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Utah BLM official is heading to Colorado

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Sally Wisely, the Bureau of Land Management's top official in Utah, has been named to head the agency's Colorado office.

Appointed in 1999 as director of the federal agency's activities in Utah, Wisely was in charge while controversies raged over topics as varied as water developments planned by Nevada near the Utah border, road claims by rural counties, wilderness, off-road vehicle trail closures, grazing, oil drilling and river protection.

The BLM announced this past week that Ron Wenkler, the state director in Colorado, would become the new BLM chief in Nevada. Wenkler is to replace Bob Abbey, who retired from the Reno, Nev., headquarters after 25 years with the agency.

Wisely would go to Colorado to take the post Wenkler is vacating, said BLM director Kathleen Clark, quoted in a press release. A search was to begin to find a replacement for her in the Utah office.

"Ron and Sally are looking forward to these new challenges and I am excited about bringing two excellent and very experienced BLM managers to these states to work with our many and varied constituencies," Clark added. They are expected to start their new jobs in the fall, according to the BLM.

Wisely became BLM Utah state director in May 1999. She served as associate state director for Alaska from 1994 to 1999 and as BLM area manager in Durango, Colo., from 1987 to 1994, says the agency in a press release.

In September 2004, Wisely wrote an opinion article for the Deseret Morning News taking aim at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance for its criticism of Interior Secretary Gale Norton's ban on hard-rock mining along 200 miles of Utah's recreational waterways.

"At best this carping (by SUWA) was sour grapes, at worst it was yet another distortion of the facts aimed at misleading the public," she wrote.

Nearly a year later, any wounds SUWA suffered from her attack seem to have healed.

"We wish Sally good luck in Colorado," said SUWA director Scott Groene in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News. "Her job here was made difficult by the Bush administration's reckless drive to open public lands to oil companies," he said, as well by actions of southern Utah county commissioners.

E-mail: bau@desnews.com