Idaho man to head BLM
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
June 6, 2007
Idaho's Jim Caswell has been nominated by President George W. Bush to head the Bureau of Land Management.
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne praised President Bush’s intention to nominate James L. Caswell, a veteran public land ecosystem manager, as the next Director of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.
“I’ve known Jim Caswell personally and admire his ‘can do’ attitude, pragmatic leadership style and outstanding management skills,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “His considerable supervisory experience with the U.S. Forest Service, his proven expertise in coordinating endangered species programs on public lands and his ability to build strong, effective partnerships make him well-qualified for this position.”
Caswell currently heads the State of Idaho’s Office of Species Conservation, which was established in 2000 by the state legislature to bring a policy focus to endangered species issues and to coordinate state and federal efforts on endangered species management in Idaho. Under Caswell’s leadership, the office won the state legislature’s approval in 2001 for two emotionally and politically-charged issues -- a Wolf Management Plan and a Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Management Plan.
Before that Caswell spent 33 years in various positions with the Bureau of Land Management, Bonneville Power Administration, and the U.S. Forest Service, 16 of those years serving as forest supervisor on the Clearwater and Targhee National Forests. He was also deputy forest supervisor at Boise National Forest, and acting deputy regional forester in Missoula, Montana.
Caswell, a Vietnam War veteran, is a 1967 graduate of Michigan State University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in forestry. He is married and has three grown children -- two daughters and a son -- as well as four grandchildren. He and his wife Susan, who have been married for 42 years, currently reside in Emmett, Idaho.
The BLM, which has about 10,800 employees and an annual budget of about $1.8 billion, manages more land – 258 million surface acres – than any other federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 western states, including Alaska. These public lands make up about 13 percent of the total land surface of the United States and more than 40 percent of all land managed by the federal government. The Bureau also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.
If confirmed by the Senate, Caswell would assume the BLM director position, which has been vacant since February 2007, when Director Kathleen Clarke left the department. Jim Hughes has been serving as Acting Director since then.