Free Grazing & Law Breaking: Cliven Bundy’s Stand against the Government

Hoodoo Brown and the Dodge City Gang - Photo Courtesty of List25.com

Hoodoo Brown and the Dodge City Gang – Photo Courtesy of List25.com

          Here in America, we love our outlaws. We idolize them, romanticize them, and keep them alive in songs, folklore, stories, and movies. What is it that is so alluring about them? Perhaps it is for how they are remembered in myth as being Robin Hood type figures. Or maybe it is their bravado to stick a finger in the eye of the government, their courage and daring against all odds, or even their arrogance to attempt such feats that captures our imagination, but history remembers them differently. Outlaws were often murderers, thieves, gamblers, and criminals who did very little for the common or local folk. While they might be charming in movies and we can admire them from afar, none of us likes a law breaker. We all inherently understand this when we are the victim of law breakers, even when the crime is as slight as someone cutting in front of us in line, or getting free grazing when everyone else has to pay. They go against the grain of civil society, they break the rules and while they may have stamina, may be fighters, and may even stand on principle, at the end of the day, they are still law breakers.

          In a small corner of Nevada in the little town of Bunkerville, a modern day outlaw is waging his own war against the government. Cliven Bundy is a rancher born into a long line of Mormon ranchers who settled along the Virgin River. According to him, his family has been ranching in Bunkerville for 130 years. I have met his relatives Orvel and Clay Bundy and they are good, solid, hard-working people. I was particularly impressed with Orvel when I met and talked with him in 2012. When I asked him about Cliven he replied, “A man’s got to make a living.” He let that phrase hang in the air. I know that Orvel has had his own battles with the BLM. As land management and stakeholders go, it is par for the course, but he has found a way to work within the limits of the law. Cliven, on the other hand, has taken a different approach working outside of the law, and now the Pied Piper has come to collect. As Mattie Ross said in True Grit, “You must pay for everything in this world one way or another.”

Cliven Bundy - Photo Courtesy of The Spectrum, Bundy Sadles Up

Cliven Bundy – Photo Courtesy of The Spectrum, Bundy Sadles Up

          Some mistakenly believe that this is an environmental issue, or a liberty issue, or a property rights issue, but the facts will reveal that it is a legal issue. Cliven Bundy has been illegally grazing his cattle on federal land and not paying his grazing fees for nearly 20 years. Around 1993 the BLM started revising grazing permits to provide for the protection of the desert tortoise. Mr. Bundy didn’t like the change and so he stopped paying his grazing fees. It was at the moment that he stopped paying his fees that he gave up any legal standing he had to graze on public lands or to seek compensation. In response, the BLM cancelled his permit and would no longer grant him anymore grazing permits on BLM land. Around that time, there was a land swap between Nevada and the Federal Government where Nevada offered to buy the grazing allotments to set up a preserve to protect the desert tortoise in exchange for desert tortoise habitat that they could destroy for development. At the time, all ranchers who had allotments in the area were offered the chance to sell their allotments and did to the tune of roughly $5 million dollars. Mr. Bundy was not given the option of a buy-out for his allotment because he had forfeited his rights to it when he stopped paying his fees. Therefore, the permit was sold to Nevada for $375,000.00. Mr. Bundy now claims they are taking away his right to make a living, but as will be shown, he forfeited it all on his own.

          When the United States was promoting westward expansion and homesteading, the lands were quickly over-grazed due to a lack of understanding of the arid west’s fragile ecosystem. According to the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, “After decades of rangeland deterioration, conflicts between cattle ranchers and migratory sheepherders, jurisdictional disputes, and states’ rights debates – and in response to the pleas of western ranchers, Congress passed the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 which effectively ended free access to the range.”

Westward Expansion, Photo Courtesy of Montana Moments

Westward Expansion, Photo Courtesy of Montana Moments

          What was happening in the West prior to the Taylor Grazing Act was an economic theory coined the Tragedy of the Commons. It states that individuals acting independently and rationally according to each one’s self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group’s long-term best interests by depleting the common or shared resource. In other words, when a common good is “free,” people will selfishly use it until it is gone because they cannot self regulate, and those who try, quickly give up when no one else does. Regulating grazing ensured that the vegetation would regenerate and continue to provide productive land, further ensuring that grazing would continue into the future.

          The purpose of the act was to stop injury to the public lands; provide for their orderly use, improvement, and development; and stabilize the livestock industry dependent on the public range. The new law effectively closed the rangelands to homesteading. The act established grazing districts on the vacant, unappropriated and unreserved lands of the public domain and established grazing advisory boards, primarily composed of livestock owners. Board duties included the allocation of permits and the determination of boundaries, seasons of use, and the carrying capacity of the range (1).

Westward Expansion Moving Cattle

Westward Expansion Moving Cattle

          The new permit system granted grazing privileges (not rights) by preference to ranchers who had actually used a grazing district’s land during a priority period before 1934. Owners of land or water rights who could support livestock on base ranches during seasons when herds were not on the grazing districts were favored; those without property were not. Technically, the grazing permit is a revocable license under the law, not creating any right, title, interest, or estate in or to the land. The act also created the Grazing Service, but inadequate funding prevented effective observation and evaluation of range use partly because grazing fees were never raised to adequately fund the Service. Permitted animal unit months were set at preexisting 1934 stock levels. Efforts to reduce stock levels inevitably failed. The Grazing Service and General Land Office were then consolidated in 1946 to form the Bureau of Land Management (1).

          According to the BLM, “The unregulated grazing that took place before enactment of the Taylor Grazing Act caused unintended damage to soil, plants, streams, and springs. As a result, grazing management was initially designed to increase productivity and reduce soil erosion by controlling grazing through both fencing and water projects and by conducting forage surveys to balance forage demands with the land’s productivity (“carrying capacity”). These initial improvements in livestock management, which arrested the degradation of public rangelands while improving watersheds, were appropriate for the times. But by the 1960s and 1970s, public appreciation for public lands and expectations for their management rose to a new level, as made clear by congressional passage of such laws as the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. Consequently, the BLM moved from managing grazing in general to better management or protection of specific rangeland resources, such as riparian areas, threatened and endangered species, sensitive plant species, and cultural or historical objects. Consistent with this enhanced role, the Bureau developed or modified the terms and conditions of grazing permits and leases and implemented new range improvement projects to address these specific resource issues, promoting continued improvement of public rangeland conditions (2).”

Modern Day Grazing

Modern Day Grazing

          As stated above, grazing permits do not equate to grazing or property rights and must be weighed in light of new laws, competing interests for present and future generations, and can be altered and/or revoked in lieu of changing circumstances. Those changing circumstances came in the early 1990s when the desert tortoise was listed as endangered. In response, the BLM modified Cliven Bundy’s Bunkerville allotment to protect the tortoise. As you will remember, along with the Taylor Grazing Act, the BLM is also beholden to the Endangered Species Act. By law, they are required to protect species, as well as manage grazing allotments. They were doing their job. Mr. Bundy, however, didn’t like the grazing permit change and rejected the new grazing permit on grounds that he did not recognize the law or the legal authority of the BLM to change the permit. He stopped paying his grazing fees and continued to allow his cattle to not only graze on the Bunkerville allotment, but allowed them to graze on federal land as far as the Lake Mead Recreation Area.

Aerials Of Lake Mead National Recreation Area
          According to the BLM Northeast Clark County Cattle Trespass timeline, in 1997, in accordance with the Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan and the Biological Opinion released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, active grazing permits in tortoise habitat were purchased by Clark County under the Clark County Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Program. Mr. Bundy rejected a tentative proposal to compensate him for any stockwater rights or range improvements he might have in his former allotment. It should be noted that all other ranchers who grazed in the Bunkerville allotment did accept the compensation and have been complying with federal law and the agencies enforcing it and are actually supporting the BLM. He is the only one defiantly disobeying the law. Not only it is not fair to the public, it is not fair to ranchers who are paying their fees and abiding by the law. In 1998, the United States filed a civil complaint against Mr. Bundy for his continued trespass grazing in the Bunkerville Allotment. The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada issued an order permanently enjoining Mr. Bundy from grazing cattle on the Bunkerville allotment, ordered him to remove all trespass cattle and set a penalty of $200 per day per animal remaining on the federal range (4).

Bunkerville
          Mr. Bundy has insanely, arrogantly, or in a willful attempt at wishful thinking charged in federal court that the land was not federal land, wherein the court disagreed stating, “the public lands in Nevada are the property of the United States because the United States has held title to those public lands since 1848, when Mexico ceded the land to the United States (5). In 1999, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s permanent injunction. When Mr. Bundy failed to remove his livestock as directed by the District Court, the United States filed a motion to enforce the permanent injunction and the District Court ordered Mr. Bundy to pay $1,377 as willful repeated trespass damages and adjusted fines to be consistent with regulatory rates of $45.90 per day for each day Mr. Bundy’s cattle remained on the allotment (4).

In 1999, the Las Vegas Field Office Resource Management Plan designated the Bunkerville allotment as “Closed to Grazing” to protect desert tortoise habitat.

Young Desert Tortoise - Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Young Desert Tortoise – Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

          In 2008, the BLM issued a decision to cancel Mr. Bundy’s range improvement authorizations (one range improvement permit and ten cooperative agreements). Mr. Bundy submitted a letter objecting to the action which BLM forwarded to the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) as an appeal. The IBLA issued a decision affirming the BLM’s cancellation decision on December 22, 2008. In 2011, BLM issued Mr. Bundy a Trespass Notice and Order to Cease and Desist, a Trespass Decision and Order to Remove, and a Notice of Intent to Impound. None of these communications resulted in Mr. Bundy’s voluntary removal of the trespass cattle from the public lands (4).

          In May 2012, the United States filed a Complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for Cliven Bundy’s trespass grazing within the Gold Butte area outside the Bunkerville Allotment, including within Lake Mead National Recreation Area. In April 2013, the United States filed a Motion to Enforce the 1998 Permanent Injunction against Cliven Bundy for the Bunkerville Allotment. On July 9, 2013, U.S. District Court of Nevada Judge Lloyd George permanently enjoined Cliven Bundy’s trespass grazing and ordered Cliven Bundy to remove his trespass cattle from public land outside the former Bunkerville Allotment within 45 days, stating that the United States is authorized to seize and impound any cattle that remain in trespass after 45 days. On October 9, 2013, U.S. District Court of Nevada Judge Larry Hicks reiterated that Cliven Bundy is permanently enjoined from grazing the Bunkerville Allotment and has no legal right to graze the federal lands, directed him to remove his trespass cattle from the former Bunkerville Allotment within 45 days, authorized the United States to impound his cattle if he fails to remove them within 45 days or continues to trespass at a future date and directed Mr. Bundy not to physically interfere with an impoundment action (4).

