I am always amazed at how beautiful an area can be during the summer months
before the heat and humidity really set in and the Meadowood property is no
exception. The only concern out my office window is an aging structure in
need of some assistance in order to continue its service to the public.
On June 28, at 7:00 p.m., at the Laurel Hills Golf Club, the Bureau of Land Management will hold a public scoping meeting in order to gather ideas, suggestions, additional options, and comments from the public concerning this building. As the new site manager, I am aware of past rocky starts that have lead to misunderstandings and tension, but with everyone’s constructive help, I am
committed to making sure that we move forward through the approved
environmental and public process, the National Environmental Policy Act and seeing that whatever configuration we have is safe and meets
I see three firm goals to consider when looking at this project. Number one: It is
absolutely necessary that if the barn remains, it functions as a safe public facility. In its current condition, this means that the structure cannot remain exactly the same; something has to be done. In that light, no matter the decision, horses will need to be removed from the barn, at the very least, temporarily.
Number two: The BLM must separate the administrative area from the public use areas due to safety and security considerations. This pertains more to design and layout rather than directly related to the barn structure.
Three: Depending on the final decision, the BLM must use a different administrative tool, like a Concession, that releases the BLM from directly managing domesticated horses. The BLM does have a Wild Horse and Burro Program that serves to auction and adopt wild horses to the care of approved owners, but the current facility does not give us the option to use it in support the WH&B program. The BLM does not have the staff or expertise to directly manage domesticated horses nor is it in the BLM mission, but this does not mean that horses cannot be a part of the recreational experience through trail riding, lessons, stabling or physical therapy programs.
No decisions will be made during this meeting but it is very important to capture the views and ideas of the citizenry. There will be some experts on-hand at “information stations” to answer specific questions pertaining to the engineering reports, safety issues, the NEPA process and what a concession or lease entails. There will also be information available about Meadowood’s new trails and very active environmental education program. I hope that a variety of people who enjoy the outdoors and the area’s many recreational opportunities, will consider attending and sharing their thoughts and ideas. While it is the responsibility of the BLM to make wise decisions pertaining to a safe recreational experience balanced with care for the surrounding flora and fauna, it is also important to
hear and understand the value and needs of the general public.
I look forward to meeting many of Meadowood’s neighbors, friends and participants on June 28th.
E Lynn Burkett, Bureau of Land Management's Lower Potomac Field Office