Off-Road Abuses Prompt Call for Probe of BLM-Nevada

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Daniel Patterson (520) 906-2159; Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

Off-Road Abuses Prompt Call for Probe of BLM-Nevada

Recreation Planner Resigns in Frustration After "Body Part" Incident in Ghost Town

LAS VEGAS - Federal authorities need to investigate mismanagement of cultural and
natural resources, including off-road vehicle environmental violations
and theft of skeletal remains from a historic ghost town by the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Nevada, according to a complaint
filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
with Robert Abbey, the BLM Director.

The PEER complaint was
prompted by the resignation of Stacey Antilla, a BLM Outdoor Recreation
Planner at the southern Nevada BLM station. Ms. Antilla resigned in
frustration, after her efforts to properly plan and mitigate the damage
resulting from the thousand-mile "Vegas-to-Reno" off-road vehicle race
across endangered Desert Tortoise habitat in the Mojave and Great Basin
Deserts. BLM Tonopah manager Tom Seley refused to address documented
problems from past races and ignored violations of agency policy, permit
stipulations and resource law, including:

  • Routing the race
    though sensitive desert areas rather than keeping the course on already
    established roads;
  • Allowing heavy equipment into a desert
    river that is habitat to endangered species; and
  • Refusing to
    survey and correct post-race damage.

Off-road issues were
compounded by cultural resource desecration this winter. Ms. Antilla
learned a tourist at the ghost town site of Rhyolite, near Death Valley
National Park, found what looked like skeletal remains in one of the
buildings. Despite objections from BLM volunteer site steward, BLM
managers in Tonopah allowed the tourist to dig up the bones and take
them away. Ms. Antilla called BLM law enforcement with the information
and requested an investigation. No investigation occurred, however
agency managers threatened Antilla with suspension.

"Stacey
Antilla did the right thing as a BLM planner by trying to reduce the
impact of the off-road race and protect cultural resources. She should
have been rewarded, not run out of the agency," said Southwest PEER
Director Daniel Patterson, an Ecologist who formerly worked with BLM.
"BLM should take a close look at the big problems with its management in
Tonoaph."

Prior to serving in Nevada BLM, Stacey Antilla spent
years working for the BLM in Colorado, where her experience was
positive. After a few years out of federal service, she wanted to
return, expecting a similar experience in Nevada. Ms. Antilla was asked
to sign a two-year contract, as the Nevada BLM office seemed to have a
hard time retaining employees. But she resigned after one year.

"BLM
needs to be able to attract and retain conscientious workers. What
happened in Tonopah should not be tolerated in a public resource
protection agency," added Patterson. "We are looking to the leadership
of Director Abbey to look into and correct this situation."

 

Read
the summary of Stacy Antilla's experience

See
the PEER letter to Director Abbey

View the
toll that ORV-abuse is wreaking on public lands

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Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.

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