Agency budgets have been slashed. In my local ranger district where I plan to hunt elk this September, for example, the trail maintenance budget has been devastated. Outfitters and volunteers are left to do work like clearing trails and pulling weeds. Over time, that means less and less access to the land and less active management of problems facing those lands.
Agencies face a vacuum of leadership. More than two years into Trump's first term, there is no permanent leader of the US Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Park Service, just "acting" place-holder staffers. It's hard to run an army without generals, and it's hard to run a multi-million-acre land management agency without reliable, experienced professionals at the top.
Anti-public land advocates are being appointed to key positions. Most recently, the industry-support lawyer William Perry Pendley was appointed director of the Bureau of Land Management, overseeing public land acreage equal to the areas of Texas and California combined. Pendley is on record opposing public land on principle, but now is in charge of managing them.
The Trump Administration is pushing to move the Department of Interior out of Washington D.C. to a small town in rural Colorado. There, agency leaders will be closer to industry lobbyists, who can pack up and move, and further from elected officials in Congress who are supposed to oversee the show.
The Trump Administration budgets have consistently zeroed out the Land & Water Conservation Fund, which pays for providing access to public lands, although Congress has restored some of that funding.
Wyoming Considers Buying 1 Million Acres in a Deal that “Could Be a Real Home Run” for Access