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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:
- The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Air Pollution Control Division, the Environmental Protection Agency – Region 8, and the National Park Service – Air Resources Division, in recognition of their collaborative support in advancing the long-term protection of the park by assisting in preparing the Rocky Mountain National Park – Nitrogen Deposition Reduction Plan.
- The Towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake, for support in advancing the long-term protection of Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Bureau of Land Management – Kremmling Field Office, for coordinating a complicated land exchange that enabled the park to preserve and protect a particular tract of land in its undisturbed state for wildlife habitat.
- The National Trust for Historic Preservation, for the protection of The McGraw Ranch Historic District and other historic resources in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- The Rocky Mountain Nature Association, for preserving natural and cultural resources and contributing greatly to the education of millions of people who visit the park and for its lasting and outstanding contributions to the mission of the park.
- The Estes Valley Land Trust, for preserving open space in the Estes Valley and for adding to the park through protecting adjacent lands.
- The Estes Park Chapter, League of Women Voters, for its critical role in achieving a ban on commercial tour overflights above Rocky Mountain National Park.
- James Disney, former Larimer County Commissioner, for his advocacy of protecting and preserving Colorado’s public lands, particularly Rocky Mountain National Park.
- John Fielder, in recognition of his two-year long project of photographically recording all of Rocky Mountain National Park’s lakes, and for his many years of advocacy for America’s wild places.
- The Shining Mountain Group of the Colorado Mountain Club for its years of volunteer work including removing trash from the park, trimming back vegetation along park roads and trails, assisting with a parkwide visitor use survey and removing barbed wire fencing that posed danger to park wildlife and visitors.
- Two co-recipients – (1) Pieter Hondius, Estes Park businessman and developer, for his efforts in establishing the Estes Valley Land Trust, an organization that encourages land donations by private citizens to help preserve open spaces in the area; and (2) Lurline Curran, Kremmling resident and Grand County (CO) planner, for her work in promoting development on private lands adjacent to the park that is compatible with the national park’s scenic grandeur.
- Stephen W. Gillette, Estes Park businessman and recycling proponent, for his efforts as the principle mover behind the Larimer County project SOAR (Save Our Area Resources).
- Jean Weaver, Estes Park resident, for her work over the years in establishing a viable recycling program in the Estes Park area.