BLM Lands at Risk!

Summer doesn’t last long, here along the Continental Divide. We didn’t really get any summer weather here in Butte until the middle of July. Now, on the 7th day of August, we look forward the three and a half weeks to when the upland bird season begins on September 1.

From past experience, we know that Labor Day weekend may still be in summer according to the calendar, but often as not, it’s autumn and don’t be surprised if it snows.

Still, once September begins, many Montana hunters and anglers will be on the road, looking for late summer fishing and early autumn bird hunting and archery hunting.

It’s a good chance that a lot of us will be recreating on Montana’s public lands, especially lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. When you’re walking across those federal public lands, keep in mind that those lands are at serious risk.

First of all, remember that David Bernhardt, a lawyer and lobbyist who represented oil and gas industry clients, including Halliburton and Independent Petroleum Association of America, heads the Department of Interior.  He was Deputy Secretary before his predecessor, Montana’s Ryan Zinke, left Interior because his stench of corruption was more than even Donald Trump could tolerate.

William Perry Lindley, Acting Director of BLM. Photo from Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

Next, the Administration is appointing William Perry Pendley to be acting (so won’t need Senate confirmation) director of the Bureau of Land Management. Pendley has a long history as an advocate for selling off federal public lands. He is a past president of Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), an organization largely funded by energy companies, which has frequently litigated in opposition to environmental laws.  As reported by the Flathead Beacon, MSLF has been representing a Louisiana energy company in a fight against canceling oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area on the Rocky Mountain Front, an area sacred to the Blackfeet Nation. Most public lands advocates regard Pendley’s appointment as putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

Finally, the Administration announced a decision to move the BLM headquarters from Washington D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado. Cory Gardner, Colorado’s Republican senator, hailed the move as bringing the agency’s decision makers closer to the lands they manage. Others view the decision with alarm, fearing that many of the affected BLM headquarters employees would not make the move, with many of the agency’s top scientists among the losses.

Further, many regard the move as giving the oil, gas and coal companies a lot more power over the agency that manages so many of the west’s public lands.

So, as you plan your fall outings, whether for hunting or fishing (some of my favorite fishing sites on the Big Hole River and Madison River are managed by BLM), remember that the foxes in the Interior and BLM henhouses would prefer oil wells or coal mines on that land rather than sharp-tailed and sage grouse and pronghorn antelope. Better yet, sell it to some wealthy crony. The American public and the environment are just inconvenient nuisances.

While I’m on a rant, I take note of the president’s racist diatribes against the city of Baltimore, Maryland.

During my career with the Social Security Administration, I occasionally visited Baltimore, the Social Security Administration’s headquarters. While I wouldn’t choose to live there, or any other big city, I wouldn’t call it a rat hole, either.

After all, it’s a city with major league sports, prestigious universities, a major symphony orchestra (with financial problems, unfortunately), theaters, museums, churches, great architecture, and a spectacular harbor and waterfront, with some of the world’s best seafood, and where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner.

It’s at the head of Chesapeake Bay, with great fishing, sailing and boating.

Baltimore is a short distance from Washington D.C., and close to all the attractions of our nation’s capitol.

On the downside, it’s miserably hot and humid in the summertime, but so is Florida and people like to live there, too. Maybe it’s not “The Greatest City in America,” as a past mayor called it, but there’s a lot to like.

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