About 200 BLM Law Enforcement Officers are responsible for 264,000,000 acres of public land across the country, but only one officer works in the Grand Junction Field Office, leaving other local agencies to pick up the slack.
The BLM manages more land than any other federal agency, the Grand Junction Field Office alone manages 1.2 million acres with only one man on patrol. Eric Boik, the lone officer says, "we rely on partnerships with the county and Division of Wildlife and community groups to report crimes to us so we can solve them that way."
Mesa County is already a hot spot for outdoor enthusiasts and is becoming more popular everyday; other agencies say it’s somewhat of an uphill battle. Randy Hampton, spokesperson for DOW says, “it's a challenge a bit for the DOW, obviously we don't want to become the law enforcement agency… on federal lands."
Hampton says DOW officers will often stumble on federal violations while they are patrolling on state land and he says, "the options at that point are to contact law enforcement and that person could be miles or hours away."
The BLM says it is doing its best to tighten this gap by hiring two new officers to handle all the federal responsibilities that lay in the hands of BLM officers. Things like; protecting land from vandalism, locating and eradicating drug labs and marijuana fields, and guarding against the dumping of hazardous materials and waste. The Sheriff's Office Rural Deputy program also assists with these tasks in the far reaches of the county. Heather Benjamin spokesperson for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office says the Rural Deputies serve, "where there isn't a whole lot of population and they have a real unique need for law enforcement, different than the needs of the urban areas in the valley.”
One of the BLM officers main duty is to protect the many outdoor enthusiasts that take full advantage of all the land has to offer, and they ask that you help them out by reporting any violations you see.
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