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Energy and Interior Department Nominations - Caswell




CONFIRMATION STATEMENT FOR

JAMES L. CASWELL

As nominee for the position of

DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

before the

COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES

of the

UNITED STATES SENATE 

JULY 12, 2007

Thank you Chairman Bingaman, Senator Domenici, and other distinguished Members of this Committee.  I am both humbled and honored to appear before you today as President Bush's nominee for the Director of the Bureau of Land Management.  I am also grateful for the support and encouragement of Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Assistant Secretary Stephen Allred.  I appreciate this opportunity to briefly present my views and qualifications for this office and ask your consent of the President's nomination.

First and foremost, Mr. Chairman, I am a family man and would like to introduce my wife, Susan, who is here with me today.  We have three grown children, Rebecca, Cari, and Kurt, and four grandchildren.  Our eldest grandson, Tyler, was recently overheard by his mother telling several of his friends: "If confirmed, my grandpa will be the Director of the BLT."  I could not be more blessed or proud of my family. 

Susan and I were raised in small rural communities in west-central Michigan.  Our families were small business owners serving the agricultural community.  It was in this environment that I learned the importance of service to others, the value of hard work, and taking responsibility for one's actions.  My interest in the outdoors was nurtured by my father and extended family.  By the time I reached my teen years, it was clear to me that my life's work would be to care for our nation's public lands.

After graduation from Edmore High School in 1963, I attended Michigan State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry.  Upon graduation from college, I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.  I served three years on active duty and three years in the ready reserves, including a tour in Vietnam.

During my 40-year career as a federal resource manager, which began with the BLM and concluded with the US Forest Service, I have had the enviable opportunity to work and live in communities large and small across the West.

In the Forest Service, I had opportunity to problem solve, influence accountability, monitor and evaluate issues, programs and people.

I aggressively implemented ecosystem management principles at the watershed scale in all projects and programs. All projects were planned on a landscape level incorporating ecosystem management principles in collaboration with local interests, state agencies, tribal interests, and other federal agencies.  This change from a traditional project-level planning process resulted in integrated decisions that were better for the resources and better for the communities. I am particularly proud of my work in development of best management practice audits and the assessment of the 1995/1996 flood and landslide damage on the Clearwater National Forest.

In 2000, I left federal service to undertake a new challenge. For over 6 years, I have served in the Idaho Governor's office as Administrator for the Office of Species Conservation.  The Office was created by the Idaho State Legislature in the 1999 to bring a policy focus to endangered species issues and to foster collaboration and coordination among the relevant state and federal agencies.  As Administrator, I have been engaged in all aspects of creating a new organization including recruiting experienced and effective personnel, and building a constituency at the local, state, and regional level. 

Then-Governor Kempthorne told me that he specifically recruited me to serve as Administrator because of my reputation as a leader.  It is with the support of the Governor's office and the hard work of a dedicated staff that the Office of Species Conservation has gained a great deal of credibility as a "can do" and "go to" organization.  The Office of Species Conservation worked on a Wolf Management Plan and a Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Management Plan – both involving issues that were politically and emotionally charged and that generated a significant amount of public scrutiny and debate.  I am proud that the Office of Species Conservation successfully worked with both Committees of the Idaho House and Senate and on the floor to achieve passage of both plans and four separate statutes revisions over three sessions of the state legislation.

These experiences as a federal land manager and as a state government official have enriched my life and have made me a more enlightened citizen and thoughtful resource management professional.  Through these experiences, I have developed a set of bedrock principles that guide how I lead and manage, how I make decisions, and how I communicate with those I work with under my leadership, and especially, those who I serve.  Mr. Chairman, I would like to highlight some of these principles that guide my actions:

·        I believe passionately in multiple-use management and conservation of our precious public resources with a commitment to balance, cooperation, collaboration, and sharing.  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.  Mr. Chairman, if confirmed, I pledge to do my utmost to achieve this multiple-use mandate and commitment.

·        I believe achievement of the BLM multiple-use mission is critically dependent upon enhanced community relationships and being a good neighbor and citizen of those communities.  It is essential we communicate with an ever expanding diverse community of interests if we are to make sound decisions and achieve shared goals.  Striking a balance between the needs and desires of local communities and national goals and objectives hinges upon strong and effective community relationships.  I commit to work diligently with local communities to enhance and improve long-term relationships and public confidence.

·        I believe Resource Management Plans must be adaptive, dynamic, and rely upon "place based" ecosystem management principles and landscape-scale assessments. This approach is the most effective and efficient way to engage the public, develop durable agreements, collaborate with others, while meeting legal requirements. 

Mr. Chairman, I believe in the dedicated men and women of the BLM.  I guide my interactions, decisions, and interpersonal relationships based on the philosophy that:  People are our most important asset and their experience and judgment is a valuable resource.  I pledge to foster a work environment that supports decentralized decision making and relies heavily upon individuals close to the ground, the issues, and the resources to make the right choices.

Thank you Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee for considering my qualifications and providing the opportunity to appear at this hearing. If confirmed, I will do my absolute best to serve the public interest and manage the publics' resources for the benefit of all the nation's citizens.

Thank you, I welcome your questions.