Opinion: Pendley’s anti-access agenda ran right through Montana

Through the work of our members and many other Montanans over the course of three decades, we are proud to say that Montana’s Stream Access Law is currently the strongest and best stream access law in the country. Today, access to public lands is considered sacred in Montana. That’s why we are so disturbed to learn that William Perry Pendley continues to hold a leadership role in the Bureau of Land Management.

Who is William Perry Pendley? Montanans who worked for years to protect our constitutional public access to Montana rivers and streams remember that William Perry Pendley came to our state in 2000 to challenge and roll back Montana’s stream access law in federal court.

If Mr. Pendley had his way, the strongest law protecting public access in the country would have been destroyed. Despite the fact that a judge ruled that Mr. Pendley has been serving at the helm of the BLM illegally, he continues to serve a leadership role there. The BLM manages 245 million acres nationwide including 27 million acres in Montana. Today, Montana hunters and anglers are facing new challenges to public access on BLM lands.

The Public Land/Water Access Association is now litigating to protect access for hunters and anglers, and we are disturbed to know that a man who once tried to roll back our public access to Montana streams now continues to pursue his anti-public access agenda at the BLM.

As Montanans who hold access to public lands sacred, we ask our congressional delegation to press the Interior Department to remove Mr. Pendley from the BLM now and for good. Mr. Pendley has an anti-public lands track record that ran right through Montana’s stream access law history and threatens future public access. Montana taxpayers should not be on the hook to foot the bill for his paycheck as he actively works to rollback access to the public lands that we hold dear.

Even though a federal judge has ruled that Mr. Pendley had been illegally serving as the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Mr. Pendley says he is still on the job. We have written to Senator Tester, Senator Daines and Representative Gianforte requesting they fulfill their oversight role and remove the fox from the henhouse.

We invite you to join us in urging our delegation to act now.

Bernard Lea of Billings and Glenn Elison of Lewistown are board members of the Public Land/Water Access Association