WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today announced that James M. Hughes is the acting director of the Department’s Bureau of Land Management, which manages 258 million acres of public land and 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources.
Hughes, who has been BLM’s Deputy Director for Programs and Policy since 2002, will serve until a new BLM Director is nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as provided by law. Former Director Kathleen Clarke has resigned to return to her home State of Utah to rejoin her family.
"Jim Hughes brings more than 20 years of experience in the legislative and executive branches of government, dealing with federal management of public lands,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “He understands the policy issues we face and can work with the wide variety of BLM stakeholders.”
Hughes welcomed the opportunity to serve as part of the Secretary’s policy team. “I look forward to working with the quality professionals in the BLM and Interior."
Hughes is a veteran Interior manager. As Deputy Director for Programs and Policy, he addressed policy concerns associated with the BLM's numerous multiple use activities, worked closely with external stakeholders, including state and local governments, and facilitated efforts to coordinate the bureau's work within Interior and with other federal agencies and the Congress.
From 1986 to 1993, he served in a variety of policy positions at Interior, including Deputy Director for External Affairs at BLM; Director of Congressional Affairs for Interior Secretaries Donald Hodel and Manuel Lujan, Jr.; and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management, also with Secretary Lujan.
From 1997 to 2002, Hughes worked for former New Mexico Congressman Joe Skeen, and earlier he also worked for New Mexico Senator Pete V. Domenici. Hughes earned his bachelor of arts degree in journalism from New Mexico State University and did graduate work at the University of Minnesota. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army. Jim and his wife, Sandy, reside in Maryland, and have three grown children.
As Acting Director of the BLM, Hughes is responsible for the agency's stewardship of about one-eighth of the land in the United States, most of it located in 12 Western states, including Alaska; and more than 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate across the Nation. With an annual budget of about $1.8 billion, the bureau carries out its "multiple use" land management mission with a workforce of about 10,000 employees.