Venture into Southern Utah and you will find yourself surrounded by multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes, pinnacles and canyons that glow in the sunlight. Nearly two million acres of this land make up the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument- a scientific and geological wonder within a spectacular wilderness.
Managing the scientific values within this vast Monument can be a challenge, but Carolyn Shelton, Assistant Manager-Science and Visitor Services, has displayed extraordinary abilities to lead efforts to ensure science and research are priorities within Grand Staircase. To honor her commitment she was awarded The Conservation Lands Alliance’s Jeff Jarvis Conservation Leadership Award. The Jeff Jarvis Conservation Leadership Award has been established to honor the legacy and leadership of Jeff Jarvis, a longtime Bureau of Land Management leader, and to inspire current and future leaders within the BLM to demonstrate the passion that Jeff had for the protection and management of BLM lands within the National Landscape Conservation System.
The Grand Staircase was the first monument established under the National Landscape Conservation System and managed by the BLM. It is home to fossilized dinosaur beds and previously undiscovered plant species, and holds a wealth of yet-to-be analyzed scientific and cultural data. The place is a breeding ground for discovery and Shelton has been a passionate supporter for scientific work within the Monument. She has led the implementation of the Monument Management Plan and exudes a passion for science, wilderness and appropriate recreation uses in the Monument, as well as the Conservation System as a whole.
Shelton was nominated for the award by the Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners—a member of the Conservation Lands Alliance. The Alliance is a coalition of eighty conservation, historic preservation, faith-based, recreation, business, education and place-based friends groups representing millions of Americans nationwide and working to advance the mission of the National Landscape Conservation System. The Alliance recognized her work in:
Using innovation to secure funding for an important vacant position in the science program, Carolyn worked through the Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners organizations to help fund a Science Coordinator position. The position was so successful that the Washington evaluation team recommended hiring a Science Program Administrator.
As division chief for science and visitor services she helps train visitor center staff on ways to incorporate research knowledge into the educational programs for the benefit of visitors. She also insures that the staff understands the purpose and mission of the National Conservation Lands. This work is incredibly important in BLM’s goal to bring more public awareness to the Conservation System as well as better integrating the System into the BLM, agency-wide.
- Shelton has had a long and distinguished career with BLM before she came to the Grand Staircase National Monument, as well. For example, in addition to providing leadership in the development and design of the award-winning visitor centers for the Monument, she led the design of the equally wonderful and impressive National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Oregon.
Aldo Leopold once wrote that a land ethic “reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land.” We believe that honoring this commitment is important and that often times those who take on this responsibility go unnoticed. The Jeff Jarvis Conservation Leadership Award is one way to recognize those who go above and beyond. This year Carolyn Shelton deservedly gets that acknowledgement.