Wednesday, June 11, 2014

From doomsday stashes to Bundy -- all in a day's work for BLM cops

 BLM law enforcement has been receiving national attention, much of it negative.  What BLM needs is a puff piece that tells all the good and essential things they do.  E&E reporter Phil Taylor obliges with this laudatory account of BLM law enforcement.  Doesn't hurt that its appropriation time too.

The Bureau of Land Management's standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and an armed militia was a dangerous, high-stakes confrontation, but BLM is no stranger to risky business in a still-wild West.
The agency handles booby-trapped marijuana farms, drug smugglers, archaeological thieves, vandals and arsonists. On the front lines are 225 or so law enforcement rangers and 70 special agents who protect people and natural resources on 250 million acres of public lands. That works out to more than 1 million acres per ranger. Some of the strangest entries in BLM's law enforcement files involve survivalist weapons caches, burro killers, copper wire thieves and raiders of compacted-sandstone balls called Moqui marbles.
"I can't think of another organization that has such an expansive land management responsibility," said Dan Fowler, division chief for BLM's $55 million law enforcement program. "This is not your routine assault. It's not your routine white-collar crime." Many had never heard of BLM law enforcement officers until this spring's high-profile, but failed, roundup of Bundy's hundreds of cattle from public lands northeast of Las Vegas. Operations like the Bundy roundup are supposed to be routine -- BLM impounds livestock an average of two or three times a year -- but April's operation nearly turned violent as BLM, the nation's largest landlord, was seen by anti-federal protesters as symbols of an overbearing government. In fiscal 2013 alone, BLM law enforcement personnel responded to 47,644 incidents, including 468 thefts, more than 5,000 off-highway vehicle violations, 195 counts of trespassing and 28 assaults on government employees, according to agency data. They also seized 12,355 pounds of processed marijuana and 195,417 marijuana plants from BLM lands...more

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