Washington, D.C. - Nevada Senator Harry Reid today introduced Nevadan and Elko Native Neil Kornze at his confirmation hearing to be Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior. Below are Senator Reid’s remarks:
The Bureau of Land Management to most people doesn’t mean a thing, because it is an agency that is focused on mostly the West.
The State of Nevada—87 percent of the land in the State of Nevada is owned by the federal government—more than any other state.
And the vast majority of that 87 percent is Bureau of Land Management land. And having been involved in government for a number of years—the Bureau of Land Management is looked upon as a remarkably sound agency compared to what it was twenty years ago.
Twenty years ago the Bureau of Land Management had a lower approval rating than the Internal Revenue Service. But they have done a good job of becoming more modernized.
Now, Neil Kornze is somebody that is just perfect for the job, raised in rural Nevada, Elko County. Nevada has 17 counties. But in the northeastern part of the state is a large county that is really a remarkably beautiful place. It now has more mining in it than any place in America. The State of Nevada produced about 6 million ounces of gold last year, and much of it came from Elko County.
But in addition to that we have beautiful ranches, some of them are quite famous—Bing Crosby had a big ranch there and a lot of movie actors. But these ranches even though they were owned by some of these celebrities, were always working ranches.
Elko County has a beautiful wilderness area. The first wilderness we had in the State of Nevada was a long time ago in a place called Jarbidge, which is a wonderfully beautiful pristine area.
The State of Nevada is a very mountainous state—more mountainous than any state in the union except for Alaska. We have more than 300 mountain ranges in Nevada. We have a wide range of animals. Elko County has it all–we have mountain sheep there and all kinds of things. But the only place that I know of in the Western part of the United States other than South Dakota—there could be other places. But we in Nevada are very proud that in Elko County we have mountain goats in addition to all the other animals we have. So it’s a beautiful state, and a beautiful county.
Neil was born and raised in Elko County. He really does understand the role of rural America. He has a Master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He has, as indicated here, spent a lot of time in my office. Staff cared a great deal about him and you can always tell what kind of a staffer you have by how other members of the staff feel about him or her.
So, he understands to develop policy in the Western part of the United States you have to have consensus. There is a lot of competing interest there and he understands that. And frankly, he and I have learned a lot of that together. You just can’t charge forward and do what you know is right because you may be wrong. He understands that. He’s been with the Bureau for some time now. His expertise is going to be invaluable to the Bureau of Land Management.
Senator Heller has represented, as a Member of Congress, rural Nevada–the northern part of the state—which is a congressional district that he was a Member of Congress. I can’t speak for Dean, but he will speak for himself. This is an unusually qualified person for the Bureau of Land Management. He has Nevada roots but he understands the West remarkably well. And as, Senator Murkowski said, he is a person who will be on the ground trying to figure out the best thing to do.
I have every bit of confidence in Neil Kornze that he will be the best director we’ve ever had at the Bureau of Land Management.