Newspaper column: Advocate for West appointed acting head of BLM

BLM land in Nevada (BLM pix)

The self-styled cactus hugging collectivists are aghast.

This past week Interior Secretary David Bernhardt named William Perry Pendley of Wyoming acting head of the Bureau of Land Management, which controls 63 percent of the land in Nevada, the largest portion of the 87 percent of the state land controlled by various federal agencies.

Pendley, who worked in the Interior Department under President Reagan, has actually advocated selling off public lands instead of holding onto them in perpetuity.

A group calling itself the Western Values Project called Pendley dangerous and an extremist. Its executive director, Chris Saeger, was quoted as saying, “This appointment shows Trump and Bernhardt are only interested in selling off public lands to the highest bidder. Pendley is an outspoken advocate for the transfer of public lands to the state. Anything they’ve ever said about not selling off public lands has just been a political smokescreen to distract from their real intentions: handing over public lands to their special interest allies.”

William Perry Pendley

What Pendley has advocated is adhering to the intentions of the Founders, who fully intended for all lands owned by the federal government be sold. In an article in the National Review in 2016, Pendley argues that Article I of the Constitution “gives Congress unlimited power ‘to dispose of’ its property, but sharply limits its rulemaking authority to ‘needful Rules and Regulations.’ The Supreme Court correctly and narrowly interpreted the Property Clause in 1845, holding that the clause gave rise to a constitutional duty to dispose of its land holdings.”

Though opponents of selling off federal lands point to the Disclaimer Clauses that are found in verbiage covering admission of new states to the Union — in which the states “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public land lying within” the new state’s boundary — the new head of the BLM says the provision was included simply to assure the clear title of the United States so the land could be sold.

In fact, Nevada’s admission document contains a Disclaimer Clause, but also states that the land “shall be sold,” with 5 percent of proceeds going to the state. Thus, the original intention seems pretty clear. Obtain clear title. Sell the land. Divide the proceeds.

28 comments on “Newspaper column: Advocate for West appointed acting head of BLM

  1. Bruce Feher says:

    Again with the Founding Fathers! What did they know, just a bunch of stupid old men!
    Now for “real” insight, just ask any of the scores of Democrats Presidential candidates! They have all the answers 😂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just another far right wing crook put in charge of our birthrights by the far right wing racist white supremist lunatic that appointed other far right wing lunatic racist crooks to other positions so that they could rob cheat and steal our birthrights right out from underneath our feet.

    Hell, it might even be so bad if one of these far right wing lunatic robbing cheating crooks were actually doing it on behalf of the little folk (but that might make them more like democrats so never mind) instead all these guys have done, and seem to want to do, is Rob cheat and steal on behalf of guys that got so much they’re having a hard time concealing all there stolen even though no one is really paying attention to their thieving much anymore with one of their own in charge.

    And when even the good people of a state like Wyoming, by a near 4 out of 5 margin, DONT WANT THESE THIEVES STWALING OUR LAND, you know they’re going to have to do a real good job of stealing lest someone get angry and do the old sagebrush switcheroo and bring some second amendment right remedies to bear on these crooks.

    According to the state’s 2017 Outdoor Recreation Industry Report, prepared for the Wyoming Business Council, the outdoor recreation economy generates $5.6 billion in consumer spending annually in Wyoming. It also supports 50,000 in-state jobs, almost double the 27,000 positions from oil, gas, mining and extraction combined.

    “Most tourism businesses are local businesses with local employees,” Todd said.

    Statistically, the majority of the state’s residents agree. In the Colorado College 2018 Conservation in the West poll, 78% of Wyomingites stated that they believe the presence of public lands and a lifestyle of outdoor recreation gives the West an economic advantage over other parts of the country.”

    But who cares what nearly 80% of the citizens want right? Shoot, we got billionaires to make happy.

  3. Why is the West treated differently from the rest of the country? Birthright? No, collectivism.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The West is treated differently for lots of reasons none that have anything to do with collectivism.