          As can be seen, Mr. Bundy has been willfully and arrogantly breaking the law for 20 years. The BLM, the State of Nevada, and the courts have been more than civil and patient, exhausting all legal options trying to do their jobs, to enforce the law, and to resolve the problem peacefully. How Mr. Bundy has been able to ignore and bully not only state but federal agencies is beyond me. It was obviously baffling enough to the Center for Biological Diversity that in April 2012 they filed a 60 day notice of intent to sue the BLM for not doing their job under the Endangered Species Act (6). Now Cliven Bundy is playing the victim, stating that because his family has been ranching and grazing cattle there for 100 or more years, on land that is not his, he is somehow entitled to continue. His stance is not only groundless legally, it is selfish. This one man wrongly believes that his rights supersede the rights of the public and are above the law. But it’s worse than just grazing for free, Mr. Bundy has been grazing his cattle at the public’s expense.

Summer Camps & Education, Wilderness & Open Space Preservation, and Energy Development on Public Lands

Summer Camps & Education, Wilderness & Open Space Preservation, and Energy Development on Public Lands

          We pay tax dollars to have our public lands managed, to have equal access under the law, and to have the law enforced. Mr. Bundy has made his right to graze his cattle more important than all other interests. According to Mary Jo Rugwell, who used to be the BLM Southern Nevada District Manager, “There are hundreds of ranchers that follow the rules. They have grazing permits, pay their fees and manage their cattle as they are supposed to. A lot of other users of public lands also pay for permits and follow their stipulations. It’s just not fair to all of those people that Mr. Bundy does what he wants and doesn’t follow the rules (7).” He, and others like him or supporting him, may not like the Endangered Species Act and may not like federal law or control, but not liking something does not excuse one from breaking the law. Furthermore, not believing in laws does not make them any less real, valid, or enforced. One does not change the law by breaking the law.

Hunting & Camping on Public Lands

Hunting & Camping on Public Lands

Backpacking & Hiking, Fishing, and Photography on Public Lands

Backpacking & Hiking, Fishing, and Photography on Public Lands

          Mr. Bundy claims he will do whatever it takes to protect his life, liberty, and property, but none of those things would be in danger if he had actually done the one thing that would have guaranteed them: obeying the law. Clearly he was not willing to do anything. What Mr. Bundy wants is to have his cake and eat it too.

          Outlaws are not victims. They are people who have chosen to go outside of the law, to claim that the law does not apply to them, and then seek support and favor from their local community when they are finally challenged and claim that they are fighting for everyone. Many famous outlaws have made such claims and gone down in myth and lore as being for the little guy or for their local communities, but history notes it differently. These were men and women who chose to break the law, not for others, but for their own selfish ends. Though we may be enamored with characters that seem to capture the essence of the wild west, we must remember that this is no longer the wild west and that they were or are outlaws, not victims. Before anyone mistakenly thinks I am comparing Mr. Bundy to those famous outlaws, I will state that the comparison ends at breaking the law. That being said, in an interview with the Moapa Valley Progress, Bundy said that he was “willing to defend his rights at all costs.” When asked whether the matter might come to violence he said, “Why not? I’ve got to protect my property. I have a right to life, liberty and property (7).” I will let you decide how similar he is to outlaws of the past.

Bird Watching and Scientific Research on Public Lands

Bird Watching and Scientific Research on Public Lands

Ranching, Mountain Biking, and Cultural Preservation on Public Lands

Ranching, Mountain Biking, and Cultural Preservation on Public Lands

          While this is an emotional issue for many who know and like Mr. Bundy, at the end of the day, he brought this on himself. If he is a victim of anything, he is a victim of his own arrogance. He willfully broke the law and chose not to work within the confines and limits of it. He has gotten away with it for 20 years. It is time for the BLM to call his bluff and end his free grazing and law breaking now. If he wants to sue Clark County, the state of Nevada, the BLM, the cowboys who will be rounding up his cattle, or anyone else, let him do it. He does not have a case, as has been shown. His argument is weak at best, and absurd at the worst. As the court order states,

“Bundy has produced no valid law or specific facts raising a genuine issue of fact regarding federal ownership or management of public lands in Nevada, or that his cattle have not trespassed on the New Trespass Lands. The United States has established irreparable harm not only through the continuing nature of Bundy’s trespass, but because Bundy’s cattle have caused and continue to cause damage to natural and cultural resources and pose a threat to public safety. The public interest is best served by removal of trespassing cattle that cause harm to natural and cultural resources or pose a threat to the health and safety of members of the public who use the federal lands for recreation. The court finds that the public interest is negatively affected by Bundy’s continuing trespass. Finally, the public interest is served by the enforcement of Congress’ mandate for management of the public rangelands, and by having federal laws and regulations applied to all citizens equally (5).”

          The BLM is not the bogeyman. It is not a nameless, faceless organization out to get one man. It is an agency filled with average, everyday people trying to do their job, and managing land for competing interests is a hard one at that. Mr. Bundy has had more than ample time to resolve this issue amicably and reasonably, it is time that he suffer the consequences that anyone else would who blatantly breaks the law. That he is seeking public support on emotional grounds here in southern Utah speaks to his lack of a case. He does not deserve our sympathy; he deserves a reality check that has been a long time coming.

Our Public Lands

Our Public Lands

Citations:
(1) Encyclopedia of The Great Plains: http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.ag.071
(2) BLM Grazing: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/grazing.html
(3) BLM Mission: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/grazing.html
(4) BLM History of Trespass Cattle: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/lvfo/blm_programs/more/trespass_cattle/history_of_trepass.html
(5) Court Orders July 9th & October 9th, 2013: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/lvfo/blm_programs/more/trespass_cattle/court_orders.html
(6) Center for Biological Diversity, Intent to Sue: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/reptiles/desert_tortoise/pdfs/60_day_notice_to_BLM_FWS__HCP_BP_IA.pdf
(7) Moapa Valley Progress, Bunkerville Rancher Holds out against Federal Officials: http://mvprogress.com/2012/04/18/bunkerville-rancher-holds-out-against-federal-officials/
(8) The Spectrum Daily News, Bundy Saddles Up: http://www.thespectrum.com/viewart/20140313/DVTONLINE01/303130030/Mesquite
(9) Las Vegas Review Journal, Emotions Run High as BLM closes 600,000 acres for cattle roundup: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/emotions-run-high-blm-closes-600000-acres-cattle-roundup

 

 

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Posted on April 1, 2014, in Nature and the Environment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 152 Comments.

  1. World Peace Now

    The author should look into who and what was behind The Desert Protection Act:
    http://politicalvelcraft.org/2013/01/09/senile-dianne-feinsteins-surreptitious-desert-wilderness-protection-act-to-block-gold-mining-agenda-21-shutting-down-the-united-states-gold-mining-bidens-anti-coal-obamas-anti-oil/
    Of course the ultimate goal is to render all public lands off-limits to the people.
    Wonder how a fully informed jury would rule in the Bundy case?

    • the article about Clive Bundy is nicely footnoted, and thank you.
      This comment includes only references to other opinion pieces. the first reference begins with a reference to the Washington Times, and isn’t that part of the Korean Sun Yung Moon’s empire? You know, the Moony religious organization? I would not choose that group as a source of opinions. I mean, what is their agenda?
      If a person seeks information only among opinions, isn’t that a rather emotional way to try to make decisions? Isn’t it sort of romantic, like the romance of the West?
      So, what is the writer’s agenda? Why not just come out and say it?

  2. This is the first I have heard of this issue. I will look into it. If politicians are getting kick-backs and/or sweetheart deals on legislation they helped pass, they should be held accountable and kicked out of Congress. As for what a jury would think of Bundy’s case, I am fairly confident they would not side with him…unless they were from Southern Utah. I disagree with you that their goal is to keep people off of public lands, with the exception of extremists. More people use our public lands now than at any other time in history.

  3. It seems obvious to me that the author of this article has a kush job in a comfy chair. Next time you’d like a moment with nature or even a delicious steak, try not to be so self righteous.

    • I’ll keep that in mind Dan. Thanks for reading.

      • How about looking into Harry Reid and son having a contract with china for Solar on that property! Also you never mentioned Mr. Bundy trying to pay the state of Nevada or the County!

      • I have looked into it Darren, it is a conspiracy theory. Did you hear that they are going to frack for oil on Bundy’s ranch too? Harry Reid is trying to get a solar power plant in Laughlin to beef up the economy there. The greatest travesty I see with that is that the Chinese are getting the land for an 1/8 of what is appraises for.

        I didn’t mention Cliven trying to pay Nevada because it is a non issue and only makes the man appear more misguided than he already does. Nevada could not accept his payment because they cannot accept dues owed to the federal government.

    • I love a delicious steak! I am retired, but I worked hard all of my life and like a cold beer with my steak; don’t forget the beans and potatoes and I remember those great biscuits that were cooked on Mesquite coals of a fire in a Dutch oven…especially when I was hunting or years ago on roundups. I’ve hung unto the memories – a couple of horses (always need to be around those hay burners), and friends from those days. But lets be honest; most of the steaks that we eat in this country do not come from the western ranges anymore. They haven’t for quite a while now. And many of the packing plants are owned by foreign companies.

      Things change unfortunately, but change is a fact of life. Grazing was the first priority in the history of the use of range public lands. That changed going on 40 years now when congress passed the law that required the agencies responsible for the management of public lands to also consider, wildlife, recreation, archeology, etc. As an senior member of the human race, I’ve come to learn that change, is very difficult for people to accept. It is conducive of fear and people can use all kinds of excuses (patriotism, religion, nationalism, myths) to fight change. Labels and name calling and baseless assumptions come into play; critical thinking seems to be one of the first things that’s put aside when faced with change…I’ve been just as guilty of this as most anybody.

  4. Danny Perkins Sr

    This is the plaintiff (governmental) side of the debate. There are decades worth of references compiled in this article and it is written well to the benefit of the government. What’s missing are the statements of the defense. Not the Bundy family but the other ranchers who were bought out. Adding their statements and references would add greatly to the credibility to this article.

