Babbitt brings in new brass

  • Patrick Shea, new BLM director

    Michael McRae
  • Jamie Rappaport Clark, Fish and Wildlife Service director

  • Kathy Karpan, Office of Surface Mining director

    Richard Alan Hannon
  • Robert Stanton, National Park Service director

 

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 participation.

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 planning.

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 sense.

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.

Former Wyoming 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 mining.

Karpan is a Rock Springs, Wyo., native and the daughter of a coal miner.

Texas native 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 Park Service.

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 Association.

"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 work."

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Restore Hetch Hetchy, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, seeks experienced development professional to identify and engage individuals and institutions who are inspired to help underwrite...
  • PUBLIC LANDS COUNSEL
    The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
    Solar Energy International (SEI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit education organization with a mission to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower...
  • TRAINING MANAGER
    This is a full-time position based out of our Paonia office. This position is responsible for organizing all of Solar Energy International's renewable energy trainings....
  • RANCH HAND & HOUSING OPPORTUNITY IN DURANGO, CO
    Remodeled home with the opportunity to work off part of rent. Renter(s) must be available to help with lifting, irrigation & outdoor chores, 15-40 hrs...
  • INDIGENOUS LANDSCAPES AND COMMUNITIES DIRECTOR
    YOUR POSITION WITH TNC The Indigenous Landscapes & Communities Program is part of the North America Region's Conservation Collaboration team. The Conservation Collaboration team works...
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...