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Native American woman takes over as BLM’s Phoenix District manager

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Along with the challenges that come with every new job, Angelita Bulletts has an additional adjustment as the Bureau of Land Management’s Phoenix District manager.

She’s getting to know the 115 employees in the office, and is gaining an understanding of the administrative needs of the office and the field work underway in the district, which manages 2.4 million acres of public lands. Those things require an adjustment, but she has made those kinds of adjustments before.

What is new for her is dealing with management of public lands in a metropolitan area. “Most of the offices I’ve worked for are in rural areas. So it’s very different.”

Bulletts was officially installed as district manager Feb. 19. She replaced Teri Raml, who moved into a position at the BLM Arizona State Office.

Bulletts has spent much of her professional career working in the Arizona Strip, the sparsely populated and sometimes harsh environment between the Grand Canyon and Arizona’s border with Utah.

She’s spent the past three years as assistant district manager in BLM’s Arizona Strip District. Before that she was an administrator with the U.S. Forest Service and BIA. She came to those jobs after being tribal administrator for the Kaibab Paiutes, a small Native American band of which Bulletts is a member.

In a way, Bulletts’ move to Phoenix is a reversal of her situation as a child.

“I actually was born in Los Angeles,” she said. “I lived in Los Angeles until I was 12.”

Her grandfather lived alone on the Kaibab Paiute Reservation at Pipe Springs in northern Arizona. He was getting older and Bulletts’ parents moved to the reservation to be with him.

She remembers coming to the reservation from Los Angeles. After St. George, Utah, it was almost all dirt roads. The family had no television, no telephone. Radio was only available after dark when the AM signal came in from distant places. Lacking electronic diversions Bulletts spent a lot of time outdoors. It was from that period that she developed a kinship and link to the land.

Bulletts got a degree in cultural anthropology from Northern Arizona University. In the mid-80s, however, she found herself in Phoenix doing cost accounting for a road construction company. It wasn’t work for which she was trained but she remedied that by taking classes at Grand Canyon University in accounting and business administration.

That experience and training proved to be valuable for what came later. “That prepared me, I think, for the jobs that I have now,” she said.

She moved to Fredonia, Ariz., where she worked for the Kaibab Paiute Tribe, eventually becoming the tribal administrator. “That enabled me to get a good background and good experience working with land managing agencies.”

She worked briefly for the BIA in St. George, Utah, where she was a natural resources specialist, a broad-ranging job that included environmental issues, the fire program and livestock management.

She went back into administration and support services as a branch leader with the U.S. Forest Service. She supervised and managed geographic information systems, budget, administration, timber, customer service and information for the North Kaibab Ranger District.

“So that was again getting more toward business administration. So when I moved here to BLM, it was essentially the same thing,” she said.

What BLM offered her in 2006 was an opportunity to advance her career in a job she knew she could do, while staying in the northern Arizona, southern Utah area. It also meant going to work for an office for which she had a lot of respect.

“The Arizona Strip District, for me, is an office that has always kept the communities involved.”

The tribal work and the job with the BIA helped in her adjustment to the BLM.

“Working with BLM and coming from the tribe was an easy transition. Because I think the tribe and the BLM have already established relationships.”

Bulletts is married to Carlos Bulletts, who is a BLM employee for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The couple has a 12-year-old daughter, India, and a 19-year-old daughter, Leslie.

India, who is a musician and competitive swimmer, sees the move to Phoenix as an opportunity to pursue those activities.

Leslie is a student at the College of Eastern Utah.

Bulletts is looking forward to the complexity that comes with managing a district that encompasses a huge metropolitan area. The BLM and its management policies are an important part of the West, she said. She sees keeping communities informed and involved as an important part of BLM’s role.

“Of course, there are no borders when it comes to how people interact with the land,” she said. People don’t consider that they live in the city or on a ranch, or whether they live in one state or another when they choose to use public land.

“One of my hopes is that BLM continues to integrate with communities, to be involved with communities because our land base is so much a part of the West. That is a main focus for me.”