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Dinosaur Dinosaur National Monument staffer receives public safety award

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DINOSAUR, Colo. — Kelly Kager, river office manager at Dinosaur National Monument, has received the Andrew Hecht Memorial Public Safety Award for her efforts to keep boaters safe in the Dinosaur area.

"This award is the highest award bestowed by the National Park Service for outstanding public safety achievement. It is presented to an individual for efforts to prevent serious injuries or fatalities to the public," said Dinosaur superintendent Mary Risser. "Out of the more than 390 National Park Service areas, Kelly was selected to receive this award because of her outstanding outreach efforts during the volatile 2011 season on Dinosaur's rivers."

In 2011, the Green and Yampa rivers saw the highest water levels in decades. The Yampa recorded the second highest flows in a century. For most of May, June, and July, water on the Green was four times as high as normal since the 1960s. These water levels presented vastly different conditions for boaters than they were accustomed to. Because of Kager's outreach, there were no fatalities or serious injuries on Dinosaur's rivers, according to a press release.

Kager worked closely with other staff members to develop a new website about the high water conditions and provided constantly changing information so it always reflected current conditions. She worked closely with private boaters and outfitters to disseminate safety-related information.

The award is named after the 9-year-old son of Dr. James and Dr. Amy Hecht, who died in 1970 after he fell into a thermal pool in Yellowstone National Park. The family, who believed the accident was preventable, funded the award.