President Clinton has named Salt Lake City attorney Pat Shea to head the federal Bureau of Land Management.
The agency manages more than 270 million acres of federal land across the West, including vast areas of Utah, and will manage the newly declared Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the state’s picturesque canyon lands.
Shea, 49, has been an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for both governor and senator in Utah.
Although he has the support of both of Utah’s Republican senators, Shea likely will be questioned extensively about his management plans of federal land, especially the new monument in Utah.
The president’s declaration of the Grand Staircase-Escalante last September as a federal monument, protecting it as a scenic and historic treasure, unleashed a torrent of criticism from Utah officials who called it a federal land grab and said they should be been consulted.
The appointment of Shea to run the agency that will manage the new monument was seen widely as an olive branch to Utah officials, who have voiced concern that the state would not have enough say in decisions involving the 1.7 million acres.
Shea, a graduate of Harvard Law School and a Rhodes scholar, worked as general counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and served as chairman of the Utah Democratic Party.