    And that doesn’t change that THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE EVEN IN THE WEST don’t want our lands to be turned over to some billionaires and that includes whatever is left of the non billionaire ranching community that’s relying on public lands to subsidize heir businesses; you figure if these lands are sold off to the Koch Brothers that poor old Clivan Bundys going to be able to keep feeding his cows off THEIR land for free like he’s been doing for the last 30 years on our land?

    No siree Bob, cause when they seize his cows, for trespassing, and he tries to get a gang with guns to get em back, they’ll just hire a bigger gang with guns to keep em.

    God bless America.

  5. bc says:

    I do not understand the whole push to sell the public land in the west, it is such an asset to those who live and work there. You want to drive down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere you are free to do so. No gates with “No Trespassing” signs on them, and if you want to camp, fish or hunt, you are free to do so.

    I support the multiple use doctrine, livestock keeps the fire danger down and provides a living to those who have been there for decades, and if there are riches under the ground there are ways to develop those resources.

    You are from Texas, I am sure that you have seen the large ranches of open land similar to Nevada out in West Texas but you cannot go onto the land as it is private. You want to hunt, fish, hike or camp? Pay for the privilege, if you are lucky.

    Property taxes? Most of the land up there would tax very low, there is very little commercial value to it.

    Let the state own it? Sorry, don’t trust the state to maintain it and leave it accessible. Living in Illinois has taken from me most of my trust of local government. Not that I trust the Feds much more but benign neglect has its appeal.

    There can be disagreements on how the land should be managed, the push to move grazing from the land is wrong and I believe short sighted, better to work with those who have managed the land for generations to come up with better solutions than simply sending edits from Washington.

    Speaking of which, moving the Dept. of Interior to Colorado is a great thing.

    There is a lot of beautiful open land in Nevada and the West, the fact that a high percentage of that land is publically owned is an asset to those who live there, not a burden. There is a lot of beauty in the back country of Nevada, keeping it public means keeping it accessible.

  6. Rincon says:

    Well put, bc. Although the federal government should sell land when there is a need, holding a fire sale just in order to dispose of it or to just give it to the state is questionable at best.

    I do not understand the legal argument by Pendley. He says the Constitution. “sharply limits its rulemaking authority to ‘”needful Rules and Regulations.” ALL rules and regulations are considered needful to those who enact them. Sharply limits? Tell me the one about Goldilocks and the three bears while you’re at it, Pendley.

    That being said, the wording of the Nevada admission document is critical. It sounds like one document says, “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public land lying within” (the new state’s boundary), and another says, the land “shall be sold,”. This appears to put them at odds with each other. Since I don’t know the wording surrounding the “shall be sold” phrase, my tendency is to say the federal government can do whatever it wants, as it has until I see more complete wording.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t say Thomas intentionally misled you about the phrase “shall be sold” Rincon but only because I’m in a good mood.

    We have had this discussion before and Thomas either knows or ought to know better (I think he does because I give him some credit for brains)

    He knows perfectly well that there isn’t anything anywhere that says that the land must be sold, it just says, effectively “if” it’s sold, then Nevada gets some tiny percentage of the receipts. Which makes all this even stranger. I mean, not one of us stands to benefit a wit, and most of the people Thomas defends here (miners, ranchers, taxpayers) are going to get screwed even if the land is sold.

    It’s mostly that these guys just hate the idea of government so much that they’re willing to enrich all the people who mock them everyday just so that, in the long run, we the people get screwed.

    Dumb beyond dumb.

  8. Nevada act enabling admission to the union: “Sec. 10. Five percent of subsequent sales of public lands by United States to be paid to state for public roads and irrigation. And be it further enacted, That five percentum of the proceeds of the sales of all public lands lying within said state, which shall be sold by the United States subsequent to the admission of said state into the Union, after deducting all the expenses incident to the same, shall be paid to the said state for the purpose of making and improving public roads, constructing ditches or canals, to effect a general system of irrigation of the agricultural land in the state, as the legislature shall direct.”

    which shall be sold, not if.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Like I said Thomas, I believe you know better but I’ve been wrong before.

