Guest opinion: Pendley is a breath of hope for the BLM

Guest opinion: Pendley is a breath of hope for the BLM

Nowhere is this quote at right truer than at the Bureau of Land Management.

The appointment of William Perry Pendley to head this massive federal dynasty threatens the very heart and soul of an agency that has its tentacles infesting every state in the union and which threatens to strangle the life out of the western states. The BLM has grown throughout its history from an agency to an unrecognizable behemoth.

The BLM was created in 1946, when the Department of the Interior merged two older agencies: the General Land Office, created in 1800 to sell off the public lands and encourage settlement; and the Grazing Service, created in 1934 to manage grazing on public lands. In the years after America's independence, the young nation began acquiring additional lands. At first, these lands were used to encourage homesteading and westward migration. The General Land Office was created in 1812 to support this national goal.

The bureau has exploded and now manages one in every 10 acres of land in the United States, and approximately 30 percent of the nation's minerals. And this management costs the taxpayer $1.1 billion per year. This is in addition to the funds it collects from its customers in fees.

In his effort to renovate and modernize the agency, Pendley is threatening the runaway agency with demands for efficiency, accountability and push back against the sacred cows of government largess and bureaucratic malfeasance. And yes, it is a partisan political effort to restore the swamp at the Washington digs of the BLM. When 12 Senators write a letter demanding Pendley’s removal because, "The American people deserve a leader at the BLM who will work on behalf of its mission," you know that this is code protecting a bloated, out-of-control mission. It is political code for: Why would you ever want to change the way the BLM bureaucracy has been fattening itself at the public trough of gluttony and power?

The BLM swamp needs to be drained and Pendley is just starting to attack this giant constricting snake that inhabits the public lands swamp.

Fortunately, the administration is showing backbone by extending Pendley’s interim appointment into the new year. This was done in just the last few days while DOI Secretary David Bernhardt was meeting with local officials in Montana. Perhaps the insatiable appetite of expansionist big government can at last be put on a diet. We can all hope for that result.

Perhaps the right approach for the 12 Democratic senators would be to also endorse Pendley’s actions, thus demonstrating real leadership in the effort to reign in a too big government bureau. That would be a move for the benefit of “we the people.” Or they can continue to demonstrate their insanity by endorsing a continuation of the same policies they always do while hoping, without reason, that the BLM will better serve us by fattening itself (a gluttonous calf) well on its way to becoming an even bigger monster living in the swamp.

Chris Kortlander is the founding director of the private, nonprofict Custer Battlefield Museum at Garryowen.

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

— Ronald Reagan


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