Three Individuals Recognized for Their Leadership In Protecting Park Resources
Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363
Rocky Mountain National Park Superintendent Vaughn Baker announced that Karl Cordova, Karen Battle-Sanborn and Jim Freeman are the recipients of the 2008 Rocky Mountain National Park Stewardship Award. The National Park Service proudly presents the Stewardship Award to outstanding individuals and organizations that contribute significantly to the stewardship of the park and the surrounding environment. These three individuals were selected for this award in recognition of their leadership in the settlement claim of the Grand River Ditch breach, the largest natural resource damage payment in the history of the Park System Resource Protection Act (19jj).
The Grand Ditch is a trans-basin water diversion project that takes water from the Colorado River Basin and transports it to the South Platte River Basin. A 14-plus mile portion of the ditch is located within the park. On May 30, 2003, a breach in the ditch bank and ensuing flood waters severely injured more than 20 acres of pristine park land and destroyed wetlands on the west side of the park. Due to the extent of damages to park and visitor resources, the NPS developed a claim as defined by 16 U.S.C. 19jj and the 1907 liability stipulation to restore injuries to park resources.
The United States’ claim was filed in federal court (Colorado District) by Department of Justice on August 31, 2006 and on May 5, 2008 the Water Supply and Storage Company, a mutual ditch company and the owner and operator of the Grand River Ditch, agreed to pay $9 million for damages to natural resources within Rocky Mountain National Park caused by the breach. The settlement proceeds will be used to restore areas in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Superintendent Baker noted, “These three individuals played a significant role in making this settlement possible. Karl Cordova, former Supervisory Biologist at the park and now Superintendent at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, was a key leader in the assessment of the injuries to park property. Karen Battle-Sanborn, Damage Assessment Case Officer with the National Park Service Environmental Response Damage Assessment and Restoration Division, was a key leader in the assessment of the injuries to park property and was part of the claim from its inception until its settlement. Karl and Karen’s efforts provided a scientifically sound foundation for restoration of the breach site. Jim Freeman, Trial Attorney with the US Department of Justice - Environment and Natural Resources Division, was a key leader in the preparation of the claim, integrating all aspects of the assessment of the injuries to park property into the case. Jim’s efforts provided a strong case in support of restoration of the breach site. The collective teamwork of these three individuals was essential in making this notable settlement occur.”
Past recipients of the park’s stewardship award include: