September 20, 2017
Free Range Report wants to issue an apology to our audience, as well as public and private persons named in our article posted earlier today.
We received a clarification from the office of Karen Budd-Falen following the publishing of our article about her taking over as Bureau of Land Management Director. Although we believe this transition is imminent, it is not yet official, and we have been asked to clarify to our audience that Mrs. Budd-Falen has not formally been confirmed. As was stated in the article in question, Budd-Falen has strong credentials and has been put forward as a possible new BLM director, but the actual appointment of a new BLM Director has not yet occurred.
Thank you for your understanding.
While Budd-Falen has decades of broad experience in natural resources policy and law, and Western property rights, Neil Kornze’s primary experience was as a political staffer for then-United States Senator, Harry Reid.
by Marjorie Haun Free Range Report
Although the Department of Interior has not yet made an official statement, several sources confirm that Karen Budd-Falen has been named as Director for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Budd-Falen’s name has been tossed around for several months as a favorite to take the lead at the agency, and it’s been reported that she has actively lobbied for the position. She previously served in the Department of Interior (DoI) as a special assistant to the assistant secretary for land and minerals management. She also worked with the DoI as a member of Trump’s transition team. She will take over for acting BLM Director, Mike Nedd, who has been at the helm since Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was confirmed. Nedd is an expert in domestic energy development.
Karen Budd-Falen has a storied career in property rights litigation, and her firm has defended numerous property owners, ranchers and farmers, against both the federal government and environmentalist groups. On occasion, ironically, Falen fought the very agency which she will now lead. Last June, Greenwire reported about one such case during Budd-Falen’s time with Mountain States Legal Foundation:
In particular, Pendley pointed to Budd-Falen’s work on a case representing rancher Harvey Frank Robbins, who once owned a property in Hot Springs County, Wyo.
At the time Robbins bought the ranch in 1994, BLM had failed to record an easement on a road across the property it had struck with the previous owner. The road accessed a publicly owned area known as the Upper Rock Creek region.
Robbins refused BLM’s efforts to discuss a new right of way and faced what he saw as backlash for that decision in the form of citations for violations of grazing regulations, interference with cattle drives and even criminal charges after an altercation with a BLM employee, although a jury quickly declared Robbins not guilty in that case.
But Budd-Falen stepped in with a new way to push back against BLM, by suing the employees as individuals under an anti-racketeering law normally used against organized crime syndicates, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Budd-Falen’s personal history appears to be the foundation for her understanding of ranching and property rights. A native of Wyoming, she grew up on a ranch in Big Piney. Prior to working in Reagan’s Interior department, Budd-Falen obtained her law degree from the University of Wyoming.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Budd-Falen’s appointment to head up BLM is the stark contrast between her background and that of Obama’s BLM Director, Neil Kornze. While Budd-Falen has decades of broad experience in law, natural resources policy, and Western property rights, Neil Kornze’s primary experience was as a political staffer for then-United States Senator, Harry Reid. Budd-Falen’s appointment, the firings and reassignments of thousands of Interior employees, Zinke’s monuments revisions, and new emphasis on responsible development of public lands, all signal a serious change of direction for the Bureau of Land Management.