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Moran Threatens to Cut BLM Funding Over Meadowood Stables Issue

Moran is Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

U.S. Rep Jim Moran (D-8th) said Tuesday the Bureau of Land Management would see reductions in government-appropriated funds if horse operations cease during renovation of the barn at the in Lorton. 

Moran said BLM's lack of communication is inexcusable.

"BLM has not been responsive because the website was down, and inexcusably so," Moran told Patch at  in Lorton. "I'm confident that they'll listen, because we have substantial leverage and I control their funding. I'm the ranking member of the Interior Appropriations Committee... Unless they want to have their funding cut, I would assume they would want to work with us. It's a reasonable assumption.

"We have a responsibility to our constituents, to the taxpayers. I'm not being punitive to BLM or anyone else, but I do have an interest in them being responsive," Moran said.

BLM receives hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from the federal government. 

"I won't completely cut their funding, but I'm confident BLM will want to work with us," Moran said. "They're hard working public servants."    

BLM announced on Monday that it was extending the public comment period on its Environmental Assessment of the Meadowood Barn from July 3 to July 24. The public was alerted of the extension Monday on BLM's website, which for weeks suffered a glitch that kept people from commenting. BLM did not indicate a reason for the new deadline in the announcement, but did confirm in earlier emails there were website problems. 

Moran and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) submitted a letter to BLM last month, requesting that horses remain at the aging barn during its renovation, thereby allowing three horse-related businesses to remain in business. The letter was sent to the State Director of the Eastern States Office and asked BLM to scale back the scope of repairs in order to lessen the impact on the animals. 

"These seem to be reasonable recommendations that decrease the disruption to horses and riders during this transition period," it said. "And by scaling back some of the design aspects, we can save taxpayer money, potentially using it for future maintenance needs extending the life of the barn post reconstruction."

from Patch's coverage of The Stables at Meadowood situation.

Clayton Moore July 05, 2012 at 06:06 AM
James - You left out the disclaimer that Patch editor Susan Larson boards her horse at The Stables at Meadowood. Am I the only one who views this as Congressmen Connolly and Moran bullying BLM and their civil servants who are not allowed to repond to them in this forum? This ongoing saga is starting to sound a whole lot like a few politically connected people (and private businesses) taking advantage of a taxpayer funded facility. Maybe they should go fund their own horse stables somewhere else in Lorton and let BLM and The Army manage the facility without political interference.
Lynn Taylor July 05, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Meadowood boarders are elementary school teachers, public servants, children and retirees. While many users of Meadowood are not asked to pay any fees, public boarders at Meadowood pay substantial fees to BLM. These fees are an excellent example of the taxpayer cost recovery envisioned by Congress in the Federal Recreation Fee Act. The Army also has used the equestrian facilities at Meadowood for stabling and training, but has done so free of charge. Since 2008, public boarders have been paying an extra $75 per month to help fund the repairs (roof replacement) now contemplated. If boarders aren't to benefit from those repairs, then those repair fees (approximately $200,000) should be repaid to boarders. In its authorizing legislation entrusting BLM with the stewardship of Meadowood, Congress said that Meadowood was for “public use and recreation.” Were the Army to take over Meadowood as you suggest may require an additional act of Congress as Army use does not sound like the public recreational use Congress contemplated. The Army has many fine stables. In fact, the Army has spent over $11 million to renovate its stables at Ft. Myer and Ft. Belvoir. These facilities are beautiful and state-of-the-art. The disclaimer appears on the July 3rd Patch article, but not on this one written solely by Mr. Cullum.
Shellyn McCaffrey July 05, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Congressman James Moran is my representative in the US Congress and Meadowood is within his District. As the case with Congressman Connolly and Supervisor Hyland, Congressman Moran historically has been a very ardent supporter of civil servants acting within their discretion. What I read from Mr. Cullum's excellent story is that even officials who normally champion federal employees have reached the point of utter frustration with regard to BLM's management of a process for repairing the stables. All of the elected officials involved came to this process as objective observers interested in facilitating open and fruitful communication between BLM and the community and horse boarders. As this story indicates, that good faith has been broken in dramatic fashion, as it has been broken previously, repeatedly, between BLM and the community and horse boarders. As an aside, Mr. Moore, you have misidentified the source of "bullying", if any indeed it has occurred. As a typical American, I don't care to see my Congressman ignored and disrespected repeatedly by unelected, career civil servants. That is what has occurred more than once in this case and I take it personally as it's an intrinsically harmful and dangerous precedent. BLM had everything to gain by working cooperatively and transparently with congressional and local offices. But as Congress Moran's comments exemplify, BLM has blown it. Has BLM been careless or do they just care less?
James Cullum July 06, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Hi Clayton, thanks for your comment! I wrote this story. No disclaimer necessary! Still, I was wondering - what would you like to see happen with the barn?
Sally Spangler September 27, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Probably BLM is getting ready to do their best shot - lose interest and withdraw from the whole project. This is what has happened in many western US projects. Hurumph!

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