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Wally Leimgruber appointed to BLM advisory council

February 02, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

County Supervisor Wally Leimgruber has been appointed to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Desert District Advisory Council by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.

The two-year appointment came on the final full day of the previous administration.

Leimgruber said his main goal will be to see that portions of the desert recently closed to recreation are reopened.

"I feel decisions were made in haste and I will attempt to bring scientific findings to BLM to show them that recreation that has been in the desert for many years has not harmed the environment," he said. "Scientific information will clearly show that recreational activities have not harmed our environment."

Supervisors Chairman Tony Tirado said he is pleased with Leimgruber's appointment to the council.

"After what's been going on, I'm tickled to death that he's been appointed," Tirado said.

Though Leimgruber had to submit a resume on why he felt he was qualified for the appointment.

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"We feel he's a good candidate," said Greg Thomsen, El Centro BLM office field manager.

Thomsen said Leimgruber has a good understanding of rural counties and land-use issues due to his involvement in the county Board of Supervisors, the QuadState County Government Coalition and other organizations.

A former member of the local advisory council is Bob Ham, executive director of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business of Imperial County. He served two three-year terms on the council from 1981-1986, during the Reagan Administration.

"I think Wally's appointment is a very, very important development for the Imperial Valley because the new secretary of the Interior is going to want to know what the members of this council think about desert policy and frankly we've taken some hits," Ham said.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Gale Norton as the new secretary of the Interior on Tuesday. Ham said he and the new secretary have mutual friends and he expects a group of concerned citizens to visit Norton to update her on local events.

"Norton will be good for Valley interests," Ham said.

The purpose of the Desert District Advisory Council is to provide representative citizen counsel and advice to the BLM desert district manager concerning planning and management of the public land resources within BLM's California desert district and implementation of the comprehensive, long-range plan for the management, use, development and protection of public lands within the California Desert Conservation Area.

The council's membership is intended to reflect a balance with respect to geographic considerations; members' interests, points of view and place of residence; composition of the population of the area being served; council functions to be performed; and the major issues and problems relating to planning and management of the public lands within the district and the major citizens' interests concerning these issues and problems.

The council is composed of 15 members appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the secretary of the Interior. Under federal policy, at least one member will be an incumbent elected official of general purpose government serving the people of the district. In addition, at least one member will be qualified to represent and provide advice on each of the following categories of interest: environmental protection, recreation, renewable resources, nonrenewable resources, transportation/rights-of-way, wildlife and public-at-large.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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