Secretary Kempthorne taps an aide from Idaho to head the BLM

Dirk Kempthorne has gotten the President to nominate Jim Caswell to replace Kathleen Clarke as the head (the director) of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Caswell was the head of Kempthone’s Office of Endangered Species when Kempthorne’s was Idaho’s governor and has remained in that position since.

During Caswell’s time in the office, most conservation groups saw his role as making sure no Idaho species got put on the endangered species list. Prior to Caswell’s time in Idaho Office of Species Conservation he was the supervisor of the Clearwater National Forest, and earlier the Targhee National Forest.

Back in his Targhee days, I recall we battled with him over the excessive clearcutting on that forest, which is located west and south west of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Link fixed. Bush appoints Idaho official to run BLM. Jim Caswell, state species conservation director, will join Kempthorne at Interior. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

The biggest issue before the BLM right now in terms of money and maybe habitat, is oil and gas with which Caswell has no experience (fortunately, for Idaho’s mountains and lands, no oil or commercial quantities of gas have been discovered in Idaho).

My personal experience with Caswell was that he is was easy to talk with.




  1. jo Avatar

    Check out Rocky Barler’s blog related to the subject, re: oil and gas in SE Idaho.

    As his blog points out, Caswell is being nominated at a time when BLM’s priority is oil and gas, yet Idaho is not an oil and gas state.

    Yet there is an EIS being developed on oil and gas development on the Caribou-Targhee NF. See

    Many of the potential lands on the caribou-targhee NF are roadless. Yet Caswell crafted the Idaho Roadless Plan. Of the 520,000 acres “general forest” areas throughout the state (where development would be allowed), 350,000 of ’em are on the Caribou-Targhee NF.

    Let’s hope there’s still no gas in them thar hills.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    That’s for pointing out Rocky’s blog. He is right on. It was at the “show me” tours the gas industry put on the Rocky talks about, that I met Rocky, who then worked at the Idaho Falls Post Register newspaper. They drilled about 7 “wildcat” wells and went away. They did find some gas, but as Rocky says the industry decided the quantities were not commercial (especially after the big price drop in oil in the early 1980s).

    The only area with potential for natural gas is extreme Eastern Idaho, and the roadless areas there were given no protection in the roadless area plan Caswell put together, which was then announced by Governor Jim Risch and sent to Washington D.C.

    I read and commented on the recent Caribou-Targhee draft oil and gas EIS. I know the country well. It is a terrible place for road construction and gas wells because the land is unstable (prone to slumps and earthflows) over much of the territory. It is also important elk and moose country. Some of it is suffering greatly because of the toxic spoils of the numerous phosphate rock pit/strip mines (although the strip mines are in the more stable part of the area).

  3. Mike Panting Avatar
    Mike Panting

    The oil and gas wells drilled in the Caribou City Roadless Area on Bald Mt. and Tincup Mt. were hot dry holes. Adjacent Caribou Mt. was formed by a hot igneous intrusion that heated the surrounding area.
    The Caribou City Roadless Area boundaries were re-inventoried in 1996 by the Forest Service to include all the east slopes (east cirques), the upper north slopes (north cirque), and upper half of the west slopes of Caribou Mountain. The old roadless boundary drew out the patented lands on Caribou Mountain ,cutting off the top of Caribou Mt. Now the patented lands are surrounded by the Caribou City roadless area boundary. See the final Caribou N.F. Plan roadless maps. Now most of Caribou Mt. is in the roadless area boundary for the Caribou City Roadless Area.
    Good news for Caribou Mountain and the Caribou City Roadless Area. Mike

  4. Monty Avatar

    Is this the same Jim Caswell who was the Forest Supervisor of the Siuslaw NF in Oregon? If this is the same Caswell, he was instrumental in the early 1990’s of stopping the harvesting of “Old Growth” in favor of just managing 2nd growth forests.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    No. In the 1990s, he was busy near where I live in Idaho seeing that the Targhee NF timber salvage program continued with little modification.


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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