Obama nominates new Bureau of Land Management chief | VailDaily.com

Obama nominates new Bureau of Land Management chief

CARSON CITY, Nev. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says President Obama has nominated Bob Abbey, a former top Interior Department official in Nevada, to head the federal Bureau of Land Management.

“I can’t think of a more qualified person to head the BLM than Bob Abbey,” said Reid, who recommended Abbey to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

“With his extensive experience in Nevada, a state where nearly 90 percent of the land is federally managed, our state will have a friend at the BLM who understands the challenges we face in managing and preserving Nevada’s great outdoors and its immense renewable energy resources.”

Abbey served eight years as the BLM’s director in Nevada, retiring in 2005. He also helped former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt complete a Utah wilderness inventory 10 years ago. More recently, he has been in private practice as a Nevada-based consultant.

Salazar called Abbey, who has more than 32 years of state and federal public service, a “consummate professional natural resource manager.”

“His dedication to our country’s National System of Public Lands and his commitment to building partnerships make him an ideal choice to lead one of the most complex federal land managing agencies,” Salazar said.

Abbey long has supported sharing access on BLM lands, particularly regarding mining and oil and gas development. In 2007 testimony before the House Committee on Natural Resources, he said he favored treating public lands as more than just commodity-production sites.

There was general approval of Abbey’s nomination from conservationists, off-roaders and oil and gas officials.

Marc Smith, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, termed Abbey “thoughtful, even-tempered, and responsive to stakeholder concerns. Independent energy producers in the Intermountain West strongly approve of his nomination for BLM director.”

“I think he’d be a good director,” said Brian Hawthorne, public-lands policy director for the BlueRibbon Coalition, an OHV interest group. “He seemed to be well-liked by the (BLM) line officers and staff.”

Heidi McIntosh, an attorney and conservation director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said Abbey was known as “a good guy” and not ideological in any direction.

If the Senate confirms Abbey, McIntosh said, he ought to restore a balance to managing public lands after the Bush administration’s eight years of focusing on oil and gas development.

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