years, Jon Marvel of the Idaho Watershed Project has demanded that
the Bureau of Land Management remove livestock from nearly all the
state's public lands (HCN, 8/2/99: Jon Marvel vs. the Marlboro
Man). His relationship with agency staffers has sometimes been
tense, but in early October, things got worse.
State director Martha Hahn sent a memo to all
Idaho BLM employees directing them to "turn and leave or hang up"
if approached or called by Marvel. Marvel has become a physical
threat to BLM staffers, she wrote.
has dysfunctioned in such a way as to be intimidating and verbally
abusive for a number of years," says Cheryle Zwang, chief of
external affairs for the Idaho BLM. She says the final straw came
several months ago, when Marvel screamed obscenities at Idaho Falls
District Ranger Jim May and poked him in the stomach during a
prescribed-burn tour in Cassia County.
appreciate the things he has to say," says Zwang. "It's just the
way he says them."
Marvel calls the BLM's
account of the incident "completely untrue." He says the agency
failed to talk to numerous non-BLM eyewitnesses. Marvel says he
believes the agency means to punish him for his aggressive
activism, and he adds that this "prevention of public
participation" is unconstitutional.
doesn't see the BLM talking to Marvel in the near future, Marvel
says he has been negotiating with the agency. A reversal of Hahn's
order, he says, is on the way.