    I’ve cited the law to you, I give you credit for understanding words and grammar especially, and there is no way, in my eyes at least, that after all that, that you honestly believe that the above means the federal government had to sell the land.

    If you do, then we’re both wrong; me about you, and you about this.

  10. Steve says:

    The law is clear and the word “shall” as used in this case means “must”
    The opinion you posted is exactly that, an opinion. Not a law. And that opinion resulted in definitions being updated all over the country. Moreover, that opinion began as a sham plea.
    As written, “Shall” means “must”.

    You, Patrick, remain a sham. And now you hide behind “anonymous”.

  11. Rincon says:

    Sounds like the two documents are indeed at odds. The Nevada Constitution says Nevada will, “…forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States.”

    The Nevada act enabling admission to the union says, “That five percentum of the proceeds of the sales of all public lands lying within said state, which shall be sold by the United States…”

    Although I agree that shall generally means must, the Nevada Constitution trumps the act simply because a constitution always trumps a law. Secondly, I know of no evidence that the U.S. government agreed to the act. If they did not, then it cannot be termed an agreement with the feds.
    A contract unsigned by one or both parties is null and void. I suspect the Constitution had to be approved by the feds as a condition for admission, but not necessarily the act

    The explanation that the Constitution agreement to forever disclaim all rights to public land is a mere formality is specious in my view. Anyone who agrees to disclaim all title, but not insist on a specific and unambiguous guarantee that title will be indeed granted back again is either willing to give up said title or is incredibly stupid. Unfortunately, the legal system does not often dissolve an agreement if one party claims to have been stupid. A deal is a deal.

    That being said, I certainly believe the feds should sell land whenever a substantial need is present and not hoard it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Rincon the documents are not contradictory and from a legal standpoint, they’re not even confusing. Which is why no one suggests that anyone is violating the law. Leastways anyone serious about things.

    But hey, we didn’t land on the moon, and how could we since we never got off the flat earth right?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Also Rincon I’m wondering why it is that you believe a property owner ought to sell the land they own when some supposed “substantial need” exists for someone else to have the land?

    Do you feel the same way and would you use the same standard if purely private property were at issue?

    Because if not, then effectively forcing the citizens of the country to diode of our land using that standard seems unseemly.

  14. Steve says:

    Apparently, “anonymous”, (Patrick) wants to divine person-hood for the USA….but corporations be damned.
    The law is indeed clear, the lands in the territory of Nevada were consolidated and assigned to the union under the constitution then, in obeyance of the act, those lands must be sold to the new state, as agreed by the union and the new state of Nevada.

  15. Rincon says:

    The documents are not contradictory only if the word, shall, does not imply an obligation. “Until recently, law schools taught attorneys that “shall” means “must.” This means it’s likely that at the time of their writing, shall was intended to mean must.
    Nowadays, the legal world is trying to mostly eliminate this word because of the very confusion we are having, preferring to use the word, must, but modern preferences should not be used to change the original meaning of a document. Therefore, shall means must unless the language was used differently at the time of writing.

    “Do you feel the same way and would you use the same standard if purely private property were at issue?” Even private property owners can be forced to sell for the benefit of the community through eminent domain, but I see no reason why the merits of selling property should be the same for private parties and government. Private parties act exclusively in their own self interest (mostly). Government, on the other hand, is supposed to operate in the interests of the people. If the government needs the land, fine, but it should not put a stranglehold on commerce just because it can. Besides, if the price is fair, our treasury needs the money.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Here’s why it’s obvious, or should I say, it should be even more obvious, that they didn’t intend to bind the federal government to sell any land.

    Because they did not designate a date by which it had to be sold.

