You are here: home   Blogs   The GOAT Blog   Rancher vs BLM: a 20-year standoff ends with tense roundup
The GOAT Blog

Rancher vs BLM: a 20-year standoff ends with tense roundup

Document Actions
Tip Jar Donation

Your donation supports independent non-profit journalism from High Country News.

Christi Turner | Apr 11, 2014 10:25 AM

Rancher Cliven Bundy claims he fired the Bureau of Land Management about 20 years ago.

“When I decided that I was paying grazing fees for somebody to manage me out of business, I said, ‘Hell no,’ ” Bundy says in a video of a presentation he gave in February. “And what did I tell them? I no longer need your service as a manager over my ranch, and I’m not going to pay you for that no more.”

“As far as I’m concerned,” he adds, “the BLM don’t exist.” The federal government might as well not, either.

CattlenearHorseSpringApril2010.jpg
Some of Cliven Bundy's cattle graze nearby a spring in Gold Butte, an area completely closed to grazing. Photo courtesy of Rob Mrowka.

Despite a running tab of court injunctions, complaints and conservation conflicts involving the BLM, the National Park Service, Clark County and environmental groups, and nearly $1 million in fines, Bundy has continued to run cattle on the federally-owned Bunkerville Allotment in the southern tip of Nevada, about 100 miles from Las Vegas. Over the years, the Department of Justice has more than once canceled BLM plans to round up the trespass cattle after blatant threats of violence from Bundy and his supporters, says Alan O’Neill, retired superintendent of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area adjacent to the allotment. The sieges at Ruby Ridge and Waco that fueled the ‘90s anti-government militia movement were fresh, he explains. “We were trying everything we could to resolve the issue peacefully. But he got more and more recalcitrant.”

This week, though, the BLM finally began rounding up Bundy’s estimated 900 cattle from a 1,200 square-mile area, putting an end to the illegal grazing once and for all.  The agency isn’t saying exactly why now is the time to act; O’Neill suspects that the threat of lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity against the local and federal government for not implementing existing court orders may have forced the agency’s hand.

The situation quickly escalated. One of Bundy’s sons was arrested Sunday for refusing to stay off the lands BLM has closed during the cattle roundup.  Videos from Wednesday show Bundy family members and supporters, including out-of-state militia members, angrily cursing and gesturing at BLM agents attempting to contain them within a “First Amendment Area” set up for protesting. More out-of-state militia members claim to be on the way, saying “they’re going in with force.” While Gov. Brian Sandoval disapproves of BLM’s handling of the situation, others applauded the agency for showing restraint in the face of threats. It was Bundy’s own promise to “be more physical” with the BLM during the impoundment operation, after all, that led the agency to set up strict public protest areas and press policies in the first place. “This is incendiary stuff,” former Nevada Gov. Richard Bryan said on a Nevada news show Thursday, expressing fear of more violence on the way. “Some of these folks are frankly half a bubble off...People really believe that the federal government has no jurisdiction over anything.”


ScenicGBbyRoib.jpg
The Gold Butte area has been preserved as critical desert tortoise habitat, in large part to allow for development in nearby Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Rob Mrowka.

If you believe in the authority of the federal government over public lands – established unequivocally in the U.S. Constitution – there is ample justification for the impoundment. In terms of environmental destruction alone, the BLM cites how Bundy’s cows have contaminated streams and springs, trampled acres of fragile desert soils and vegetation, and two instances of unauthorized reservoir construction, among other damages. Affected wildlife includes the rare relict leopard frog and the desert tortoise, at the crux of local conservation efforts.

It was the tortoise that kicked off the saga in 1993, when the BLM modified the terms of Bundy’s Bunkerville grazing allotment to protect the animal after it was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Bundy refused to comply with the new terms, so the BLM cancelled his permit to no effect. In 1997, Clark County purchased all active grazing permits in the area in accordance with the new federal Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan and the county’s own Desert Conservation Program, offering Bundy compensation for water rights and range improvements on his former allotment. Bundy rejected the offer. In 1999, the Nevada District Court permanently banned Bundy from grazing cattle in the area, ordering him to remove them or face a $200 penalty per cow per day. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction. Between 2008 and 2011, the BLM cancelled Bundy’s remaining range improvement authorizations. In 2011 Bundy ignored several court orders, including a notice of impoundment. Over the next two years, the BLM aerially counted first 903, then 729, then 600, then 750 head of cattle, nearly all suspected to belong to Bundy, on land closed to grazing.

