Steve Nelson
Field Manager
BLM, Bishop Field Office
351 Pacu Lane, Suite 100
Bishop, CA 93514
email: snelson@blm.gov

Danielle Chi, Acting Deputy State Director
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1623
Phone: (916) 978-4649
email: dchi@blm.gov

Subject: Upcoming Story: Questions. Economic Impact of Tripling Fees; Collusion Charges

Mr. Nelson, Ms. Chi:

We have a series of stories coming out concerning the Bishop BLM Field Office. While most of the facts we are basing our stories on are self evident, we always endeavor to be fair before publishing.

The story that this correspondence concerns is about the economic impact your driving away the long-term visitors from your campgrounds in Inyo County will have on the community. We estimate that for every 100 long-term visitors you drive away, the local communities will lose about $100,000 per month. That will have a significant impact on these small local communities. For just 200 long-term visitors, that is about a $2,000,000 loss for the season. How many long-term passes were purchased in 2016? 300? 400? 500? More? As the average income for people in these communities is around $27,028 annually, that is a more than significant loss and could certainly cause unemployment to rise.

As our U.S. Watchdogs members researched your proposed fee increases, what we found for coverage on the fee increases by the local news media astounded us. Neither of the two main news agencies ever bothered to look at these facts, but rather instead chose to parrot your press releases.

Then one of our researchers turned up something, outlined below, that made us ponder the reported question of collusion, which in turn made us wonder if possibly fear of the Bishop BLM Field Office is more of a motivator in the actions of local businesses and news outlets?

While certainly not sworn testimony, Bishop BLM Ranger, Chris Mason, has been publicly accused of having motor vehicles towed for minor infractions. Allegedly, the local Sheriffs agreed with these assessments of this Ranger. Ranger Chris Mason is directly and publicly accused of receiving a kickback from a local towing business. We found person after person charging Bishop BLM Field Office Ranger Chris Mason of impounding vehicles and purportedly receiving said kickback from a local towing company.

I wonder how many other people with expired tags or other minor violations, have had their trailer or vehicle towed and had to cough up $1000+ to get it back.
I know impounding vehicles is a money maker for towing businesses and it is a legitimate business.
But to be in cahoots with an official makes it a whole different ballgame.
Trouble for all involved.
I wonder if an investigative journalist would be interested in this story.
I wonder if some kind of lawsuit could result if many other victims came forward.
Not to mention charges against the involved parties.

Please see many more similar charges at: http://www.kamprats.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-2483-p-2.html.

Is this a widespread practice or an isolated case involving only Bishop BLM Field Office Ranger Chris Mason, or are these baseless charges? Even you Steve Nelson, in your capacity as the Bishop BLM Field Manager or you Danielle Chi, in your capacity as Acting State Deputy Director California, when person after person after person publicly makes similar charges against the same person, in this case, Bishop BLM Field Office Ranger Chris Mason, with the same allegations, have to wonder if they are true.

Did you, Steve Nelson, in your capacity as Bishop BLM Field Manager and you Danielle Chi, in your capacity as Acting State Deputy Director California BLM, ever investigate these charges or were they simply swept under the table? We would never support any investigation without due process, but as we deepen our investigation of the Bishop BLM Field Office, we do wonder if there is “any-process” at the Bishop BLM Field Office at all.

This certainly fueled us to question why nothing even remotely negative has ever been published by the local media about the Bishop BLM Field Office. For that matter, we could find nothing in the local media beyond their publishing of the Bishop BLM press releases. We had to ask ourselves, why has the Sierra Wave or Inyo Register ever questioned ANYTHING that the Bishop BLM Field Office has done through the years? Even when we notified these supposed news outlets concerning the impact the fee increases could have on local businesses, nothing appeared to have been investigated.

These are simple facts that can be easily found online. I'm sure you will agree, when we looked at the public charges of collusion made against Ranger Chris Mason and nothing more was ever said, never mind published, it made us wonder what exactly is going on in Inyo County between local businesses, news media and the Bishop BLM Field Office. Could the charges of collusion be valid? Or is it possibly fear? But fear of what?

It gets down to two very simple questions:

1: Did you Steve Nelson in your capacity as the Bishop BLM Field Manager or you Danielle Chi, in your capacity as Acting State Deputy Director California, consider the negative financial impact on local businesses that your proposed 300% fee increase would have in Inyo County? An increase that will assuredly make the Bishop BLM Field Office Campgrounds out of the reach of most of the Senior Citizens who now stay there for the season. Losing these visitors and the money they spend for food and services in Inyo County will certainly have an impact on the small, family run businesses of Inyo County.

2: Did you Steve Nelson in your capacity as the Bishop BLM Field Manager or you Danielle Chi, in your capacity as Acting State Deputy Director California BLM, ask why nothing (that we could find) has ever been published challenging the actions and decisions by the Bishop BLM Field Office? We really wonder: as this would affect advertising revenues, yet NOTHING about these matter is ever seen in the local media? WHY?

We await your reply,

reporter1@uswatchdogs.net

Sent via fax: 760-872-5050
CC: snelson@blm.gov,
       dchi@blm.gov,
       bhutto@blm.gov,
       clmason@blm.gov,
       publisher@inyoregister.com,
       editor@inyoregister.com,
       terry@inyoregister.com,
       blefever@sierrawave.net,
       btodd@sierrawave.net,
       churdle@sierrawave.net,
       rgill@sierrawave.net,
       kgreenman@sierrawave.net,
       lkasper@sierrawave.net

Published: bishop-blm.uswatchdogs.net

Dated October 11, 2016