BLM Denies Funding For Staffers Scheduled To Speak At Research Conference

May 3, 2018

The Trump Administration announced it would shrink Bears Ears National Monument in late 2017. The site is known for numerous archeological sites.
Credit Howard Berkes / NPR

The Society for American Archeology canceled a panel this spring because the Bureau of Land Management wouldn’t pay for its staffers to attend and lead a symposium on Land Management issues.


Since the administration shrank Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, archeological sites and public lands are a hot topic.

Seventeen BLM staffers were slated to attend and present at the society’s annual conference. Susan Chandler is the president and says the federal workers had already paid and registered.

"I think it was just a matter of permission not being granted at the eleventh hour," Chandler says. 

In an emailed statement the BLM said it limited conference participation to three staffers because of cost. The BLM says that the employees were welcome to go at their own expense, although the conference was held in Washington, D.C. and many of the registered employees live and work in Western states.  

Chandler says she’s never seen anything like this from the government during one of the society's meetings.  

"I think whenever voices are silenced that we lose," Chandler says. "The whole idea of having the conference is for people to get together and share their research and share their ideas."

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.

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This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.