Nevada – with the highest percent of federal land of any state – has long been a hotbed of antifederal resentment, especially among cattle ranchers. But even in that universe, the Bundy scenario is extreme among public land ranching battles, says Greta Anderson, deputy director of the Western Watersheds Project, a nonprofit that monitors grazing on Western public lands. “I just hope no one gets hurt, and I hope the cows go off and stay off.”

Interestingly, Nevada political commentator Hugh Jackson points out that the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, and “self-described limited government Republicans” like Senator Dean Heller and Representatives Joe Heck and Mark Amodei have stayed conspicuously silent on the Bundy fight. Bundy’s support instead comes from a “small but loud chorus” of radical right-wingers. It may be that Bundy’s rallying cry that he is the “Last Man Standing” is more literally true than he or his supporters would care to admit.

Still, the impoundment isn’t over yet, and supporters and opponents continue to take sides; the longterm political implications of the spat are also unclear, and will likely depend on the BLM keeping as cool a head as possible during the tense proceedings. As Rob Mrowka, Las Vegas office of the Center for Biological Diversity senior scientist who has endured threats from Bundy and his supporters via email, voicemail and Twitter, says, “Nobody wants a martyr.”

Christi Turner is an editorial intern at High Country News. She tweets @christi_mada.

Related content
News Article Photos of a standoff
Dale Lockwood
Dale Lockwood Subscriber
Apr 11, 2014 08:48 PM
It was way overdue to roundup the cattle on public lands and now they should go after fees due. Selling the cattle and keeping necessary payment is one way to collect over due payments.
This individual stole from all of us.
andrew  carlisle
andrew carlisle
Apr 12, 2014 06:09 AM
Seems these people have the law and constitution on their side. The family have been grazing the land for over one hundred and forty years. In this time they have improved the landscape making water available for cattle and other wild life. Moreover the blm and senator John Reid are in bed with the Chinese government and really do want to steal US land. perhaps you should direct you anger where it will do some good and stop kicking the victims of this injustice while they are down.
andrew  carlisle
andrew carlisle
Apr 12, 2014 06:13 AM
The “temporary flight restrictions,” revealed by a contributor to the Free Republic, bans all air traffic under an altitude of 3,000 feet in the vicinity of the ranch except for aircraft operating under the direction of the Bureau of Land Management.

The restrictions in full:

FDC 4/1687 ZLA NV..AIRSPACE MESQUITE, NV..TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS WITHIN AREA DEFINED AS 3NM RADIUS OF 364624N/1141113W (MMM71 RADIAL AT 4.3NM) SFC-3000FT AGL LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION. PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 91.137(A)(1) TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT. ONLY RELIEF AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS UNDER DIRECTION OF BLM ARE AUTHORIZED IN THE AIRSPACE. BLM TELEPHONE 702-335-3191 IS IN CHARGE OF ON SCENE EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACTIVITY. LOS ANGELES /ZLA/ ARTCC TELEPHONE 661-265-8205 IS THE FAA COORDINATION FACILITY. 1404112140-1405111434

A map of the no-fly zone is available here.

Undoubtedly these flight restrictions are in response to the intense media presence now surrounding Bundy Ranch.

“Keeps the media choppers away so the BLM can do what it wants,” a contributor named SkyDancer pointed out on the Free Republic.

It’s quite obvious that this is the case considering that news helicopters routinely fly at an altitude under 3,000 feet in order to capture the best footage.

Recently, cowboys who are supportive of Cliven Bundy have been successful at rounding up Bundy’s cattle before the BLM could impound them, so it certainly appears that the agency is using the flight restrictions as a cover to target these cowboys without any fear of potential brutality being leaked to the media.

BLM agents have already assaulted several protestors, including a pregnant woman and a cancer victim, which was fortunately caught on tape.

The feds are attempting to regain control of the narrative surrounding the standoff, especially since it is now known that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is behind the land grab for the future development of solar farms with Chinese energy companies.

It is also concerning that by interpreting the no-fly zone to the letter, the BLM could even delay medical helicopters from flying into the area to evacuate individuals who are severely injured.

Although air ambulances are typically exempt from temporary flight restrictions, pilots are still supposed to gain clearance before taking off, which in the past has kept medical pilots grounded until permission was granted.

This scenario is especially frightening considering Clark Co. Commissioner Tom Collins’ recent statement that those traveling to Bunkerville to support Bundy in his standoff against the feds “better have funeral plans.”
andrew  carlisle
andrew carlisle
Apr 12, 2014 06:15 AM
 County Commissioner Says Bundy Supporters “Better Have Funeral Plans”

          The Alex Jones Channel Alex Jones Show podcast Prison Planet TV Infowars.com Twitter Alex Jones' Facebook Infowars store

War of words over standoff with feds intensifies

UPDATE: Breaking: Sen. Harry Reid Behind BLM Land Grab of Bundy Ranch
The BLM shows criminal intent by attempting to hide documents exposing Sen. Reid’s involvement with this land grab.

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
April 11, 2014

Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins has caused outrage by remarking that Utahns planning to travel to Nevada to support Cliven Bundy in his standoff against the feds “better have funeral plans”.

Image: Tom Collins (YouTube).

The comments were revealed by Darin Bushman, a Piute County, Utah, commissioner after he spoke with Collins about Utah ranchers and his colleagues on the County Commission complaining about tactics used by Bureau of Land Management agents during their seizure of Bundy’s cattle in southern Nevada.

“I was just told by commissioner Collins of Clark County NV that all of us folks from Utah are a bunch of “inbred bastards” and if we are coming to Clark Cointy NV to support Cliven Bundy we all “better have funeral plans”. We should “turn our asses around on mind our own f-ing business”. Now there’s some classy leadership for you,” wrote Bushman on his official Facebook page.

After the story was picked up by the Las Vegas Review Journal, Bushman responded to the controversy by posting on Facebook, “I guess I’ve made an enemy in Las Vegas.” The commissioner also lambasted Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie as being, “too spineless to exercise his Jurisdiction”. Earlier this week, Cliven Bundy called on Sheriff Gillespie to start arresting BLM feds on charges of trespassing and theft.

Collins’ remarks were made in the context of him fearing that protests against the BLM could turn violent, which is ironic given that the only person invoking direct violence is Collins himself.

“I’m trying to do everything I can to discourage anybody who tells me they’re coming here with loaded guns,” Collins said. “I’m going to tell them not to come,” adding, “The Bundys want peace, they don’t want any violence going on so all these gun-packing folks just need to go home.”

Clark County commissioners will hold a meeting next week to discuss issues of decorum in response to Collins’ comments. It is unclear whether or not any action will be taken against him.

Bushman questioned Collins’ sanity in light of his offensive comments.

“This guy was just off-the-hook weird,” he said. “I’ve never ran into a fellow commissioner who treated me like that.”
andrew  carlisle
andrew carlisle
Apr 12, 2014 06:19 AM
will blm stage violence to frame bundy

http://www.infowars.com/[…]/
Adam Hannuksela
Adam Hannuksela Subscriber
Apr 12, 2014 08:22 AM
The BLM should be commended for finally upholding the law and constitution, albeit many years late. Public lands are the greatest part of the United States, the revocation of grazing privileges, they are not rights, for the benefit of all Americans supports those that adhere to the law and our country as a whole.
Sam Harriman
Sam Harriman
Apr 12, 2014 08:33 AM
Yup. This isn't an opportunity to break out a gun collection, this is just the long-standing law of the land being enforced.
Dale Lockwood
Dale Lockwood Subscriber
Apr 12, 2014 08:43 AM
It is public land,a Country without rules is no Country at all.
Bradley Stein
Bradley Stein Subscriber
Apr 12, 2014 08:55 AM
The ranch families of course feel threatened, but its public land, not private.
Patrick Donlon
Patrick Donlon
Apr 12, 2014 09:04 AM
The author states "If you believe in the authority of the federal government over public lands – established unequivocally in the U.S. Constitution – there is ample justification for the impoundment". There is no such authority unless one uses a very outdated version that was in effect when all land was the providence of King George. The constitution currently in vogue refers to the right of ownership, something very different than giving control to BLM or any federal agency!
Patrick Donlon
Patrick Donlon
Apr 12, 2014 09:33 AM
The author states that Bundy's cows pollute streams! Dear author: it isn't only Bundy's cows that are uncouth - it is common for cows to poop in streams,very few cows use porta-potties when on open range! We have put up and tolerated this behavior from cows over the centuries because they are an excellent source of food for hungry people!
Andrew Madden
Andrew Madden
Apr 12, 2014 10:04 AM
The Constitution provides that “[t]he Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”
Jm
Jm
Apr 12, 2014 12:51 PM
Although preservationists have had great successes protecting public lands from exploitation there is no doubt whatsoever that Interior, BLM and US has not been an exemplary land manager by any means.

Of the threats facing the particular lands in dispute in the Bundy Ranch case, the Bundy Ranch is the least of the threats facing this land and its resources, and indeed may not be one at all. The ranch has been well-managed and sustainable for over 100 years.

This land is far from fully protected -- am i right about that?