    • Danny, I would love to get the other ranchers’ stories. Do you know any of them? I realize that ranchers are facing tough choices and that they feel they are being squeezed off of the land. That was why I asserted that Cliven Bundy could have done something good with his fight by fighting for all ranchers, not just himself. The reality is that there are many competing interests for use of the land and the land does have limits. The BLM has to weigh those competing interests against the law and against the limits of the land. Not everyone is going to be happy with their share. I know mountain bikers in Montana who are mad as hell that they can’t mountain bike in certain areas; climbers who are mad they have to get permits to climb, hunters who are mad they can’t hunt however and whenever they want, and the list goes on. If everyone is equally pissed off, then it is probably fair.

      • The ranchers “feel” they have gotten squeezed off their land? Are you serious? The fact is, they DID get squeezed lady.

        And how about we “think” things rather than “feel” things. Or I could do that, too.

        I feel Cliven is a racist, ignorant, conspiracy theorist who should spend more of his days feeling.

        There, can I write for you now too?

      • I am sorry you did not like the word “feel.” I do think that, but it is because I feel something. This is not an argument, but a very emotional tirade. Thanks for reading GuyManDude.

  5. Peri Cosseboom, Nevada

    Thanks for writing this. Your in depth analyses is appreciated. It yet again proves that you’re going to get in trouble if you rely on the mainstream media for accurate information.

    I’m a long term user of Nevada’s public lands and hardly a tree huger. In the mid 70’s I had a placer gold claim in Nevada’s Buena Vista Valley, near Lovelock. Typical Northern Nevada high desert. If you looked closely it was lush in its own way. When the claim didn’t pan out (I was young) I left and only returned after 5 years. I was shocked, the land was devastated. I asked a local rancher what had happened. “Sheep”, he said, “The dammed sheep.” Illegal grazing had ruined the land.

    My personal political tendencies are libertarian, but yes, some things should be protected. Like parks. Mr. Bundy running his cattle in the Lake Meade recreation area proves his true intent. He simply believes that he is above the law and doesn’t care what he damages to get his way. Shame.

    For my part, I’ll continue to criticize the Government and the stupidity that gives rise to such things as the ridiculous “Free speech zones”. And I really hope that conservatives and patriots are more careful in choosing who they support. You are judged by the company that you keep.

    • Peri,
      Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it. The problem with current news cycles is that they often leave out the history and so people have a hard time getting their bearings straight in order to know where to stand.
      I am with you, we do need to stand strong in keeping our government in line. It is by no means perfect, which is why we desperately need the facts – we need to know when the government is wrong and when it is not so that our criticism is valid.

  6. Its difficult for me to accept the legal claims here when the government only seeks to enforce rules that benefit broader agendas. This man may not be perfect but he feeds people. More good than most of us. And as far as environmental impact goes; we city folk do more damage in our gas powered vehicles than grass eating cattle. I just see a lot wrong with this case on a more human level and less on a technical one.
    thanks for writing. I always read every perspective.

    • I would argue that the government seeks to enforce laws that benefit all people. This is a county of competing interests and the government has to work them out somehow. The BLM is in a tough spot. They have to uphold federal law and are getting pulled in many directions by people claiming it’s not fair.

      That being said, I see what you are saying. Any time an environmental issue is addressed, a new one pops up. It can be abysmal for those of us who care about them. But even beyond that, my concerns are largely for people and how they are impacted by such environmental damage. I understand relating to Cliven on a human level. Thanks for writing again.

      • Unfortunately, any time the government has an agenda, they invoke an “environmental issue” to appropriate land.

      • Or they invoke the economy, as is often the case used for energy development accomplished via drilling, mining, and fracking. Strangely I don’t hear anyone on the Bundy side complaining about that taking place on public land via the “illegal” BLM. Everyone is going to claim that the government is corrupt when it doesn’t go their way. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, if everyone is equally pissed off, then it is probably fair. Thanks for reading.

    • Instead of a human level or a technical one how about looking at it in a legal perspective? In addition, You need to research where most of your beef comes from in this country…not from western ranges. Just as our gas powered vehicles impact the environment, overgrazing impacts not only the grass that feeds a ranchers cattle, but wildlife, streams that lead to rivers to boating – impacts recreation (water, hiking, hunting, etc.).

      Every user of the public lands has their own agendas. They all feel that they have as much right to their agendas as anyone else…and those public servants that meet with the user as a daily part of their jobs get it from the users and from the politicians in D.C. No matter how hard they try, not everyone is going to be happy.

  7. Fiona Mackenzie

    SO well written! Makes the whole mess explicable. Thank you for introducing me to the “Tragedy of the Commons”; it so perfectly captures something that has always taken me, at least, a paragraph to describe.

    • You are so welcome! These things matter to me, it matters to me that people understand what is happening (at least in areas where I know something), and I love that people are reading my blog.

  8. Reblogged this on The Green Pulpit and commented:
    The truth about the Grazing Controversy in Nevada and the so called “Stand” that took place there by the right wing nutcases.

  9. Thank you for writing the most in depth and actually factual article I have read on this matter.

    • Thank you. I am glad it was informative. I was compelled to do this after the local media started pushing a one sided agenda with no facts. Plus, I think it’s nice to be able to go to one site for information rather than endlessly searching the web.

  10. I found this to be, not only informative and comprehensive, but extremely well-written. Kudos! It’s refreshing to read a well-written article these days, as it seems such a rare pleasure. Keep up the awesome work!

  11. Bundy was there first. Two clauses in the US Constitution prohibit ex post facto laws: Art 1, § 9 and Art. 1 § 10. This is a legal issue that you appear to be misinterpreting.

    • I am sorry, you are wrong. Bundy was not there first, not by a long shot. The federal government was there before his family was. It was federal land before his family was there. Nevada handed over public land to the federal government in exchange for statehood. If you are referring to the BLM, it is a non argument. The constitution ensures rights that are upheld by our laws. You use the constitution to see if current law is constitutional. That means, you must look at all law passed since the writing of the constitution in order to make your case. Please study the laws passed since then. Our government has been working. If you don’t like a law, you seek to change it. It is really simple actually.

      • My point was that when Bundy’s family homesteaded the area in the 1880’s, they became first user of the land. If you buy into the Law of Nations bs (I call it bs as it is impossible to prove consent in any ‘social contract’) that a monarchy or a nation can claim land that it has not used, then you have to turn to the passage of time and the applicable laws of the ‘nation’ as the next determinant of law relevant to the homesteaders contract…the homesteaders contract being, I am here first, so I have first rights. So, his family was there first, and his family has first rights, and his families contract with the persons operating the federal government was based on the laws of the 1880’s…which allowed homesteading in a perverted form (something about 160 acre limit that led to ‘tragedy of the commons’ myth that the author quoted as a reason for the federal governments change in laws ( Taylor Grazing Act). That act would only be relevant for land acquired after 1934. Bundy’s contract pre-dates that act and all following acts, and he his not bound them. So my point that ex post facto application of law is even off limits in the founding document of the ‘nation’ and the ‘federal government’ is relevant and correct. I admit, we interpret the data differently, but I am not wrong. If anything, you are ceding what is right to what has power. An understandable error, but might does not make right. The power of government is (theoretically) based on the consent of the people. In this case Clive does not consent, he has history on his side, there fore the government does not have power over him. Now as this situation has proven, person in contemporary governments do have guns and will to use them, which only creates a false, fear induced might/power. Now they might take his cows, or try to take his grazing rights to the land again, but they will be in the wrong. They are in the wrong because they are using force and to remove a peaceful man from land his family homestead. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior. Thanks for the reply 🙂 Thoughts?

      • Tom,
        You are right, we just don’t agree. Their use of the land was still United States land in the Nevada territory. When the people of Nevada voted to join the Union, they did so by giving up ownership of those lands to the Federal Government. This happened before Cliven Bundy’s family was there. Furthermore, law builds on law. You cannot take something that happened in the 1800s and argue it in a vacuum as if no law has been passed since then. That is like me trying to claim that Prohibition is still valid. Law changed with time and shifts in the culture. This is why DOMA got struck down by the Supreme Court. The majority spoke in getting DOMA passed, but the Supreme Court saw that it was unconstitutional and struck it down. The woman who brought the case to the Supreme Court did it the right way. The BLM did not break any laws, it showed up in force because of Cliven’s threats of violence. Believe it or not, the BLM has wide discretion in how it manages its land and the decisions it makes. This is backed up by Congress and the courts. This is from a recent article giving some history on the BLM run in St. George News by Ed Kociela yesterday:

        “The seeds of the BLM date back to the Land Ordinance of 1785 and Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which outlined the responsibility of the government to survey and settle the lands that were ceded to the federal government at the conclusion of the American Revolution. As more land was purchased or acquired, if you will, Congress ordered their exploration, that they become surveyed and settled. The Department of Treasury established the General Land Office in 1812 to manage these lands. There were a number of Constitutionally approved Congressional Acts that followed and a number of court cases over the years – including a decision by the 9th Circuit Court, that further affirmed that the United States government “owns and has broad authority to regulate federal lands in Nevada,” a fact lost on Bundy and his supporters who insist that particular stretch is owned by the State of Nevada.”

        Yesterday I was trying to find the court case that settled the Sagebrush Rebellion and stumbled upon this great article that gets into the history over these range wars. You should read it because it explains where all of this power comes from and when it was established. Please take a look if you get a chance. I may do a write up on the Wild Horses and Burros Act, which started much of the angst between ranchers and the BLM. http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1454&context=facpub

        If we have any chance at changing anything in this country, we have got to know our history and the laws. Where Cliven went wrong, in my opinion, is when he decided to play by his own terms instead of playing by their rules. I’m not saying that if he had done it differently things would have turned out differently, but he would have a strong case for support. I read an article yesterday about a Pastor in North Carolina who talked about how the Civil Rights movement changed things, he said, “”They first had to win the moral high ground, and they had to capture the attention and consciousness of the nation,” he explains. “When those two things came together, it gave space for people like Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was a segregationist, to step out of his normal pattern of politics into a new way.” Cliven does not have the moral high ground and therefore, he doesn’t have widespread support. Not only that, he isn’t doing anything that benefits all ranchers – in fact, it may do more harm than good.

