Uinta-Wasatch-Cache hydrologist receives 2021 ‘Wagon Wheel Gap’ award

Biologist digging soil pit in wetland area Charlie Condrat discusses the restoration of a wetland to support boreal toads near Strawberry Reservoir with soil scientist, Stacey Weems, and fisheries biologist, Justin Robinson, from the Utah Division of Water Resources. USDA Forest Service photo by Mike Duncan.

On May 25, 2022, hydrologist Charlie Condrat, of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, received the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service 2021 Wagon Wheel Gap Award for exceptional leadership in water resource stewardship.

As a watershed expert Condrat developed a premier watershed and soil program for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache and managed numerous watershed restoration projects and water rights issues in Utah. He championed the National Best Management Practices for Water Quality and Watershed Condition Framework programs. Condrat has also served as a trusted mentor for new Forest Service hydrologists.

"Charlie has been one of our most experienced and valued watershed program managers for many years, and his work in watershed restoration, water quality, water rights, and partnership building were an excellent fit for this national award," said Regional Hydrologist Mark Muir. Condrat was honored to be considered for the award given the number of highly qualified hydrologists in the region.

Biologist digging soil pit in wetland area Charlie Condrat digs a soil pit for a wetland delineation project at the Johnson Meadow, Gilbert Creek drainage in the Uinta Mountains. (USDA Forest Service photo)

Condrat started his journey in the forestry program at Syracuse University in New York but transferred to Utah State University in Logan to complete his degrees in watershed management. His first job out of college was working for a consulting company, but his desire to actively manage the land is what influenced a career change to the Forest Service.

“The main thing is taking care of the land for future generations,” Condrat said. “These bigger landscape initiatives are really great things. They are looking at not just the forest, but the lands adjacent to it and how they are connected. The Forest Service is being recognized as a leader in this type of work.”

Condrat said he has taken many opportunities to expand into other areas of expertise to compliment his core duties over the years, such as learning about National Environmental Policy Act planning and even how to manage spreadsheets.

Two people standing by waterfall Condrat also said that having a very supportive family has allowed him to perform his best work throughout his career.

The Wagon Wheel Gap award is part of the Forest Service’s Rise to the Future awards program for excellence and leadership in fisheries, hydrology, soil science, air, and wildlife programs. It was named after the first watershed experiments in the U.S. at the Wagon Wheel Gap Experimental Forest in the Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado, which concluded in 1926.