Sunday, January 21, 2024

DuBois column 'Pendley on Biden'


In the recently published column The Uses and Abuses of Federal Land, Perry Pendley writes:

...It comes as a surprise to most Americans that the federal government owns nearly one-third of the nation’s land mass, in excess of 640 million acres. (It also owns 1.7 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), but that is another story.) Most know of the National Park Service in the 9Department of the Interior and its 80 million acres of parks, preserves, reserves, monuments, memorials, historic sites, battlefields, and recreation areas, in every state. Many Americans may be familiar with the 141 national forests, managed by the U.S. Forest Service from the Department of Agriculture, spread across 43 states and 193 million acres. Less known is the Fish & Wildlife Service, also in Interior, and the 89 million acres of its National Wildlife Refuge System in all fifty states. Few Americans outside the West, however, are aware of the Bureau of Land Management, the original “BLM,” another Interior agency, which manages 245 million acres, mostly in the eleven western states and Alaska. 

Those agencies manage 95 percent of federal land. Most of the rest is held by the Department of Defense: 11 million acres by its departments and 12 million acres by the Army Corps of Engineers, dating to 1775, for the 456 lakes it manages for water control and recreation in 43 states. Numerous other federal agencies manage the residual federal land holdings.

Pendley then does his usual superb job in describing the current distribution of those lands, the legislative language on  "multiple use" and "sustained yield", followed by succinct observations on how the Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and Trump administrations managed those lands and proclaims the Biden administration is managing these lands by ignoring the law and the courts. 

Concerning Biden, he concludes by saying:

To date, no one can stop him. Not Congress, which is deadlocked. Not the federal courts, which .he ignores. Not even, given his response to its rulings, the Supreme Court itself. 

Pendley and I were colleagues at the Dept. of Interior and you can see his breadth of knowledge and that he pulls no punches when it comes to federal lands policy. He also mentions some land designations and that gives me the opportunity to comment on something that has been bugging me for quite awhile.

Pendley writes that, "Congress recognized that other federal lands were special and should be set aside", then mentioning Wilderness, Wild & Scenic Rivers, and the Endangered Species Act.

However, I caution you to beware the politician, public official or environmental lobbyist who claims these designations are necessary to protect your access to these lands.

Why? Because it is just the opposite.

Each one those statutes mentioned is an Act of EXCLUSION.

Their primary purpose of these statutes is to exclude humans from some areas and to exclude certain human activities in the remainder.

Some definitions of exclude:

Oxford deny (someone) access to or bar (someone) from a place, group, or privilege.

Cambridge - to prevent someone or something from entering a place or taking part in an activity.


to prevent or restrict the entrance of

to bar from participation, consideration, or inclusion

to expel or bar especially from a place or position previously occupied

A good example would be 1964 Wilderness Act.

That act defines Wilderness:

wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain...

Of special interest here is Section 4 which lists all the prohibited items. Here is an edited for brevity version:


(c) …there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area designated by this Act and…there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.

That is quite a list. All of those either exclude your presence or place severe limitations on what you can do while there.

Your access will be less than what is was before.

Until next time, be a nuisance to the devil and don't forget to check that cinch.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1987-2003, has a blog THE WESTERNER (ts and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and the DuBois Western Heritage Foundation.

This column originally appeared in the January editions of the NM Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest.

Pendley's most recent book is Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan's Battle with Environmental Extremists



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