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RBC | Rio Blanco County Commissioner Shawn Bolton, first elected to the board in 2010 and currently serving as chair, has put his hat in the ring for a new position: national director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Trump administration.
Bolton said he contacted members of Trump’s transition team to find out about putting in his application and put his name in the pool.
“I think it would be a great thing for our county,” he said. “We need to bring back grazing rights, energy development and recreation to what it should be.”
Bolton said he’s heard good things and received a great deal of support from many sources since announcing his candidacy for nomination, including Colorado Counties, Inc., where Bolton has been very involved during his tenure for the county.
The national director of the BLM works directly under the Secretary of the Interior. The President-elect has tapped Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Montana) for that position. Zinke is a staunch advocate of oil, gas and mining extraction, and is expected to undo policies put in place under the Obama administration that have hindered energy development.
The BLM controls 250 million acres of public lands across the United States and is responsible for managing use of that land for recreation, oil and gas leasing, conservation and more.
As of press time, the only other candidate publicly announced in the media is Utah state Rep. Mike Noel (R-Utah). Noel has previously worked for the BLM, and says he has the support of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the Utah governor’s office and other state leaders, according to a report from Utah’s Fox13.
Bolton said he was told last week that his name is in Washington, D.C., and New York City right now in the consideration pile, and said he was told he has a good chance.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Bolton said. “Any other administration I wouldn’t have a chance, but this one is doing things differently.”
Bolton ran for commissioner in 2010 on a pro-business platform, stating in a Herald Times article, “I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman.”
That might make him just the right fit for a place in the Trump administration.
He won’t know until after the first of the year, possibly not until February or March, the outcome. The details of what he and his family will do, and what will happen to his position as county commissioner—if he’s chosen for the directorship—remains to be seen.