  12. This is probably the best article I’ve read on the side of the BLM. I agree whole heartedly that Bundy is not without blame. However, I still side with Bundy on this issue. The Constitution grants the federal government the right to manage federal land, but it ceases to be federal land when the territory is admitted into statehood. This is largely ignored and is the reason that most western states are under the control of the BLM and eastern states are not. This has been a battle for a long time, before Cliven Bundy, and probably will be long after. The Sagebrush Rebellion in the 1980’s is a prime example. The next focus of this ordeal needs to be on Harry Reid, his son, and the land deal for the solar farm. The desert tortoise is now thriving, and even being euthanized. Keep in mind the Tonopah bombing range and atomic testing in the same habitat.
    Bundy has said repeatedly that he will happily pay the grazing fees to the state or county. But he recognizes that he is systematically being removed from this land by the BLM and paying them the fees is equivelant to paying rent on an apartment you’re being evicted from. His family and heritage has been there since the land was settled. Asking him to sell out and give up his fight is asking him to give up his family history. It’s like watching the house you were born and raised in being leveled for a freeway under eminent domain.

    • Dave, with all due respect, you are wrong about everything you listed. First, federal land did not cease to be federal land when the territory became a state. It is the exact opposite. This is the from the Nevada Constitution (Utah has the same clause): “Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States; and that lands belonging to citizens of the United States, residing without the said state, shall never be taxed higher than the land belonging to the residents thereof; and that no taxes shall be imposed by said state on lands or property therein belonging to, or which may hereafter be purchased by, the United States, unless otherwise provided by the congress of the United States.”

      Western states are managed by the BLM because that is where all the public land is. Eastern states have very little public land, which is what makes them undesirable places to live, in my opinion. I love public land.

      The Sagebrush Rebellion is dead. It was fought by lawyers and statesmen who ultimately lost in court. The law was not on their side and the only way that will change is if the law gets changed, not by fanatical ranchers, but by reasonable masses. The former senator of Nevada, Richard Bryan, who led up the Sagebrush rebellion said recently on TV, “The Bundy argument has been fought and lost and the current situation is dangerous and unneeded.” Let’s not forget that Bundy did receive due process and lost. He did not have the law on his side.

      As for the euthanized tortoises, that is misinformation. The Fish and Wildlife Service runs a Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Vegas that takes in displaced tortoises due to development and from people who had them as pets. They get 1,000 tortoises a year. Their budgets cannot accommodate that many so they are euthanizing the sick and diseased ones because they cannot ethically put them out into the healthy wild population.

      The Harry Reid solar panel story is a conspiracy theory or just an outright lie. He is trying to get solar panels all over Nevada because it is the Saudi Arabia of solar energy. He worked to get a solar panel farm up in Moapa (near Bunkerville) to help the Moapa Piaute Indians when Reid Gardner, a coal power plant, closed. The people were dying and suffering from the coal pollution, but needed jobs. It was a God send to get something in that could provide work for those poor people. Harry Reid should be given an award for what he is doing for people in his state. The $5 contract with the Chinese is actually in Laughlin, not to steal Bundy’s land, and yet again to bolster the economy.

      As for paying grazing fees to the county, that’s cute. Could you pay for a speeding ticket in other state? Nevada cannot take federal dues. Bundy is not being removed from this land, he is being told to play fair and he just plain doesn’t want to. You are right though, it is like paying rent. When someone stops paying rent, what happens? They get evicted. It is the law. No one is asking him to give up his heritage, they are just asking him to do it lawfully. His cattle have been grazing in three different states. Is that responsible in your opinion? Is it fair to other ranchers who pay their dues? Just think about it.

      • Nevada is one of 27 states that has almost verbatim language in its constitution reference the land being given to the federal government. There is also nearly verbatim language about reliogen and slavery. Remember, Abraham Lincoln gave Nevada it’s statehood, and what was the hot topic of that time, the civil war and slavery. This language was not intended to exercise federal power over the states, if it was, the previous states before the civil war would have had the same language. This was intended to keep Nevada in the union, and a contract to not try to seperate itself like the confederate states did. Also, the land that Nevada submitted as being within its border and unincorporated would not try to form pockets of sovereignty. So the true spirit of this ordinance isn’t “hey, we’ll let you become a state, but we get to control 80% of you” it was intended as a contract to keep Nevada in allegiance with the federal government. It was under this guise that it was constitutional under article IV.
        In 2005, Nevada voters overwhelmingly voted to change this ordinance in the constitution, but in order to change the contract, US Congress would also have to agree, and let’s face it, that wouldn’t happen in today’s federal government. So yes, he is violating the letter of the law. But the volstead act was also the letter of the law until people rallied to change it.
        In light of this event, I would disagree that the sagebrush rebellion is dead. It seems to be alive and well and making national headlines. I suspect this will eventually reach the SCOTUS for constitutional review. Until it does, we will all have our own opinions and interpretations, but they’re just that, our own.
        As for the Reid connection being a lie, what research do you have to justify calling it a lie? Conspiracy theory, maybe. But I think there is enough fact there to warrant taking a harder look. Rory Reid is the chief legal representative for ENN, a Chinese firm. The head of the BLM is a long time friend and advisor to Harry Reid. The Gold Butte area in the center of this is part of the solar project by the same company Rory is representing. That project couldn’t go forward due to trespassing cattle. These are all 100% undisputed facts taken directly from the BLM website.
        As for the “cute” analogy of the speeding ticket, of course I wouldn’t try to pay another state. Nor would I pay the federal government. I’d pay the STATE where the infraction occurred.

      • Dave,
        Thank you for this post. The Sagebrush Rebellion is dead because it was already seen by the courts in the 80s who did not agree with them. Anyone attempting another shot at it is going to run up against legal precedent. Yes, law gets passed and is legal until changed, like the Volstead Act. We change those laws through the courts, not with militias. As for the speeding ticket analogy, which you seem to be missing, if you owed money in federal court, you would not get away with trying make the payment to the state. Let’s try a different analogy. Could you pay your federal taxes to your state? No, you couldn’t, and yes, you would be held accountable for paying them to the right government.

    • Dave, the only ownership to this land is the Native American who were there long before the federal government or Mr Bundy. Having said that, right wrong or indifferent laws are made based on issues taking place at that given time. As I see it, Mr Bundy should have been doing his homework and challenged his position legally. Instead he took to being a bully about all of this.. Better still, he should have been paying for the use of the land to protect it for his family.

      • I could not have said it better myself. My heart really goes out to his family right now and for what they may be facing when Cliven faces possible charges. I agree that Mr. Bundy needed to play by their rules by being smarter. When he stopped paying his grazing fees he gave them a leg up for free. He should have been paying the grazing fees while fighting his case because then he would have a solid case and a lot more support. Ultimately, it is his family that is going to suffer.

  13. Had the BLM not arbitrarily attempted to suspend the 1st Amendment, posting signs and abusing citizens physically, there would most likely been no repercussions from citizens groups.

    But when the BLM violated the US Constitution they became outlaws of, and by, the US Government subject to the penalties declared by the American People, whose rights were violated, they may have been able to enforce the law. But being lawless, using SWAT teams and government snipers (who have killed irresponsibly in the past with no consequence) they became targets themselves. Deservedly so.

    While I agree Mr Clive should be held accountable I strongly disagree with the governments methodology. It made them even more criminal. I as an American am sick and tired of the US Government’s inability to follow the law and believe they needed a reality check also. They got one. Should they, the US Government, choose to violate the law again the American public is well within its right to utilize force to stop them. And stop them we did. The US Government agencies had better wake up that their period of acting in this manner is coming to an end. It will no longer be tolerated and if it brings about civil war then so be it.

    As was stated at Concord so many years ago, “If they mean to have a war then let it begin here.”

    • Steve, I agree that the First Amendment zones were kind of silly, but in light of their intentions, they were understandable. If you watch the video of the Bundy supporters, it is clear that it was the citizens who were the aggressors.

      How exactly did the BLM violate the Constitution? SWAT teams were brought in when gun toting militias showed up to support a law breaker with violence. And even many of them were dismayed by Cliven Bundy’s lack of humility and respect when the government backed down.

      Please stay tuned, I am going to post a video of Glenn Beck addressing this issue. While I am typically not a supporter of him, his comments on the issue were dead on…and reasonable.

      I respect your right to your opinion and your right to express it, protected by the laws of this land.

      • World Peace Now

        No one here seems aware of the Fourth Branch of government – We The People. The people are necessarily more potent than the sum total of the three branches they created. The FED, on nearly all fronts, is out of control. The remedy is stated clearly in the Declaration of Independence.

  14. Nice article I was looking for a in depth fact checking perspective and I found it.

  15. I love this article and the replies you give to people who are obviously uneducated conspiracy theorists!

    What’s truly scary to me is that we have so many people in this word willing to support a bully and criminal like this!

  16. In context of Cliven’s Civil Disobedience to the law everyone should think one name: Rosa Parks.

    • You will have to forgive me, but Cliven was not engaging in Civil Disobedience, but civil rebellion. Please tell me you are not comparing Cliven Bundy to Roas Parks. Please elaborate.

  17. Thank you for a wonder introdution to this issue for novices. It gives lots of information and varying viewpoints to be further researched, as is evidenced by several of the other comments. Again, THANKS and keep up the good work.

  18. “Mr. Bundy claims he will do whatever it takes to protect his life, liberty, and property, but none of those things would be in danger if he had actually done the one thing that would have guaranteed them: obeying the law. ”

    It all comes down to that, huh? So just because something is a “law” does not make it just or moral. It used to be law that black folks were slaves. Was that good law? Clearly not, thus your “all laws should always be obeyed” premise is false.

    Oh, and just because you claim something is a conspiracy theory does not make it so. Reid’s connections are documented.

    http://www.infowars.com/feds-desperate-to-hide-harry-reid-link-to-bundy-land-grab/

    This article’s author is actually the one who arrogantly parades around as a today for Big Government and corporate interests. Or she’s a Fed herself.

    • GuyManDude,
      Yes, there have been bad laws passed, many bad laws, but you don’t change them by breaking them once things don’t go your way. It is childish and actually hurts your case more. The Civil Rights movement worked to change those unjust laws, not with guns, but with reason sir.

      As for conspiracy theories, I’m not just claiming them as such, I have actually looked into them, and yes they are. Please do a little more research. I have addressed this in another comment, you are welcome to look at it.

