife, Dee.  Quoting Mark Twain, he adds “She kept up her compliments and I kept up my determination to deserve them or die.”
The award states that in his current position, “Gary continues to lead and navigate the political tides of the Bears Ears National Monument. In five years, the district staff adjusted to three designations/ modifications and completed two Monument land use planning processes. 
“None of this would have been possible without Gary’s valuable relationship with BLM’s partners in the County, State, and Tribal leaders which he facilitated dialogue with openness and honesty, leading to solutions.
“During the last few years, the Moab and Monticello Field Offices experienced significant resource impacts from increased visitation. 
“With Gary’s support, the Moab Field Office addressed resource impacts from recreation use head on by limiting dispersed camping in heavy used areas, building new campgrounds and advocating for additional planning. 
“Monticello Field Office experienced increased visitation, especially to the very sensitive and unique cultural resources. There has been political pressure to pause implementation planning, but Gary continues to stress a high priority to protect these valuable resources now. 
“Previously, Torres has served as District Manager of the Green River District in Vernal, UT, has been the acting Utah Associate State Director, and served as the Eastern States Director, where he enacted a large-scale office move and brought a field perspective and support to the Washington, D.C. offices of the BLM. 
“Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Gary enacted staff requests to issue free use wood permits to heat resident homes in rural areas, especially in a neighboring Tribal areas. Gary’s example prompted others to follow suit reducing citizen’s long drives to a headquarter office for a permit. 
“Gary empowers next generation BLM leaders by entrusting them with difficult but growth opportunities. Gary’s political-savvy, experience, direct style and humor make him a sought-after mentor and employee counselor. 
For Gary’s demonstrated performance and leadership, development of future leaders and proven ability to make a difference time and again, The Public Lands Foundation recognizes Gary Torres with its Outstanding Public Lands Professional Award in the Managerial / Administrative category for 2021. 
The award was presented to Torres on January 21 at the BLM Utah State Office.

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