Report Calls Out Congress For Inaction On Public Land Protests

Mar 25, 2016

Credit Julia Ritchey

A new report is calling on Congress to more vocally address rising extremism on public lands in the West. 

Anti-government protestors have organized four armed confrontations on public lands since Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's well-publicized standoff with federal land managers in 2014.

That's according to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, which also noted an increase in threats of violence against Bureau of Land Management employees.

"What Congress needs to do is get to the bottom of what's really going on here, but also send a clear signal that the rule of law must be enforced on public lands," says Matthew Lee-Ashley, who authored the report

The most recent confrontation, a 41-day standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, resulted in the arrests of 20 protestors, including two of Cliven Bundy's sons and Cliven Bundy himself.

But Lee-Ashley says this doesn't necessarily mean the end of the anti-government movement in the West.

"We find that there may be still as many as 30 or more militants still at large," he says. "There needs to be an investigation and understanding of who is still involved with this kind of extremism, and [whether] other crimes have been perpetrated."

In a statement on the report, Sen. Harry Reid says Congress should do more to provide the resources to public land managers to do their jobs safely and effectively.