In March 2017, the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) main flickr account uploaded a picture of oil and gas operations on an unnamed tract of land in Wyoming. Since then, as the Trump administration has rolled back environmental rules and catered to special interests, the popular mypubliclands page has only uploaded photos related to fossil fuel extraction—26 images in all.
After years of sharing photos that show the best of American lands, the BLM now apparently sees these places in terms of the polluting resources that can be drilled, dug or blasted from beneath their surface.
This is what the BLM's flickr page looks like now:
Compare that to what the BLM's flickr page looked like shortly before the Trump administration officially began in January 2017 (via the Internet Archive):
Before Trump's inauguration, the BLM's home flickr page was dominated by the then-recently designated Bears Ears National Monument. The Trump administration and anti-conservation pals in Congress have relentlessly attacked that monument's protected status, and Trump himself recently signed an executive order to subject it and many other monuments to "review" and potentially weaken protection.
In: Fossil Fuels. Out: Our Wild.
For a long time, the mypubliclands page was one of the best places on the internet to find photos of America's shared wild places. Photographers—notably BLM staffer Bob Wick, whose body of work has been noted by national media outlets and called "synonymous with BLM public lands" by the agency's internal magazine--shared a variety of images from across the country, most free for non-profits and others to use under simple creative commons licenses. If you've spent any time on The Wilderness Society's website or social media channels, you have probably seen hundreds of them.
We can only wonder about the future of the account—whether all those national monuments and wilderness areas will increasingly take a back seat to pump jacks and drill pads. Early in April, the BLM was heavily criticized for replacing the banner photo on its website—two hikers enjoying a scenic landscape—with a massive bed of coal, and this seems in keeping with that switch.
The shift in online focus is especially disturbing because it comes as the new regime boosts fossil fuel interests and downplays conservation goals. By law, the BLM's mandate is to manage public lands with an eye toward "multiple uses," meaning that the agency has a responsibility to balance access for everything from ranching to wilderness preservation to outdoor recreation. Shifting the web spotlight to oil, gas and coal suggests the agency's priorities are hopelessly tilted in favor of the politically powerful extractive industries.
At times like these, it is absolutely crucial to stay informed on what the administration is up to and, when necessary, act as watchdogs and guardians of Our Wild public lands. Join our S.W.A.T. (Stop Wilderness Attacks by Trump) Team today to arm yourself with the facts, take action and spread the word!