Adams County Lincoln Day Dinner – May 6th

Join the Patriots of Adams County for our Lincoln Day Dinner on May 6th, 2023.

It will be held at the Adams County Recreation Center in Council, Idaho.

Order your tickets here:

Our Guest Speaker is William Perry Pendley.

[Background] I was born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and have fished, hunted, hiked, skied, camped, traveled, and lived throughout the American West for most of my life. That the federal government owns one-third of the country, mostly in the West and Alaska, is well-known to me, of course. Like the sun rising in the east, it is a fact of life.

Another fact of life is that, in many Western rural counties, the federal government owns 50, 60, 70, 80, and even 90% of the land. I, along with my fellow westerners, know that amidst the wide-open spaces we call home are gorgeous national parks, breathtaking wilderness areas, and magnificent wildlife refuges. We know, too, that there are vast, “multiple use” federal lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which collectively administer over 400 million acres. It is to these multiple use lands that westerners look for the economic activity that ensures the well-being of counties where federal lands predominate, by providing for law enforcement, hospitals, roads and bridges, and that permit our children to return home to raise their children, our grandchildren.

Federal law permits logging, mining, energy development, livestock grazing, and recreation on public lands. Balancing these different uses, pursuant to the Constitution, commands of Congress, and wishes of the American people, has become more challenging over the decades. These uses were once considered bipartisan and noncontroversial; however, today radical environmental groups that oppose any use of federal lands have threatened activities westerners once took for granted. I have worked on these issues my entire professional life.

As a college student at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., I worked with a U.S. Senator from Wyoming on federal lands issues important to my home state. After service in the U.S. Marine Corps and graduation from the University of Wyoming College of Law, I returned to his service to deal with federal lands issues. In time, I became an attorney to the U.S. House of Representatives Interior and Insular Affairs Committee (today the Resources Committee), to assist western Representatives, both Republicans and Democrats, on federal lands issues.

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In 1981, I joined the Reagan administration as a senior official at the U.S. Department of Interior where I worked to achieve the energy independence sought by President Reagan, initiated what became Reagan’s Exclusive Economic Zone proclamation, and drafted his national minerals policy. I was most proud of my successful efforts, working with Vietnam Veterans, to achieve a memorial that honored their heroic sacrifice.

For a time, I practiced law in the Washington, D.C. area where I represented westerners dealing with federal agencies, but in 1989, I became president of Mountain States Legal Foundation, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm based in Colorado. For thirty years, I represented westerners who have a special relationship with federal lands. I represented those left behind when the tourists depart: the men, women, families, and communities that ranch, log, mine, explore for energy, recreate, hunt, guide, or otherwise depend on the federal lands that surround them.

Over the years, I represented people who could not afford to hire an attorney in their dealings with the federal government. I never argued that federal lands should belong to the states; that would have been silly, illogical, and, for those in their state of desperation, futile. Rather, I read and sought to apply the Constitution, federal statutes, rules, and regulations to the facts of my client’s case.

Fortunately, for my clients and for me, many of my cases not only made nationwide headlines, but they also set valuable legal precedents that were used by others similarly situated.

  • One client denied a government contract because of his race, thrice reached the Supreme Court. We won 5-4 once, 9-0 the second time, and tied the third time. We also set a still-binding legal precedent best described by Justice Scalia, “In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American.”
  • Representing the world’s oldest family-owned and operated independent oil company and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, I argued for the right of landowners in rural northwestern Pennsylvania to develop natural gas in a national forest, as they had since 1859. We prevailed twice in a federal district court and before two separate three-judge appellate panels, upholding the district court’s landmark view that denial of a property right constitutes an irreparable injury.
  • I represented a Wyoming man over an 11-year period before five federal courts, fighting the illegal seizure of his land for a federal bike trail. His case reached the Supreme Court of the United States, which, in record time, ruled 8-1 in his favor.
  • I represented Representative Helen Chenoweth (R – ID 1st) in a landmark case seeking to prevent a Clinton administration land grab.
  • In two cases dealing with the right to sue involving the Quiet Title Act and the Clean Water Act, my arguments were adopted subsequently by the Supreme Court of the United States.

As head of a tax-exempt non-profit organization, I testified only once before the Colorado General Assembly and just twice before U.S. Congress; never did I advocate the “disposal” or “transfer” of federal lands. I had no interest in doing so.

In 2015, at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, at the request of the College, I debated a professor on the history of public lands. That debate sparked a lengthy op-ed the next year in National Review Online addressing an issue I had never given much thought, that is, what did the Founders believe about public land. I quoted Western governors, Democrats all, who were angry at the way federal lands were managed by President Jimmy Carter. I wrote that many Westerners believed the problems they faced then with Carter — and, when that article was penned, President Obama — would not be solved until much multiple-use land, but not parks, wilderness areas, and wildlife refuges, were transferred. That was their view, and I believe I did it justice. Personally, my view was somewhat different because I had watched President Ronald Reagan diffuse the original “Sagebrush Rebellion” to federal land management efforts with his good neighbor policy. I knew a future president could do as Reagan did. Finally, my assertion that the founders intended the sale of all federally owned lands was not prescriptive but a historically accurate observation relevant to the debate.

In 2019, I joined the Trump administration to lead the BLM. I did so because I believed his embrace of a true conservation ethic was some of the best news for the West since Reagan. I was proud that, shortly after I arrived, America achieved energy independence because the Trump administration took the steps I had been urging for decades. I was proud too of my efforts: in moving the headquarters of the BLM to Grand Junction closer to the lands it manages and 97 percent of its employees; in leading the fight against both COVID and wildfires in the summer in 2020; and in restoring the professionalism of the BLM’s nearly 300 law enforcement rangers and special agents in their relationship with western troopers, sheriffs and deputies, and police officers.

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