BLM accused of not preserving cultural sites

Hundreds of millions of acres of public lands are going unprotected, with their historical artifacts undocumented, as the Bush administration focuses Bureau of Land Management funds and staffing resources on energy development in the West, according to a new report from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Under a federal mandate to speed up processing of drilling applications, the BLM lacks resources to deal with threats like off-road vehicles. A single law-enforcement ranger patrols Colorado’s 164,000-acre Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, which contains more than 6,000 artifacts. Only some 6 percent of the 262 million BLM-controlled acres have been surveyed for historical and cultural value. BLM “has let their missions get out of whack,” says National Trust President Richard Moe. “The extraction part, serving the energy industry, is hugely out of balance with the preservation business.” The BLM maintains that just because funds are allocated a certain way doesn’t mean priorities have changed. Um.