Kathleen Clarke, head of the BLM has resigned.

As ePluribus Media says “There’s got to be more to this story.

We see the head of the largest of the national lands systems resign, and there’s just a tiny story on a slow media day, heading into New Year’s weekend.

Clarke was in the dig-it-up, tear-it-up-mould of Gale Norton; and like Norton, left a whiff of corruption.

Added Dec. 29 from the Salt Lake Tribune (Clarke was from Utah).BLM’s top job: Utahn is out after 4 years. Praised for effectiveness, Clarke also was called too pro-industry.” By Joe Baird. And here is the AP/Casper Star Tribune story.BLM Chief Resigns.” She got praise from one of Wyoming’s most obnoxious livestock politicians . . . “Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, said Clarke “has been a great friend of the public land livestock industry.” “She’s been very accessible to us,” he said. “She has been a staunch defender of keeping responsible livestock grazing on BLM land.”

“Responsible” to Magagna and his anti-wildlife buddies, I suppose.

Added on January 3, 2007. Conservation Group Questions BLM Leader’s Legacy. KCPW News.



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  1. kt Avatar

    Well, you know, there was that interesting story deep in the Washington Post on Xmas day about how the Defense Department had used Interior for contracting. Yes, that’s right the ever-efficient Interior Dept. doing contracting for the military. I wonder if she had anything to do with gouging of taxpayers that went on there?

    Here in Idaho, BLM under Clarke paid at least $200,000 to Wayne Burkhardt, a “range consultant” with highly questionable theories about how cows are just bison substitutes and there were a scazillion bison everywhere (not)and so on — to make up fairy tales about how wonderful grazing is for Owyhee County.

  2. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    Thanks kt, you tied some threads togeether for me. In 2004, I was on a Northwest Colorado Stewardship (NWCOS) field trip of Moffat County, Colorado. And who was the guest of honor? Kathleen Clarke! Who invited her? T.Wright Dickinson, a member of a ranching family in NW Colorado (Vermillion Ranch). Our dinner stop was to be at a historical ranch owned by John and Marianna Raftopoulos. Marianna and T.Wright served together as Moffat County Commissioners, in addition to being “next door nieghbors.”

    Vermillion Ranch has a range consultant who is none other than Wayne Burckardt. This ties the loop togeether for me and makes some of the activity here understandable. Wayne also gave a talk and fieldtrip to NWCOS on sagebrush habitat. He has the credentials. He is a PhD in range management.

    Kathleen has been to NW Colorado since that field trip. Only the local BLM and the aforementioned ranchers had the opportunity to talk with her. Everyone else was excluded. To say the ranchers had her ear would be an understatement.

    As an afternote, Marianna Raftopoulos has become a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry. T.Wright Dickinson is a O&G advocate

  3. kt Avatar

    hey Rick, It would be interesting to know if Burkhardt’s Consulting Group, Ranges West, received separate lucrative contracts in BLM offices outside Idaho. Maybe someone In Colorado should consider a FOIA.

    As to Burkhardt’s credentials, many of his “range” views are out in far right field, or downright out of the Ballpark – even for your average agency range con. Back in the mid-90s days of ICBEMP, Burkhardt’s cattle industry connections, likely with Steve Mealey (who was a high-up ICBEMP honcho before going on to IDFG and Mooning statues and other great and glorious deeds), led to Burkhardt’s writing a paper on grazing in the Interior Columbia Basin. Well, that paper was so scientifically aberrant in asserting how cows were just bison surrogates that other folks in the ICBEMP process had Elizabeth Painter write a critique/counter-paper. It may still be available on-line.

    Burkhardt’s theories have also been used by the Air Force here in Idaho to justify INCREASING cattle grazing on the Juniper Butte Bombing Range and further destroying slickpot peppergrass habitat grazed by the father of the person who had been Larry Craig’s aid in DC at the time.

    Burkhardt ‘s papers often use known old, or inaccurate information, to support pro-livestock industry assertions. For example, claims that bison jumps in Owyhee County mean there were large numbers of bison in sagebrush haibtats of Idaho. Problem ism those bones have now been re-examined, and they are domestic cattle bones – not bison – so Sorry Wayne, No bison jump there.

    If you are interested, we put together a critique of some of his work as part of a Data Quality Act submission. E-mail Ralph, and maybe he can forward your e-mail so I can send you that.

