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Contact: Casey Johanssen, 870-449-4311
On May 9, 2016, three employees of Buffalo National River were honored at the 71stDepartment of the Interior Honor Awards in Washington DC.
Chief of Interpretation and Resource Management Dr. Caven Clark received the Distinguished Service Award, the Department of the Interior's highest honor, for his outstanding leadership in cultural resource protection for the National Park Service. Hired as an archeologist in 2004, Dr. Clark has become a tremendous asset in the advancement of cultural resource protection across the National Park Service. Dr. Clark works closely with Law Enforcement, American Indian tribes, park staff, and other agencies to integrate the role of archeology and cultural resource awareness in protecting archeological sites, both from threats of looting and vandalism as well as from natural impacts of erosion and fire.
In 2011 Dr. Clark was assigned to a team led by the NPS Investigative Services Branch to investigate five persons suspected of looting and trafficking artifacts removed from federal properties in three states. The investigation resulted in the indictment and plea to a wide range of felony charges. In addition to his duties in the park, Dr. Clark has served as a member of the Archeological Resources Protection Training Program, teaching new rangers at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center about cultural resource protection. He reviews and edits training and case study material used to instruct students at the academy and in the field. For these efforts, he was recognized by the Investigative Services Branch for distinguished field service and overall commitment to criminal investigations.
United States Park Rangers Tracy Whitaker and Justin Gibbs received the Valor Award given to employees of the Department of the Interior who demonstrate unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of extreme danger. On October 17, 2015, Rangers Whitaker and Gibbs were called to assist Searcy County Sheriff's Department and Arkansas State Police concerning a hostage situation at a store in Leslie, Arkansas. While driving to the scene, a gunfight ensued. A deputy and the suspect were wounded but it was unclear if the suspect was in custody. The rangers, who are trained in Tactical Emergency Medical Services, entered the building and began rendering aid to the wounded deputy and the suspect.