Jim Caswell to head BLM

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
by WLJ

President George W. Bush announced last week that he plans to nominate Jim Caswell to head the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). If confirmed, he would succeed Kathleen Clarke as BLM director. Clark resigned from the post in February. Jim Hughes has served as acting director since then.

Caswell is currently the administrator for the Office of Species Conservation for the state of Idaho where he won the state legislature’s approval for two highly contentious issues: the state’s wolf management plan and a Yellowstone grizzly management plan.

He previously served as forest supervisor for Clearwater National Forest in Idaho and also as acting deputy regional forester for the northern region in the U.S. Forest Service. In addition, he has held prior posts in BLM and Bonneville Power Administration.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, former governor of Idaho and a former U.S. senator representing the state, spoke highly of Caswell following the announcement.

“I’ve known Jim Caswell personally and admire his ‘can do’ attitude, pragmatic leadership style, and outstanding management skills,” Kempthorne said in a statement. “His proven expertise in coordinating endangered species programs on public lands and his ability to build strong, effective partnerships make him well-qualified for this position.”

Kempthorne has been Interior secretary since June 7, 2006. He was nominated to the post by Bush in March 2006 and later confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Caswell’s nomination will require Senate confirmation before he assumes the post.

BLM manages 258 million acres, about one-eighth of the land in the U.S., and operates on an annual budget of about $1.8 billion. Most of that land—grasslands, forests, high mountains, arctic tundra and deserts—is in the West. It also oversees about 700 million acres of minerals below the land’s surface.