Conservation groups buck against Noel’s bid for BLM director

Source: The Spectrum

Kane County’s own Mike Noel has been publicly campaigning for the position of director of the Bureau of Land Management, but a group of conservation advocates and outdoor recreation businesses are urging President Donald Trump’s administration to look elsewhere.

The outspoken Republican legislator and backer of the state’s efforts to wrestle away control of the vast federal public lands within Utah’s borders has earned the support of many of Utah’s political leaders, but his years of conflicts with conservation groups and others worried about his ability to protect the natural resources entrusted to the BLM.

In a letter sent to Vice President Mike Pence and Interior Department Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke, the Alliance for a Better Utah writes:

Governor Mike Pence

January 25, 2017

Dear Mr. Vice President and Mr. Zinke,

The undersigned are writing to you as the Chairman of the Presidential Transition Team and nominee for the position of the Secretary of the Interior. As you and your colleagues in the Administration and Congress continue the important work of choosing those who will lead the various departments and agencies of our federal government, we write to voice our concerns over the reports that Representative Mike Noel, a member of the Utah House of Representatives, is actively pursuing his consideration as the next director of the Bureau of Land Management.

As you are well aware, the Bureau of Land Management is responsible for administering nearly 250 million acres of public lands across the country. Its core mission is to “sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” We believe it would be irresponsible to entrust Rep. Noel with this mission and the responsibility to manage and administer our nation’s public lands.

Over the years, Rep. Noel has espoused positions antithetical to leading the BLM. He has been a staunch opponent of the federal government. He believes law enforcement on federal public lands should rest with local sheriffs, and he has been an ardent advocate for Utah’s multi-million dollar lawsuits seeking to have ill-prepared state governments, like Utah’s, take title to federal public lands that belong to all Americans. Rep. Noel has also demonstrated his disregard for the thoughtfully and collaboratively crafted management plans of the Bureau he hopes to direct, instead throwing his support behind illegal protests on BLM land and the extraction companies that hope to expand their activities on public lands to the detriment of the protection and other uses of those lands. Rep. Noel’s history strongly suggests that he will not be a good steward over these public lands that all Americans use and enjoy, and we believe his leadership would have a catastrophic impact on the outdoor recreation industry, an important part of Utah’s economy, in addition to placing our treasured public lands in danger.

We are also alarmed by Rep. Noel’s temperament and management style, something we believe should be considered when deciding who should hold this important position. During his time as a legislator, Rep. Noel has come to be known as a bully. When faced with opposition or disagreement, he interrupts, vilifies, and personally attacks his opponents. Rep. Noel has also shown he is unwilling to compromise and that his personal opinions on matters override all others – including those reached through collaborative compromise. This intransigent nature would hamper Rep. Noel in performing the duties that come with being BLM director, which include balancing all of the competing needs and uses that arise in managing our vast public lands. Finally, accusations of manipulation and conflicts of interest have dogged Rep. Noel during his time as a public servant and would no doubt continue to follow him as he moved into a higher position of power.

We urge you to consider the irreparable damage a man with Rep. Noel’s beliefs, history, and temperament would do to this vital agency and the public trust that it holds on behalf of all Americans. We ask that you please reject his consideration as a candidate for director of the Bureau of Land Management.

The letter is signed by, among others, business owners with companies like Black Diamond, Petzl America and Garbett Homes, along with former BLM Director Pat Shea and conservation groups like the Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Association and Western Values Project.

The anti-Noel coalition also launched a petition.

Noel, who worked for the BLM before becoming a member of the Utah Legislature and becoming director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District, has been one of Utah’s most outspoken critics of federal land management.

Since Election Day, he’s argued the Trump administration could help get the federal government to turn over public lands to state control and in recent weeks pushed for ways to overturn the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument.

Earlier this month, a number of Utah politicians and other supporters from around the west started actively lobbying for Noel, and the representative said in an interview with The Spectrum that he had the support of the state’s entire congressional delegation, along with an assortment of conservative groups and open-lands advocates, from off-highway vehicles groups to the Utah Sheriff’s Association to the California-based open-access group BlueRibbon Coalition.

“Every member of the Utah delegation, the governor and elected reps from across the state have endorsed me and we’re reaching out to other officials to get their help,” Noel said.

Read The Spectrum article here

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