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Fears that Utah leaders were turning away from a commitment to wildlife and hunting should be eased by this week's naming of Tim Provan as director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The appointment has drawn praise from sportsmen, conservationists and agricultural interests alike.

Provan succeeds Bill Geer, whose resignation was requested and accepted by Gov. Norm Bangerter. Geer had been criticized by farmers, ranchers, miners and those in the timber industry for his pro-wildlife stands they said interfered with their development plans.That touched off alarm bells among sportsmen who - rightly or wrongly - saw their traditional interests being downgraded in favor of other agendas and priorities. Those same sportsmen ought to be heartened by Provan's appointment.

Provan is a 21-year veteran of the division and has served as assistant director to Geer since 1987. He began his DWR career in 1966 as a student trainee and has managed wildlife programs throughout the state.

While a dedicated wildlife expert who can be expected to uphold those interests, Provan also has a reputation as someone who can work with others of differing views. He is seen as a person able to cooperate and compromise when that is what the situation requires.

Bob Nelson, former chairman of the Utah Wildlife Leadership Coalition, applauded the appointment of ". . . a person who is an advocate for wildlife and who is well known as a responsible, aggressive and competent individual."

Utah Farm Bureau Federation official Tom Bingham, who represented petroleum, agriculture and mining interests on the committee that selected Provan as a finalist for the job, said the new DWR director "is willing to sit down and find solutions to problems that impact agriculture and other users of the public land."

The bravos go on and on.

Provan said his first major initiative would be to address conflicts between agriculture and wildlife with a ground-level program.

We commend Provan's appointment and wish him success in meeting the critical challenge of balancing Utah's wildlife resources with the needs of those whose livelihood is nourished by the same lands.