The Bureau of Land Management is getting closer to naming a replacement field manager for its Little Snake Field Office in Craig.
The position was left vacant by the retirement of John Husband at the beginning of the year.
Dave Blackstun has served as acting field manager in Husband’s absence.
Blackstun said he did not apply for the permanent position because of a conflict of interest.
He said federal nepotism laws made him ineligible for the job considering his wife, Barbara, also works in the Little Snake Field Office.
Jamie Connell, the BLM’s Northwest Colorado district manager, said advertising for the position closed July 19, and she recently received a list of qualified applicants for the position.
Connell could not release how many applicants the BLM received for the position, but said she was “encouraged” by the number.
“We have actually been struggling getting a good number of people on our list,” she said. “Granted, you only need one good person, but I was encouraged to see we received a good number on the list.
“I am confident we are going to find the person who will do a good job as Little Snake field manager.”
A group of other BLM managers will review and rate the candidates — who hail from around the country — and make recommendations to Connell, she said.
Connell said she hopes to make an official offer to a field manager candidate within six weeks.
A permanent field manager should be in the office no later than November, Connell said.
There are two primary qualities Connell said a field manager should possess — leadership and communication skills.
“There are always little things that a person might have in their background that I might see as helpful or beneficial, but if they were lacking in those top categories, then they probably wouldn’t rate out too highly,” she said.
When it comes to leadership, Connell said she is looking for someone who can successfully lead the 60-person staff from the first day.
“They have to be able to take the helm for the field office and get folks to get in behind them and keep the ship moving forward,” she said.
Good communication skills, Connell said, are important in explaining the “complicated job” BLM does.
“We can go from one extreme one day to completely opposite the next day,” she said. “They have to be able to articulate rather complicated things in a way the general public can understand because the public cares what we do on the lands managed by BLM and we have to be able to explain to them just what the heck we are doing.”
Connell said a background in resources and experience managing lands and ecosystems similar to those found on the 1.3 million acres of public lands managed by the Little Snake Field Office is helpful.
“That doesn’t mean you could get the job, but a person that has that experience is likely to get a couple of extra points in the ratings process,” she said.
Connell said the transition to a new field manager would be made smoother by the “strong” staff at the Little Snake Field Office.
“Even if they aren’t too familiar with the resource issues right there, they have such a good strong team to lean on,” she said. “That doesn’t worry me too much.”
The permanent field manager, Connell said, would need to lean on the employees as much as the community.
“(They would) have to do quite a bit of listening to get their feet good and solid underneath them,” she said.
The broad range of issues facing the Little Snake Field Office, Connell said, is “a perfect example” of what a field manager has to routinely deal with.
“There is such a diversity of resource values, whether you are talking about biologic or recreation, scenic and then the socio-economic and resource uses,” she said. “The types of resource uses that are on going in the Little Snake Field Office pretty much stand the gamut of things that are going on across the country.”