  19. Bundy has said numerous times on the record that he is willing to pay these fees, as long as they go to Clark County. So he’s not a complete nut-job who just doesn’t want to give any money to anyone.

    The Feds response to this situation has been nothing short of Gestapo-like. See also, Waco, Ruby Ridge, etc. Also see them tasing Bundy’s son and a police dog being sent after a pregnant lady.

    I feel sorry for the American Sheeple who believe the type of propaganda in this article. All Hail the State!

    • He has also said that he doesn’t recognize the federal government exists, that he obeys no federal laws, and that he fired the BLM. If only all of us could make such claims and get away with it.

      The land is not Nevada land, no matter how badly he, you, or anyone else wishes it to be so. If it was, he could certainly pay his fees to Clark County. We must operate in reality. The Feds responded to armed militias and threats of violence. I’m sorry, when you call down the thunder, you get it. Thanks for reading and commenting. We will try not to hail the state too much. 🙂

  20. Excellent article. I don’t have a TV so I read…a lot. My experience shows most anti-government people get caught up with false, poorly-researched beliefs. And you’re right, they love the idea of being an outlaw. Mexican Narco Corridos (songs about violent drug trafficking) are based on the same belief…and the people love it. I shudder to think of a society like Mexico’s drug violence. The law is the law. Don’t like it? Try to change it or elect representatives to represent your belief. If you break the law, there are consequences. The USA collapses without the rule of law.

    • Thank you Bryan, for your voice of reason. Geez. 🙂

      • Thanks. I live near (and hunt, fish, cut firewood, ride, hike, camp) on National Forest Land. There are also cattle grazing areas as well. Tragedy of the Commons is very real. If everyone got what they wanted, the forest couldn’t sustain itself. Again, laws protect the places we want to recreate in. I pray for the BLM officers safety. I’m sure their kids and spouses do too. Protecting public lands is real patriotism.

      • Yes, I agree, Tragedy of the Commons is very real as anyone who has seen it can attest. It has gotten me to start looking into the Wild Horses and Burros Act. That act started much of the range wars going on now. It may be time to repeal that law…but that’s another issue.

  21. Outlaws are not victims. They are people who have chosen to go outside of the law, to claim that the law does not apply to them, and then seek support and favor from their local community when they are finally challenged and claim that they are fighting for everyone.

    You mean like Trayvon Martin?????????

  22. My experience shows most pro-government people get caught up with false, poorly-researched beliefs.
    (This partially explains why the least qualified president in US history was elected twice….)

  23. Frank Erickson

    Thanks for the clear and well-researched article that sheds much light on this topic, and your respectful and thoughtful responses to the commenters, whose notions cover the waterfront in terms of creative legal, historical and political possibilities. Whew!

  24. Nice report. So far, very few outlets have attempted to place Bundy’s actions in a wider historical context. For example, so far, no one has connected the dots between the current anti-government mindset and the mindset that produced pipe bombings of BLM and Forest Service offices around 1996 — the general period when Bundy decided to quit paying his grazing fees. (And the Oklahoma City bombing happened in 1995.) If the BLM and Park Service didn’t have plans to stage the roundup with military style backup until after civilian militia men began to show up, it forgot its recent history and underestimated the role the Internet could play.

    • Thanks Bill. I was not aware of pipe bombings of BLM and Forest Service offices, but you can rest assured I will start looking into it now. 🙂

  25. Have fun.

    From Associated Press, Aug. 5, 1995:

    “We’re shocked at the violence directed toward Forest Service employees,” said agency spokeswoman Erin O’Connor. “And we’re doing all we can to ensure the safety of the employees and their families.”

    The bombing at Pence’s office and home are the first on a federal facility or employee in Nevada since Halloween 1993, when a bomb was tossed onto the roof of the federal Bureau of Land Management’s state headquarters in Reno.

    Both the BLM and the Forest Service have been involved in “Sagebrush Rebellion” issues in the state, including increased fees for grazing livestock, mining on federal lands, and public access to lands under their control.

    A March 30 pipe bomb explosion at the Forest Service office, located on Carson City’s main street, blew out a window and damaged walls. The office was unoccupied at the time.

    http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1995/Bomb-Explodes-Outside-U-S-Forest-Service-Ranger-s-House/id-363d8053c423ac9286bf9669d7bf238e

    • Wow! I started looking into this and oh my word… I thought Utah was bad, but it appears that Nevada could give it a run for its money. It seems that rural Nevada has a long and colorful history of angst and violence that I might have to do a write up on. Thanks for the tip, I appreciate it!

  26. Reblogged this on sobirgit and commented:
    this. What this person has to say about this issue and does so well…

  27. Fantastic article! It is concise and well written. I have yet to find any other article that gives all the relevant background. I have also enjoyed you debates. Well done.

  28. Typical of these people. Pay the fees, get your cattle off of the public land and head back to Utah. Sick of this BS and quit bullying those that enforce the law, before someone gets hurt. This isn’t the wild, wild west. Follow the law, get your sh*t and git out!!!

  29. Thank you for the excellent articles that you’ve written about this subject.

    I just wanted to add my own personal experiences about working for the federal government in Nevada. Rural Nevada is absolutely the worst place to be a federal employee working for a land management agency. My husband and I worked for the US Forest Service in a very small town in central NV about 13 years ago. We were much younger, with no children, at the time and were warned that it would be a tough place to work in many respects.

    First, there is no grocery store, so we had to travel over an hour one way to get groceries. Second, due to high turnover rates, we were always short staffed. My husband was the only law enforcement officer and I was the only fire prevention officer who covered more that 2 million acres of forest. Some of the residents were aware of this and took advantage. They cut firewood and picked pine nuts without obtaining permits, they regularly looted archaeological sites, some ranchers would let their cattle overgraze their allotments, and some outfitters would violate the conditions of their permits. All because they felt the same entitlement to the land that Bundy does. It’s *theirs* to do with what they please and the federal government is the trespasser.

    The final difficulty with working in that area, and definitely the worst, was the outright hostility and defiance that was directed at us USFS employees. A thick skin was a must! Some people were nice to us, but most made it understood that we were the outsiders and not welcome. I remember one incident where my husband and I (at the time we weren’t married) were sitting in the kitchen of Wayne Hage and his wife Helen Chenowith (those are two names you may want to research, as well as Dick Carver). We sat and listened to the both of them talk about how my husband, or any federal law enforcement officer, didn’t have any authority in the state of NV. They both talked in circles, quoted obscure portions of the US Constitution, and made veiled threats of retaliation against any federal law enforcement officer *trespassing* on their land. I remember just listening calmly and not trying to argue with them, because obviously their minds were never going to change.

    We eventually grew weary and left. My husband got transferred out of state and we didn’t let the door hit us on the way out. And, I’m sure we were greatly missed just as the dozens and dozens of others who came before us were. We have since been transferred a few more times and that place is still in our memories as the most difficult place we worked.

    • Thank you so much for writing and for sharing! What you have mentioned confirms what I have been researching today. That is unbelievable. I am actually aware of Wayne Hague. I bumped into his case while getting my undergraduate degree and have been meaning to get back to it since this Bundy incident. Everyone talks about the federal government walking all over people, but I haven’t seen it in Nevada and am beginning to wonder why this has been allowed to continue as long as it has. The other issue that makes me angry is that Congress keeps cutting budgets for these land management agencies, thus hindering them from doing their jobs, but then they get blamed. Just out of curiosity, could I possibly dialogue with you about this in email or some other format off this thread? Your story is very interesting to me. I would love to get an inside view from someone…who doesn’t currently work in Nevada. If you can’t, I completely understand. Thanks again!

  30. Thank you for the education. Very thorough and fair.

  31. Wow, Thank you for a great article, factual and well researched, And your response to the comments. This is a great history and social studies lesson for ever one under 65 years old. You should be the Chief Public Information Officer. I am a retired cop, 33 years in all, the last 20 as a BLM Ranger, I was there on the Bundy operation in 2012 when we were sent home before we got started because of the threats of violence. We have no machine guns or sniper rifles. We were there to protect the contractors so they could do their job. The “First Amendment Areas” (probably a poor choice of words) were set up to be a convenient and safe location for the press and citizens to discuss the operation. Other than entering closed areas (emergency closure order) put in place for safety, people could go anywhere the wanted to to exercise their first (and all other) amendment rights. This issue will be in the courts for some time to come.

    • Thanks, yeah, this issue is huge and has very long roots. I am finding that the recent Bundy debacle is just the tip of the iceberg. That’s interesting that you worked on the Bundy roundup in 2012. I was around for that and got first hand information about it then, which was the impetus behind writing this blog post when he started his antics again. The local media here in southern Utah was so biased and pandered to him so much I just felt like someone had to say something. I know that current BLM/NPS employees can’t necessarily speak out, so I did. I have to admit, I am glad that this has gotten national attention and I hope the American public collectively responds that no, it is not his land. Perhaps if enough people are opposed to it, the government will finally be able to do its job.

  32. Sure, I would be happy to help. Feel free to contact me at the email address I provided. 🙂

  33. Has anyone noticed Mr. Bundy’s extremely liberal position about the right to make a living,it this quote is correct, “Mr. Bundy now claims they are taking away his right to make a living, … ”
    I’ve known many people who have lost their jobs due to technical innovation and out sourcing during the past twenty years, from engineers and photographers to electronic type setters. Actually, the dairy farmers I know are not having an easy time of it.
    To me, it does not seem to make sense to artaficaly support lively hoods that no longer make a living. That’s just welfare.I think it would be a good use of my tax dollars to help people learn new skills where they can make a living, or to figure out a way to use the land and resources they actually own (and I pay taxes on my land) to make a living. I know, I know, it takes imagination and creativity, and you cannot claim that everything should stay the same as it was in some ideal (for you) time in the past.
    But isn’t that what we are especially good at, here in the USA? We are good at innovation and creativity, right? So let’s figure out at way to help people who have the bad fortune to have the way they make a living disappear, including Mr. Bundy, and maybe he will give up being a thief.

  34. “Around 1993 the BLM started revising grazing permits to provide for the protection of the desert tortoise. Mr. Bundy didn’t like the change and so he stopped paying his grazing fees.”

    Yeah, the “change” was that he was ordered to reduce his herd from 1000 to 150! An “unreasonable” request – one that would put him out of business, robbing him of his livelihood. The alleged “tortoise” has been being euthanized by the feds. [really ‘endangered’, now]

    “Therefore, the permit [1993] was sold to Nevada for $375,000.00.”