(Bundy Ranch media coverage could benefit from a summary of what risks lay ahead for these tracts of land and the resources contained in them. without that it is a research project digging it up)

Drom what I can gather the mineral and water rights and he has managed may be ruthlessly exploited. And there is evidence that he has managed the landscape for more efficiently and cost effectively than the BLM, which has spent millions to do tasks that his ranch has performed as normal operating tasks (e.g response to a fire was mentioned? though I admit I don't have all the facts on that, it is usually the case that when government does anything, it is more expensive)

It bears keeping in mind that ranchers and preservationists have far more in common with each other than politicians willing to sell out to energy and other interests. Rights that are dispersed and shared are harder to exploit and use as bargaining chips in Washington by politicians with less commitment to principles than either preservationists or ranchers.

The water he has managed up to now may well find itself coming out of a sprinkler on a Las Vegas golf course 20 years from now. That risk exists, and you will be begging Sen. Reid to stand up to some campaign donor to prevent it rather than counting on Mr. Bundy not to sell out his water.

You don't have to embrace the aims of the Safebrush Rebellion to agree with that. Liberals and preservationists can agree with that.

So I would not support any effort whatsoever to collect the fines this family potentially faces. They already have put seriously precious assets on the line to stand up for what they believe in, whether you agree with it or not, and they are as we speak, losing not just public grazing, but their ranch, their income, a way of life that obviously means everything to them and to so many others.

Go gentle on this family. They have lost this battle and he is no enemy, really, push come to shove.

Also, they are not "radicals."

Jm
Jm
Apr 12, 2014 12:52 PM
Sorry about typos - writing in that little box is not easy
Mike Reynolds
Mike Reynolds
Apr 12, 2014 12:55 PM
You just kind of forgot to mention that the turtles were put into a BLM "sanctuary" outside of Vegas, and when the BLM could not feed them anymore they killed the "excess" population. You also forgot to mention the "Public" land lease were sold to energy Corps for fracking rights. No cattle as you such described have been removed, and the BLM has retreated, with 134 head still unaccounted for. Who are these alleged "people" calling for the Bundy family to retreat from family grazing lands in their care since 1877? Corporate 'bot posters, I'd bet.
Jm
Jm
Apr 12, 2014 01:46 PM
Well Mike, if that is directed at me, I can say I didn't forget, I am just on a learning curve to get up to speed on this issue and didn't know the energy rights were already sold to frackers.

It takes a lot of study to get up on this issue. Even though I am a left wing East Coast liberal, I take seriously this family's request that Americans listen to them meaningfully and respond. I believe it is our duty to do so.

I looked into the euthanizing of the turtles at the center and don't find it interesting or persuasive in this debate at all.

But what is persuasive is this: there is no evidence that grazing has an negative impact on the desert tortoise. There is massive amounts of evidence that these present a guaranteed death knell for the desert tortoise: roads, oil wells, fracking, any real estate development and tourists unschooled in the hyper-sensitivity the tortoises have to handling by people. They could die if picked up, for example.

I am going to go a step further and stick my neck out on this and ask this: Was it strategically and tactically and perhaps even morally prudent for the Center for Biological Diversity to start clamoring to enforce the injunctions against the Bundy Ranch at this time, or any time? Don't they have far larger more pressing threats to address at this time involving this particular land and didn't they just weaken rather than strengthen their position for this, frankly, nominal victory?
Cy Dygitt
Cy Dygitt
Apr 12, 2014 02:22 PM
Typical for the right-wing fringe to post their utter nonsense, in support of this law breaker bundy, and his need to destroy BLM habitat. Time for these cows to be rounded up, and sold at auction to pay the 20-year fine! This is OUR LAND -- STAY OFF!
Jm
Jm
Apr 12, 2014 02:54 PM
Cy, I object strenuously to your attitude because I am a progressive liberal who favors preserving wilderness. If you can't understand why and don't want to understand why I am trying to get up to speed on this and why I would begin my thread where I am you're not making any effort at all -- what am I dead wrong about?
Jm
Jm
Apr 12, 2014 03:03 PM
I hoped for a conversation. Anyone want to have one, I'll check back but comment section is mostly screamers and that is a shame because it could be a place where knowledgeable people amend the information in the article to give more depth and help other readers like me.
Cy Dygitt
Cy Dygitt
Apr 12, 2014 03:13 PM
Sorry mike, but I don't really care if this family has been grazing on OUR PUBLIC LAND since 1492, since it's all about permission, permits and a very low fee. When that permission is rescinded, for whatever reason, it's time for the arrogant rancher to stop grazing on OUR PUBLIC LAND.....PERIOD! We're living in the 21st century -- not the 19th when there was open land and no fences -- and I'm sick and tired of being treated as a 2nd class citizen to these arrogant ranchers. We have nice forested land next to the national forest in Colorado, and for the past few years, we have arrogant ranchers dropping off their cattle on private property, and destroying our deer and elk habitat. Enough is enough, and we need new laws that reflect the changes over the past 150 years, and less of the lobbyists for the handful of arrogant ranchers that use our private property as theirs, since they have NO RESPECT AT ALL! Screw all of them!
Cy Dygitt
Cy Dygitt
Apr 12, 2014 03:16 PM
Sorry Jm, but you seem quite confused here, and I'm tired of these arrogant ranchers using my private property as their personal grazing area, or OUR PUBLIC LAND as their private grazing area when they have been told by the courts to cease and desist!
Cy Dygitt
Cy Dygitt
Apr 12, 2014 03:19 PM
Apparently Jm, for asking "what am I dead wrong about?" only proves you are attacking the wrong person here, and need to straighten out the right-wing fringe like andrew carlisle! I'm tired of the arrogant bozos using MY PERSONAL PRIVATE PROPERTY for their grazing, since this is no longer the 19th century run by Robber Barons and archaic laws!
Jm
Jm
Apr 12, 2014 04:12 PM
Ok Cy, I get it. Also, I may be confused about the incremental details but I feel well-informed on some tangential, but important, big picture stuff.

I don't know the history of your particular place in Colo. but trespassing on private property is a serious nuisance and can drive someone to anger and distraction. I can sympathize with that.

Big picture items - some of which are tangential, as I said -- include concerns that we tend to exclude from the "polis," by labeling as nut cases, people whose views are quite outside ours but still contain elements that do have a place in the polis.

Putting aside all the propaganda and extreme speech coming from Bundy Ranch supporters, there are issues here that not only have a place within the realm of the "polis" but are rather important ones.

There is a price we pay when we deny them.

One big picture issue that is of grave concern to me is the relationship to the land for those whose families have lived off the land. This is no small thing, as the destruction of the family farm, for example, was *the* reason the militia movement took off in this country, period, hands-down, zero debate.

Why? Because farming and ranching isn't just a job. It is not like other jobs.

The Bundy family isn't lawless in the way people are so eager to portray them as lawless (as lawless for no reason). The Bundy family has stated they are engaged in civil disobedience, they have used those two words.

When people hammer on this phrase "our public land" as if it doesn't include them, that is rhetorical political attacking of the kind that is polarizing. Not everyone agrees that polarizing these debates when not seriously necessary is a good thing to do or without consequences. Since this country top to bottom is more polarized than any time since perhaps the gilded era I think it is safe to say that it is destructive.

"Our public lands" means the Bundy's too and their ideas about public lands were not always illigitimate under the law or in the hearts and minds of Americans. They are holding out for a time that has passed in a way that is not favoring them.

I think it is cruel, indeed vicious, to present a bill for fines to a family that has invested a hundred years in land that they were perceived to have improved for the public benefit at one time. Let it go. It's a slap in the face and a gratuitous one at that. Law-Shlaw. it wouldn't be the first time a legal matter was settled iwth the interests of justice and political expedency in mind.

I would still like to hear from the Center for Biological Diversity as to whether this land is locked up safely on every front, that the water bodies in southern Nevada and the city of Las Vegas are in the bag and are backing up the Center's ideas and that legal protections for that are ironclad and that minerals and other threats are similiarly neutralized and if not whether they gauged the timing of this move on the Bundy Ranch with future, possibly more daunting ones.

Cy Dygitt
Cy Dygitt
Apr 12, 2014 05:44 PM
Jm: "They are holding out for a time that has passed in a way that is not favoring them."
Of course they are Jm, and just like I told you, they are longing for the 19th century to return with the archaic laws of the Robber Barons. The problem that still exists in states like CO and NM, and probably in other western states I'm not familiar with, is that PRIVATE PROPERTY doesn't matter when it comes to ranchers and cattle, since they are effectively, "fence out states," meaning that their cattle can roam anywhere!
That's a throwback to the 19th century, and definitely needs to be changed for the 21st century, since ranchers can effectively have their cattle graze your PRIVATE PROPERTY, by just dropping them off in the spring and picking them up in the autumn. Not good!
We have quite a bit of national forest land as well as BLM land in my county, and I'm sick and tired of these archaic laws that benefit only ranchers and not private land owners, since we have no rights apparently. This must change soon, as our population continues to grow, esp. as family farms and ranches are a dying breed, and this "civil disobedience" mentality is just an ignorant and arrogant right-wing fringe minority!
Times change, and we need new laws that don't just benefit families that have been grazing on private and public lands at zero costs, no matter how long it has occurred!
Cy Dygitt
Cy Dygitt
Apr 12, 2014 05:52 PM
"Grazing permits authorize livestock grazing on National Forest System (NFS) lands. The holding of such permits is a privilege, not a property right." www.fs.fed.us/im/directives/fsm/.../2230.doc

It's time to revoke this privilege from arrogant ranchers that have the Robber Baron mentality of the 19th century, since they seem to 'think' this is their property right!

It's not, and their cattle grazing at next to nothing, are eating my deer and elk grass and drinking their limited water these days! Time to end this nonsense!
Jm
Jm
Apr 13, 2014 11:52 AM

http://www.biologicaldivers[…]tte-roundup-04-12-2014.html

I don't think Bob Mrowka understands that not everyone supporting the Gold Butte wilderness wants blood on their hands.

His press release of April 12 was full of vitriol. It was narrow and myopic, it was bunkered down. I appreciate his passion but he can't lead this.

I hope most people supporting wilderness designation do not support killing people on a ranch that could probably qualify for inclusion in the National Historic Register, in a land loaded environmental challenges that include proposed nuclear dump, humongous military test sites and all sorts of mining and drilling claims.

This situation is literally crying out for a political solution, not a law enforcement solution, and I am writing Sen. Reid to tell him that's what I would support. I urge everyone who cares about wilderness to do the same.

I can't help but think Ed Abbey is spinning at high speed right about now.
Bryan Hersman
Bryan Hersman
Apr 13, 2014 02:20 PM
If it's public land isn't Bundy a member of the public? Why does "public land" always seem to mean nobody but a select few can do what they want on the land? I can understandsome military bases, a few national parks or monuments, but each state should only have an equal percentage of federal ownership. I'd even be so generous to allow the liberals of the northeast to decide the percentage. Funny how New Yorkers are so generous and dictatorially with the lands of other states. Maybe we need to reintroduce wolves to central park and make 80% of the lands in New York state federal "public land".
Bryan Hersman
Bryan Hersman
Apr 13, 2014 02:26 PM
Over a million dollars is also not a fair compensation. $200 per cow per day is the act of a robber baron. This is like the story of Robin Hood. The government prince is unjustly taking too much from the citizens and the people have banded together to be their own Robin Hood. Stealing is stealing even if the government declairs it legal. The King of England was also doing things perfectly legal according to his own courts and tribunals.
Charlie Jankiewicz
Charlie Jankiewicz Subscriber
Apr 14, 2014 09:25 AM
Take it for what it worth
However I am completely knowledgable about the Bundy Trespass. I've been on the ground there numerous times and worked on this case over several years. Bundy is a jerk and a very bad actor in the ranching community. He is a bad steward of the land and a worst provider for his cattle. He has no right, privilege or permit to graze these Public Lands. The optimum permit his family ever had was a seasonal permit based on spring forage for on average 50 head for a few months. Now he has an estimated 900 animals spread across both BLM and Park Service lands. I'd estimate up to 65% of the adult animals are not branded many of these are feral. As you know or now know he has no right, privilege or permit for any thing like year around 900 animals with BLM and Park Service doesn't permit grazing on its lands. This isn't about State's right, or let's get rid of the ranchers it's about Bundy being above the law and using smoke and mirrors and the I'm a poor old rancher and the big evil government is out to get me so Bundy can do whatever he wants. Supporting this guy is a kin to supporting a guy with a backhoe digging on an archeological site for arrowheads.
Not many standing up for the practice, today.
Believe the myth of Bundy if you want but the above is a lot closer to the truth than the tall tales and down right lies printed in his support.
Bundy is a bad example of the ranching community.(period)
He is not representative of the thousand of Public Land grazing permittees who are good stewards of the land and provider for their livestock
Sydney Smith
Sydney Smith
Apr 14, 2014 11:01 AM
Thank you, Charlie Jankiewicz for your comments. This is a nasty, brutish business where the threatening crazies appear to have prevailed for the moment. It's amazing that the feds have waited so long to deal with the situation; in the meantime the resource suffers. This jerk is probably encroaching on other permittees and landowners as well. It's sort of reminiscent of the old John Casey days.
Lisa Niermann
Lisa Niermann
Apr 14, 2014 12:15 PM
Charlie J, is this public information (about the seasonal permit), and if so, where can it be accessed? Any other websites, news articles that address Bundy's actions? Thank you.
Louis Chatman
Louis Chatman
Apr 14, 2014 04:29 PM
So let me get this straight: 1986 - Ronald Reagan through executive order set the current grazing fees. Bundy decided he wasn't paying the fees any longer in the 1990s, but continued to graze his cattle on the public land. He ignored a state court banning him from grazing his cattle on the land in 1999. He ignored a federal court upholding the state court. He ignored a federal court order advising him that the cattle would be impounded. And now people are mad that the cattle were being impounded from the land they were banned from back in 1999?? What am I missing here?
Tim Baker
Tim Baker
Apr 14, 2014 06:17 PM
Louis, what you are missing is that the Federal government is so scared of another Ruby Ridge or Waco that they are unwilling to enforce federal laws on these folks. It's an asinine situation where people are demanding the U.S. "gives the land back to the state of Nevada", to quote a Nevada legislator. They (the Bundy supporters) apparently don't realize that the Federal government ownership predates the Nevada territory and the Supreme Court has repeatedly validated federal land ownership and management prerogatives on land that belongs to all of us. So basically, if you have enough friends with guns, you can ignore the BLM because the only thing the political appointees and upper level bureaucrats really fear is bad press.
Mark York
Mark York
Apr 15, 2014 08:53 AM
Indeed. Since when is breaking the law okay? This is a real welfare rancher.
Adam Neff
Adam Neff Subscriber
Apr 15, 2014 12:41 PM
I don't understand why people are supporting him. There's plenty of things to argue against, but not paying for a grazing lease, then continuing to graze the land is not one of them. In fact, it's about as unAmerican as it gets, in my view.
brent christensen
brent christensen
Apr 15, 2014 02:29 PM
Adam, have you researched the real underlying facts in this story? The writer of this article has left out some serious content in order to spin it to her beliefs.
brent christensen
brent christensen
Apr 15, 2014 02:40 PM
I cant believe you all actually think the federal Government went all militaristic over some turtles. Wake up! This is about land use and dirty politician's long term intent to put money in their pockets. Research Harry Ried, the BLM and Chinese interest in the solar business. Then lets talk about right...
Ted Chu
Ted Chu Subscriber
Apr 15, 2014 03:10 PM
This has nothing to do with Harry Reid and Chinese interest in solar and that myth has been totally discounted, however I suspect we will keep hearing about it regardless of how false it is. The only one who is dirty here is Bundy. The BLM was totally right in trying to remove these trespass and feral cattle from national public land under a court order. They were stopped by the threat of mob violence, of men who were planning to hide behind women (I guess they couldn't find any children handy). BLM was probably right to back off for now, but they absolutely need to follow through and complete this task. We are a country of laws, not some middle east region ruled by tribes and warlords. This cannot be allowed to stand or these goons will be even more dangerous next time. This was nothing but mob rule and lawlessness which is not the American way.
Maggie Schafer
Maggie Schafer
Apr 15, 2014 03:34 PM
It is about time this guy has been taken to task for illegal grazing! He isn't bright enough to realize you don't fire the BLM! The only way to not have them "manage" your stock is to remove them! We all know that!!! This guy has cheated the system long enough! These ranchers pay a pittance to graze cattle and it is ridiculous! These are the same cattle that overgraze and are the reason much of our wildlife is killed by Government Wildlife Services on our tax dollars! I hope he goes to court and has to pay the back fees and penalties! And his so called "militia" you, too, have aided a lawbreaker and you should be held accountable!
Christi Turner
Christi Turner Subscriber
Apr 15, 2014 03:47 PM
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment. For those who would like to read more about the debunked Harry Reid - China connection, including in conservative media:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/conspiracy/nevada.asp

