WASHINGTON — James Caswell, a public land manager from Idaho, was approved by the Senate on Friday to become director of the Bureau of Land Management.
Caswell’s confirmation had been blocked for a week by Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., in a dispute over natural gas drilling on public land in western Colorado.
Salazar removed his hold after Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne agreed to delay oil and gas leasing on the Roan Plateau, near Rifle, for at least four months.
As BLM director, Caswell will oversee management of agency-controlled public lands in Nevada, including energy development and property auctions in Clark County.
The BLM manages 258 million acres in 12 Western states including 65 percent of the land in Nevada.
The agreement between Salazar and Kempthorne would allow the public and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, more time to review the Bush administration’s program for energy leasing on the scenic plateau. Ritter was elected last November.
Caswell headed the Idaho Office of Species Conservation since 2000, and before that worked for the BLM, the Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Forest Service during a 33-year career.