WASHINGTON (AP) _ Gale Norton won Senate approval Tuesday to head the Interior Department despite opposition from environmental groups and some Democrats, including one who said her views on land management were ``out of the mainstream.''

On a 75-24 vote, the Senate confirmed President Bush's choice of the Norton, a past advocate of state's and property rights, to be the government's chief steward for half a billion acres of federal land and natural resources as secretary of the interior.

Republicans said they were confident that Norton could balance both preserving and developing those resources.

``She grew up in Colorado, she understands what wilderness means,'' said Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H.

Democrats said they only hope that Norton doesn't live up to their worst fears.

``I hope she listens to this and proves me wrong,'' said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. ``She's out of the mainstream of thought.''

The Senate also was acting Tuesday on Bush's nomination of former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Senators from, 4th graf a0484.