Cheyenne lawyer Karen Budd-Falen has been tapped as Deputy Solicitor for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. She is well known for representing private property owners and local governments in disputes with federal land agencies.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke appointed Budd-Falen, who would oversee federal legal decisions about endangered species, national monuments and tribal issues.
The appointment has concerned environmentalists, mainly because she has a history of fighting against the very agencies she will now represent. Randi Spivak is the Public Lands Program Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. She said she is concerned that Budd-Falen will bring her personal views into a position that is meant to protect wildlife.
“Karen Budd-Falen’s history is to have a distorted view of property rights and impose them on public lands,” said Spivak.
Budd-Falen is also a strong supporter of transferring public lands back to states, something Secretary Zinke says he opposes.
Spivak hopes Budd-Falen can fulfill her new role without letting other interests get in the way.
“She has always represented the livestock interests. And it does conflict with species issues, habitat issues. And so here she is now wearing a different hat, where her duty is to also stand up for wildlife,” Spivak said.
Budd-Falen was previously considered by Zinke for Director of the Bureau of Land Management, but she’s had legal clashes with the agency in the past and Trump administration officials worried that she wouldn’t be confirmed. She is a native of Big Piney and previously served in the Reagan administration.