Ranchers take law into their own hands

  • TAKEBACK: David Johnson herds his and Mary Bulloch's cattle in Moccasin, Arizona

    Laura Seitz, Deseret News
 

UTAH

What began as the Bureau of Land Management's attempt to salvage rangeland from a dry summer has become a miniature Sagebrush Rebellion.

This summer, the BLM repeatedly ordered ranchers Quinn Griffin and Mary Bulloch to remove their cattle from remote grazing allotments in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Finally, the agency did the deed itself, impounding 44 cows in a Salina, Utah, feedlot to await auctioning (HCN, 9/25/00: Ranchers test an agency's image).

Griffin, Bulloch and about 14 other ranchers were quick to retaliate, however. On Election Day, the ranchers took back the cattle after convincing Sevier County attorney Don Brown that they owned the animals.

"Since when did the cattle become government property?" asks Todd Macfarlane, a rancher and lawyer representing a few of the ranchers involved. Macfarlane says the ranchers had every right to take back their herds and did so in a forthright, peaceful manner. It was the BLM, he says, that violated the law.

U.S. attorney Paul Warner is threatening the ranchers with $250,000 fines and 10 years in prison if they don't return the cattle. Whether or not the BLM had the right to impound the cows, adds Warner's spokeswoman, Melodie Rydalch, stealing them back wasn't the answer.

"If they had a grievance," says Rydalch, "the remedy for that is to go to court and tell the BLM they were wrong."

While Macfarlane and Rydalch confirm that the U.S. attorney is close to a deal with Griffin, Mary Bulloch, the rancher who owns most of the cattle, is far from giving in.

Bill Hedden of the Grand Canyon Trust finds the whole situation disheartening. If the BLM wasn't within the law in impounding the cows, says Hedden, then "they'd better forget about having any authority to manage grazing" on the monument in the future.

High Country News Classifieds
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • FEATURES DIRECTOR - HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Features Director to join our editorial...
  • GENERAL MANAGER
    The Board of UYWCD seeks a new GM to manage operations & to implement our robust strategic plan. Details at www.upperyampawater.com. EOE
  • IN TUCSON, FOR SALE: A BEAUTIFUL, CLASSIC MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME
    designed by architect David Swanson in 1966. Located a block from Saguaro National Forest, yet minutes to Downtown and the UofA campus, 3706 sqft, 6...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of the San Juans is seeking a new leader guide our efforts to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish...
  • 80 ACRES
    straddles North Platte Fishery, Wyoming. Legal access 2 miles off 1-80. Call 720-440-7633.
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...