Cowboy boots. Barbed wire fences. Cattle grazing across an open range. It's all part of the stereotypical image of the Bureau of Land Management.
But Cy Jamison, the national director of today's BLM, wants the public to see a new image, a BLM that is geared equally toward recreation, tourism, education, wildlife and cultural preservation.In Utah's case, the future, he says, is archaeological resources: ancient ruins, museums, interpretive exhibits, trails and rangers to help analyze and protect those resources. And he pledged to assist Utah BLM officials toward that end.
"There are more cultural sites per square mile in Utah than any other state, perhaps all other states combined," he said. "That may be an overstatement, but it's an understatement of the potential Utah has."
Jamison's comments came Saturday during a tour of Nine Mile Canyon in Carbon County, a canyon famous around the world for its rock art. Jamison is in the midst of a five-day tour of Utah that includes an address Monday at the Governor's Conference on Tourism.
Jamison has campaigned actively to boost the BLM's role not only in tourism, but in the preservation and interpretation of historical and prehistorical sites on BLM lands, a program called Adventures in the Past.
He has also led the charge for National Back Country Byways designations of scenic roads to promote tourism and is now looking to promote wildlife activities on federal land. "I never realized before that there are groups of people who travel all around the country watching birds and other wildlife. It's an untapped area for us," he said.
Visitation to BLM lands is increasing by 2 million people a year, creating a whole new set of problems for a federal agency that has traditionally focused on mining, livestock and oil and gas.
The visitors are coming for scenery, solitude, nature and cultural experiences, and often those interests are in conflict with traditional uses.
"I want to emphasize we are not running from our traditional friends," Jamison said in a Deseret News interview. "Cattle are part of our traditional heritage. We will stay with our traditional uses."
"But we can also do other things and do them well. And the traditional uses are not incompatible with the new things we are emphasizing. There is room for everybody." And issues like riparian management, archaeological mitigation and tourism will require new management strategies for the traditional users.
"If we want cattle to stay on the range, we have to do a better job of managing the range," he said.
Jamison's multiple-use, conservation-oriented approach to land management has won high marks from a Congress that has often been extremely critical of the way the BLM has been administered. Congress has awarded the BLM considerable budget increases at the same time other federal agencies are being cut.
Those increases are required to meet the service demands of increased numbers of visitors. In Utah, more visitors has meant more destruction of the state's remarkable archaeological heritage.
"We can't invite the public in without having rangers to interpret and protect those resources," he said. "If we provide the public with a safe and enjoyable experience, they will come back time and again."
And that means more tourist dollars and greater public support for protecting resources.