Open Letter to Interior Secretary Haaland- Please Pick a Career Person for BLM Director- ASAP

Some of you may remember a while back I posted that to reduce political drama, the Admin could pick an experienced, respected (and possible diverse in desirable categories) career person for BLM Director and sail through confirmation hearings. Well, I collected submitted names of specific people, hence this open letter.

Dear Secretary Haaland,

People are talking about your promised “early summer” oil and gas leasing review being held up due to concerns about the nomination hearings for Tracy Stone-Manning. Others have heard that some political horse-trading is going on with Republicans in exchange for their support on the nomination.

For the sake of our public lands and the employees, for the workers in the oil and gas industry, and for the people of the States like your native New Mexico, I ask that you select a different person for BLM Director. This will both expedite getting the review out and directly moving forward with Administration goals for our federal lands. When you recently visited my home state, Colorado, you expressed concern for BLM employees; Colorado Politics quoted you as saying “My first priority is to avoid doing any more harm to the BLM’s dedicated employees. We owe them that.”

As a former federal employee, I am less concerned with Ms. Stone-Manning’s ideologies of the past and more concerned with her ethics of the present. Specifically, my concerns are her recent statement to Congress on whether she had ever been investigated, and possible ethics violations on a loan to her during her time on a Senate staff. Making misstatements to Congress, and not checking carefully on ethics rules, are not the kinds of actions I’d like to see in an agency Director. It doesn’t build confidence among stakeholders nor employees.

Instead, I suggest taking a page out of the Forest Service book and immediately nominating a seasoned and respected career natural resource professional as Director. At the Forest Service, a transition just quietly occurred in the midst of a global pandemic and yet another catastrophic summer of wildfire. There were absolutely no internal or external ripples; it was a quiet handoff from one seasoned and admired career Chief to another. It was also a first in terms of diversity; Chief Moore is the first Black Forest Service Chief.

There are several high-quality career candidates in the wings who could be nominated as BLM Director and would be likely to be immediately approved. The below potential nominees are only a small sample of people who are out there. While I do not know their diversity status, it is likely that some could also add to the diversity of your leadership team. I know that that is an important consideration for the Biden Administration.

All four of these candidates came up through the field ranks in both the BLM and Forest Service, are successful and respected leaders, and have Washington, D.C. headquarters experience. All but one served in Congressional Fellow assignments on Capitol Hill. All four have extensive wildfire and landscape restoration experience, across the diverse states with large BLM presence and programs. Without a professional background check, as you are able to do, I can’t be sure, but as far as I can tell they are ethically spotless.

1. Kristin Bail, Former BLM Assistant Director and current Forest Supervisor of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Her educational background is in hydrology.
2, Jerry Perez, former BLM State Director in Oregon and California. Currently Forest Supervisor on the Angeles National Forest. Jerry has a B.S. in Forestry and a Law Degree.
3. Jose Linares, recently retired and served as acting Oregon/Washington BLM State Director and Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor. Jose’s educational background is in Forest engineering.
4. Jon Raby, current Nevada State BLM Director and former Montana State Director. He is a fish and wildlife biologist by training.

Secretary Haaland, please consider a pathway to bipartisan peace and goodwill, support for your employees, conservation of political capital, and the real ability to hit the ground running for your Administration goals by nominating a career professional for BLM Director!


Sharon Friedman,
Editor, The Smokey Wire
Forest Service Retiree

TSW readers: if you agree with this point of view, I also have an “op-ed” form of the same ideas without the specific names, but it’s available to you as background for any you might write for your own op-eds. Just email me for a copy.. it’s in submission right now.

18 thoughts on “Open Letter to Interior Secretary Haaland- Please Pick a Career Person for BLM Director- ASAP”

  1. John Rabe – the current Nevada BLM Director??? You have to be joking. Just because someone has a wildlife or biology degree doesn’t mean they are not a total pawn of industry, and Rabe certainly is. Under Rabe, Nevada BLM Is issuing the WORST livestock grazing decisions I have ever seen in 30 years working on public lands livestock grazing. The Decisions show total disregard for any controls on public lands grazing, and they’ve gotten worse and worse and worse. Not to mention immense and destructive Pinyon-Juniper deforestation projects helping drive Pinyon Jay on the path to extinction. And the battery of Mojave Desert destroying industrial solar projects. And “streamlined” slipshod decisions for mega-mines. If your idea of public lands “management” is the worst of the Trump policies on steroids, you’ll love Rabe as head of BLM.

