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Gretchen Hurley plants sagebrush during a reclamation project. (BLM photo by Lisa Marks)

Bureau of Land Management Geologist Gretchen Hurley has received a national BLM Director Award for her efforts to reclaim the abandoned uranium mines on Little Mountain in Wyoming’s northern Bighorn Mountains between 2006 and 2020.

The annual Excellence Through Stewardship Award recognizes a select few BLM employees for their exemplary stewardship performance, resulting in a local or national contribution to the BLM’s mission. Hurley was honored at a virtual award ceremony earlier this month for her “outstanding conservation and restoration of natural resources on Wyoming’s Little Mountain.”

“Gretchen’s persistence to complete the top priority for reclamation in the State of Wyoming Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program resulted in alleviating public safety concerns and improving the health of the land for future generations,” said acting Cody Field Manager Chad Krause.  

The special recognition is for Hurley’s work to reclaim three hazardous uranium mine areas abandoned 50 years ago on Little Mountain. From before the early 1950s through 1970, the Little Mountain area experienced an active period of uranium exploration and underground mining. The surface and underground disturbance caused by this mining was never reclaimed, resulting in numerous physical and radiological hazards left behind. The abandoned mines were successfully reclaimed in fall 2020, in partnership with the State of Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality AML Division.

“The entire project was an awesome convergence of teamwork, collaboration, land stewardship, application of best practices and protection of public health and safety,” said Hurley. “I deeply appreciate receiving the Excellence Through Stewardship Award for this project and couldn’t have done so without steadfast assistance from my associates at the BLM and State of Wyoming.”

The project transformed 80 acres of hazardous abandoned mine disturbance into a safe, stable, recontoured and reseeded landscape, matching the scenic, open country which surrounds it.   

Hurley has worked for the BLM for 21 years and currently serves as the geologist and AML coordinator for the Cody Field Office. She started as a temporary geologist in the mid 1990s in Worland and began working as a full-time geologist in Cody in 2004, managing the solid minerals, AML and paleontology programs. In 2012, Hurley received the national BLM Director Spirit of Service Award for her work with Bighorn Basin bentonite companies.  

(1) comment

Robert Alber

Great job! Love to see federal employees protecting our public lands.

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