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Posted 03 Sep 2001   For week ended August 31, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 01Sep01

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


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