Editor's Note: This special article was written by Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia, and Land Tawney, President and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a nonprofit conservation group.
William Perry Pendley must leave DC for Christmas and not return to his job after that.
640 million acres of US public land and water belong to all of us. Whether you like hunting, fishing, hiking or canoeing – or just loving to have a quiet place to admire the stars – our public lands and waters are here to enjoy. Although most of us can agree that these wild places need protection, their future depends on the continued participation of citizens and, of course, strong leadership.
This is why the recent appointment of William Perry Pendley as Acting Head of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an insult to public land users of all stripes. Pendley, the former head of the conservative law firm Mountain States Legal Foundation, made a career trying to weaken federal land administration agencies and completely destroy all state lands, while at the same time he is now entrusted with managing millions of acres of land and water.
Pendley's term as acting director of BLM, which began in July, expires on January 3. Of course, much is broken in Washington, but if he stays in office, Pendley will be worse off working against the public interest. and endangering our public lands and waters further than he already has.
In 2016, Pendley wrote that, in his opinion, the government should sell its western lands – an extreme position that few politicians would dare to support if they did not want to vote for them. Moreover, in 2017, when President Trump undermined the integrity of the Antiquities Act, one of our most important conservation tools, and opened up public lands for industrial development, Pendley argued that the president was not aggressive enough. He has been doing similar attacks on public lands for decades.
As Pendley in BLM, he has the authority to formulate resource management plans and open wildlife migration corridors to develop oil and gas fields in places like the Wyoming Red Desert. In a short time in office, he has already speeded up the Trump administration's efforts to curtail plans to preserve the western wormwood steppe, which is home to hundreds of wildlife species, including partridge. Pendley’s wrong decisions affect not only 51 million acres of high-quality wormwood habitat in the country and some of the best hunting and hiking sites in the country, but also undermine management plans developed over years of close consultation between scientists, ranchers, hunters and the state. and local officials.
If Pendley retains his post after January 3, expect him to continue the efforts of the energy industry to explore the incomparable Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to the caribou and Arctic grayling, along with the indigenous Gwitchi peoples. Even one of the largest oil companies in the world, BP, decided that drilling in a shelter is not a good business.
It should not be. Protecting our public lands and waters is the right thing, and that's a good policy. A recent study found that 65 percent of voters in the Mountain West want Congress to protect our water, air, wildlife, and outdoor recreation opportunities in public areas, compared with only 24 percent that would give priority to energy production on public lands. Almost all Western voters surveyed – 87 percent – indicated that the open-air economy is important for the future of their state. At the beginning of this year, Congress listened to people and adopted the most important environmental legislation of the decade, expanding wildlife areas, strengthening public access programs, and preserving important lands and rivers. This measure enjoyed such strong bipartisan support that a veto was actually proved: by a vote of 92–8 in the Senate and 363–62 in the House.
Pendley’s appointment, at least, sends a frightening message to the state managers and professional natural resource workers who work for him. These dedicated civil servants deserve our support and competent leadership.
To consolidate this progress and prevent Pendley from spiraling out of control, the Senate must demand that he be removed from his post, or at least require that he be officially appointed director of the BLM, and thus undergo a full Congressional confirmation process. The time has come to act before Pendley’s term of office lasts. We need to work together, and Congress needs to listen to people so that his time at BLM comes to an end.
Hunters and travelers may not see it face to face on every issue, but we agree with this: America’s public lands and waters are a national treasure that needs to be preserved and transferred, not looted and developed for the highest bidder. Use your vote today and tell your senators that the Bureau of Land Management deserves the best. ♦
Rosa Marcario is President and CEO of Patagonia. Land Towney is president and chief executive officer of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Contact your senators and ask them to reject Pendley as head of BLM here.
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