The Los Angeles Times interviews several Utah leaders, including Rep. Chris Stewart and Garfield County Sheriff James Perkins, who increasingly see the Bureau of Land Management “more as a belligerent occupying army than a government agency serving U.S. citizens.”
Perkins is the sheriff of Garfield County, a rural bastion the size of Connecticut with only 5,500 residents, where 90% of the land is maintained by the BLM. The relationship between local law enforcement and often heavily armed federal officers has always been tense, and now threatens to reach a breaking point.
He and others attribute the deteriorating relations to what he calls BLM’s culture of elitism, which provoked Garfield County to join two other Utah counties this year to pass a resolution restricting or banning federal law enforcement within their borders.
“I don’t know any sheriff who doesn’t want a good relationship with the BLM,” he said. “We’re a rural agency and we’d like a partnership, but it seems they have a hard time recognizing our authority. They’d rather be independent.”