    That’s when Bundy offered to pay the ‘fee’ to the State, and the state refused.

    Bottom line: For the largest part of a century the Bundy family has been “cooperating” and paying for any fees, adding water and infrastucture improvements, and tending to cattle for American consumption. Until 1993, when the BM tried to cut his livelihood by reducing his herd to “UNREASONABLE” numbers – which would have put him out of business, and DID put 52 other ranchers out of business in his county, he was NO problem.

    Now, the alleged “tortoise” is being euthanized by the feds – the whole alleged reason behind the herd reduction in 1993.

    BAH! This is such a clear case of federal government tyranny, it is funny – funny “weird” and not funny ha ha.

    • Ginny, do you have a valid source to back up those numbers? I would like to see it. I don’t know how big grazing allotments are, but I have been told that one cow needs roughly 4 acres to forage. Therefore, 150 head of cattle would be 600 acres. I’m not sure how big the Bunkerville allotment was, but if he was legally grazing 1,000 head like you say, then it was at least 4,000 acres. The reason I am asking is because Cliven has never admitted to owning that much cattle. He claims he has 500 head. Furthermore, they documented his cattle grazing outside his grazing allotments and in three different states before 1993. He clearly was not abiding the law before his allotment got changed. As for the loss of livelihood, it seems like Bundy’s beef should be with the state of Nevada as they were the ones who did the land swap with the federal government that ultimately changed his grazing permit.

      As for the feds euthanizing tortoises, it was by the Fish and Wildlife Service at a tortoise conservation center that takes in displaced tortoises from development and from people who own them as pets and no longer want them. They euthanize the sick and diseased ones. No on is going out on the Bunkerville allotment and killing tortoises.

    • Okay, I have not dug into grazing allotments, cattle forage needs, and numbers so I have to admit ignorance on these particulars. I spoke with someone who said that forage acreage for cattle is highly variable depending on the quality of the forage available and the needs of the rancher. Perhaps most typical on NFs is 30-50,000 ac. I guess out West on range land most cattle or cow and calf need 200 acres. That would mean that the Bunkerville allotment for 1,000 head of cattle would be 200,000 acres…which is 3-4 times the average size. I think Bundy was originally allowed to graze 180 head of cattle, which is in that 30-50,000 acre mark, and it got reduced to 150 head. Would that reduction impede his ability to make a living? I don’t know the beef market, but would 30 head really make that much of a difference? I understand that does leave money on the table, but enough to wipe out his living? If you have facts from reliable sources I would love to have them. But beside all of this uncertainty, we do know that his cattle was spread across 600,000 acres. What does that tell you?

      • Well it would all depend on how many cattle he was running and how much territory he was covering when the BLM arrived on the scene in the beginning. How many deeded water holes he had and who else was claiming common graze. More than likely several allotments were involved. Lots of ranches in Nevada cover that kind of territory. I don’t think there is enough information there to draw any kind of conclusions.

      • Lots of ranchers cover 600,000 acres? I am working on getting the information.

      • Lots of ranches cover 600,000 acres? I am working on getting the information.

  35. We pay taxes so the BLM will manage the land… except they don’t. From allowing overpopulation of wild horses (which violates federal law), to failing to maintain roads in BLM-managed lands so the counties have to do the maintenance themselves, BLM has completely failed in its mission. Even the controversial desert tortoise is now being euthanized by BLM because they say they don’t have the money to care for them. That’s the management we’re paying for?

    • We pay taxes to the federal government. Congress allocates those funds. It is reprehensible that Congress members keep cutting budgets to land agencies to score political points, but when they do that, it undermines the BLM and other agencies trying to do their jobs. The Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act is some very bad legislation and should be over-turned, in my opinion.

      No, the BLM is NOT euthanizing tortoises, that was irresponsible reporting that enabled conspiracy laden blog sites to take advantage of. The Fish and Wildlife Service runs a Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas. They take in tortoises displaced from development and unwanted pets. They get roughly 1,000 annually. Once again, due to budget constraints (because Congress will not allocate them the funding), they have decided to euthanize sick and diseased tortoises. They cannot ethically put them out in the wild population or risk infecting healthy ones.

      We need to hold our representatives accountable for how they allocate or play politics with funding. You should look to see if one of your representatives was one of the members who voted against giving funding to land management agencies and hold their feet to the fire.

      • Gave me a real wait a minute there. 600,000 acres is a lot of country. Only 40,000 acres short of 1,000 square miles. That is a lot. Maybe I am all screwed up here. It is actually 937.5 square miles. Big chunk of country. Maybe I am really wrong here. However, unless I am using my calculator wrong, the square root of 937.5 is 30.62. I know of several ranches in my immediate area that cover a chunk of country 30 miles on a side. Not always exclusive, there are many “in-common” allotments, but they still run that much range. My brother-in-laws family had a ranch that covered a lot more country than that (I know, I rode a lot of it), and before they sold it some thirty-five years ago, I don’t recall any talk of them being anything like one of the biggest ranches. By the map, their range ran about 39 miles on the north-south axis, and about 48 miles on the east-west. Again, a lot of this was on common allotments, they didn’t have exclusive use of all of it, but you could reasonably expect to find their stock in that area.

      • BTW, my commenting on your blog is all your fault. I read part of it, and was a bit disappointed. I finished one, read the others, and was really impressed. I like your style. You do however, have some historical facts, either a bit mistaken, or misstated. You really do not have a true understanding of how, or why, Nevada was admitted to the Union as a state. It was actually not even legal.

      • It was not legal? Do tell.

      • At the time of Nevada’s admission to the union as a state there was a requirement that a territory had to have a population of a certain number of US citizens to be considered. Nevada Territory did not have enough. So, they just counted more. There was a large contingent of “Cousin Jacks” that were not yet US citizens that were counted. I did not get the time to recheck myself, but I seem to remember they counted the Native Americans too. Possibly the first time in history they were counted as US citizens. The story of Nevada’s statehood is a real wild west story. Hired thugs, hired gunmen, and backroom skullduggery. And not about what most people think it was about. The idea that they used the land to buy their way in is a non-starter. The US government already owned the land of Nevada Territory. The real reasons for statehood are a few clauses down.

      • Well, I can’t argue with how it was brought about. I’m sure it was colorful, but I doubt saying it was illegal would get any traction. All I was saying is that the government has stipulation for acceptance into the union, the federal lands (which yes, were already federal) were part of the bargain. I appreciate you reading and re-reading by-the-way. Thanks!

  36. theghostoftruth

    The author keeps repeating a phrase which, for any freedom-loving person, does not compute. She repeatedly makes the statement, “if everyone is equally pissed, then it must be fair.” Whatever happened to the American foundation that everyone is able to live in freedom? A heavy-handed, suffocating government that “pisses everyone off” is the very reason we fought for our independence, but now, strangely, this author uses that very notion to justify her entire argument. As if somehow, oppression is a good thing. This is like justifying socialism as a good thing because “it makes everyone equal in poverty.”

    The strongest fact in this case (which the author conspicuously omits) is that these burdensome fees and regulations have driven every other rancher in the area out of business – Bundy is the last man standing. Evidence that the power to tax is the power to destroy. But rather than allow the BLM to “manage” and tax him out of business, Bundy drew a line in the dirt and took a stand. If a law or rule is propogating injustice on a group of people, then that group has an obligation to stand against it and fight using any tactics necessary to protect their livelihood; to prevent an oppressive state from stealing the bread from their and their family’s mouths. Just because a law exists does not mean it possesses innate justification. Everything Hitler did in Germany was legal – should the US have told the Jews to “just go through the court system and legislature?” No sane person would argue that they should have. When a government becomes as bloated as ours, things like courts and the legislature just become appendages of those in power, and function as massive, convoluted bureaucracies that discourage people from trying to use them. Even if you can make any progress, it’s at a snail’s pace and you will probably be broke by the end.

    So go ahead, keep defending massive government, and keep telling people that it’s a good thing that they’re “pissed off;” it’s a good thing they have massive debt but can’t find jobs; it’s a good thing that punitive taxation is preventing them from being able to afford a home or a family or anything else that will fulfill them. Your “freedom sucks” argument is exactly the message that we want you suckers to promote. That will keep the pendulum swinging in our direction.

    I’m sure you’ll reply and say “you’re wrong” – that seems to be your MO. That’s fine though – I never turn down a conversation with a cute girl. Even when I disagree.

    • Look, the reason I said that, “If everyone is equally pissed off,” is to suggest that no one is getting unequal treatment, except for Cliven in this case. Do you honestly believe that if the government just disappeared we would all be happy? That is a fantasy. We created the government for a reason. I realize that regulations make it hard, but many believe that ranchers are grazing for virtually nothing (pre 1930s prices). If they had to pay market value for the land they are using, it would probably be a lot more expensive. Is that fair to everyone? Or just fair to the rancher?

      I am not defending massive government, I am defending the rule of law. That is what civil societies enact to keep things “civil.” Our Founding Fathers were believers in the law. President Lincoln hoped that law would become the religion of the country. Do you know how many people are suffering right now? Can they all take up guns against the government? I realize that just because something is legal, it doesn’t make it right…but do you have a better solution? Please say you have something concrete to add to this debate, not just right-wing/libertarian broad-scope issues that can be argued ad nauseam that get us nowhere. What would your solution for ranchers, and for the rest of the county, be? Please don’t say less government, that doesn’t mean anything. Give me something concrete.

      If you don’t like my article, and my responses, perhaps you would like to see how mainstream America sees it. Can you argue this? You have a right to your opinion, but not the facts. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/17/3428051/nevada-rancher-re-run/

    • I bet that there are few of us that believe the Bundy is wrong that would also vote for wanting to have a suffocating large government. What the author is simply trying to say, and it is a simple issue, is the fact that Bundy went along with a law and the help of, using your term, “the suffocating government,” until he didn’t agree with a new law. Honestly, I can’t think of any law that is on any books in this country that has 100% buy off by all of our citizens. There are ways to change laws that are wrong and Bundy decided to follow his knee jerk reaction and decide that there is no federal government. I believe that the two things that are in his favor at this time and place, is the myth of the “rugged and independent cowboy” and the anti-government attitude that is prevalent amongst radicals (whose numbers have greatly increased after Obama’s election).

