The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a new acting director appointed by Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary David Bernhardt. William Perry Pendley was signed into the position on July 29.

Secretary Bernhardt’s order reads, “This order is intended to ensure uninterrupted management and execution of the duties of these vacant non-career positions during the presidential transition pending Senate confirmation of new non-career officials.”

Pendley has served as the deputy director of policy and programs at the agency since July 15 before being appointed acting director. He also served in the DOI during the Reagan administration. Until last December, Pendley was head of the Mountain States Legal Foundation in suburban Denver, CO.

The foundation advocates for protecting property rights and advancing economic liberty. Pendley’s appointment as acting head has been widely criticized by environmentalists and conservationists as he has advocated for selling public lands in the past.

“The BLM manages some of the most revered places in Montana, and we now have someone in charge of the BLM who would prefer to sell those places off rather than do the job of caring for them on behalf of all Americans,” said Kayje Booker, policy and advocacy director at Montana Wilderness Association, in a statement. “It’s hard to imagine anyone in this position more dangerous than William Perry Pendley.”

Pendley replaced Casey Hammond, the DOI principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management. Hammond was authorized into the acting director position on May 11, where he remained until the order terminated on July 31.

BLM has still not nominated a new BLM director and the position has been filled by acting directors since the end of the Obama administration. Pendley’s position will run through September, as Secretary Bernhardt’s order decrees. — WLJ

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