Goodbye Selma

Finally!  Utah State Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director and Bush administration holdover, Selma Sierra, has been “reassigned” to head the BLM’s Eastern States office.  This announcement has been a long time coming and is a welcome one to supporters of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

During her tenure in Utah, Sierra effectively carried out the Bush administration’s mission to prioritize oil and gas
development and off-road vehicle use over all other uses of the public lands. Her most damning legacy is the completion of six unbalanced resource management plans and off-road vehicle travel plans.  These plans, rushed to completion in late 2008, attempted to cement the Bush legacy for decades to come.  Sierra was also responsible for the Utah BLM’s ‘Christmas/We’re Going Out of Business’ oil and gas lease sale in December 2008.  This sale drew nationwide attention and rebuke for its attempt to auction off leases on the doorstep of national parks and amazing wilderness and culturally significant areas, over the objections of the National Park Service and others.  The upside of that debacle is that agency reports following the sale provided the foundation for Secretary Salazar’s onshore oil and gas leasing reforms that—if implemented—will provide a more balanced approach to how the agency sells leases.

Replacing Sierra is Juan Palma, a land manager hailing from Nevada and Oregon.  Palma has served as field office manager of BLM’s Las Vegas and Vale, Oregon, offices, as well as executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.  Most recently, Palma served as the BLM’s Eastern States Director.  He also attended Brigham Young University and has family in Utah.

We look forward to meeting and working with Palma to tackle some of the state’s most pressing public land
issues, including: reigning in off-road vehicle use, actively addressing climate change and, most broadly, bringing balance back to how public lands are managed in Utah.  This is a tall order but the lands that we are working to protect demand no less than a full court press throughout Palma’s tenure.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress.


Steve Bloch
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance