One needs to have sympathy for the plight in which Walter Bickel finds himself: accused of "squatting" on Bureau of Land Management lands ("Time Running Out for Old Prospector's Desert Mining Camp," Part I, Sept. 20). Clearly there is the making of human tragedy there and government officials should act accordingly.
Contributing to this predicament, however, has been the BLM's deliberate and chronic neglect of its stewardship of federal lands.
Now that agency contends that at last it has the funds and personnel to do what it should have been doing all along.
Had the BLM placed a higher priority upon land management instead of land exploitation, individuals such as Bickel might never have gotten into their present dilemmas.
One can only wonder at the coincidence that, after years of neglecting its statutory responsibility, BLM finally is acting--but only after it has been threatened, by the provisions of the Desert Protection Act, with a transfer of its authority and lands to other federal agencies, which will undoubtedly take more seriously the need to steward our lands for coming generations to enjoy.
ADOLPH B. AMSTER