Lien: Trump’s BLM pick poisons the well |

Lien: Trump’s BLM pick poisons the well

David Lien
Special to the Daily

As president, Theodore Roosevelt made protecting the environment of the entire country one of his highest priorities. He believed in saving the country’s natural resources: land, air, water and wildlife. More recently, Trump administration Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said, “One of the president’s priorities is to strive to ensure a conservation legacy second only to Theodore Roosevelt.”

Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

One glaring example is William Perry Pendley. In July 2019, Interior Secretary Bernhardt signed an order naming Pendley — a lawyer with a long history of opposition to public lands — 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. On June 26, 2020, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Pendley to be the director of the BLM.

“William Perry Pendley has built a career on attempting to dismantle our public lands and waters and take down agencies like the BLM,” said Land Tawney, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO, in a June 29 statement. “His views and actions should repulse anyone who cares about our shared landscapes.

“Mr. Pendley is not someone who should be entrusted with the management of our public estate,” Tawney added. “The fox has taken control of the hen house, and he is poised to systematically dismantle the very resources he is charged with overseeing.”

In a recent Colorado Sun story, John Frank explains that in an interview with Cory Gardner, the senator repeatedly declined to say whether he supports the pick and/or Pendley’s tenure at the agency since he took the helm in July 2019. “Asked what he thinks of Pendley’s tenure in the past year, Gardner wouldn’t comment,” Frank wrote.

In a recent story, Tawney said Pendley’s nomination “poisons the well.” “I can’t for the life of me figure out why the administration would nominate Pendley,” Tawney exclaimed. He’s “a sworn enemy to public lands.”

Unfortunately, his boss isn’t much better.

During his three-plus years in the White House, Donald Trump has orchestrated the largest reduction of protected public lands in U.S. history, according to a study published in Science, an academic journal. In a story, Chris D’Angelo explains that the Trump administration has worked to weaken safeguards for nearly 35 million acres — nearly 1,000 times more than the administration has protected.

In fact, D’ Angelo reports, Trump is the only president to strip protections from more acres of public land than he’s protected. For example, during 2017, the Trump administration cut 2 million acres from two national monuments in southern Utah. As detailed in a Salt Lake Tribune story, “The president’s action was the single largest reduction of protected public lands in the history of the United States … It put habitat safeguards for elk, desert bighorn sheep and black bear aside.”

In addition, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back nearly 100 environmental rules. America’s greatest hunter-conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt, encountered extremists like Donald Trump and William Perry Pendley during his day too. “This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country,” Roosevelt said.

“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 in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle when he was chair of the BHA North American Board.

Teddy Roosevelt’s great-grandson, Ted Roosevelt IV (a former Navy SEAL and Vietnam veteran), has blasted Trump for comparing himself to the 26th president. “Americans don’t want to see an industrial wasteland,” he said. “We want clean air and clean water. It should be something we bequeath.”

David Lien is a former Air Force officer, co-chairman of the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and author of “Hunting for Experience II: Tales of Hunting & Habitat Conservation.”

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