Protectors of Tule Springs receives Prestigious George and Helen Hartzog Award

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Article by Jill DeStefano, President, Protectors of Tule Springs

Protectors of Tule Springs Board
Protectors of Tule Springs Board President Jill DeStefano, Vice President Sandy Crouteau, and TUSK Integrated Resources Program Manager Erin Eichenberg accept the Hartzog Group Award at ceremony in Washington, DC.

The Protectors of Tule Springs (POTS), a group of community citizens, was informally founded in 2006 to protect public lands from development in the Upper Las Vegas Wash and the northwest portion of the Las Vegas Valley. As plans for development of these areas began, the local group of citizens began their quest to permanently protect the area of what is now the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK). Their early and continued efforts to protect the unique paleontological, archeological, and biological resources have resulted in 13 years of promotion of the monument and interpretation to the public through guided hikes, lectures, cultural and natural resource projects, paleontology-related activities and events, and news media.

Protectors of Tule Springs Board President Jill DeStefano and Vice President Sandy Croteau accepted the George and Helen Hartzog Group Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service in Washington D.C. on Thursday, August 22. Erin Eichenberg, NPS Integrated Resources Program Manager for Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK) also attended the event. TUSK is a newer park that is just beginning the management planning process and has only 3 full time employees. The Protectors’ original focus was the preservation of the fossils at the monument, but they have since shown eagerness to learn about the other sciences related to the park. Their enthusiasm and willingness to expand their interests have allowed TUSK to develop a diverse and interdisciplinary volunteer program, in addition to a successful Resource Management Program within its first years of establishment.

Protectors of Tule Springs and NPS staff at Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument partner to provide fossil-themed educational outreach.
Protectors of Tule Springs and NPS staff at Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument partner to provide fossil-themed educational outreach.

The purpose of the Hartzog awards is to honor volunteer’s hard work, draw attention to their vast skills and contributions, and to stimulate development of innovative projects and volunteer involvement. The awards distinguish those individuals or groups who gave of their skills, talents, and time beyond the normal call of duty during the previous fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. DeStefano credits the work of Protectors volunteers for the award. “To receive this level of national recognition is a testament to the deep commitment and hard work of our small but mighty volunteer team. Our founding members spent more than eight years raising awareness for the need to protect these lands, and since the [Tule Springs Fossil Beds National] Monument was established almost five years ago, our Board and extended team of volunteers have spent thousands of hours in cleanup efforts, trail building, fundraising, educational outreach, legislative support, fence patrol and anything else you can imagine.”

Croteau said, “We were beyond excited to be named last month as the Pacific West Region winners and then were absolutely blown away to find out that we would be receiving the national award. For Protectors, this is a labor of love – none of us receive compensation and some of us are out in the Monument every day – and to receive this level of recognition is so gratifying. It just motivates us to do even more and will hopefully attract even more volunteers to join us!”

Last updated: October 4, 2019