BLM fills a hot job

  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.

President 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, 10/28/96).

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."

" Elizabeth Manning

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