A lawyer and writer who argues for selling off public lands is now in charge of nearly a quarter-billion acres. Needless to say, this includes landscapes and wilderness traversed by some of the best bikepacking routes in the US…

Posted by virginia

In case you missed our Guide to Public Lands, we discussed some of the threats that are facing them. On Monday, the current administration launched its most recent attack when Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed an order making William Perry Pendley acting head of the Bureau of Land Management. Pendley is an outspoken proponent of selling off or transferring federal lands to individual states. Pendley has also applauded the Trump administration’s efforts to open up more federal land to mining, oil and gas development, and other private business use.

In the past Pendley has accused federal authorities and environmental advocates of “waging war on the West.” He argued in a 2016 National Review article that the “Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold.”

Current and former Bureau of Land Management officials say recent Trump administration moves raise serious questions about the future of the nation’s largest landowner.

Bernhardt recently proposed moving BLM headquarters out of Washington, D.C., arguing that moving “critical leadership positions and supporting staff to western states — where an overwhelming majority of federal lands are located — is not only a better management system, it is beneficial to the interest of the American public in these communities, cities, counties, and states.”

Opponents of the move argue that the realignment will weaken the bureau and hampers Congress’ oversight of the department. The Public Lands Foundation, BLM’s retirees group, released a formal position statement opposing the proposed relocation of the bureau’s headquarters out West. “There is nothing to be gained and much to be lost by spreading the HQ functions of policy and oversight across several locations in the West,” the statement says.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Phil Hanceford, conservation director of The Wilderness Society said “His (Pendley’s) ascending to the top of BLM just as it is being reorganized strongly suggests the administration is positioning itself to liquidate our shared public lands.”

Here’s what you can do:

  • Read up on our public lands (and the threats they face) here.
  • Vote in national and local elections.
  • Call or write your senators and representatives by texting your zip code to 520-200-2223 (or congress switchboard: 202-224-3121) to get connected
  • This website shows some of the lands available for exchange or sale by the BLM
  • Make your voice heard by submitting comments to the BLM NEPA register.

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