Rep. Stewart’s chief of staff picked to serve as BLM deputy director

Image courtesy of Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A Utahn has been tapped to fill one of the top spots at the Bureau of Land Management.

Earlier this week it was announced that, Brian Steed, Utah Congressman Chris Stewart’s chief of staff, was tapped to become the next deputy director of the BLM. Steed has served as the congressman’s chief of staff since 2013.

“Dr. Steed has been a huge part of my success here in Congress,” Stewart said in a statement Wednesday. “I always say he’s the best Chief of Staff on the Hill.”

A desert tortoise browses in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Washington County, Utah, photo undated | Photo by John Kellam, courtesy of Bureau of Land Management, St. George News

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the majority of which stretches across 12 western states. It also administers 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate throughout the nation. Around two-thirds of Utah consists of lands overseen by the BLM.

Read more: St. George BLM ranger in Puerto Rico ready to offer aid as Hurricane Maria approaches

In southwest Utah, the BLM has been both praised and criticized depending on the issue at hand. County and municipal officers see the agency as a valued partner, yet are wary of potential policies that could, in their views, harm the future growth and economic development of the region.

The BLM and other federal agencies, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are heavily involved in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and its associated habitat conservation plan advisory committee. Moreover, both are tied to issues of preserving the Mohave desert tortoise and the continuing push by local elected officials and road planners for the so-called northern corridor.

Read more: County supports creating more desert reserve to offset northern corridor impacts 

Beyond the confines of Washington County are the ongoing issues of dealing with the proper management of Utah prairie dogs, as well as the future of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

A Utah prairie dog in the grass at Bryce Canyon, Utah. Date unspecified. | Photo courtesy of Kevin Doxstater for the National Park Service, St. George News / Cedar City News

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that both monuments be shrunk in size.

Steed is the second Utahn to keep placed in a high-level spot within the Interior Department under the Trump Administration. In June it was announced that Greg Sheehan, the director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, was being made deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Prior to serving as the congressman’s chief of staff, Steed worked as Stewart’s campaign manager during his original run for office, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Steed has taught political science and economics at  Utah State University and served as a deputy county attorney for the Iron County Attorney’s Office for a time.

“I consider him a brother and will miss him greatly,” Stewart said. “He has a huge opportunity to serve the American people at the Bureau of Land and Management and I know he’ll have great success.”

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

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