Karen Simms

Karen worked for BLM’s Tucson Field Office for nearly 27 years. She was the Assistant Field Manager for the BLM Tucson Field Office as well as the Manager for Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. As the Assistant Field Manager, she was responsible for the Realty, Cultural, Range, Hydrology, and Minerals Programs in the Tucson Field Office.

Karen received a BS in Zoology from University of California, Davis and an MS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Arizona. Karen began her nearly twenty-seven year career with BLM as a wildlife biologist in Tucson in 1988. 

In 1995, Karen took on a new role as the Planning Team Leader for the Las Cienegas Resource Management Plan (RMP). The RMP used what was then a very innovative and collaborative approach to land-use planning for BLM. This planning approach in the Cienega Watershed led to the formation of the Sonoita Valley Planning Partnership (SVPP) and the Cienega Corridor Conservation Council (CCCC); two adhoc forums of stakeholders working together to achieve community-oriented solutions to local and national issues affecting public lands in the Cienega Watershed. The groups were instrumental in advancing the designation of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in 2000 and in ensuring that the legislation supported the consensus alternative that the stakeholder groups developed with BLM for the RMP. Karen continues to work with the Cienega Watershed Partnership, a nonprofit organization that was created to coordinate the forums and to resource priority projects in the watershed.

Karen’s career with BLM has been dedicated to engaging stakeholders in planning, managing, and preserving the lands and resources of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (NCA) and Sonoita Valley Acquisition Planning District. Karen serves as a mentor for partnerships, collaboration, and adaptive management for BLM, and has shared her knowledge and successes with collaborative conservation and adaptive management on Las Cienegas NCA at several BLM and interagency training classes and a variety of professional conferences. Karen is currently serving on the leadership team for the Collaboration and Adaptive Management Network (CAMNet).

Karen and her SVPP partners have received several awards including the 2004 Clarence Burch Award from the Quivira Coalition, the 2004 Award of Excellence for Building Community Connections for their presentation at the Joint Ventures Partnership Conference, and were invited to participate in the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation in 2005. Karen received the 2007 Faces in Conservation Healthy Landscape Award from the Sonoran Institute and the 2010 Sky Island Alliance Agency Leadership Award for her conservation efforts in the Cienega watershed. In 2013, Karen and the Cienega Watershed partners received the prestigious Secretary of Interior’s Partners in Conservation Award.


Karen is featured in the following intructional video:

Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution with Susan Goodwin and Karen Simms, 26 mins

FACA: Federal Advisory Committee Act,  28 mins

Karen Simms

Former Assistant Field Manager, Gila District 
Tucson Field Office, BLM

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