Report blames sharp increase on violence against federal park rangers on drugs

Updated:

SEATTLE —

A new report said a sharp increase in violent attacks against federal park rangers and other workers blames the spike in violence in part on illegal drug manufacturers using public lands.

 In part, the report blames the increase in methamphetamine labs and marijuana growing operations on public land but it also focused on a murder at Mount Rainer National Park on New Year's Day of last year.

 Park Ranger Margaret Anderson, 34, was shot to death Jan. 1, 2012 as she was setting up a roadblock to stop Benjamin Barnes after he drove through a chain-up site at Mount Rainier without stopping.

 Barnes ran away after the shooting and later drowned.

 Anderson was the first ranger killed in the line of duty at Mount Rainier and the first national park ranger killed in the line of duty in a decade.

 A report from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility tracks violence against park rangers, park police and wildlife refuge workers.

 For 2012, it tallied 591 incidents, which included both violence and threats of violence against those workers. That represents a 38 percent increase over 2011.

 Besides the drug operations, the report also singles out disputes over federal land use policies and the number of people who can access remote backcountry using off-road vehicles.