Dick Manus will be retiring from the Bureau of Land Management on Dec. 14 after 33 years of service for the bureau. Manus said, "I have been pleased, proud and honored to be accepted by the local people here in Emery and Carbon counties.
"I was born in Bakersfield, Calif. and I attended college at Humboldt State College. I graduated in March of 1969. I graduated in natural resources which really means I'm a jack of all trades. I remember sitting on the college steps after graduation and thinking, 'now what are you capable of doing.' We were introduced to forestry, soil, fisheries and recreation. A little bit of everything.
"I married my wife Tisa in August of 1969. I had spent the previous three summers as a fire fighter. I was a summer crew chief. I took my new bride to the fire camp to show her off and while we were there I received a call from the big boss who said he had a permanent range conservation officers job with the BLM in Riverside, Calif. if I wanted it. I accepted the job as a range conservationist.
"The latter part of August I sent my wife back to school, she was finishing up her student teaching. We were in Riverside from August of 1969 to March 1975. The first year I was exposed to lands and realty right of ways. After that I worked with off-road vehicle management. The Barstow to Vegas motorcycle racing was just kicking off at that time and I worked with permitting and monitoring of those motorcycle clubs. The BLM Ranger program was born in California at this time. The Riverside office was the first office to introduce rangers. Initially they did not carry firearms or do any ticketing that came later on.
"I was encouraged to put in for one of the first ranger jobs and I was selected as one of the first three rangers. We were ambassadors of good will. We patrolled, gave out information, customer service and taught the public how to ethically use public lands. We had a staff of seven in Barstow.
"In 1974 in Barstow the first BLM way station was introduced. They coined the term way station from the old stagecoach stops of the old west. The way station was a detached resource for public information. There was a big to-do and it was a very memorable time since it was the first way station. The secretary of the interior at the time came out and other BLM officials.
"In 1975, I was selected as the area manager for the Idaho Falls district office. So I loaded up my wife who was eight months pregnant with our first child and our two German Shepherds and we headed for Idaho Falls. We arrived in March of 1975 just at the end of winter and I mentioned to those at the Idaho Falls office how sorry I was that we had missed the winter. I was a California boy so I was looking forward to the snow. But after experiencing one of those Idaho winters I knew what the locals meant when they said they weren't sorry to see winter go. It gets cold up there and the winters just seem to hang on.
"We moved into temporary quarters and then into a house on April 1. On April 9 we had just hung the last picture in the baby's room that day and on that night my wife woke me up and said 'do you want to have this baby now or wait a week.' She had just been to the doctor that day and he had told her it would be at least another week. Our daughter Lacee is now 26 years old, she and her husband live in Clovis, N.M. with our two grandchildren a girl aged five and a new baby boy who is two months old. They will be coming up to spend Christmas. We haven't seen the baby yet.
"Our son Darrick was also born in Idaho Falls. He is now 24 and attending the University of Utah to become a mechanical engineer. He is engaged to be married in February.
"Living in Idaho Falls was a great experience, it introduced me to the Rocky Mountains. My love of the outdoors and fishing and hunting activities intensified in these great surroundings. The view of the Teton Mountains was unbelievable. I used to look at them on my way to work everyday and think I didn't ever want to take that view for granted. In the resource area there we managed seven counties.
"My next move was to Washington D.C. into the hub of the BLM. I was on the management research staff. We were trouble shooters. I worked as a liaison between the Washington office and the state of Alaska. Alaska wanted to be a two tier state as far as management went. At the time we had state offices, district offices and resource offices. As a liaison for the two tier project I made several trips to Alaska. I also worked closely with the forest service on land exchange proposals. None of which ever came to fruition, but the analysis and participation was useful to both organizations.
"We also analyzed public comments from Idaho residents, led mineral evaluations, staff functions and a lot of different things. This gave me a good overview of the BLM, from the Washington perspective. It was different being in a staff position. The weather, people and the commute were all different. You couldn't see very far because of all the trees. I really enjoyed the stop over in this area for a variety of reasons. The historical aspect of the area and I liked seeing the overall big picture of the BLM and how things are managed from headquarters. I've been down in the trenches so to speak and it was interesting to see the wheelings and dealings of politics.
"In the BLM they try to bring in field officers through the circuit into the Washington office and back into the field again. It is neat to see the conversions that take place with the workers in the organization as they see the big picture. Although some never do.
"From Washington I lateraled out to Carlsbad, N.M. as an area manager of a detached office. In a detached office you have your hands on the rudder and are more involved in running the operation and you are more independent than in a large office. We had 55 permanent staff members. I was exposed to minerals operation which I hadn't been prior. We handled a tremendous amount of oil and gas applications. The pot ash mining in the area accounts for 75 percent of total United States production. Pot ash is mainly used in fertilizer. We oversaw the pot ash mining. There were approximately 700 applications a year for oil and gas operations. For example in the Price office we see between 100-125 applications. In the Vernal office they see between 300-450 in a year. In New Mexico I moved a lot of paper doing authorizations for the oil and gas activity in the area. I was in New Mexico from July of 1986 to Dec. of 1996.
"In the mid-1990s the BLM flattened out the organization and it became an overall two tier organization. I became aware of a vacancy in the Price office for a field office manager. This area was previously represented by two area managers. The BLM has come full circle and the Moab, Monticello and Price offices are three separate field offices.
"I am responsible for the Emery and Carbon counties BLM lands which total 2.5 million surface acres. In New Mexico I was responsible for 2.2 million surface acres. On any given day I take calls dealing with river management such as in Desolation Canyon, management of the Cleveland/Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, wild horse management, off-highway vehicle concerns and questions on the national conservation area. We deal with more high quality issues and resources than most other field offices of the BLM.
"I have had an enjoyable and fruitful career. I am tickled to experience this part of the world. I love this geographic region. The quality of public land resources and the support of the people have been a real blessing.
"I took the contractor we recently hired out and introduced him to our area. One day we spent in Nine Mile Canyon and the second day at the Wedge and the Buckhorn, this area knocked their socks off. The quality of resources here speaks for itself. Many times I show pictures of the Swell or Wedge and ask, 'What national park do you think this is?' The public lands of the Price field office is national high quality. I described it in a recent magazine article about our area as being 'blue ribbon quality.' After 33 years I think I can say that objectively. This is my favorite area and I think I'm a good judge after the moving around I've done. I can say that with some validity.
"I was happy to be in on the first ranger program and the initial way station. I am happy I worked in Idaho and was exposed to that part of the world. My time in Washington was well spent seeing the big picture and I ended up in the neatest country you can imagine and was paid to work in this area. Looking back I see many staff members I have worked with who have moved up to take leadership positions in the BLM. The mentoring that took place and the relationships I've formed with various staff members, commissions, and the partnerships with user groups have been very significant. Should the Swell ever become nationally recognized I would feel part of the front end of that process and I would consider that a highlight of my career.
"We plan to stay in this area for a while. My wife is working on her masters from Utah State and this will take another three or four years. We might end up in the Grand Junction area which would be a compromise between my wife's need for shopping and my need for the outdoors. I am still learning the local fishing holes. I am still partial to my old fishing holes in Montana and Idaho and I am still experimenting with local fisheries. My wife said it was my turn to stay home and take care of her. I will be a house husband and I enjoy cooking so I'll be doing a bit of that. It will be fun to have some freedom and be independent and do my own scheduling. I am looking forward to it after 33 years of work, 27 of which have been on the front lines as a supervisor or manager. It is time to take a break and begin the next chapter of my life. I want to be available for my grandkids and focus on the family a little more," said Manus.