The USDA Forest Service has awarded this year’s national Outstanding River Manager Award to Dave Payne, a Klamath National Forest recreation technician, in recognition for his four decades of service in support of the Klamath Wild and Scenic River system.
Payne said his surprise and reflection of being nominated for the award is summed up by a Chinese philosopher–“The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it.”
Payne began his career as River Manager on the Klamath in 1980 and is currently a Recreation Technician on the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District. Throughout each season, he works with outfitters and guides on the river and provides a friendly, positive Forest Service presence. Additionally, Payne tirelessly pulls tens of thousands of invasive weeds each year and constantly removes litter and trash from dump sites along the river corridor. His wildlife background and expertise in Klamath avifauna aids the Forest Service staff with Bald Eagle surveys and identifies important observations along the Klamath River and its tributaries.
“Dave really is a great example of someone who works on the land because they love it. He doesn’t need much and loves what he does! To me, those employees are the ones that make our work worth it!” stated Derrick Olinger, Happy Camp/Oak Knoll District Wildlife Biologist.
During his career, Payne has shared his knowledge of the Middle Klamath River and its history as he oriented new employees to the district and mentored numerous interns and volunteers through partnerships with multiple organizations and direct volunteer opportunities. Many of whom have gone on to work in river and land management themselves.“
The thing I have continuously been impressed by is the number of volunteers Dave signs up, and particularly return volunteers,” states Sarah Borman, Recreation Officer. “A lot of his former interns come back for a day or a few days pulling weeds and garbage along the river with him. They’ll bring friends and family, and sometimes it has turned into an annual event.”
The Outstanding River Manager is a Forest Service-wide award that recognizes an employee who exhibits leadership in protecting and enhancing river values, establishes long-term partnerships, and contributes to the growth of a wild and scenic river stewardship group or other significant partnership building effort.