There is something new and something old at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Gary Torres, our favorite emeritus columnist and former Cave Guy, was hired as the new manager for the Monticello Field office in February.
Although, looking at the picture it is hard to tell which is old and which is new, Torres assures me that his 1957 Chevy is older than he is. He explains that he plans to drive it back and forth to work until either he – or the car – dies.
Torres formerly wrote for the San Juan Record as a humor columnist. Readers looked forward to his My Cave My View column for more than a dozen years, from the Y2K scare to 2013.
The column won a basketfull of awards and entertained readers near and far. When Gary was diagnosed with stomach cancer in his early forties, his struggle became our struggle as readers joined him on a terrifying journey and a full recovery.
After leaving San Juan County and spending 12 years working across the United States in various industry and government leadership positions, Torres has finally found his way back to his favorite cave near the Hideout Golf Course.
Torres said, “Although technically a downgrade in position from some of the jobs I have had, it is my dream job. I believe a Field Manager is the best job in the BLM. You can make a difference on the ground, in a community, and for the people that live here. I couldn’t be happier.”
Torres explains his decision-making style, in true Cave Guy fashion, as, “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad and not to argue with those who would say it technically makes ketchup a smoothie, and finally having enough common sense not to drink it even if a court decides it is a smoothie.”
While Torres has spent much of his 29-year career in federal service for the Moab and Monticello BLM offices, he had the freedom to pursue other career choices once his youngest soon graduated from high school. The choices eventually landed him in Washington D.C. as the Deputy Division Chief for Oil and Gas.
Torres also spent time as an engineer for consulting firms, including TerraTek, Rockwell International, Westinghouse, and SWCA Environmental Consulting.
He had assignments for the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the U.S. Forest Service before returning to the BLM. He also went to Papua New Guinea for the State Department to implement “multiple use” and “sustained yield” concepts.
You can read more about that here.
Gary’s return to the BLM saw him serving in local, district, state, and national levels. He started as District Manager in Farmington, NM, then headed east to Washington D.C. to serve as the Deputy Division Chief for Oil and Gas. He was able to escape back to Utah as the Director of the Vernal office, and had a stint in the BLM state office as the Deputy State Director.
That’s a lot of valuable experience coming home to San Juan County. Though many readers know Torres for his self-deprecating sense of humor and “his too kind and loving wife,” he really is a world-class engineer, land advocate, diplomat, and scholar.
Gary’s response is that he “doesn’t have much talent, but lots of life experience and hopefully some common sense.”
Torres added, “With all the potential changes in the county related to Bears Ears and with the many issues facing the rural west, I thought it was time to come back and try to help.
“I want to give back to the people and the part of the world that has given me everything I value.”
Torres’s time away provided opportunities to see different people, cultures and values. And food. He said, “I like to think I ate my way across the United States and portions of the world. As we went back and forth, we made it a point to eat at every out-of-the-way place.”
One cafe he described as a cross between Motor Parts and the Out West Café. His column, Hubcap Hamburger in Arkansas can attest to that.
On returning, Torres is most concerned with hearing the voices of all stakeholders.
He said, “We are going to work diligently to get the Bears Ears Monument Management Plan out the door so we can start to move forward. Visitors will be coming this direction and we need to prepare the communities for those changes.”
“Having worked in many places with contention and difficult decisions, I have learned that most people recognize that they are not going to get their way all the time; but they all want to be heard.
“They want the decision maker to listen to them. I am very committed to that. I will listen, and am willing to go out in the field and talk to people and try to understand their issues and concerns.”
Torres is married to his “too kind and loving” wife and has four children and 11 grandchildren. He has maintained a residence in Monticello while working across the United States for the past 12 years. He loves the Four Corners area.
“Every day, I try to talk the rest of my kids into moving back here. There is so much to enjoy, the people are good people, the landscapes are phenomenal and I am excited to be back.”