Lien: Trump’s assault on BLM and CORE Act part of larger trend
Special to the Daily
In July, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed an order naming William Perry Pendley — a lawyer with a long history of opposition to public land — acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, which manages 8.3 million acres of public lands in Colorado and 245 million nationwide, the most of any Federal agency. This order put Pendley at the top of the agency, but without a Senate confirmation process.
Pendley is the former president and founder of the pro-development law firm Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver. He has ties to notorious anti-public land groups, including the American Lands Council, as detailed by the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Pendley argued in a 2016 National Review article that the “Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold.” He claims that national ownership of public lands is “oppressive.”
“New Bureau of Land Management head William Perry Pendley is fooling no one … Earlier generations warned us to be on the lookout. They saw robber barons ruin our rivers and poison our politics,” said Ryan Busse, a Montanan and chair of the BHA North American Board, in a guest column in the Aug. 4 edition of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “The Trump administration’s decision to install Mr. Pendley, an unabashed advocate for the sale of our public lands, as the leader of our largest public land management agency is a grave threat that deserves our attention.”
Here in Colorado, the BLM has opened 99% of its holdings in Park County to oil and gas leasing, according to Mark Pearson of the San Juan Citizens Alliance in a July 20 Durango Herald op-ed. “All to say that slogans like ‘energy dominance’ have real-life ramifications,” Pearson said. “It means that for the next 20 years, places like the wintering wildlife grounds on the lower slopes of the Uncompahgre Plateau … have a bull’s-eye denoting energy development first and foremost.”
The Trump administration is also road-blocking the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act. The CORE Act would protect 400,000 acres of land across four landscapes — areas that have each been introduced in Congress as stand-alone legislative proposals in the past. It also honors veterans by establishing Camp Hale as the nation’s first National Historic Landscape.
Camp Hale was the only military installation in the nation to provide high-altitude combat training to soldiers in the U.S. Army’s World War II 10th Mountain division, who were preparing to fight in the harsh winter conditions of the Italian Apennines. Before the last of the 10th Mountain Division troopers pass on, Congress can honor them by passing the CORE Act.
The bill grew out of local proposals and has support from a wide array of local groups, including outdoor business owners, ski resorts, Colorado Trout Unlimited, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, mayors and county commissioners. The CORE Act enjoys the full support of the seven affected counties (Gunnison, Eagle, Summit, San Juan, Ouray, San Miguel and Pitkin) and the towns of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Ridgway, Crested Butte, Ophir, Telluride and Basalt
Unfortunately, President Trump has weighed in against the CORE Act. After the 2016 election, President-elect Trump told a Fayetteville, North Carolina, crowd that he would honor the legacy of America’s greatest hunter-conservationist (and Medal of Honor recipient), Theodore Roosevelt, by conserving and protecting natural resources, particularly for hunters and anglers.
Instead, today the Trump Administration is responsible for gutting one of the nation’s premier public lands management agencies, turning millions of acres of public lands over to industry in the name of “energy dominance,” blocking the CORE Act and initiating the largest reduction of protected public lands in U.S. history, according to a study published in the journal Science.
It is time for America’s hunters and anglers to stand up and resist these ill-fated ideas that benefit just a few. Like Teddy Roosevelt, we are compelled to speak for the landscapes and the fish and wildlife who cannot speak for themselves. Increasingly, we know where the Trump administration stands and who it supports. And sadly, it’s rarely hunters and anglers.
David Lien is a former Air Force officer and co-chairman of the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He’s the author of “Hunting for Experience: Tales of Hunting & Habitat Conservation” and in 2014 was recognized by Field & Stream as a “Hero of Conservation.”
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