BLM chief brings wealth of experience

BLM chief brings wealth of experience

As a marathon runner, Dayne Barron knows that a key to running a good race is having a good mental attitude.

The new U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District manager also knows that a positive attitude won't hurt in his challenging job, which almost invariably involves working with factions at odds.

"You are never going to get the extremes on both ends but if you can get a good many of the people on both sides to agree to work together that is helpful," he said.

"But, ultimately, we have to do what is right," he added, referring to laws and regulations.

"Those are our sideboards. And within those sideboards we have some flexibility and discretion to work with different groups to move forward."

Barron, 54, began working in the Medford headquarters this week, replacing former district manager Tim Reuwsaat who retired last month after some 33 years with the BLM. Reuwsaat was the district manager for the past seven years.

Barron, who has worked for the BLM for 20 years, has a bachelor's degree in forest management from the University of Montana and a master's degree in forest management from Colorado State University.

He has worked as a forester, GIS coordinator, forestry specialist and a legislative specialist in Washington, D.C.

A native of Kansas, he spent his first 10 years with the agency in the Roseburg District, beginning as a natural resources specialist. While there, he worked in everything from timber production and forest health to restoration and maintenance of riparian habitat. He also has worked in the BLM's national office in Washington, D.C., and spent the past seven years as manager of the BLM's Eagle Lake Field Office in Susanville, Calif.

He and his wife, Sigi, have a 12-year-old son.

Although Barron is still getting to know the issues, he expressed support for collaborative efforts now under way involving the district, local U.S. Forest Service personnel and those interested in the future of federal woodlands in southwest Oregon.

"We anticipate we will be ramping that up in terms of involvement with a lot of different groups," he said.

The Medford District covers some 866,000 acres of public land scattered between the Cascade and Siskiyou ranges from the California state line to southern Douglas County. Because of its diversity of resources, from forestland to a federally designated Wild and Scenic River in the lower Rogue River, the district employs about 220 full-time employees and 80 seasonal workers, giving it the largest BLM district staff in the nation.

The district also manages the 24,100-acre Soda Mountain Wilderness within the boundaries of its Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which covers nearly 54,000 acres in the mountains southeast of Ashland.

"But that's the story of the BLM — there's a lot of variety," he said. "We don't have an excuse for getting bored. There is definitely a real variety here in terms of resources.

"And there is a constituency group for each one so we have a big job," he added.

Having worked in Roseburg, Barron is acquainted with Western Oregon.

"I kind of know the routine a little bit," he said. "I'm getting back into managing the forest and forest resource base, restoring habitat and trying to do that at the same time as providing some sort of economic base for the communities. We've got a big challenge."

In addition, the agency is facing a 5 percent budget reduction for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The district's current budget is about $33 million.

The first step will be to figure out creative ways to work with the budget it is given, he said.

"I've got the impression we've got a dedicated, outstanding staff here," he said. "Having been in the agency this long, I know everybody wants to do what's right for the resource base."

About the rewards of that good attitude: Barron already has qualified for the 2011 Boston Marathon, and has made hotel reservations there for the April race.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

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