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'Fox Guarding Hen House' at Bureau of Land Management?

The Bureau of Land Management oversees nearly 250 million acres of public land, including more than 45% percent of land in New Mexico. (nmwildlife.org)
The Bureau of Land Management oversees nearly 250 million acres of public land, including more than 45% percent of land in New Mexico. (nmwildlife.org)
October 18, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. – The acting director of the Bureau of Land Management has advocated for selling off public lands and conservation groups say that's reason enough he needs to step down.

William Perry Pendley was a controversial choice when named to the post. At a recent conference, Pendley told the crowd the BLM's mission is to "drill for oil, mine coal, cut trees and allow ranchers to graze cattle."

He didn't mention historic uses of public land, such as recreation and conservation.

Jesse Duebel, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, calls Pendley an example of "a fox guarding the hen house."

"With the agenda of the current administration, and with the agenda of Pendley at the BLM, it's inevitable that the end game here is to try to dispose of those lands, transfer them to the states so they can be sold off," says Duebel.

Twelve U.S. senators asked Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in late September to dismiss Pendley from the job.

The BLM recently announced it will move at least a third of its Washington, D.C.-based staff to Grand Junction, Colorado – housing those employees in a building with oil and gas executives.

Pendley has previously stated that the nation's Founding Fathers intended for all public lands to be sold and that the federal government has a duty to dispose of its lands. Duebel says that approach doesn't align with the views of New Mexicans and others across the West who use public lands.

"Conservation organizations across the country are outraged," says Duebel. “Hunters, anglers, sports people, users of public lands of all different types are infuriated by the fact that we have an anti-public-lands leader, leading our largest public land management agency in the country."

Pendley has also said he opposes national monuments and encouraged President Donald Trump to repeal the Antiquities Act.

His first appointment as "acting" director expired September 30 without his removal, and Deubel believes the public should be demanding his resignation now before the second temporary appointment period expires in January.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM