From: Las Vegas Review Journal
By Steve Tetreault
WASHINGTON — A public land advocacy group sued the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday to make public documents on the agency’s handling of the armed standoff with Southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
The suit was filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which said its requests for Bundy-related information filed under the Freedom of Information Act have been ignored.
PEER said it also has been unable to obtain the BLM’s accounting of threats and attacks against employees in 2013, after the agency previously released its tabulations annually since 1996.
Advocates said there is growing concern for the safety of federal land workers in a strained atmosphere illustrated by the tense April standoff between authorities and armed protesters in Bunkerville, and reported threats against government agents elsewhere in the region.
“Parts of the Sagebrush West are beginning to resemble Eastern Ukraine,” said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that BLM secretiveness is fueling conspiracy theories on the range.
“To tamp down the rumor mill fueling these high-profile incidents, the BLM should be communicating more with the public, not less,” Ruch said.
The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeks documents related to the BLM’s April 12 decision to halt the roundup of Bundy cattle in the Gold Butte area 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The BLM called off the exercise and allowed cattle to be returned to Bundy after its wranglers and Clark County sheriff’s deputies were confronted by armed Bundy supporters belonging to militias and protest groups.
The agency was enforcing a court judgment that found the cattle to be trespassing on federal land, the latest finding in a long dispute between Bundy and the government over grazing rights.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal has similarly been unable to obtain information on the roundup from the BLM.
Review-Journal General Counsel Mark Hinueber said the newspaper is reviewing its options after the BLM rejected as too vague an April 13 Freedom of Information Act request seeking emails from key officials involved with the roundup of Bundy’s cattle.