Relocating the BLM

 

I retired from a career with the Bureau of Land Management in 2009. From over 33 years of public-lands stewardship “in the trenches,” I was gifted with many things, the best of which was a deep understanding of the power of the land and those who are connected to it and, of course, the natural and social consciousness that we gain from interacting with wild places. But day-to-day operations and management decisions were always dictated by the rule of law.

The appointment of William Perry Pendley as interim director of the BLM is a blatant act on the part of our president to sever the ties of the agency with its regulatory authority (“Agency displacement,” January 2020). This will make it more malleable to the special interests of Donald Trump and his cronies. It undermines our public lands in the most despicable and underhanded way.

The BLM manages one-eighth of the landmass of this country. It is a regulatory agency with the added responsibility of enabling wise and sustainable use of public land resources. It is mandated to implement the will of the U.S. Congress, your representatives. The role of the D.C. office of the BLM is to provide consistent, fair, clear guidance and policies that implement congressional legislation in concert with other federal agencies, both within the Department of Interior (such as the National Park Service, the USGS and the Fish and Wildlife Service), and within other departments (such as the Forest Service and the EPA).

These are all your public lands! And I believe it is here that we can find our most effective avenues for clean renewable energy. Moving these people out of Washington disrespects and encumbers the role of the BLM leadership in connecting and cooperating with other dedicated and powerful stewards for America’s public lands and in finding sustainable energy solutions in the face of climate change.

Congressional legislation is one of the most important of the checks and balances against tyranny afforded by our Constitution. It is the right of all Americans, and one that assures that our public lands can remain at the core of this country’s greatness. The wise and sustainable use of our public lands has inspired our global community as well. The legislated open-to-all sharing of public lands on this planet is rare and something Americans can be proud of across the globe. We can come together on this issue by getting out there and being responsible visitors to (and users of) our public lands, by knowing the rules and complying with federal regulations, and by getting involved respectfully with local BLM employees and managers and lastly and largely with our congressional representatives. Your views about our public lands are more important now than ever, and they do make a difference. Stand up for your public lands! And while you’re at it, let them know that you value the BLM leadership in their critical role in close concert with Congress and other federal agencies in Washington.

—Kristie Arrington, via email

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