  4. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    Egad! How blind I was. I was doing a stream restoration on Vermillion’s Beaver Creek,1998-2001. Wayne was the ranch’s consultant. I was told that he would be just looking at what I did and did not hear any objections from him. I was using Dave Rosgen’s principles and Wayne seemed to think that I was doing fine. Until today, I thought that he was just another range consultant, as Vermillion has had a couple. Most of what you write about, I have not heard of. I will send Ralph a request.

  5. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Just read the article in the Casper newspaper. Let me clue everyone in about Dick, er, Dirk Kempthorne. I lived in Boise, Idaho when Dick, er, Dirk was mayor, and every time he spoke I felt like I was just force fed a tablespoon full of cold bacon grease. This buffoon will turn out to be the worst thing that ever happened to the Interior Dept. Way worse than even James Watt. Mark my words.

  6. kt Avatar

    The Tribune article with Kempthorne vapidly claiming public lands are better off because of Clarke set me over the edge. What a liar!

    Clarke and her cronies gutted any semblance of modernity in Idaho BLM. They killed any responsible management in Idaho – appointing good old Boys to management, and driving off anybody who disagreed with the “Cows R Us” school of land management (including Hahn who is also in the article).

    Clarke’s BLM in Idaho adopted the two class system: There was the ranching aristocracy who they would grovel incessantly at the boots of, dash off to the “cuff-ay” in Bruneau to hold special CCCCCCCCCC meetings with – and then the peons in the public who they basically ignored and disdained. For example, I remember e-mailing documents to one of her Manager buffoons, and asking repeatedly for acknowledgement that they had been received. Nothing. Finally I called up the Clarke BLM “Manager”. He sneered into the phone: “I’m not your secretary”. And hung up.

    The endlessly droned “CCC” plus an extra ‘C” added in the Norton-Clarke era clearly stood for Cronyism, Corruption, Collusion to line the pockets of COWMEN. Maybe there’ll be a fifith C with platitude-mouthing Kempthorne: “Cheesy cronyism , corruption, collusion for cowmen”.

    Any one who is interested in the public Clarke served might want to check out the photo on the Idaho BLM Website Homepage. The ranchers only got fatter under her. http://www.id.blm.gov .

  7. Rob Avatar

    It appears that these ranchers in the http://www.id.blm.gov link are improving riparian areas. Kudos for those ranchers who do work to improve wildlife habitat and riparian areas. I think most of them in Idaho at least are doing their part to improve conditions on the range, whether it be forest or BLM. What is needed is stronger regulations by the Feds then I,m confident all ranchers would abide. The Feds should be blamed for range conditions and not necessarily the ranchers as they are abiding by the law that the Feds have established. So give the ranchers some credit instead of always beating on them.

  8. kt Avatar

    The problem is, for any riparan improvement here (if it did occur) – something else had to DIE and be destroyed. There was a sagebrush killing project conducted on the uplands in Shoshone Basin that was opposed by conservationists in Twin Falls. That project destroyed that darn “decadent” old growth big sagebrush – which was sage thrasher, Brewer’s sparrow, loggerhead shrike habitat. So sagebrush was killed in the uplands in the hopes of growing cow grass.

    That is why I won’t back off the ranchers. Everything to do with public lands ranching involves killing or destroying something. At the public’s expense.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I’ve taken one trip to Shoshone Basin. It was an ideal time — the first week of June 2005.

    It was truly beautiful, with enormous flowering of forbs due to the wet spring. Some parts of Shoshone Creek were in excellent condition, but in the uplands, especially the tributaries there was a lot of eroded bank.

    I thought maybe it was like that all over the place, so in late May 2006, I headed to the BLM country just south, in Nevada, (just E by SE of Jackpot). It was truly awful.

    Yes, I saw where they had gone through with some machine on the Shoshone Basin area. I didn’t know what it was.

  10. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    What those sage mowing machines are, are a rotary type machine that uses lengths of chain spinning at high speed and will take out about anything up to 3inch diameter. They are used all over. I have seen them in operation in Southwest Montana.

  11. Joel H Avatar
    Joel H

    I had the privilege of meeting and working with Ms Clarke while she was BLM Director. BLM is a big organization within a bigger department. I can’t attest to the land management results acheived, but I can attest to the integrity of Ms. Clarke and her genuine investment in making BLM a better steward of resources. I defer to more informed parties with regard to land management, but don’t err by impugning Ms. Clarke personally.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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