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Beyond #UNLITTER: Conservation in the Bureau of Land Management and Western Wilderness

By Brooke Tentis


Girl in the mountains next to a river

As a political science major, I didn't see myself in the role that I am in today when I was attending college at the University of Florida. After graduating during COVID and feeling a bit lost and unconnected, I joined the Conservation Corps for a summer. This experience really changed my life trajectory. It connected my love for the environment to potential career opportunities. The Conservation Corps allowed me to meet a lot of like-minded people, explore outdoor industry opportunities, and gain the proper training to pursue those in the future. After I found this love for the outdoor industry, I decided to take the leap and move to Colorado to work on a ski resort. With 85 days a year spent riding the slopes, I deepened my connection to nature and gained an immense respect for the beauty and power of western winters. Now, I’m an official employee of the outdoor industry, working as a rangeland monitor for the Bureau of Land Management.

Identifying plant types

The Bureau of Land Management in Utah is responsible for nearly 22.8 million acres of public lands, which makes up about 42 percent of the state. The expansive land ranges from red rock canyons, to high mountain wilderness, to desert salt flats. These diverse landscapes, under the stewardship of the BLM, embody the essence of untouched wilderness, offering a glimpse into the raw beauty and geological history of the American West. From the glow of sunrise on the iconic Delicate Arch to the winding canyons that tell stories carved by time itself, BLM land in Utah stands as a testament to the power of nature and the importance of responsible conservation.The expansive landscapes form a living testament to the delicate interplay between human activity and the natural world. These lands embody the essence of conservation, serving as a canvas where the endeavors of preservation, recreation, and sustainable resource management come together.


The thing I love most about my job is the opportunity to be outside everyday, seeing the beautiful

Girl in a cave looking at trees

landscapes that Utah has to offer. As a BLM employee, work becomes intrinsically tied to conservation as you engage in activities that balance the responsible use of these lands with their preservation for future generations. The work I do is referred to as rangeland monitoring. Essentially, I go out into the field and collect data on vegetation health, soil stability and hydrology. This data is used by the BLM to determine ecological health and address any significant impacts from grazing, invasive species or wildfires. In addition, this data is shared with the public and is often used by conservation organizations as scientific backing for issues they may be trying to address. You can explore this data at https://gbp-blm-egis.hub.arcgis.com/pages/utah.


I’m extremely passionate about responsible recreation. Since moving out west, I have immersed myself in rock climbing, snowboarding, fly fishing, and backpacking. Participating in activities that are at the will of the environment comes with a special responsibility. It is too often that I see people doing these activities with no thought on their impact on the environment. Hiking off trails, climbing on sensitive or fragile rock, to improper handling of native trout; these all have a negative impact on the ecology. However, these things can all be fixed with the proper education; so I've made it a personal responsibility to educate myself and the people around me whenever I can.

Girl rock climbing in Utah

Reflecting on my adventures over the last several years, I realize that my journey has come full circle. Rooted in the ethos of conservation that I initially learned at #UNLITTER, now I do it as my job.

Mountain

The mission of mindfulness to the environment in everyday life, instilled by #UNLITTER, now thrives within me as I integrate conservation principles into every step of my journey, ensuring that a legacy of responsible stewardship endures.





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