The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has appointed Greg Sheehan, former principal deputy director of US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), as the new director of the BLM’s Utah state office. Sheehan has several decades of experience in wildlife conservation management. Prior to serving with FWS he served at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for 25 years, including five years as director.
“Congratulations are in order for Sheehan and the BLM,” says W. Laird Hamberlin, CEO of SCI/F. “BLM manages a significant amount of lands in Utah, requiring someone at the helm with a keen understanding of habitat and wildlife management issues. Sheehan has all the necessary experience, knowledge and skills to ensure public land in Utah is managed for the greatest benefit of wildlife, hunters and all who enjoy the outdoors.”
As director of BLM’s Utah office, Sheehan will oversee the management of nearly 2.9 million acres of public lands in Utah, representing about 42% of the state. According to a press release issued by BLM, Sheehan’s lifelong passion for fish and wildlife and his past position with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources uniquely qualifies him to manage the lands under the agency’s care. His previous work gives him an understanding of the issues and complexities involved in public lands management. The multiple-use demands on Utah’s significant and varied public lands require a balanced sustainable use approach to habitat and wildlife for the benefit of all stakeholders.
BLM Deputy Director of Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley says, “Greg Sheehan knows the people and lands of Utah as well as anyone, leading the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for years and working collaboratively with the BLM and other federal and state agencies, conservation and industry groups, and other stakeholders for a host of Land Management issues in the state. We’re excited he has agreed to bring that expertise and the relationships he’s built over decades to lead the BLM’s work in Utah.”
Sheehan has worked at both the state and federal level to increase wildlife, habitat and their access for both hunters and fishermen. Under his leadership at the FWS, Sheehan worked to accelerate the recovery and delisting of species by strengthening and expanding partnerships with state and tribal wildlife agencies. He also engaged private landowners to help species recover by expanding financial, technical and regulatory assistance for landowners who voluntarily conducted conservation efforts on their properties.
Multiple species were recovered and successfully delisted during his tenure, such as the black-capped vireo and lesser long-nosed bat. Due to his support of recovery efforts many more species have improved sufficiently to be proposed for delisting or downlisting.
While with FWS, he also worked to expand public access for hunting and fishing across the National Wildlife Refuge System and other lands managed by the FWS. Sportsmen can now enjoy more than 1.7 million acres of refuge lands that were previously closed to hunting and fishing.
In Utah, mule deer increased by more than 100,000 animals during the last four years of Sheehan’s tenure as Director of the Division of Wildlife. Over the 25 years with the Division, he was involved in the translocation of deer, bighorn sheep, bison, and mountain goats, as well as efforts to enhance sage grouse populations. Habitat projects he supported and that highly benefited wildlife included landscape scale habitat restoration; identification of wildlife corridors; and highway fencing and underpass construction. Additionally, Sheehan worked for the restoration and rebuilding of the state fish hatcheries and on extensive scientific research.
An international hunter and past keynote speaker at the SCI Convention, Sheehan also attended the African Wildlife Consultative Forum hosted by the SCI Foundation where he met with natural resource ministers and directors from across Africa to discuss their wildlife management programs and trophy importations to the US. Sheehan is an avid hunter, fisherman and wildlife photographer. He will formally take over as the BLM Utah director on August 2, 2020.