A southern Nevada rancher has begun a one-man
Sagebrush Rebellion against the federal government. Since March
1993, Cliven Bundy has refused to pay grazing fees to the Bureau of
Land Management, and now owes over $25,000 in fees and fines. The
BLM has ordered the rancher to remove hundreds of his cows from an
80,000-acre allotment in the Mojave Desert and is preparing to
charge him with trespassing. Bundy insists that the BLM has no
authority, that the Endangered Species Act protecting the Mojave's
threatened desert tortoise is illegal, and that the federal
government is trespassing on what should be state or private land.
"I will do whatever it takes," Bundy says. "If I don't show
resistance they'll come and do whatever they darn well please."
Bundy's stand has made him a hero to a Nevada group, the County
Alliance to Restore the Economy and Environment, which seeks local
control over public lands. Meanwhile, Bundy has offered to pay his
grazing fees to the local county government. BLM spokesperson
Michelle Barrett, says that ploy is really aimed at the media.
"We're not interested in an O.K. Corral shootout," she says, "which
is how he's trying to portray this thing."