...and the 2016 River Management Awards go to...

The River Management Society (RMS) congratulates winners of the 2016 River Management Awards, individuals who have exhibited outstanding achievement and leadership among river professionals in their stewardship of our rivers. Here are this year’s awardees, nominated by their peers and reviewed by the RMS Awards Committee:


River Manager of the Year - Stew Pappenfort2016 RMS Award Winners

Contribution to the River Management Society - Caroline Kurz

Contribution to River Management - Ed Fite

Frank Church Wild and Scenic Rivers Award - Doug Whittaker

Join us in applauding this year’s winners.  These honors, open to both members and non-members, represent the highest form of peer appreciation. Nominations are submitted by individuals from the river management community, and the selections are made by a committee of RMS members led by the National Secretary.

River Manager of the Year - Stew Pappenfort - Salida, Colorado

Stew Pappenfort is the Senior Law Enforcement Ranger for the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA). The AHRA is a premier Colorado State Park that consists of 152 miles of the Arkansas River with over 35 recreational sites along the river corridor, seeing nearly 1 million visitors in the summer of 2015. 2015 also presented AHRA with the highest water flow since 1995. Stew was there leading the way with over 40 years of river experience as a commercial guide and 26 years as a river ranger/manager, providing outstanding leadership for his two full time rangers and eight season temporary rangers. Stew’s knowledge and wisdom in the field of river management as well as natural resources help guide this AHRA team through the tough challenges faced on a day to day basis.

Stew is also the supervisor for the AHRA Youth Internship Program, providing young members of the river management and natural resource field with his skills and knowledge to lead a successful future in the river management field.

Contribution to the RMS - Caroline Kurz - Missoula, Montana

This award recognizes Caroline Kurz who has contributed to the success of the River Management Society for some 22 years and has created significant growth and positive change for the organization. For 17 years, the RMS “headquarters” was a spare room in Caroline’s home. During her tenure, she raised three daughters and spent countless hours of her own time, over and above her paid hours, contributing to the success of RMS. She was the only paid staff and put up with multiple Presidents and Chapter officers with varied personalities and styles.

During her tenure, Caroline coordinated and organized nine symposia in all corners of the U.S., and worked with agency representatives to conduct seven Interagency Workshops across the country as well.

From 1993 to 2010 RMS showed the following growth pattern, largely responsible due to Caroline’s leadership and personal impact to members over the phone, e-mail, correspondence, and one-on-one relationships.

Caroline edited and produced several versions of the RMS newsletter, and continues to working on the professional RMS Journal you see today. Caroline was the face of ARMS/RMS and was the consummate professional. Her quiet leadership skills and dedication put RMS on a path to continued success in the river management arena. Without her dedication, there would be no RMS today!

Contribution to River Management  -  Ed Fite - Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Act (OSRA) was enacted in 1970 to protect and preserve scenic rivers in their natural and free-flowing state with attention provided to enhancing scenic beauty, water conservation, fish, wildlife, and outdoor recreational values of present and future benefit to citizens of Oklahoma.  The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission (hereinafter referred to as the OSRC), a 12 member state agency was established in 1977 to oversee and carry out the provisions of the OSRA.  Its mission is to protect, enhance, and preserve the outstanding aesthetic, historic, archaeological and scientific features of the Illinois River and its five tributaries (Lee Creek, Little Lee Creek, Barren Fork Creek, Flint Creek, and the Upper Mountain Fork). The OSRC is invested with the power to establish minimum standards for planning and other ordinances affecting scenic rivers. They work with communities, businesses and individuals to educate, promote the enjoyment, and mitigate impacts on these special rivers. Gerald Hilsher, Chair of the OSRC, met Ed in 1998 and describes him as the hardest working man in State government and the one person most knowledgeable about the Illinois River and its tributaries.  

Frank Church Wild and Scenic Rivers - Doug Whittaker - Anchorage, Alaska 

Doug has had a long career in the natural resources field, most of it dedicated to rivers and many of those Wild and Scenic rivers. He has held planning positions with the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the National Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program. He has received awards from the State of Alaska for his leadership in planning for Susitna Basin Rivers, Special Achievement Awards from NPS Alaska Region for developing conferences and co-authoring a handbook on instream flows for recreation, and awards for leadership and service as Alaska Chapter president and for Outstanding Contribution to RMS.

Doug’s work is national in scope, with impacts from Alaska to Georgia, California to Connecticut, Nevada to Nebraska. This nomination cites a small number of specific examples of work on Wild and Scenic rivers from a much longer resume that shows a passion for and dedication to Wild and Scenic Rivers as well as the greater river management field. Doug’s work reflects a variety of roles, from individual efforts to membership on management, planning, research, or teaching teams. Beyond the specifics of individual projects, however, he “goes the extra mile” to advance awareness of WSRs, work effectively and cooperatively to build partnerships, develop innovative WSR management, organize outreach through conferences and training, improve management processes, and use his energy and leadership to promote the ideals of WSRs


RMS appreciates the RMS Awards Committee,hailing from Washington D.C., California, Vermont, Oregon, Washington State, Utah and Idaho.

To individuals who submitted nominations, and to the RMS Awards Committee members who have dedicate many hours of thoughtful consideration to the annual awards process: thank you!

Congratulations to our honorees!