      Raising cattle is a business – a very risky business in fact. Like most business they all can have a negative or positive impact on a wide variety things: people, environment, next door businesses, food, water, air, etc. When this happens I want someone to do something about it.

      I’ve spent a lot of my time in the last 10 years researching issues that the main stream media has addressed. I remember when it wasn’t that difficult to get both sides of a story from the same media source…back in the days when there where hundreds of sources that provided us with information. Now there are only 6 main news owners – owned by large corporations like Disney. They don’t have dogs in the fight, only a chance to make money. If you’ve been paying attention to what happened last weekend, one itchy trigger finger on either side could have exploded into a slaughter of innocents. And for what? For a law breaker?

      Let me add one more thing to underscore how fuel keeps getting added to the fire. On 4/12/2014, and article was posted on America’s Freedom Fighters web site that very similar to the Bundy issue, but this time it involves the USFS in SW New Mexico. One would think that the government is on a rampage at this time and shutting down all ranchers from public lands. I found the same article in dozens of other blog sites. In truth, this did happen, but it happened 10 years ago! That little detail was left out…and the Forest Service also tried to work with the rancher for over a decade. In addition, the article fails to mention details that are key to the outcome of the court cases. There are too many people with jerky knees in my opinion, and the scary thing is that many of them are now armed to the hilt to fight the government. God forbid – sooner or later it’s going to happen.

  37. Several years ago I canoed down the Missouri River through the Missouri Breaks, starting in Ft. Benton. The river runs through National Parks land, Montana property, tiny amount of private, and mostly Bur. Land Mgt managed property. The best and most hospitable campsites were always BLM sites. The rule there was “Leave nothing behind”, whatever animal, vegetable, mineral, biological material came in with you, had to go out with you. I have a lot of respect for an agency that has that much respect for wilderness.

    • Thanks Rob, yes, I think they are really trying to do a good job. Most BLM employees I know try their best to work with people and to avoid conflict. A retired BLM employee who dealt with Cliven told a story of how Cliven was building a fence in Arizona without a permit. He went out to try to get him to stop until they could backdate a permit for him. He said that Cliven got in his face and threatened to punch him and then said, “If I punched you right now, I would be a local hero.” It’s the hero part that I think is driving much of Mr. Bundy’s actions, unfortunately. I guess with people who support him, he is a hero. The rhetoric coming out from the Bunkerville fiasco, in my experience, is just wrong.

      • I am a retired wild land fire fighter (BLM). I started out as a natural resource specialist/range conservationist in the 70’s and worked with a lot of ranchers in SE Arizona. It was one of the best jobs I had and enjoyed the time I spent working with ranchers in setting up new grazing rotation plans which required new fences, water distribution systems, improved record keeping, etc. all in response to the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPLMA).

        Back in those days, most offices emptied out whenever we had a wild fire; seemed like everyone had some level of fire fighting qualification. The excitement of fire fighting along with it’s adrenaline rush is addictive to some of us eventually led for me to change careers.

        My 30+ years with the government were both frustrating and gratifying. In retrospect, I found that BLM employees, like the ranchers I worked with, were generally hard workers. Many put in extra hours without pay to try to keep up with the workloads – – – most were not successful; the new goals/responsibilities of multiple-use brought on an agency that was primarily grazing oriented increased the workloads exponentially. Just before FLPMA, NEPA came into the picture also and this added to the decision making process…taking more time, but in my opinion, a necessary review that required interdisciplinary input and buy off (and in many cases, public input), on many decisions that would impact public land users. I wish people would know the heated debates that took place within the BLM – the prevailing view that decisions were made with just stroke of a pen is not exactly correct -many decisions didn’t come easy.

        In the last week or so, I’ve read a load of articles on this Bundy issue. Yours is one of the best in describing the issue because you took the time to also explain the history of management or lack thereof, of the public lands. Unfortunately, reading some of the comments here and in other sites, people have been conditioned (I blame politicians and the narrow media), to fear the government and the current administration. Fear, along with ignorance of an issue, are logic’s greatest enemies and it is hard to discuss issues when these come into play. I’ve commented on a couple of comments on this issue, but tried to stay away from those that invoke the constitution, God, or communism – this may sound terrible, but I am afraid those folks have quit thinking for themselves.

        Keep up the good work!

      • Thank you, I appreciate that. Yes, most federal employees, at least with land management agencies, do it because they love the land. It certainly isn’t the pay. They truly care. I think that many out there on the web have something to gain by stoking the fires of this issue and it is doing immense damage. I also agree that ignorance is the greatest threat to humanity and coupled with militarism and arrogance, is downright frightening. Thanks for your service to the country btw. Federal employees do not get enough credit for what they do. It’s sad.

  38. I’d like to respond about the various complaints about federal land management agencies. I know that the focus on this post is mainly the BLM, but all land management agencies suffer from the same issues.

    First, the employees are just regular people who are just trying to do their jobs. There is no ulterior motive and they don’t sit around dreaming up ways to make public land users’ lives miserable. All the way up the chain of command, every single person is required to follow the rules and regulations that govern their particular agency. Also, every single federal employee in this nation takes an oath of office swearing to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Every. single. one.

    Also, I get tired of the “jack-booted thug” meme in reference to federal law enforcement officers. Are there some bad apples in the bunch? Of course there are and they should be weeded out. But the majority are just regular people doing the job they are directed to do. In fact, the higher ups in DC are very concerned about “image” and how the public perceives the law enforcement officers. Last Saturday, those rangers were outfitted in riot gear in response to the threats of violence coming from the protesters. Threats of violence include armed individuals advancing on your position while yelling belligerently. The Bundy’s have been making threats for years and are well known in their town for being bullies.

    Second, the budgets for these agencies are not adequate to effectively manage a lot of areas the way that they should be. The budgets were thin before 9/11, but since then Homeland Security has gotten the lion’s share of appropriations. What that translates into for the BLM/USFS/NPS is severely understaffed field offices, crumbling infrastructure, and lack of enforcement (ever wonder why it’s taken *20 years* to confiscate Bundy’s cattle?)

    Lastly, the US government does not *own* public lands. We do. They belong to the people of the United States. The land management agencies exist as stewards of the land for we the people. Could they do a better job in many respects? Yes, but there just isn’t enough money there to do it properly.

    • Thank you for saying this. Yes, all land management agencies deal with this. I just posted another blog post about the issues of politics, politicians, budgets and conflicting laws governing range lands. Check it out. This Cliven Bundy situation is just the tip of the iceberg…there is a literal mountain below it. Thank you for your service to this country as well. It is not stated enough.

    • World Peace Now

      The BLM and many other federal agencies are tentacles of UN Agenda 21.

  39. Also, the burdensome fees that have been mentioned are actually ridiculously inexpensive when broken down to what it costs per head of cattle. I know because I helped the range staff issue grazing permits in the office where I used to work. Short staffing=everyone assists every department when needed.

    The assertion that the government putting ranchers out of business is false. Ranches go under for a variety of reasons. The government is just a convenient scapegoat. There were other ranchers who sold their allotments back for millions of dollars, but Bundy missed out on that deal because by then he had quit paying his grazing fees.

    • Yep, that’s true. They are not paying market value and are highly subsidized, much like the energy industry is. I think what is underneath this outcry is the value of heritage and tradition, which you can’t place a price tag on, but it is also not coming out in the rhetoric. It’s too easy to blame the government and gain immediate sympathy. I will share this again for anyone who reads the comments, grazing as it is currently set up, is not sustainable. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/17/3428051/nevada-rancher-re-run/

  40. Larry Humphrey

    This is the best, well-researched article i’ve read on the Bundy mess. I was in charge of two livestock impoundments in Southeastern Arizona in the early 1990s. Yes, I worked for the BLM. I feel the BLM handled this poorly, but on the other hand, the Bundys have lost contact with reality. They don’t own the land. 18,000 other ranchers pay grazing fees and they haven’t for 20 years. They are no different than people that have been on welfare for 20 years.

  41. Basil Forthrightly

    Good article.

    BTW, one of the phrases starting to circulate amongst the knee-jerk pro-Bundy folk is that he’s “one of the last Nevada ranchers left”. In fact, the Nevada Cattleman’s Association has 567 current members (from recent news coverage, I think out of Las Vegas). And of course, not all ranchers join the association.

    That association also put out a formal statement, here:
    http://www.nevadacattlemen.org/CMDocs/NevadaCattlemen/NCA%20Post%20Gather%20Statement.pdf

    While it’s as pro-rancher as one would expect, and is personally sympathetic to Bundy, it also dovetails nicely with your article, in particular about the legal history of the land and its regulation. It also emphasizes the need for ranchers to work within the law, and that the association is not supporting Bundy in the roundup dispute.

  42. Article is well-done, as per comments, most readers understand; some don’t. Although, what is needed for better understanding is an elementary lesson in range management, which could be gotten by visiting range conservationists in either the BLM or USFS. Another way is to check with the Society for Range Management, western universities with degrees in Range Management, OR, search for “principles of range management”. Example is “grazing capacity”. Here, in Central Texas, average rainfall of 25 inches, capacity is about 15-20 acres per cow per month. It is a function of rainfall, soils, vegetation suitable for grazing, and overgrazing. In Nevada, I would suspect desert bottomlands might amount to 300 acres per cow per year. Yet, overgrazed, bare soil, undesirable brush rangelands might be 2,000 acres per cow per year, if even that. Cattle have to eat, therefore, they can be found on stringers of bottomlands, trying to survive. Thus, 600,000 acres of that kind of country might carry only a meager number of cattle, scattered everywhere, OR, concentrated where there is a little bit of grass. Probably, if cattle were removed from that country, it might take 25-50 years for those kinds of rangelands to recover to pre-grazing conditions. I am “shooting from the hip” about this, but, I suspect I am close to accurate. Also, there are some good range management textbooks. BTW, in the mid-60s, I got a BS degree in range and wildlife management. Subsequently, I worked as a Range Conservationist in Arizona and New Mexico on four National Forests, doing nothing but analyzing range conditions on grazing allotments, determining grazing capacity, striving to bring stocking rates in line, all for the benefit of the land and the public. Thus, there continue to be those kinds of range professionals in the BLS and FS that could share considerable information to help you and your readers have an excellent grounding about all this. Finally, anyone who fights the federal land management agencies about paying their lease (the grazing fee per animal-unit-month is nothing more than a lease) should be ashamed of themselves and just pay up. These days, the BLM fee is $1.35/AUM, compared to about $10-15/AUM for Central Texas grazing leases.

