By Kimberly Mazza
LANDER – Todd Parfitt, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director presented the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) Public Outreach Award to Gina Clingerman of the BLM for her ongoing efforts in the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Native Plants Project, providing sagebrush habitat reclamation in Wyoming.
Parfitt also presented the Lander Middle School with the IMCC Mining Awareness Educator Award for the science teachers and students participating in the Sagebrush Steppe Educational Classes and Sagebrush Planting Activities. Lander Middle School teachers attending the ceremony were Gala Hammer, Codi Jorgensen, CeCe Prine and Tina Russell along with Principal Jade Morton. The students included Sara Kearns, Aria Ghormeley, Wyatt Filman, and Avery LeJambre.
The IMCC is a multi-state governmental organization supporting natural resources and environmental protection related to mining. The 26 member states are represented by their governors.
Serving as the IMCC Past President, Parfitt made the presentation. “It is an honor to present this to Gina. Her work, her enthusiasm, and her drive for the NPP are to be commended. Since 2018 when the program started, 84,845 seedlings have been grown for reclamation projects in Wyoming and Idaho. Just this past fall with the help of Lander School students, 3,773 seedlings of sagebrush were planted.
Several Wyoming DEQ staff who have participated in the NPP attended the ceremony – Natural Resources Program Principals, Josh Oakleaf and Gwen Robson, and Natural Resources Program Principal Taunee Simonelli.
Don Newton, Administrator for the DEQ’s AML Division and the orchestrator of the program for Wyoming helped present the awards. “This national award recognizes Ms. Clingerman’s development of the many partnerships in the program, most notably with the Lander Middle School, Wyoming Honor Farm, Institute for Applied Ecology, Office of Surface Mining, BLM and The Nature Conservancy, among others. This type of leadership is what has made the program continue to thrive.”
Director Parfitt also commended the Honor Farm and the many inmates involved in the program. “They are foundational to this program. Not only do they work hard every day to nurture the seedlings for growth, but they also spend several days planting the seedlings.”
In closing, Parfitt stated, “Wyoming and its diverse habitat is better because of the Native Plant Program. Not only are we reclaiming old mines that have been abandoned, but we are enhancing the environment with crucial habitat that is important for Wyoming’s diverse wildlife in the process.”