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Archaeologists blocked by Feds, not allowed to attend major science conference

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, the Newspaper Rock featuring a rock panel of petroglyphs in the Indian Creek Area is shown to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell near Monticello, Utah, during a tour to meet with proponents and opponents to the "Bears Ears" monument proposal. President Barack Obama on Wednesday, Dec. 28, designated two new national monuments in Utah and Nevada. The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah will cover 1.35 million acres of tribal land in the Four Corners region. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(KUTV) - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) blocked at least 14 staff archaeologists and other specialists, including a few from Utah, to attend a gathering of the Society for American Archaeology in Washington, D.C.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the staffers were scheduled to attend the event and lead a symposium titled, "Tough Issues in Land Management Archaeology." But a few days before the conference, BLM supervisors decided to not send the staffers, the majority of whom are based in Western states where BLM manages millions of acres that contain numerous sites and artifacts left by ancient American Indian civilizations.

In a written statement, the BLM said the decision was based on saving money.

“After reviewing the potential travel and other costs associated with attending the Society for American Archaeology’s national conference, the BLM authorized attendance by three BLM archaeologists,” the statement said.

According to the SAA conference program, the three staffers who were allowed to go were Diana Barg and Nathan Thomas of the Utah state office; Jamie Palmer of the Cedar City field office; and Nicole Lohman of the Price field office. They each delivered a 15-minute presentation on a crucial issue involved the management of archaeological resources on public land.


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