Karen Budd-Falen is speaking on land use in Hamilton this Saturday. I would rather she didn’t.

The rumored top pick to direct the Bureau of Land Management is a classic case of letting the fox run the henhouse. Budd-Falen’s career is built on anti-conservation extremism.

She famously spoke in support of the Bundy family’s armed standoff against law enforcement over grazing fees on public lands, and represented Cliven Bundy in his 1989 lawsuit against the federal government. She even helped sue several low-level BLM employees in 2007.

Budd-Falen is uniquely unqualified to take over a federal institution that manages 258 million acres of public lands, an institution she herself has said undermines democracy, in a way that very few can claim.

Very few can lay claim to it because Budd-Falen does not represent the majority of Americans, or even the majority of Westerners. A spokesperson for a small, extremist faction has no place directing a federal bureau, especially when their own interests are in complete opposition to what that institution stands for.

Our public lands are one of our most precious resources, and we must fight to protect them. The person who directs the BLM must understand this, and Budd-Falen does not. The fact that Rep. Manzella and “anonymous donors” ended up having to pay out of pocket to have Budd-Falen present is telling. The people of Hamilton made their voices heard. The public wants to keep their lands.

Hopefully those in charge are taking notes.

Grace Long, MontPIRG Intern