By Kent Larsen
Mormon Woman to be First to Head BLM
WASHINGTON, DC -- US President George W. Bush announced this week
that he will nominate Kathleen Burton Clarke as director of the
Bureau of Land Management. If confirmed, Clarke will take on one of
the most politically contentious jobs in Washington, as the position
has been a lightening rod for fights between environmentalists and
agricultural and mining interests. The fights have left the bureau
led by acting directors for much of the Clinton administration.
Clarke is currently Executive Director of the Utah Department of
National Resources, where she has generally taken a low profile.
However, environmentalists in Utah claim that she hasn't promoted
Wildlife Conservation. This year alone, claims Southern Utah
Wilderness Alliance spokesman Mike Reberg, Clarke has twice favored
oil drilling companies over the environment. "We're afraid she will
do the same thing at the BLM -- harm wildlife in favor of energy
exploration. She's bought onto the Bush-Cheney energy plan and shown
that in her actions here, and that's bad for Utah wilderness, bad for
American wilderness," said Reberg. Other environmentalists are also
troubled by her record. "I hope she does a better job managing BLM
lands than she has the Bear River water project," said Zach Frankel,
director of the Utah Rivers Council.
But others praise Clarke's balancing of environmental and business
interests. "I can't think of a better person to do it. I'm
delighted." said Utah Governor Mike Leavitt. Utah Petroleum
Association president Lee Peacock was also pleased, "We've worked
extensively with Kathleen. We believe [her appointment] is good for
Utah and Western oil and gas. She is fair and open minded. We're
extremely pleased to have a BLM director who knows Western concerns
in the governance of Western lands." Even some environmentalists,
such as Kirk Robinson of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, believe
they can work with Clarke, "She is a good listener and tries to be
fair. She won't just ignore [our] views or dismiss them out of hand,"
he said. But he also worried, "She is also willing to subjugate
herself to whoever is in power and do their bidding."
But regardless of the concerns of environmentalists, Utah Senator
Orrin Hatch says that Clarke is likely to be confirmed. Speaking at
the Provo Rotary Club Thursday, Hatch said that the process won't be
easy, "I think they'll give her a difficult time, but she is such a
class act she'll make it."
Clarke grew up in a Mormon family in Bountiful Utah, graduating from
Bountiful High School before attending and then graduating from Utah
State University with a degree in Political Science in 1972. After
briefly attending BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School, she worked for
then Senator Wallace F. Bennett until he left office in 1974.
After managing a Kaysville, Utah general construction firm for
several years and selling real estate, Clarke joined the staff of
Congressman Jim Hansen, where she rose to become Director of
Constituent Services and to head the Congressman's Ogden office. In
1993 she was named Deputy Director of the Department of Natural
Resources in Utah, and then Executive Director in 1998.
If confirmed, Clarke will be the first woman, and only the second
Utahn, to head the Bureau of Land Management. But Clarke says she
doesn't see being the first woman as significant, "To me, leadership
isn't a gender issue." She added that she hopes she was chosen for
her skills and abilities, not her gender.
At the Bureau of Land Management, Clarke will oversee some 264
million acres of public lands that are mostly located in 12 Western
states, including about 40% of the state of Utah. She says she hopes
the position will have a positive impact on that land and the West,
"I love the West, and the only thing that's drawing me to Washington
is my hope to help shape the West in a positive way."
Bush Picks Utahn for BLM Job
Salt Lake Tribune 28Aug01 T2
By Brent Israelsen: Salt Lake Tribune
Another Utahn may lead BLM
Deseret News 28Aug01 T2
By Dennis Romboy and Bob Bernick Jr.: Deseret News staff writers
Norton Praises Intention to Nominate Kathleen Clarke
US News Wire 27Aug01 T2
Hatch: BLM director faces tough road
Provo UT Daily Herald 31Aug01 T2
By Donald W. Meyers: The Daily Herald
Utah environmentalists critical of BLM nominee
Ogden UT Standard-Examiner 29Aug01 T2
Hubert C. Burton, M.D.
Salt Lake Tribune 16Apr00 P2