Statement of Senator Dirk Kempthorne
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Hearing on the Nomination of Donald Barry
February 3, 1998

I am pleased to be here to offer some comments on the nomination of Don Barry to be Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. I've gotten to know Don over the past few years and believe that he will be an effective and successful Assistant Secretary.

Don has had a life time of experience with the Endangered Species Act, both as a House staffer and during his long tenure at the Department of Interior. And to his credit, he has learned over that time the ESA doesn't work as well as it should, or as it was intended to. So, I support Don Barry to be Assistant Secretary for two very good reasons.

As you all know I have spent the last three years working on the Endangered Species Act reauthorization. Negotiations have been at times tense but throughout the negotiations we have found Don Barry to be a problem solver. And that is a commodity that is rare here in Washington, D.C.

The second reason that I support Don Barry is that he agrees with Secretary Babbitt that the ESA needs changes to make it work better for species and for property owners. And I will tell you that Don has helped the negotiations to make those changes.

Don has a daunting task ahead of him in his new position if he is confirmed as I suspect he will. The challenges that he will face in protecting fish and wildlife are profound. How will we as a country continue to protect all of our native fish, wildlife and plants, without jeopardizing families and communities? How will we protect fundamental property rights? And how will we bring species back from the brink of extinction? Cost overruns in Park Service projects are an embarrassment and demonstrate that a lack of sound management oversight will always result in inefficiencies.

I welcome you Don and hope that we will have a continued good working relationship in the future.