http://www.theblaze.com/[…]/

http://www.breitbart.com/[…]/The-Saga-of-Bundy-Ranch
Deb Dedon
Deb Dedon Subscriber
Apr 15, 2014 04:01 PM
What is it about the Federal Government that sets some kinds of testosterone on to 'boil'? Bundy, et al., must know their firepower - literal and figural - is no match for the government. All the chest-beating, saber rattling and gun wagging won't change anything, other than up their chances for being the next 'Waco'. Tragic, really. Smarter people understand the word 'negotiate'. Maybe it's something about isolation that encourages absolutes in some folks' thinking.
Gary Ghirardi
Gary Ghirardi
Apr 16, 2014 08:05 AM
Might be better for all sides of this debate to see what the BLM vision of land use is: http://wilderness.org/blm-lands
Doug Smith
Doug Smith Subscriber
Apr 16, 2014 09:14 AM
This guy is a backwoods nut who thinks the law doesn't apply to him. The Western anti-governments nuts that rallied to support him are no better than an armed mob or a KKK rally. It disgusts me that these morons can defy the rule of law and get away with it only because they are so ignorant and extreme that law enforcement rightly backed off to avoid a wild west gun fight.
Call up the National Guard, arrest these buffoons and and send him to Leavenworth.
Adam Neff
Adam Neff Subscriber
Apr 17, 2014 04:31 PM
So my lunchroom solution was to bring in the special forces and try to take out all the cows in one night using some type of james bond silencer so one can hear it.
Larry Bullock
Larry Bullock
Apr 19, 2014 08:25 PM
     Coyotes and wolves have been shot from helicopters to pacify the livestock industry. Perhaps Bundy’s destructive cattle could be dispatched in the same manner.
     I want my share of the public’s land to grow desert tortoises and not surplus livestock. Can I get a right-wing militia to support me on this? Where’s my share of gov’t-land-management-agency subsidy to finance my preferred lifestyle?
     Cy Dygitt is right. Private property rights don’t seem to apply to anyone but farmers and ranchers. Not only do non-agricultural property owners pay much higher property taxes, but they also have to put up with the depredations and abuse of ranchers and farmers – fence & tree cuttings, clandestine poisonings, open-range grazing, bulldozing, hunting, joyriding, trash dumping/burning, etc. The assumption of entitlement by this landed aristocracy creates dangerous, delusional, and expensive behavior as demonstrated by Bundy.
     Bundy’s militia supports an unworthy and unjust cause.
Fred Richter
Fred Richter
Apr 20, 2014 05:37 PM
If public land grazing significantly contributed to the nation's meat supply or to national, state or local economies this would be a different story. Public land grazing, on BLM, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managed lands, contributes less than 3% of the nation's meat production. It hasn't been found to contribute more than 5% to local economies in the west. It is harming the land and its resources. Cattle grazing in the area east of the 100th meridian is about 640 times as productive. As a comparison there is more potential grazing production in the rights of way for federal, state and county highways in the east than there is on all federal public lands that are now being grazed. Watershed, fishery and wildlife values are being destroyed and the benefit to our economy from those values far exceed those of cattle, sheep and horse grazing. Water courses have been dried up on public land due to grazing.

The U.S. Forest Service range management program runs a deficit of around $300 million annually. Include the other agencies and public land grazing could be costing the public over half a billion dollars in direct cost, fees collected minus program administration, the latter including investments in improvements such as water systems and fencing. Wayne Hage, Clive Bundy, just people who want to ignore the law and the damage their cattle do. So what if his family has grazed the area for 140 years? That means there has been 140 years of damage being done to the land. Just because someone has been doing something for a long period of time does not mitigate or eliminate the harm. If I was cited for littering by a law enforcement officer and said "well I've been doing this all my life, over 60 years now," does that somehow let me off the hook or make the littering correct? Of course not!

The U.S. Congress needs to add areas where 3rd parties can buy out a grazing permit and end all future grazing on the allotment. This is working well in the areas where such an authorization already exists. Conservation group members are willing to put their money where their mouths are. It is a win-win as the ranchers then have money to retire debts, invest in other endeavors, etc. The land also wins.

Bundy's disregard of of the law and in violating the terms of his grazing permit (and lack thereof) should result in a total cancellation of his authorization to graze on public land, these or any other public land. Round up his cattle, sell them, subtract the cost of the roundup from the proceeds and return the remainder to him.

As for the fracking logic - why should they enforce terms on Bundy when fracking is allowed under other federal lands. This is what I call the logic of a 1st grader when confronted by a teacher for passing notes during a test. "Well Johnny was doing it yesterday!" The fact that someone else has done something wrong doesn't mean it makes your act correct.

Thank you Senator Reid for standing up for the law and the management of our public lands. Shame on you Governor Sandavol for taking the side that appears to be popular right now. I did not vote for you and I never will.

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  2. The Latest: Wild Mexican wolf pups born in Sierra Madre | The species still struggles on both sides of the b...
  3. Recreation-related death toll soars this summer |
  4. Summer swimming in a Washington lake | A writer takes the plunge in frigid water.
  5. Colorado water users gird for first statewide plan |
  1. The death of backpacking? | Younger people don’t seem interested in this out...
  2. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  3. A graceful gazelle becomes a pest | Inrroducing an African gazelle called the oryx for...
  4. Illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans | A native-born New Mexico Hispanic points out that ...
  5. Plains sense | Ten years after Frank and Deborah Popper first pro...
 
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone