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Opinion: Trump-aligned Project 2025 envisions housing on our public lands

July 10, 2024, 9:23 am
Holy Cross Wilderness by John Fielder
The Trump-aligned Project 2025 envisions housing on public lands such as the nearby Holy Cross Wilderness (photo by John Fielder).

In his book “Rifle In Hand: How Wild America Was Saved,” renowned hunter-conservationist Jim Posewitz wrote, “In 1776 freedom and equality were radical thoughts. It took a Declaration of Independence, a Revolutionary War, a United States Constitution, and a Bill of Rights to validate these ideas and launch the American aspirations.”

However, a recent Supreme Court decision granting U.S. presidents immunity for any “official acts” has upended these aspirations. For an example of what may follow see the June 2024 op-ed in the Washington Examiner, “Solve the housing crisis by selling government land,” written by William Perry Pendley.

Pendley led the Bureau of Land Management for former President Donald Trump.

David Lien

Pendley is an anti-public lands zealot and a dire threat to our great public lands hunting and angling heritage. To prove the point, in a July 2020 Vail Daily op-ed I wrote: “In July 2019, Interior Secretary Bernhardt signed an order naming Pendley — a lawyer with a long history of opposition to public lands — acting director of the Bureau of Land Management.”

I added, “During his three-plus years in the White House, Donald Trump has orchestrated the largest reduction of protected public lands in U.S. history, according to a study published in Science, an academic journal … The Trump administration has worked to weaken safeguards for nearly 35 million acres — nearly 1,000 times more than the administration has protected.”

“In addition, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back nearly 100 environmental rules,” I explained. “America’s greatest hunter-conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt, encountered extremists like Donald Trump and William Perry Pendley during his day too. ‘This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country,’ Roosevelt said.”

Unfortunately, since the Supreme Court ruled that Trump cannot be prosecuted for anything a president’s lawyer might spin as an “official act,” the chances of him ever seeing the inside of a jail cell is slim to none, and you can bet he will double down on his efforts to dispose of our public lands should he regain the presidency.

If anyone has any doubts that American law is now just politics (i.e., the Supreme Court is captured), consider that nowhere in the Constitution is it ever suggested that the holder of the highest office may have free rein to break the law.

In fact, it explicitly states that public officials may be subject to “indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.” This nation was founded on the principle that there are no kings in America, but Trump’s Supreme Court has paved the way for him to be one, if we let him.

A June 2024 Accountable.US press release documents Pendley’s plans to dispose of our public lands estate: “Controversial former Trump administration official and author of Project 2025’s section on the Department of the Interior William Perry Pendley is calling for a massive sell-off of lands owned by all American taxpayers.”

In “Beyond Fair Chase,” Jim Posewitz wrote: “The natural world sustains us with clean air, unpolluted water, recreation, and natural resources. If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.” If you’re a hunter, angler, hiker, climber, mountain biker or anyone who recreates on or values our great public lands estate, beware.

Pendley and Project 2025 are coming for our public lands, and democracy, if “We The People” let them. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “With fear for our democracy, I dissent.”

Editor’s note 1: This opinion column first appeared on Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and X.

Editor’s note 2: David Lien, from Colorado Springs, is a hunter, author, and former Air Force officer. In 2014 he was recognized by Field & Stream as a “Hero of Conservation.” Views expressed are his personal opinion and not that of any other group or organization.

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David Lien

2 Responses to Opinion: Trump-aligned Project 2025 envisions housing on our public lands

  1. Jen Rogus Reply

    July 10, 2024 at 9:55 am

    Thanks Dave,

    The importance of this issue to each and every citizen of our country and those on native lands needs to know about this now. Don’t stop!!

  2. David Lien Reply

    July 21, 2024 at 2:27 pm


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