In one fell swoop, the president and the Interior secretary have ushered in a new Interior Department. New directors of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Surface Mining and National Park Service were sworn into office Aug. 4, after easily surviving Senate confirmation hearings.
All four face major challenges on the
job, but none has promised sweeping innovations. Instead, Babbitt's
new troop seems focused on incremental changes and broad-based
The new BLM director is Utah
attorney Patrick Shea. Though Shea is a Democrat with green
leanings, many people see his appointment as a peace offering to
Utahns still miffed about Clinton's creation of the Grand
Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Shea says the president
should have involved the public in the monument's
In confirmation hearings before the
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, he assured
lawmakers, "I don't plan to institute radical changes or
reorganizations to an already weary bureau."
Shea is a marked shift from Clinton's last BLM
appointment, outspoken New Mexican Jim Baca, who was driven from
office in 1994 because of his aggressive efforts to reform grazing
practices on public lands. The BLM has not had an official director
in nearly three years.
Shea is hard to pin down
on contentious issues such as grazing fees, mining reform and
wilderness. His law clients run the gamut from industry to
environmentalists to government agencies. He calls himself a
mediator, stressing inclusion and common
New Fish and Wildlife Service director
Jamie Rappaport Clark expresses similar sentiments. "I firmly
believe that involving stakeholders and other agency expertise ...
reaps long-term benefits for fish and wildlife," says the
eight-year agency veteran.
A wildlife biologist,
Clark has been in charge of implementing the Endangered Species Act
nationwide since 1994. She has been a proponent of brokering
Habitat Conservation Plans to protect endangered species on private
lands (HCN, 8/4/97).
She is the second woman to
head the Fish and Wildlife Service, following Mollie Beattie, who
died last year of brain cancer.
Secretary of State Kathy Karpan is the new director of the Office
of Surface Mining. The agency was created in 1977 to protect
communities and the environment from the effects of coal
Karpan is a Rock Springs, Wyo., native
and the daughter of a coal miner.
Robert Stanton is the new director of the National Park Service,
replacing Roger Kennedy, who stepped down as agency chief in
February. Stanton had retired last January after 35 years with the
agency, the last eight as regional director for the service in
Washington, D.C. He is the first African American to direct the
Like Shea, Stanton has been careful
not to take sides on controversial issues such as the agency's
natural management policy. He's taking a "wait-and-see approach,"
says Jerome Uher of the National Parks and Conservation
"It's good that we have someone in
office. It's hard to go leaderless," says Uher. "A lot of these
agencies have been drifting for a while. Now we can get back to