Utah, where the BLM oversees 40 percent of the land, Kathleen Clarke's
confirm- ation was greeted in the same bi-polar fashion that characterizes
many public land debates in the state. "She is good for Utah
and western oil," the president of the Utah Petroleum Association
was quoted as saying. "This is a victory for those who want
to exploit public lands for short-term greed," said a spokesperson
for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance quoted in the same article.
one efficient meeting with the oresident, Kathleen Clarke received
her marching orders. "Focus on results. Remember who you answer
to, the American people." By results, President Bush particularly
meant energy development. In a declaration of independence from
overseas suppliers, and with the enthusiastic support of the region's
Republican congressional delegation, he has authorized the reopening
of the western frontier to rapid oil and natural gas development.
the optimist, as evidenced by her big smile and deep belly laugh,
Kathleen Clarke sees opportunity where others see irreconcilable
differences. "The West is where we deal with resources and
challenges and conflicts, but it's also where we find our partners.
It's where our citizens are, and it's where we find solutions to
problems," she told the Society of Range Management in a fall
2002 Casper, Wyoming, meeting.
Near the start of the speech, she made her position clear. "Two
heads are better than one and ten are better than two, and it's
good to have at least half a dozen that aren't government."
is a vocal supporter of, and regular panelist for, Enlibra, the
western governors' forum advocating greater local say in public
land use decisions. Enlibra, the brain child of former Utah Governor
Mike Leavitt, is Latin for balance.
Clarke brings the same vision and management style to her federal
post that she did to her previous job, directing the Utah Department
of Natural Resources, another highly charged agency once likened
to a collection of lightening rods. On her promotion to that position
by former Governor Leavitt, she joked with a Deseret News
reporter about her upcoming bucking bronco ride as the first female
director of a predominantly male agency with a half-dozen strong-willed
hope I was appointed because of my qualifications, not because I
wear a skirt.
Not that I do anyway," she told the reporter,
pointing at her tailored pants. Her self-deprecatory humor proved
an effective way to disarm potential critics. In her three-and-a-half
years at the helm, she melded seven departments with oft-competing
missions into a collaborative unit with a strategic plan. She brokered
deals that produced the first comprehensive management plan for
the Great Salt Lake and the first fire and grazing management plans
for the entire state. A compact with federal agencies created the
map for Utah's first off-road-vehicle trail system.
is a good listener and synthesizer. The policies and practices that
she proposes are grounded in the reality of what the true situations
are," says Fee Busby, dean of Utah State's College of Natural
collaborative management style and political pragmatism date to
her first term in Washington as a receptionist in the late Senator
Wallace Bennett's office. As a staff member for former Congressman
Jim Hansen, she really learned "how things are done,"
Clarke recalls. "I learned the importance of relationships
and trust building. Once you have a personal relationship, it's
difficult to make a decision that obliterates others' interests."