Friday, Governor Gary R. Herbert announced the appointment of Kathleen Clarke to head the Public Lands Policy Coordination Office (PLPCO). Clarke is presently a deputy commissioner of the Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food and former national director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the U.S. Department of Interior.
“Kathleen brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Public Lands Policy Coordination Office,” said Governor Herbert. “Her service at the state and federal levels will benefit the people of Utah as we balance access, development and preservation of Utah’s public lands.”
“I am both honored and excited about the opportunity to work with Governor Herbert on our many land use issues,” Clarke said. “It is imperative that we work together with local, state and federal landowners to reach a balanced approach for our recreational, wildlife and agricultural interests.”
While the appointment is subject to confirmation by the Utah State Senate, the Governor emphasized the importance of the post to the entire State. “Whether it’s energy, natural resources, recreation or school funding, public land policy affects every Utahn. With so many stakeholders and nearly 75% of Utah’s land mass designated as federal or state public land, I welcome Kathleen’s expertise and counsel on critical public land considerations.”
Before her five years with the BLM in Washington, D.C., Clarke was the executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, and worked for Utah Congressman Jim Hansen, as well as the late Senator Wallace Bennett. Her policy portfolio includes a focus on critical issues such as water rights, grazing, tribal affairs, natural resource management, energy and wildlife.
A native of Bountiful, Clarke attended Utah State University, graduating cum laude with a BA degree in political science. PLPCO’s current director, John Harja, has accepted a position with the Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food as a regulatory and environmental advisor. At a time when the Department faces an array of environmental and public land issues, Harja will advise Agriculture and Food Commissioner Leonard Blackham on various matters, including wolves, sage grouse and livestock conflicts, grazing permit renewals, air quality and water.