NOVEMBER 3, 2010
BLM Arizona strategic plan outlines three-step plan to enhance border security and resource protection
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Arizona has launched a coordinated effort to address issues related to smuggling and other illegal activities on public lands that it manages. According to BLM Arizona State Director Jim Kenna, “the plan demonstrates BLM and its law enforcement and land management agencies partners’ commitment to enhance public safety on and mitigate impacts to the public lands in southern Arizona.”
Actions include the following:
• Working with other agencies to enhance communication and beef up law
• Installing physical barriers to deter unauthorized traffic
• Increasing the deployment of cleanup crews to remove trash.
This ongoing work is part of BLM Arizona’s three-tiered strategic approach to prioritizing work in the borderlands. The three primary goals:
• Provide a safe and secure environment for the public and employees
• Protect natural and cultural resources, especially in special designated areas, including monuments, and national conservation and wilderness areas.
• Enhance coordination and cooperation with border law enforcement and
land management partners.
The barriers are part of the BLM’s continuing effort to address the effects of unauthorized use of public lands by drug and human smugglers and undocumented immigrants. Construction of the temporary Normandy-style barriers is under way along 1.3 miles of the southern boundary of the Table Top Wilderness, which is southwest of Casa Grande, Arizona, and south of Interstate 8. Additional barriers may be installed in other as-yet-undetermined locations.
Work has begun on the first phase of the barrier installation and is scheduled for completion in November. The material for the barriers was provided by the National Park Service, the Border Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers from those agencies’ excess supplies.
In addition, the BLM continues to increase its law enforcement staffing, with a focus on border-related efforts. Overall, illegal activity related to the U.S.-Mexico border has decreased in the past year. However, localized incidents within the 487,000-acre Sonoran Desert National Monument (south of Interstate 8) and the 129,000-acre Ironwood Forest National Monument (west of Tucson and southwest of Interstate 10) have caused the BLM to enhance law enforcement and resource protection for these nationally significant lands.
The increased efforts include beefing up law enforcement in cooperation with the Border Patrol and other agencies. The BLM also is working to raise public awareness, which includes placing in key areas informational signs that highlight the BLM strategy and provide safety tips for visitors.
Included among the cooperative efforts:
• Joint law enforcement operations
• Enhanced radio communications as a result of shared repeater sites and channel access
• Joint efforts and collaboration by land managers on trash cleanup and
monitoring of impacts
The BLM also is putting increased effort into cleaning up the tons of trash left behind on smuggling corridors in the Sonoran Desert National Monument and the Ironwood Forest National Monument. Since September the BLM has removed 22,560 pounds of trash, including tires and bicycles.
The BLM also continues to work closely with law enforcement officers from local, county, state, tribal and other Federal agencies to address border-related issues that transcend jurisdictional boundaries. The cooperation also includes natural resource agencies. An example is the partnership with the Tohono O’odham Nation. The Nation has a working relationship with the BLM, providing support on both law enforcement and cleanup operations.
The BLM manages more land – 245 million acres – than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western States, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.