|James L. Caswell.|
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today praised the Senate’s confirmation of James L. Caswell, a veteran public land manager, as the next director of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. Caswell was confirmed by the Senate by unanimous consent on Friday, August 3, 2007.
“I have the greatest confidence in Jim Caswell,” Secretary Kempthorne said, “and I welcome him to our leadership team here at Interior. He has a proven record of strong leadership and outstanding accomplishments. His experience in building public land partnerships and his expertise with endangered species programs will serve him well in this challenging position.”
During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Caswell pledged to maintain an even-handed balance between development and conservation of public lands, winning praise from senators of both parties.
"I passionately believe in multiple-use management and conservation of our public resources with a commitment to balance, cooperation, collaboration and sharing," Caswell testified. "In my view, achievement of this commitment requires scientific information, and listening to, learning about, and collaborating with the owners of our public lands – the American people."
Achieving the multiple-use mission is "critically dependent upon enhanced community relations and being a good neighbor and a citizen of the community," Caswell said. Resource management plans "must be adaptive, dynamic, and rely on 'place based' ecosystem principles and landscape assessments," he emphasized.
Caswell has headed Idaho’s state Office of Species Conservation, which provided a policy focus for endangered species issues and coordinated 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. For 16 of those years, he served as forest supervisor on the Clearwater and Targhee National Forests. Caswell was also deputy forest supervisor at Boise National Forest, and acting deputy regional forester in Missoula, Montana.
A Vietnam War veteran, Caswell 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 have been married for 42 years.
The BLM, which has about 10,800 employees and an annual budget of about $1.8 billion, manages 258 million surface acres – more than any other federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 western states, including Alaska. These 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.
The BLM director position that Caswell assumes has been vacant since February 2007, when Director Kathleen Clarke left the Department. Jim Hughes has been serving as Acting Director since then.
More information on the Bureau of Land Management is online at www.blm.gov.