A Cheyenne native and critic of the federal government who has argued for selling off almost all public lands has been named the Trump administration’s top steward over nearly a quarter-billion federally controlled acres.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Monday signed an order making William Perry Pendley acting head of the Bureau of Land Management. The bureau’s holdings are sweeping, with nearly one out of every 10 acres nationally, and 30 percent of minerals, under its dominion, mostly across the U.S. West.

Wyoming’s Washinton delegation praised the hire.

“Perry Pendley’s experience dealing with public land issues and fighting for Wyoming makes him an excellent choice as Acting Director for the BLM,” saud U.S. Rep Liz Cheney. “A Wyoming native, his past service – in uniform and during the Reagan Administration – exemplifies his devotion to this country and I know that he will put that commitment first in his new role. He has been a leader for decades on legal matters dealing with our land and resource issues.  

“I look forward to working with Perry and am confident that he will continue this Administration’s policies of rolling back burdensome federal regulation and preserving multiple use of our unparalleled public lands.”

Pendley, a former midlevel Interior appointee in the Reagan administration, for decades has championed ranchers and others in standoffs with the federal government over grazing and other uses of public lands. 

Pendley’s “ascending to the top of BLM just as it is being reorganized strongly suggests the administration is positioning itself to liquidate our shared public lands,” said Phil Hanceford, conservation director for the Wilderness Society.

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