Marvin's Window: Getting the runaround from the BLM

I looked out my window across Kingman and admired the mountains and the sunny, blue skies.

Many people come to see the wide-open spaces and admire the mountains on the way to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Las Vegas.

Many more drive through Kingman and surrounding areas coming west or heading east.

I wondered what the area would look like in another 50 years.

My thoughts turned to the reality that about 80 percent of the land in Mohave County is publicly owned with the U.

S.

Bureau of Land Management responsible for most of that.

My head is still spinning from the runaround I got from BLM personnel in Denver, Phoenix and Kingman trying to get information about the solicitation process for a new BLM office in Kingman.

When I called the Denver BLM Business Center to get in touch with the realty specialist currently responsible for the new building, I got Norm Logan's answering machine.

Finally, I reached Dave Cunningham, the third Denver person to work on the project.

He gave me a little bit of information and told me Logan was in the office and referred me to Phoenix.

I called Logan immediately and got that answering machine.

He did not call me back in spite of me leaving several messages.

I did get Mark Nielsen, the supervisor, after several attempts.

We had talked for about 20 minutes before I got a direct answer on any question.

I told him that I recognized when I was being stonewalled.

He said you aren't asking questions.

I asked him how long he had been on the job in Denver.

I got my first direct answer, six weeks, and we went back to the old game.

He said I should be talking to Phoenix.

I had called the Arizona state office in Phoenix and asked to speak to the state director.

I got a call back from Deborah Stevens, director of external communications.

She said the director was gone to Maine or Washington - I do not remember exactly - and I would be referred to her anyway.

Then, she said I would have to get information from Denver because Phoenix had nothing to do with lease negotiations.

I told her Denver referred me to Phoenix.

I called the Kingman office and made an appointment with local manager John Christensen.

He got permission from Phoenix to talk with me and gave me just a little information.

He had the Office of the Inspector General report in his hand but could not give it to me.

I called Phoenix.

Stevens gave me an 800 number for OIG in DC.

I said "no way." She told me to hang on and came back with a Web site for OIG and directions to find the report.

It was on the Internet as a public document, but the BLM could not give it to me because "they needed permission from OIG."

I had tons of information in my hands from other sources before making the first phone call.

I told BLM that I was attempting to let them defend themselves.

Eventually, Stevens and Logan figured that out and talked to me.

BLM trades our land, checks mineral leases, grazing leases, does all kinds of environmental work and protects some forests in the Hualapais.

A BLM staff person is assigned full time to every state road project in the area to check plant and animal needs and secure the environment.

They are involved in environmental assessments, including water and air quality, for all projects like the Wikieup power station and the Red Lake gas project.

I wonder what goes on when some developer wants to trade a few thousand acres of our land for theirs.

My trust level has dropped so much after investigating the process of building new offices in Kingman that I am full of concerns.

I have written several stories with BLM personnel about trails, parks and the environment.

I got great cooperation when I was getting their story out to the public.

The story of the new Kingman office began as a routine assignment.

The stonewalling and finger pointing by BLM staff in Kingman, Phoenix and Denver left me frustrated.

If I owned the land they manage instead of just being part of the "public ownership," I would fire them all and find someone more responsive.

The new Kingman BLM office will cost taxpayers an extra $4 million.

More important to me is what the process reveals about the bureaucrats managing millions of acres of Western lands.

I am frustrated.