Juan Palma, Las Vegas Field Office Manager for BLM
When it comes to having somebody head up the lands program for Nevada BLM, the agency responsible for administering federal lands in Nevada, which take up 68 percent of the state, the best possible choice is obviously somebody who loves the American West – somebody who loves Nevada.
Juan Palma is that person. For the past 20 years, Palma has worked in many parts of the West. He graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Business Management and received his Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Nevada, Reno. Before moving to Las Vegas, Palma resided in Lake Tahoe. He worked as executive director for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, a bi-state compact agency that oversees all land use planning agency activities within the Lake Tahoe region, and was also the forest supervisor for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
He believes BLM will always be significant in Nevada because the agency administers such a large percentage of the state. “Without the land that BLM is able to sell, the cities and state could not grow,” said Palma. “Just look at all the development Nevada has seen in the past 10 years – its unbelievable.” Provisions within the Act allow for limited lands to be sold at less than fair market value to provide affordable housing for the population that averages less than 80 percent of average median income. Palma would like to see more of BLM working with local governments, locating and managing affordable housing. “Some of our lands are in the middle of a city,” said Palma. “We don’t have the money to keep up the management so we sell them – hoping others can redevelop that land.”
And when he’s not working towards finding affordable housing opportunities or working with Nevada’s public lands, Palma spends his free time outdoors. While living in Lake Tahoe, Palma took advantage of the beautiful mountains and mastered the art of snowboarding. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and gardening – all benefits of living and working in beautiful Nevada.
“I have three grandchildren and can’t help but to think of the legacy we [BLM] are leaving for future generations,” said Palma.
The BLM has a major impact on the economy. According to Palma, without the BLM as a player, the economy would definitely slow down . The price of land in the state is based on the market. “Without the BLM as a player in the land sales, the economy would slow down quite a bit,” said Palma.