America’s Public Lands Deserve Better

Washington, DC — Today Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is expected to quietly extend the term of William Perry Pendley to continue as the de-facto leader of the Bureau of Land Management. The National Wildlife Federation strongly condemns having Mr. Pendley lead an agency, which is responsible for 248 million acres of public land and 700 million subsurface mineral acres. Mr. Pendley has spent his entire career fighting against public lands, against national monument designations and against endangered species protections. Already during his brief tenure at the helm of the agency, he has given away more than 500 acres of public land to be used to build the Mexican border wall.

“It is clear this administration has little interest in fulfilling the agency’s mission to responsibly manage our public lands,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president of public lands for the National Wildlife Federation. “Mr. Pendley does not believe that hunters, hikers, bird watchers and millions of other outdoor enthusiasts have a right to enjoy America’s public lands, because he doesn’t believe in the fundamental idea of public lands. That’s just wrong and it’s why the National Wildlife Federation and its 13 Western affiliates called for his removal.”

The Bureau of Land Management oversees 40% of all federal public lands. Its mission is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” Mr. Pendley’s long career represents the antithesis of that mission. He has argued vociferously that the federal government shouldn’t even own public lands.

Mr. Pendley is an avowed advocate of selling off public lands. He stood up for law-breaking cattlemen who held an armed standoff with BLM employees, he represented an oil and gas company that was given an illegal lease to drill on land that is sacred to the Blackfeet Tribe, and he has suggested that more national monuments need to be stripped of protections. He also has a long list of conflicts: his recently issued recusal list is 17 pages long. \

Sixty days ago, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt installed Pendley in a newly-created position at the BLM using a shadowy, backdoor approach to avoid the Constitutionally-mandated Congressional scrutiny which an official nomination would require.

“Our public lands are far too important to be led by someone who hasn’t been vetted by the Senate and who is such an avowed enemy of public lands,” said Stone-Manning.

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