Friday, July 16, 2021

Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic

Keeping the majority of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites open during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 resulted in “harmful consequences” including vandalism and damages to restrooms, according to
 a report issued this week by an Interior Department watchdog.

Faced with the Trump administration’s insistence that most BLM sites remain open, state and field offices said officials at the bureau's headquarters were slow to provide full guidance, and that public messaging about the coronavirus pandemic was also frequently delayed.

“For instance, one State office employee noted that guidance from BLM headquarters or the U.S. Department of the Interior was usually received after State-developed guidance was available,” the report stated. “This employee also commented that the State office created its own guidance instead of waiting for direction from BLM headquarters or the Department.”

In another case, the report said, an employee at a state office was forced to develop strategies based on county, city and state restrictions in the absence of BLM guidance...MORE

Recall that in March of this year Senator Martin Heinrich said:

“The pandemic has given Americans a renewed appreciation for the outdoors for both our physical health and mental wellbeing,”

Let's see how that "renewed appreciation" was expressed. The article says: 

The report also found that numerous BLM offices saw increased visitor traffic to recreation management areas, which brought with it “harmful consequences including damage to restrooms, garbage dumping, driving and camping in unauthorized areas, and general vandalism” 

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