Letter: Trump’s Interior pick must choose from BLM to lead BLM

Dear Mr. Zinke:

I, like many other Americans outside Montana, had not heard your name prior to your being nominated by President Trump for Secretary of the Interior. First, I would like to thank you for your service to our country as a Navy Seal and as a congressman. Second, I would like to congratulate you on your selection as Secretary of the Interior.

I find that too many Americans consider the Secretary of the Interior a position of lessor status than say Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense. There are also many, as I do, who consider it a highly important position, responsible for policy and direction for approximately 507 million acres of public land owned by the citizens of the United States. The Department of the Interior is filled with dedicated professional employees who are attempting to fulfill the Department’s mission of properly managing and conserving the public’s land and resources for present and future generations.

I would like to specifically bring to your attention the Bureau of Land Management, my employer for about 20 years. As I’m sure you are aware, the BLM administers approximately 250 million acres of public land (not including subsurface minerals) - more than any other federal agency. The mandate for the BLM is to manage the public lands on a multiple use, sustained yield basis, while preserving and protecting those lands for present and future generations of Americans. This concept of multiple use, sustained yield is very difficult to put into practice especially when one considers all the possible uses of public land. Management of the public land under multiple use is a delicate blend of science and art and it is not a job for amateurs.

The difficult issues facing the BLM, now and into the future, require the highest degree of professionalism. The BLM has many dedicated employees, who have spent their careers learning the art and craft of multiple use management. People management is another important aspect of the BLM Director’s job. BLM is filled with dedicated, capable professionals who will do a magnificent job under the right director.

Perhaps even more difficult than multiple use resource management, is the management of professionals from a variety of fields. Knowing how to value each member of the BLM team and give the proper weight to their professional opinions is a skill that takes many years and much patience to develop.

It is my respectful request that you find one of these dedicated and capable managers to be the Director of the Bureau of Land Management. Proper management of the BLM requires a career employee who over his/her career has developed the necessary knowledge and skills of multiple use management and who can manage a team of dedicated and diverse professionals to achieve those goals.

David S. Watson

Logan, Utah