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James (Jim) W. Keeler

Our good friend and colleague Jim passed away on August 13, 2014. Please visit his memorial page more more information: www.forevermissed.com/james-keeler

Senior Outdoor Recreation Planner

30 Years Public Land Management

27 Years Outdoor Recreation Planning- Specialized Experience in Motorized Travel Management


Sacramento, CA




BA Theatre Arts, Television and Cinema Production, Humboldt State University, Arcata CA, 1970


After a 30 year career in Public Land Management, Jim retired from the USDI, Bureau of Land Management in July 2012.  Since that time he has continued to stay active in several related projects:

  • Assisted with course development; provided course logistics and teaching support for 6 motorized travel management courses at various field locations for the BLM National Training Center.
  • Joined the Board of Directors for the American Conservation Experience (ACE) in Flagstaff AZ.  In early 2013, developed and taught a training segment on planning and obtaining a land management career as part of the orientation for new Americorps members.

Jim has been affiliated with Great Outdoors Consultants during its startup, and is interested in providing a range of project oversight and site consulting in OHV management, and general Outdoor Recreation Planning.


Work History


2003-2013           Travel Management (OHV) Coordinator, BLM California State Office

Served as member of BLM State office Natural Resources and Planning staff as an Outdoor Recreation Planner.  Provided support and oversight to field offices on recreation issues; served as primary staff member responsible for managing large OHV management program for BLM California.   Selected activities during this period include:

·        Served as overall program coordinator for BLM participation in California State OHV Grant program.

12 Field Offices and State Office applied for and received almost $ 100 million in grants during this period for OHV management tasks including: Resource Management; Facility and other OHV development; Law Enforcement; Restoration; Planning; and Land Acquisition.   Served as BLM representative at most California OHV Commission Meetings.  Prepared and delivered BLM updates and answered questions from Commission members and public.

o   Reviewed and edited more than 20 Resource Management Plans.  Reviewed, and served on several litigation-response teams.

o   Worked with State Office to develop standardized Global Inventory System (GIS) database for OHV Data.  Wrote grants, oversaw, and assisted with data collection team and GIS Quality Control staff.

o   Served as a member of an Interdisciplinary Team with other resource staff members to review documents; and a 9 month effort to develop criteria for incorporation of Industrial Scale Solar projects in 15 Million Acre California Desert District.



2000-2003 BLM National OHV Coordinator

Jim served as team leader and primary coordinator for the National OHV strategy for BLM.  I recruited various teams of document preparation staff; comment readers; and a writer-editor.  In all effort included 50 public meetings; a television broadcast; numerous BLM senior Staff and Solicitor meetings.  Effort resulted in over 17,000 comments, and a working document the BLM National OHV Strategy was published is 2001.


During and after the OHV Strategy development, Jim worked as the National OHV Specialist and an Outdoor Recreation Planner on the National Recreation Group.  He provided guidance to management and other Washington Subject-Matter Staff.


Other accomplishments included:

·        Recruitment of State Travel Management Leads for the 12 BLM States with primary Land Management responsibilities.  With the National OHV Coordinator, the leads became a standing group that still exists as the BLM Trails and Travel Management Team.   With Jim’s initial leadership, the TTMT had more than 10 conference calls and annual face-to-face meetings.  This team developed BLM policy on trail designation; travel management  planning; developed and finalized interim guidance; wrote and finalized Manuals and Handbooks on the process; and developed training curriculum for Recreation Planners, Travel Planners, and other members of interdisciplinary teams performing travel management and route evaluation and designation.



1989-2000  Outdoor Recreation Planner, Ridgecrest and Barstow Field Offices

Jim was hired as a Park Ranger, OHV specialist in Ridgecrest to perform visitor services field contacts, and with an additional mandate to assist in design, construction, and implementation of an OHV visitor center.  After a few years he was promoted in-place as an Outdoor Recreation Planner.  Accomplishments included:

·        Lead for OHV Grant program.  Each year Ridgecrest Field Office received 2-5 OHV grants for Operations and Maintenance, Law Enforcement and other support programs.  Jim was the primary writer; defended the grants through the public and OHV Commission reviews, and oversaw implementation of almost $1 million in grants.

·        One grant funded project to establish a visitor contact facility in a popular OHV destination had been allocated prior to my employment, but had languished due to a number of bureaucratic obstacles.  After three years, ground was broken, and a year later, the facility was up and running.

o   Worked with the OHV enthusiast community and with BLM management to coordinate a shared vision of the project, and helped to establish agency support.

o   Assisted the District Engineer to develop specifications, and through the process to develop facility plans that was acceptable to all stakeholders.

o   Served as project inspector on facility construction, working with the engineer, and contracting staff by phone.

o   Served as a team lead developing operation plans for the facility.

o   Worked with a variety of stakeholders to institute a support group “The Friends of Jawbone” to work cooperatively with BLM to staff and provide long term guidance and continuing involvement in the project.  The Friends group is still an invaluable partner for the project 11 years later.

·        Served on a desert-wide, multi-agency team to develop and promote appropriate criteria and techniques for environmental restoration.   Wrote a restoration OHV grant, and applied some of the techniques on areas that had been formerly utilized for OHV recreation that were no longer appropriate.


Jim accepted a promotion to Barstow to take over another complex project to manage the El Mirage Dry Lake.  One 25,000 acre project included Operations/Maintenance, Acquisition, and Facility Development components. 

·        Started the El Mirage position by helping to resurrect the Friends of El Mirage group that had been in existence, but ineffective.   The Friends group at El Mirage is an important liaison among between an unusually diverse group of facility users, and the local community.

·        Worked to implement some basic facility improvements- fencing the 30 miles of exterior boundary, prior to any further developments.  

·        The acquisition program was a partnership with the local county Real Estate Services Branch, BLM, and California State Parks.  After several meetings, the county’s project lead resigned, his replacement worked with BLM to design an effective program that has now completed a large majority of the acquisitions.


Memberships/Other Skills

·        Volunteer Firefighter, Emergency  Medical Technician 15 Years (EMT not current)

·        Wildland Firefighter , US Forest Service, BLM, California Department of Fire (15 Seasons).   Crew member;  helitack; Fire Engine operation; Crew leadership.  Fire and project work provided Jim with journeyman level skills in forestry and arid land management tools, equipment use, and crew oversight.

·        Board of Directors,  American Conservation Experience (ACE), Flagstaff AZ

·        Member- American Trails, National Off-Highway Vehicle Association

·        Building Construction Experience, project Inspection training and experience

·        Owner/ Operator Bobcat front- end loader, backhoe (5 years

·        Trail Construction and maintenance- operated variety of excavation equipment, motorized drills, and assisted blasters; one season wilderness trail construction for US Forest Service

·        Extensive public contact experience- field contacts; public  meetings; 3 years’ experience in visitor center contact

·        Policy Development; Litigation response, Wrote and reviewed a large variety of Land Use Plans, and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Documents

·        Served as member on many different Interdisciplinary teams, both as team member and team lead  

·        Extensive experience with a variety of motorized Off Highway vehicle types-  motorcycles, All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs);  and full sized 4X4 vehicles.