Geoff Liesik, KSL

Utah is now national headquarters for public lands recreation planning

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, KSL | Posted - Sep. 3, 2020 at 7:39 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY —The relocation of the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction, Colorado, formalized last month, led to 36 additional people being added to the Utah office and its designation as the clearinghouse for all land use projects related to recreation.

William Perry Pendley, deputy of policy and programs of the national BLM, was visiting Utah this week and said the relocation is a great opportunity to get decision making by the agency closer to the actual land it manages.

“We are out here amongst the land we manage and the people we serve,” he said. “I think it will greatly augment the decision-making process.”

As an example, Pendley pointed to the agency’s pending action to implement a new rule on electric bike access on lands managed under its purview.

Access will be decided on a case-by-case basis by individual districts and land managers, with Utah taking oversight of how the new regulations roll out.

Pendley said once finalized, e-bike access regulations will open up an entire new world for the elderly, people with disabilities, veterans struggling with military service injuries and others.

“You can get out an e-bike and go join the fun.”

Pendley, a Wyoming native, said the organizational move to Colorado makes sense to people throughout the West in large part.

He added he could read about the fires raging across the West from an office in Washington, D.C., but it is more impactful walking out of Grand Junction headquarters to see ash on his car and smell the smoke in the air.

This fire season, while not the worst, has not been kind to the West, as 84 fires have scorched 8 million acres, and with the majority of those blazes human-caused.

The majority of Utah’s wildfires have also been human-caused, and Pendley is urging people to use common sense and take proper precautions.

The BLM is also still struggling with its wild horse problem, attempting to find ways to reduce populations on the range through adoption, fertility control and expanding holding corrals.

Pendley said it is a tough problem, drawing many critics but few surefire answers to address it, even as BLM managers try to find solutions for nearly 100,000 animals that exist in Utah and other states in the West.

“These folks are at their wits end because they don’t see an end in sight,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this story said William Perry Pendley is the acting director of the BLM. He is deputy director of policy and programs.

Amy Joi O'Donoghue

KSL Weather Forecast