Robert Bolton received a B.S. in Range Management (now named Rangeland Ecology and Management) and Wildlife Science in 1978 from Oregon State University.
What I have done since graduating from OSU:
Upon graduation in spring of 1978 I accepted a summer seasonal job with the USDA Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, ID and worked with a team of three others to conduct a vegetation survey (weight estimate) in the Centennial Mountains on the Continental Divide between ID and MT. The vegetation survey was conducted to determine if domestic sheep grazing was overgrazing the range. This job was extremely rewarding and provided exposure to range survey methods; plus the opportunity to camp and work on a weekly basis in beautiful mountains and great wildlife habitat was a nice bonus.
In September 1978, I accepted a Range Conservationist position with the Bureau of Land Management in Elko, NV and worked for 3 years doing range administration and range site correlation with a soil survey. This was great experience to apply what I had learned in college and work with ranchers to develop allotment management plans, design and install various range improvements, and conduct rangeland monitoring. The range site (now ecological site) correlation work provided invaluable experience as it provided me a context for site potential to help prepare realistic and achievable objectives for grazing plans. This Range Conservationist position with BLM was the start of what has been a 30-year career with BLM.
1981 to 1984. I worked as the Supervisory Range Conservationist in Elko, NV in two Resource Areas supervising 4-8 range conservationists. Even though supervision was my job, I was still involved in field work and helping train and mentor new range conservationists.
In 1984 I got married to Julie - a graduate from Cal Poly in CA in Natural Resource Management. Julie was working on a range survey for a private ranch. She, as explained further in this story, has also applied her college education to land and animal husbandry.
1984 to 1988. I worked as an Area Manager in Lakeview, OR and managed and supervised a staff of 5 permanent employees for a resource area of 1.6 million acres. In my opinion, working as Area Manager was the best of both worlds - I was able to get to the field and ‘read' the land while having responsibility of making management decisions for conservation and public land uses.
1989 to 1993. As a result of a reorganization combining two resource areas, I became Area Manager of the new resource area (3.1 million acres) and supervised a staff of 22 employees. Again, Area Manager (now called Field Manager) was a great job. I valued the opportunity to learn from staff specialists on recommendations to improve land management. Together many decisions were made that improved management for wildlife, recreation, livestock grazing, and other disciplines. This was a very rewarding experience for me.
1994 to 2001. I served as the Noxious Weed State Coordinator for the BLM Oregon/Washington State Office (stationed in Lakeview). I worked with other District Office Weed Specialists to conduct weed inventory, weed treatment and develop partnerships with other agencies and private industry to work on weed management. Our State Weed Team formed a task group and prepared the first OR/WA Noxious Weed Strategy that provided a framework (set of goals) to focus our time and budgets towards effective weed management. I had the privilege of working with exceptional and very driven individuals and organization on a common theme of noxious weed management. Many of these relationships I made during this seven years are still intact today. The common vision of working together on one of the top land management issues, and designing and implementing programs and projects to treat and restore our public lands was very rewarding.
2001 to 2003. In 2001, we took the big step and moved to the beltway where I worked as a Budget Analyst in the BLM Washington Headquarters Office in Washington DC. I had previously done two one-month details in the budget shop in the late 90's to understand how budgets are formulated and learn how to package budget proposals for needed programs. I enjoyed the details and when the opportunity for a budget position opened I applied. In this budget analyst position I was in charge of developing the Wildland Fire Management Budget for BLM including six programs: Pre-suppression, Suppression, Emergency Stabilization, Rehabilitation, Wildland Urban Interface and Non-Wildland Urban Interface. These were times of breaking new ground as we were implementing the National Fire Plan that was signed in 2001. We regularly dealt with 3 to 4 fiscal budget years at a time, and worked with Program leads to help provide the funds needed for the state and field work. This 2 ½ years of budget experience was great!
2004 - Present. I worked as the Senior Rangeland Management Specialist in the Rangeland Division located in Washington, DC. My primary duties include national rangeland management policy and budget development by working with a very competent staff of Rangeland Management Specialists and coordinating with State Range Specialist Program leads. Even though I work for a Division Chief and ultimately the Director of BLM, my ‘real' work is to help get resources (funds, policy, tools, direction) to the BLM Field Offices so they can improve land health and do the work they need. When I left Lakeview, OR to move to Washington, D.C. a good friend said don't forget us out here; I never have, as every morning at work I ask myself, what can I do today to help the Field Managers and their staff do their job better.
Having been raised on a wheat and cattle farm in north central Oregon (Dufur), I always wanted to have some property and livestock. While in Lakeview, Julie and I owned and operated a small farm and started raising Paint horses, and raised grass and alfalfa hay and pasture. Our family, including our 13-year old daughter Nina, was very fortunate on our adventure to work in Washington, D.C. in that we purchased a farm in northern MD. Julie's occupation now is full time horse trainer and farmer - we not only raise and train Paints, but also raise grass-fed beef, lamb, and free range poultry. Our primary focus is on grass management - much different than western rangelands but we still apply the same rangeland management fundamentals and principles. We are very blessed - I am able to write policy at my office job, and do management and application at home. Our vacations are yearlong with the farm and animals! It's a great life!!