Washington, DC - Beatings, shootings, death threats and other incidents against federal resource managers, largely in the West, had been steadily rising since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 but fell off sharply in 1999, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), an organization dedicated to protecting public employee who protect our environment.
Documents obtained by PEER through the Freedom of Information Act show that in 1999 assaults, acts of arson and bomb threats directed at U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees and facilities declined by half from a peak of nearly 100 such incidents in 1998. In the National Park Service (NPS), assaults on staff dropped by nearly a third from the 95 assaults the agency reported in 1998 (NPS did not compile such data prior to 1998).
Despite the drop off in total numbers, each agency registered serious incidents, including:
*Park Service -- a park ranger in Hawaii's Koloko National Park was shot with his own gun after a scuffle;
*Forest Service -- five acts of arson, three bombings and two bombs found attached to trip- wire booby traps; and
*BLM -- shots fired at employees and a variety of threats against field staff.
"The vast majority of incidents reflect resistance to federal environmental regulation," stated PEER National Field Director Eric Wingerter, whose organization has filed civil damage suits on behalf of injured workers. "While we are seeing a decrease in open confrontations, the attacks have gone underground."
By way of example, Wingerter pointed to Nevada's Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor Gloria Flora who resigned last October to protest growing harassment of her staff by local officials. "None of the incidents in Nevada -- which Gloria Flora called 'fed-bashing'-- ended up in the agency's law enforcement statistics but they were nonetheless real and had the intended effect of intimidating federal resource agency employees," Wingerter added.