Last week, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt quietly re-upped the appointment of William Perry Pendley as acting director of the Bureau of Land Management.
By skirting Congress and not officially nominating Pendley to serve as the actual director, the administration may be trying to avoid the appropriate scrutiny that has always been required by those seeking to run agencies with the incredible responsibilities of the BLM.
It may also be trying to avoid getting the attention of hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationists who are directly impacted.
Mr. Pendley can fairly be considered public lands enemy No. 1. He is the most powerful federal employee that has openly advocated for transfer and privatization of public lands.
And as the head of the BLM, the agency that manages the largest portfolio of public lands, he is in the position to take his advocacy for transfer and sell off to another level.
Even though he now says he will not attempt to dismantle the BLM or divest of our public lands, Mr. Pendley has a long history of working against the public’s interests on public lands and for oil and gas interests of deregulation, extraction, and privatization.
He served as the president for the Mountain States Legal Foundation for nearly three decades, an organization infamously known for supporting the idea that public lands should be sold off and regulations protecting our clean air and water should be rolled back.
Many of the cases his foundation has taken on aim squarely at removing public input and access to these lands. His record makes it extremely difficult to trust.
Mr. Pendley is exactly the opposite of who we need to lead the BLM. At a time when we finally, collectively understand that public lands are the backbone of a huge recreation economy and our national spirit, the BLM is being led by a zealot hell-bent on ruining this legacy and throwing us back into the dark ages of the Sagebrush Rebellion.
Now during hunting season here in the West, when we should be giddy in anticipation of our most cherished time of year, it will instead be sobering to set out into the forests and prairies knowing that these lands we cherish so much may be at risk. Indeed, our very sporting traditions are at risk.
So, my fellow hunters, anglers, hikers, campers and anyone who enjoys our public lands: it’s time to speak up. We cannot take our incredible public lands for granted.
If Mr. Pendley has his druthers, he’ll crumble the very foundation of public lands while he has the chance. Mr. Pendley has been at work on that vision for decades. It’s time to redouble our efforts to make sure there’s no way that vision ever sees the light of day.
Take some time right now to contact decision makers — your congressional delegation, county commissioners and the BLM.
And then tell your friends that William Perry Pendley is no friend of public lands and is an imminent threat to our sporting traditions and our Western way of life.
Aaron Kindle is senior manager for Western sporting campaigns at the National Wildlife Federation.
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