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PLF President George Lea announced the selection, which recognizes Tom, not only for an outstanding career with BLM, but for his leadership in the development and implementation of the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act of 2000. The Act and the planning resulted in creating the largest single unit of wilderness in Oregon and the first legislated cow-free wilderness area.
Under Tom's leadership and following the Steens Act, a 12-member Steens Mountain Advisory Council (SMAC) was organized and began to tackle the public land management issues presented by the Steens. The 425,550-acre Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area in southeast Oregon's high desert reaches a peak elevation of 9,773 feet. The area contains the highest road in the state and a wealth of outstanding recreational and fragile ecological values.
Tom's efforts to bring divergent interest groups together with common goals was not an easy task. Under intense scrutiny and debate, Tom demonstrated amazing personal courage and an effective personal style to keep multiple interests together at the table to identify mutual win-win solutions.