Attacks on national forest, range workers increasing, PEER says
Washington – Assaults on national forest and range workers increased significantly in 2015, according to watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
Documented incidents rose 87 percent on Bureau of Land Management rangelands and 60 percent on national forests, states the group, which has maintained a database of incidents against federal resource employees since the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Agencies with federal resource workers keep some data about incidents against workers, but the information is incomplete, PEER states.
Highlights of the findings from PEER include:
- BLM had the largest increase in threats and assaults: 28, up from 15 in 2014.
- Threats and assaults against the Forest Service increased to 155 in 2015 from 97 in 2014.
- The National Park Service experienced an 8 percent increase in incidents.
“Security is a rising concern for scientists and other specialists working in the remote Western outposts,” PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said in a press release. “Higher law enforcement costs are cannibalizing already thin refuge budgets; meaning that some refuges are effectively closed to better protect others.”
The data covers the year after rancher Cliven Bundy held an armed standoff with law enforcement about grazing fees in Nevada and precedes his sons’ takeover of a national wildlife refuge last year in Oregon.