BLM gets a new boss in Utah as feds shuffle key positions

(Francisco Kjolseth Salt Lake Tribune file photo) This May 8, 2017, photo shows Arch Canyon within Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

The Bureau of Land Management in Utah is getting a new boss.

Ed Roberson, who has been the director since October 2016, is retiring Friday. A news release issued Thursday said Anita Bilbao will serve as acting director until a permanent replacement is made. Bilbao had been the associate state director.

The BLM manages 22.9 million acres in Utah — 42 percent of the state. Roberson had a role in developing a management plan for Bears Ears National Monument after President Donald Trump reduced it to 15 percent of its original size in 2017.

Roberson also oversaw management of wild horses in Utah — a topic that habitually puts ranchers and county commissioners against animal lovers.

“It has been a privilege to be the Utah state director for the last three years,” Roberson said in the release. “We’ve built a highly effective team here in Utah. I am confident in their commitment to the BLM’s multiple-use mission and that they will continue to responsibly manage public lands for present and future generations.”

Roberson is moving to North Carolina to be with family.

“We committed to building and maintaining a strong, healthy Team Utah,” Bilbao said in the release. “We will miss Ed’s thoughtful leadership and know that he has set us up for a successful transition.”

Other changes for the BLM in Utah:

• Abbie Jossie, the deputy state director for natural resources, will be the interim associate state director.

• Lance Porter has been selected as the Green River District manager. He previously served as the Canyon Country district manager in Moab.

• Gary Torres, Monticello field manager, served as the acting Canyon Country District manager and has been asked to serve as the acting state director for BLM Eastern States. Brian Quigley, assistant district manager, will be the interim district manager.

• Harry Barber has been selected as the district manager of the BLM’s new Paria River District. This new district, located in Kanab, combines the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Kanab Field Office. Whit Bunting has been selected as the Kanab field manager. Vicki Tyler is currently serving as the acting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument manager.