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EPA salutes St. George man at Utah Water Summit

Release Date: 11/30/2001
Contact Information:
Reed Harris (801) 538-7420,

Release Date: 11/30/2001
Contact Information:
Rich Lathrop (303) 312 6780

      Salt Lake City -- Ronald W. Thompson, District Manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District, was recognized Thursday by the acting Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for balancing economic growth and endangered species protection in booming southwestern Utah.

      EPA's Jack McGraw presented the Agency's environmental achievement award during yesterday's Summit hosted by the Utah Water Users Association and the Utah Water Conservation Forum at the West Coast Hotel.

      Reed Harris, who directs the endangered species recovery program for Utah's Department of Natural Resources (UDNR), nominated Thompson. "While Ron has been an ardent defender of local citizens in the exercise of their right to develop their water and land, has also been a staunch advocate of compliance with the Endangered Species Act both in spirit and intent," Harris said.

      Thompson's specific contributions included:

      --negotiating a water settlement with the Shivwits Band of the Paiute Indian Tribe later signed by then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Kathleen Clarke, UDNR's executive director.

      --starting the planning for the desert tortoise Habitat Conservation Plan which freed up some 12,000 acres of land for development while establishing a permanent 60,000-acre preserve for the tortoise.

      --developing a recovery plan for the endangered fish of the Virgin River system that will serve as a model for cooperation among water users, natural resource agencies and environmentalists.
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      --working for passage of Utah's Endangered Species Mitigation Fund Act which provides some $2.3 million yearly to target sensitive species and to solve natural-resource-use conflicts as they arise.

      "These awards recognize outstanding commitment to protecting the environment by individuals and organizations in Utah," McGraw said. "Our hope is that leadership demonstrated by such award winners will influence others to make a difference in their own communities."

      Thompson is among 65 groups or individuals EPA recognized with awards this year in its six-state Region 8. Earlier this year, awards went to the Utah Society for Environmental Education and George Hopkin, Chief of Environmental Quality at the Utah Department of Food and Agriculture.