Some folks may think it's endearing that House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) keeps models of dinosaurs all over his office and that when he was a boy he tried to persuade the city of Harrisburg, Pa., to create a zoo.

But conservative property rights activists, trying to reform the Endangered Species Act, are not so charmed. Gingrich, who with liberal Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) sponsored reauthorization of the act last time around, may be on the wrong side again, said Myron Ebell, Washington representative of the American Land Rights Association.

Ebell noted the Gingrich problem recently in a lengthy strategy memo for Daniel Val Kish, staff director of the Resources Committee chaired by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska).

"As you know," Ebell wrote, "we have been working to make sure that Gingrich doesn't co-sponsor Studds's bill again. But his soft feelings for cuddly little critters is still going to be a big problem. We are going to need to get some of the freshmen and women to work on him."

In the memo, Ebell calls Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.) "determined, intelligent, personally affected by ESA, but still inexperienced." (Just think, if we had term limits, this would be his penultimate term.)

Conservative Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (D-La.) is called "our most powerful rhetorical weapon."

The Republican takeover of the appropriations process is hopeful, Ebell said. "The House subcommittee looks good since we de-clawed {subcommittee Chairman Ralph} Regula {R-Ohio}. {Chairman Bob} Livingston has helped by stacking it, 8 Rs to 4 Ds. . . . "

Looking for the Big Picture at the Pentagon Tongues were atwitter this week among the sophisticated set in Old Town Alexandria that the Pentagon was spending big money ($50,000 was the rumor we heard) at the local Torpedo Factory, a collection of art galleries, to decorate the Joint Chiefs dining room. The story was that all that military art in the Pentagon basement just wasn't suited for the chiefs' digestion.

Linda Hafer, a manager at the Art League, the largest gallery at the Torpedo Factory, says she had been asked by a Joint Staff officer overseeing the dining room redecoration, Navy Lt. Scott Wine, to find some pretty artwork for the largely bare walls.

"They're looking for something suitable for the dignitaries who sometimes dine there as guests," Hafer explained. "They looked at what the services already have. The Navy has some pictures of nice ships, the Air Force has some planes, but the Army and Marines have pictures with a lot of blood and guts not really appropriate for a dining room."

Hafer said she has been given a very limited budget to work with, well under $10,000, and is planning to pick out only a couple of pieces or so from the works of the 1,100 artists who contribute to the gallery. "We may have to go with a print or two in the end," she said.

"For some time, there's been thought given to getting some artwork for the walls of the chairman's dining room," said a Joint Staff official. Wine, who is "in charge of the dining room, has been doing research on artwork," working with Pentagon officials, trying to get some free advice from private, nonprofit groups. "Whatever we decide to do," the official promised, "the money will not come out of the Defense Department budget." The Reagan Revolution Hits House Rules Panel Speaking of art. When last we left House Rules Committee Chairman Gerald B.H. Solomon (R-N.Y.), he was promising black colleagues he would take down a portrait of former Rules chairman Howard W. Smith, a vicious racist who blocked civil rights legislation for decades.

Solomon had dusted off and put up Smith's portrait in place of that of Democrat Claude Pepper (D-Fla.), another former Rules chairman who was an advocate for older Americans.

So whose countenance now gazes upon committee deliberations?

None other than that of former president Ronald Reagan. He never had a thing to do with the Rules Committee but then again, "Solomon loves him" and "people call the Contract With America' the Second Reagan Revolution," an aide said. Smith's portrait went back into the closet.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have put Pepper's portrait in the suite of offices of Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.). Runyon Critic May Not Get Postal Board Seat Word is John Crutcher, an outspoken critic of Postmaster General Marvin T. Runyon and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), no longer has the inside track to win one of the three vacant seats on the Postal Service Board of Governors. Senior postal officials had said that Crutcher, a former member of the independent Postal Rate Commission, appeared to be headed for a GOP board seat with the blessing of his old boss.

But Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.) of the Governmental Affairs Committee has let the White House know that since he chairs the panel that confirms the governors, it might be well that they consider his candidate. Now, the White House is saying the leading GOP candidate for the board is Robert F. Rider of Bridgeville, Del., a longtime GOP partisan and friend of the chairman. Said a Roth aide: "We're hopeful that Mr. Dole will support our nominee and we don't have any reason to believe otherwise."