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Grand Canyon Conservation Veteran Gets Top Award

Kim Crumbo’s 40-year career protecting the wild gets high honors

Ogden, UT (May 12, 2016) — Conservation funding mainstay, the Wilburforce Foundation, has rewarded Utah conservationist Kim Crumbo with its coveted Conservation Leadership Award. “The award is symbolic of our deep and abiding thanks to Kim for his commitment to protecting the wildest of the wild,” said Wilburforce’s founder, Rose Letwin.

Crumbo’s first appreciation of the wild was as a child in Hawaii, where his beach time “made me a lot of wild friends,” he says. His aquatic experiences continued during the Vietnam War as a Navy SEAL, although “being on an underwater demolition team was a bit distracting from my love of nature,” he wryly notes. That quickly changed, however, when Crumbo left the service and launched his true outdoor appreciation career as a river guide working with legendary Grand Canyon conservationist-boater Dee Holladay. “I went from the Mekong in March to the Colorado River in May,” Crumbo recalls.

The wilderness advocate later mixed his river running work with being a student at Utah State University where he received a degree in Environmental Studies, which gave him the credentials to take his first official conservation job with the Sierra Club in 1976 as that organization’s Utah Wilderness Coordinator.

That experience was followed by a 20-year career as a National Parks Service River Ranger and Wilderness Coordinator at the Grand Canyon, during which time Crumbo co-founded the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council in Flagstaff, AZ where he re-energized and began implementation of a languishing NPS draft ecosystem plan for the Grand Canyon.

Crumbo most recently joined the staff of the international conservation organization, Wildlands Network, as that group’s Western Conservation Director, where he oversees science-based public lands planning initiatives and is instrumental in the current campaign to recover Mexican gray wolves in the southwest.

Despite his life-long conservation leadership, Crumbo says he most values the mentoring he received from friendships with some of the conservation movement’s most dynamic, influential, and often controversial characters, including Earth First! Founder Dave Foreman, Michael Soule —renowned as the “Father of Conservation Biology,” and the late, rebel conservation-inspired author Edward Abbey.

Abbey wrote the forward for Crumbo’s 1981 book, “A River Runner’s Guide to the History of the Grand Canyon,” which quickly got the book banned from that National Park by the NPS for including, in Abbey’s inimitable style, a recommendation that “all river runners carry, as part of their basic equipment, a light-weight portable anti-aircraft weapon armed with heat-seeking missiles,” in order to control what Abbey called the “prevalence of helicopters and airplanes in and above the Grand Canyon.”

Crumbo lives in his hometown of Ogden, Utah with his wife, Becky.


Wildlands Network envisions a world where nature is unbroken, and where humans co-exist in harmony with the land and its wild inhabitants. Our mission is to reconnect, restore, and rewild North America so life in all its diversity can thrive.


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