Monday, December 27, 2010

BLM Spurned Chief Ranger's Recommendation to Close National Monument Near Mexican Border for Safety Reasons

The chief ranger of the 478,000-acre Sonoran Desert National Monument, which sits in south-central Arizona about 60 miles north of the Mexican border, recommended that the monument be closed to the public because of what he believed to be a safety threat posed by drug smugglers coming across the Mexican border and moving through the monument. Higher-ups in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees the monument for the federal government, turned aside his request, however, according to the BLM and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Starting in 2009, the BLM, a division of the U.S. Department of Interior, did place signs in the area, warning Americans about the risks of visiting federal lands deep within U.S. territory. In 2010, three years after the chief ranger tried to get permission to close the monument, an Arizona deputy sheriff was wounded in the area, two suspected drug smugglers were shot by rival drug smugglers, and a citizen became the victim of an attempted car-jacking...more

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