    • Katie.. people disagree about different things about any people and their predilections.. no matter what your views, my point was that there’s a career person out there who has them. These names were given to me by other people, and I personally have worked with one. You are welcome to suggest your own!

    • Katie, I’ve spoken with the person who submitted his name and he said that you can’t blame an individual for carrying out Administration policies.. it goes back to a discussion we had a long time ago about whether an outsider (or even an insider) can really tell if a career person “did enough” to convince politicals of the error of their policies. As to industrial solar (as well as wind and transmission lines) those have been priorities of all recent administrations.

      • Wow!!!! Katie offers a very thorough explanation about what’s wrong with person you’re suggesting and this is how you respond? I’m genuinely embarrassed for you for stooping so low.

        As if it doesn’t matter at all if your prefered candidate has a horrifically abusive land management track record because always more important than that is “you can’t blame an individual for carrying out Administration policies.”

        Is this sheep-like logic the type of leadership that will actually resolve conflicting issues or just sit on their hands and force illegal projects forward at the price of higher costs to litigate for all? Perhaps no better argument for why we need BLM leadership that is not part of your planet destroying flock of unquestioning subservience.

        And what did they say about soldiers who were just following orders at the Nuremberg trials?

        Always so shocking how radically immoral your messaging becomes when someone calls you out on your blind loyalty to planet destroying evil-doers in their war on eco-concerns you misrepresent as eco terrorists taking over.

        • Deane, sometimes I feel like you are not listening carefully. I don’t know this person and was relating what the person who suggested him said.

          You can disagree with me about people. For sure I spent many hours in carpools disagreeing about selections with my colleagues. But why do you think it’s OK to say things like “planet destroying flock of unquestioning subservience” or trot out the old Nuremberg analogy?? Do you really believe that or is it just a habit of verbiage?

          Calling people immoral is not helpful in exchanging views and mutual learning.

    • Amen.

      New Mexico’s Democratic congressional delegation is enthusiastic about Stone-Manning’s service, Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan will vote for her confirmation but Yvette Herrell, a member of the Cherokee Nation and the Republican New Mexico Representative from District 2 supports Herr Trump’s border wall and her stubborn refusal to defend President Biden’s nominee has strained the ties to her Indigenous heritage.

      • FWIW The Wilderness Society spent 465K against Herrell to defeat here in the last (House district) election. Regardless of anyone’s heritage, it would be hard to feel warm and fuzzy about nominees who currently work for a prominent national ENGO.

        Also, I don’t think you get to decide what might or might not “strain the ties to her Indigenous heritage”. Clearly Indigenous folks have a variety of views, including Tribes and people within Tribes. Remember, the elected representatives of Native Americans argued for “all of the above energy” at the public input session on oil and gas leasing. Given that, I think it’s hard to argue that one position is more “heritage appropriate” than others. Even if you are Native yourself. As in “if you were a real Democrat you would”.. or “if you were a real Catholic/Jew/Muslim you would”.. I’ve never seen that argument work very well on anyone.

        • David Treuer was born of a Holocaust survivor and Ojibwe mother. He wrote in The Atlanticthat he believes that most land held in America’s national parks should be remanded to Indigenous peoples but it’s my view that much of the land held in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service should also be part of that trust.

          If the Senate balks President Biden should simply name Stone-Manning acting secretary.

  2. Wish they’d do the same for about 90% of positions, instead we have interest groups pushing ideolouges, or people paying to become ambassadors with campaign contributions.

    • Must feel threatened by dealing with other people’s opinions, eh, Larry? Nothing like painting yourself into a corner, closing your eyes, blocking your ears, and still expecting others to be somehow interested or informed by what you say. “Scrubbing this blog from your site” (whatever that is) will show ’em, won’t it? Way to go, cowboy!


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