A decision by the Bureau of Land Management to stop more than a dozen of its archaeological experts from attending an April conference of the Society for American Archaeology is sparking controversy.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that 14 BLM experts, including several from Utah, were scheduled to attend the conference to lead a symposium on “Tough Issues in Land Management Archaeology.” However, BLM officials decided at the last minute not to send the staff members, and that symposium was canceled. In a statement, the agency said the decision was a cost-saving measure and that it did send three archaeologists. However, critics suggested the move reflected the administration’s bias toward energy development over resource protection. The president of the Society for American Archaeology, Susan Chandler, said in a statement, “Archaeologists from around the world were deprived of a symposium filled with valuable information about the tough issues facing land-managing agencies.”