University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Bootstraps Program has received the 2013 Partners in Conservation Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior, one of only 20 programs across the nation to receive this award for achievements in conservation of natural resources that include collaborative activity among a diverse range of entities.
The Bootstraps Program gives at-risk young adults, ages 18 to 25, the opportunity to be involved in natural resource project work, such as restoring sage-grouse habitat. Through the program, participants receive practical classroom instruction and field experience, as well as the skills and decision-making abilities to return to school or enter the workforce. Since 2005, the program has employed more than 100 at-risk young adults, about two-thirds of whom are Native Americans.
“It is hard work,” an ex-participant said. “It pays off when you see that your project is done — how much difference it makes to the environment, either the fencing or working with endangered species like sage-grouse — making a home for them.”
According to Lander County Extension Educator Rod Davis, the program’s creator and director, last summer Bootstraps crews cleaned up greater sage-grouse habitat areas by removing or controlling pinyon-juniper trees on more than 1,700 acres of public lands in southern Lander County, Nev. Over the last nine years, Bootstraps crews have treated more than 12,000 acres of pinyon-juniper trees in primarily priority sage-grouse habitat, built 150 riparian micro-enclosures to protect Aspen tree stands, and more. Nevada Bureau of Land Management’s Battle Mountain District and other partners help pay crew members though financial assistance agreements with Cooperative Extension.
“Our partners give us confidence in a bright tomorrow and are an inspiration to us all,” said Amy Lueders, the bureau’s state director.
The Partners in Conservation Award recognizes outstanding conservation results that have been produced primarily because of engagement and contributions of many partners. To build the successful Bootstraps Program, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension collaborated with:
- Bureau of Land Management Battle Mountain District
- Duck Valley Sho-Pai Tribe
- Eureka County
- Lander County
- National Mule Deer Foundation
- Natural Resources and Conservation Service
- Nevada Bighorns Unlimited
- Nevada Department of Wildlife
- University of Nevada, Reno College of Education
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
“The Department of the Interior is proud to recognize the accomplishments of those who are innovating and collaborating in ways that address today’s complex conservation and stewardship challenges,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said at a January awards ceremony at the Interior headquarters in Washington, D.C. “These partnerships represent the gold standard for how Interior is doing business across the nation to power our future, strengthen tribal nations, conserve and enhance America’s great outdoors and engage the next generation.”
For more information about Bootstraps, visit http://www.unr.edu/silverandblue/archive/2010/fall/nsb_fall_2010_14-15_web.pdf or http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/cy/2012/cm1203.pdf.