    That’s how you know for sure. Even if you were confused about the obvious structure of the sentence which grammatically, leaves no doubt about the meaning of the phrase “which shall be sold”.

  17. Steve says:

    “subsequent to the admission of said state into the Union”

    “as the legislature shall direct”

    Moreover, the proceeds were to be directed to statewide infrastructure.

    Thomas posted the full statement above. The act both included a target and goal for use of the land once sold at the direction of the states legislature. The federal government is ignoring, another, of its agreements.

  18. […] Advocate for West appointed acting head of BLM Aug9 by Thomas Mitchell The self-styled cactus hugging collectivists are aghast. […]

  19. Rincon says:

    So Nevada signed one document (its very own constitution) giving up all claims to the land, but seemed to think that this could be overcome by signing another lesser document NOT signed by the owner of the land, that fails to state in explicit terms that the land is to be turned over, and also fails to specify a time limit. You actually buy this???

  20. Steve says:


    When it is twisted like that.

    The problem with territories was suspect land claims.
    To wipe the slate clean, all unclaimed and untraceable claims for lands in the territory were consolidated under Federal control. The idea being any legal actions would be against the (even then) powerful; deeply pocketed, Federal government. This gives the state the right to the land unencumbered as it will have bought the land from the government.
    Be that as it may seem, as I have read it, that was the deal.
    And it remains to this day, for some due to the inability of the state to manage the land while others believe it due to Federal refusal to honor their end of the bargain. so yes, no matter what side you land on, that was the deal.
    Today, no matter what the state legislature says, the federal government ignores it.
    And “we the people” is a total sham from one of the extremes.

  21. Rincon says:

    So far as I can tell, you’re saying that the documents are irrelevant. Is that correct?

  22. Steve says:

    No, what I said is posted just above.

    You read whatever want to, apparently.

  23. Rincon says:

    I was trying my level best to understand your post and was honestly unsure of what you were trying to say – or at least it seemed that you were dismissing the documents. Instead of clarifying, you shoved it down my throat. Very petty, Steve.

  24. Steve says:


    is fair play.

    Feels good having your words twisted, not. Eh?

    My statement stands.
    The legal moves were to consolidate the lands under one entity while the territory became a state.
    The states legislature told the federal government it was time, as the agreement stated was to happen, but the federal government continues to ignore the states legislature.

  25. Rincon says:

    Still petty, but one of us has to be the adult.

    Only an idiot would cede land without securing an iron clad guarantee in the same document that the land would be returned, especially considering that California and Oregon entered the union before Nevada and were also not given federal land. Either returning the land was never guaranteed or the Nevada legislature was full of idiots. Take your pick.

    None of the other western states were given federal land either. Are you claiming that all of them were hoodwinked by promises even though they could see the experiences of the other states? If so, then idiocy must have been endemic back then.

  26. 1828 resolution: “When these States stipulated not to tax the lands of the United States until they were sold, they rested upon the implied engagement of Congress to cause them to be sold, within a reasonable time. No just equivalent has been given those States for a surrender of an attribute of sovereignty so important to their welfare, and to an equal standing with the original States.”

    Also, James Madison wrote in 1787 that Elbridge Gerry raised concerns about giving Congress exclusive power over purchased lands, saying “that this power might be made use of to enslave any particular state by buying up its territory, and that the strongholds proposed would be a means of awing the state into an undue obedience to the general government.”

    Delegate Rufus King moved to add the phrase “by consent of the legislatureof the state.” It passed unanimously.

    I the drafters of the Constitution deemed it necessary to prevent Congress exerting undue influence by purchasing land, is it any less undue influence by retaining so much land?

  27. Anonymous says:


    It’s the difference between a country enacting a law prohibiting a foreign country from purchasing that country’s property, and “allowing” the other country to retain or even obtain land outside that country.

  28. Steve says:

    Rincon, go ask a member of any native American tribe….Are you calling them idiots?

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