As the first boss of the newly created national monument in southern Utah, the Bureau of Land Management's Jerry Meredith won't have to worry about filling anyone else's shoes. But he'll have plenty of other headaches.
Clinton's recent designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument sparked anger among locals and a flurry of
controversial road grading by Utah county officials who felt
steamrolled by the decision (HCN, 9/30/96,
Because of a pending federal lawsuit
against the counties, Meredith couldn't comment on road grading
within the monument. He says his first task is to hire a 12- to
15-member planning team.
The BLM has three years
to write a long-term plan for the area. Locals are expected to push
for development, even if it's tourism, while conservationists want
it left wild. "My goal is to not get killed by both sides," says
Meredith. "This is a tremendous challenge for the Bureau."
At least Meredith is on home ground. Prior to
his new assignment, he was district manager of the 5.5 million-acre
BLM area that used to include the monument. "(My new post) may be
smaller in acres," says Meredith, "but it's not smaller in
controversy or interest."