On exactly how this happened we turn to Perry Pendley's Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan's Battle With Environmental Extremists.... Pendley tells us that early on Secretary Watt and Under Secretary Hodel met with career employees and bureau chiefs. At one of those meetings "a career official from the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) - the organization once headed by Watt when it was the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation - asked, 'Mr. Secretary, do you plan to abolish the HCRS?' Without hesitating, Watt replied, 'Yes.' Afterward, as Watt and Hodel strode down the hallway, Hodel asked, 'Jim, when did you decide to abolish the HCRS?' 'I decided to do it as soon as he asked the question,' said Watt. 'If an official asks if his agency is going to be abolished, then he knows the answer already.' "
Pendley also advises Interior requested a 15.3 percent cut in funding for the '82 budget. Congress didn't go along, in fact over the entire Reagan administration Congress appropriated $4 billion more than Interior requested. However, over that same period employees were reduced by 11 percent. Not exactly how things are done today.
My review of Pendley's book is here. Better get yourself a copy, before Obama bans it by Executive Order.