BLM's Bill Papich stands in a dug-out rut where off-roaders recently illegally used heavy machinery on public land to create off-road vehicle jumps. (Lindsay Pierce/The Daily Times)
RELATED, 4/2: Much stronger response to ORV abuse in WA.
UPDATE, 3/30: More media coverage.
UPDATE, 3/27: BLM has caught someone for this, but Joel Farrell, BLM's Asst. Field Office Manager in Farmington, says BLM will not cite, fine or prosecute in this case; BLM is just asking the violator to go out and remove the jumps.
My statement for SW PEER: "BLM must strongly prosecute to send a message that will deter other outlaw off-roaders from blatantly wrecking America's public lands. Everyone has a right to use public lands, but no one has a right to abuse them, and these criminals must not be let off the hook with just a warning."
FARMINGTON NM -- Reckless off-roaders illegally used heavy equipment to dig up fragile public lands on the Colorado Plateau to make off-road vehicle jumps.
BLM seems concerned, but somewhat apologetic and unwilling to really crack down on the outlaw off-roaders.
As reported: BLM's Papich: "We try to cut everybody as much slack as we can... I don't think they understood what they did at all."
"Although signs in the area near the damaged land state destruction of the property could result in $10,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison, the BLM just wants the land restored as much as possible."
"The only way to come to terms with this is to find the people who did it, and give them a bunch of wheelbarrows and shovels to put it back," Papich said.
This is not the strong BLM response needed to deter future damaging illegal off-road activities in the area.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility contacted the BLM New Mexico State Office in Santa Fe this morning to request a reward offer, full criminal investigation and prosecution of whoever did this.
Furthermore, PEER has called on BLM to close the Glade Run Recreation Area to off-roading until the agency shows it can appropriately manage and enforce rules there.