    • Thanks for all of this information, and yes, the price for grazing on public lands is much, much lower than on state or private lands.

  43. Well, well, well….it appears that Mr. Bundy is a liar as well as a thief.

    http://www.8newsnow.com/story/25301551/bundys-ancestral-rights-come-under-scrutiny

  44. OOPS!! I should have proofed my comments. I meant to say that Central Texas rangelands involve about 15-20 acres per cow per YEAR. A cow will graze about 20-25 lbs. of forage per day, thus, the cost of that grass is about 2 cents per pound, rather cheap feed.
    Cattle cubes come to about 20 cents per pound; baled hay would be about 10 cents per pound. Out west, at $1.35/AUM, the cost would be around .045 cents per pound, almost free feed. On down in my reply, I said “BLS”, meaning “BLM”. Sorry!

  45. Nicely done article and responses. Your opening paragraph says it all. It is a legal issue. And it should continue to be fought through the legal process (I’ve rarely seen the government lose–when they are correct.) In addition to the historical anecdotes that stir emotions, however, we superimpose the emotion of poorly waged optics (working dogs, SWAT type teams) and the national politics of recent times (think of National Park Service behaviors clearly intended to inflict the most pain, for political purposes, during the federal government shutdown). Most importantly, when the federal government selectively enforces laws while selectively ignoring others, you now longer have the rule of law, but rather rule of man, which can quickly become rule of the mob and rule and rule of the mobster–which is good only for the man of the moment–a very dangerous and slippery slope.

  46. Considering this was the best article on the Bundy affair I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot), I tweeted it and will continue to follow your posts. Thank you for your intelligent and well-informed comments…there’s so much out there that is not only false, but bordering on deliberate lying to start some sort of “range war” as Bundy wants or “civil war”. At times, it’s easy to be taken in, but one has to remember that Bundy is a simple crook, a scammer and a liar.

    Thank you very much and keep up the excellent work.

    • Thank you, I appreciate that. It is encouraging to get comments like this because my intent in writing it was to get the facts out there in one place. The media here (locally near Cliven Bundy) was sheer pandering for his cause and it made me sick. I’m just glad this post has gotten some traction. 🙂

  47. What about the ranchers in NM. Who were run off their land during WWII for White Sands missle range and were never compensated for it beyond a few pennies per acre as a stop gap to outlive the original owners?

    • I don’t know anything about that, but based on the little bit of information you have shared, it doesn’t seem right.

  48. I had not heard about the White Sands issue, but obviously it someone was already there then the government had to use “eminent domain” to take the private lands away by condemnation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminent_domain

    I did not pursue this deep enough to find out if some of the land involved was public land – I would imagine it may have been. Here’s a 26 year old article on the issue:

    http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1988/Decades-Later-White-Sands-Ranchers-Remain-Bitter-About-Taking-of-Land-With-PM-Nuclear-Highway-III/id-4e054c10d31af9882475a7031916ec2c

  49. GHyland,
    You said that this land is not being sold for a solar farm, but isn’t it true that Harry Reid put forth legislation in 2010 declaring the Gold Butte Area as conservation area in order to meet the offsite mitigation strategy put forth for the area further south, where the solar project is slated to go?

    Link: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/blm_library/tech_notes.Par.29872.File.dat/TN_444.pdf

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen it, but if you haven’t, review page 29, it indicates that the environmental impact that the project near Laughlin will have is damaging enough to the ecosystem that a set aside or offsite mitigation zone will be necessary. It’s kind of like a carbon credit only it’s for damage to the environment caused by development rather than “excessive” CO2 outgassing. Apparently if your going to adversally effect the land in one place, desert tortoise, desert fauna, etc., all you need to do is promise you wont do it somewhere else and than go get the land.

    As I said, Senator Reid sponsored legislation in 2010 designating the land Mr. Bundy once held grazing and water permits to as a conservation zone, seemingly an effort to meet the requirements of offsite mitigation. That is the land he “went and got.”

    Link: http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/1054

    In your article you also portray other Ranchers in the area as being fine with the restrictions to grazing put in place by the BLM but the fact is many of those Ranchers are now out of business or trying desperately to sustain a business. The encroachment on the grazing lands in the area have been a pretty heavy burden and many of them were there at the protest outside Cliven Bundy’s ranch. You don’t mention that. Also, if you know anything about Nevada and land deals you know about the influence of Harry Reid. The fact that he set up the deal with the Chinese interests and his son Rory lobbied for and brokered it seems like pretty significant information too. And the land that Reid Bunkerville LLC purchased on the Virgin River abutting Bundy’s land is pretty interesting too. Your article left out a lot of these facts, I’m not sure if it is because you simply didn’t do your homework as you should have or maybe there is an underlying bias, either way, you were not as forthcoming as maybe you should have been.

    Link to Reid LLC: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/bloggers/3146700/posts

    You also say this in one of your replies:

    “Dave, with all due respect, you are wrong about everything you listed. First, federal land did not cease to be federal land when the territory became a state. It is the exact opposite. This is the from the Nevada Constitution (Utah has the same clause): “Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States; and that lands belonging to citizens of the United States, residing without the said state, shall never be taxed higher than the land belonging to the residents thereof; and that no taxes shall be imposed by said state on lands or property therein belonging to, or which may hereafter be purchased by, the United States, unless otherwise provided by the congress of the United States.”

    But what you fail to acknowledge is this:

    In 1996 the Nevada Legislature and voters, seeking to take control of federal land in the state, repeal the so-called Disclaimer Clause of the state’s 1864 constitution that had declared people in the territory “disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands.”

    That was a pretty big oversight. Although you point out correctly the clause three you fail to mention it was repealed more than a century later. That is why the feds had to declare the desert tortoise endangered because that puts the issue into federal jurisdiction. After that they can squeeze as tight as they want because the edict falls to the controlling agency, which in this case is the BLM. So the land does belong to the state of Nevada, that’s why the county is involved with grazing permits although the BLM manages the land and enforces federal protections concerning the desert tortoise.

    You’ll probably say that Bundy forfeited his avenues of redress when he refused to sign a grazing permit that would effectively reduce his herd to 150 head on the allotment in lieu of his ongoing court battle. But that’s the catch 22 about that permit, if you sign it you are basically contradicting any objection you might have.

    I’d say your article reveals that you are being disingenuous about the events that have taken place. Clive Bundy wasn’t an “outlaw”, as you have put it, until the federal government decided to declare the desert tortoise endangered and through a maze of bureaucratic edicts found a way to force him into an untenable position. They did the same thing to every other rancher in the area and now we have a very volatile situation that will probably wind up getting some people hurt or killed. Hopefully the government doesn’t force his hand because I don’t think he, or the people supporting him are bluffing.

    • Thank you for your opinion. I think Cliven Bundy is an outlaw or worse. My piece was on the facts that I could actually find – on Bundy. This piece is not about Harry Reid, land deals, or solar panels. I am certain that Harry Reid has connections, as do most people within their sphere of influence. He is a Senator, I am sure his sphere is pretty big. Furthermore, you say that Harry Reid put forth legislation on the land in 2010! So what? Bundy lost his “rights” to the land in 1993. It was more than a decade later. But even if Reid had succeeded, he may have had environmentalists on his back over it. It was about more than just the land. Bundy was not taking care of his cattle, they were destroying cultural and historical artifacts, roaming clear outside of the grazing area, and further, they were trespassing. As for the other ranchers, I never said the other ranchers were “fine” with it, only that they accepted it and got paid. We all struggle in this world sir. There are no guarantees – for anyone, including ranchers. Many people are struggling to survive. Can they all raise up arms against the government? Is that really your answer? It’s Mr. Bundy’s. Mr. Bundy may not have liked his options, but he did have a choice, and he decided to break the law. Would you like to argue that point? As far as them not bluffing, you are probably right, though I think they will be the ones who pay for it. It is a dangerous and reckless “western” game they are playing and I am fairly certain they will lose.

      • “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” John F. Kennedy

      • “Listen, I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.”

        whoa, where’d that come from? Just had a crazy dream sequence after reading your reply…

        Anyway, the facts you could actually find – on Bundy? Hmmm. The facts you could find on Bundy? Well, that explains it! You didn’t feel as if including pertinent facts about what would drive a man to risk everything on the only lively-hood he’s known for sixty years. Facts that point to a motive not so altruistic such as the desert tortoise but that are rooted in a more sinister motive, GRAFT. Pretty convenient leaving that out.

        I find your research questionable, your threats empty and your facts, spurious, sparse and skewed!

        Good day, Madam!

        (picture’s cute though)

      • Okay, lovely lady. Here is a link:

        http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/142231/sun-sets-in-vegas

        Here is an excerpt from that link:

        “Along with their sister Janie, Danny and Susan voted on Aug. 7 to end the Sun’s 23-year-old joint operating agreement with the Review-Journal—the only thing keeping the paper afloat—in exchange for ownership of the lasvegas.com domain, through which their family-owned holding company, the Greenspun Corporation, already sells travel bookings and show tickets.

        Brian Greenspun cast the lone dissenting vote. In an interview, he said the real villain in the story is his family’s lifelong nemesis, the Review-Journal, currently owned by Stephens Media, the target of his suit. In Greenspun’s view, Stephens Media cannot legally sever its JOA with the Sun because it amounts to a breach of its contract with the Las Vegas public. “It’s easy to gloss over that for all kinds of people because they’d much rather get into the soap opera part of it to the extent that there is any soap opera,” Brian Greenspun said.

        But the soap opera matters, because the family’s dispute will affect the whole of Las Vegas—and puts hundreds of jobs in sudden jeopardy. Greenspun knows as well as anybody that the Sun wouldn’t be on the brink of closure if his siblings hadn’t voted to take the deal offered by Stephens Media. (Janie Greenspun Gale and Susan Fine could not be reached for comment; Danny Greenspun declined to be interviewed.) And, in a state where the political landscape features casino mogul and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, Greenspun—a Georgetown pal of Bill Clinton’s and longtime ally of Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, currently the Senate Majority Leader—has provided a Democratic bulwark against the domination of the staunchly conservative Review-Journal.

        “My dad spent a lot of time and effort and resources he didn’t have and a lot of aggravation doing whatever he could to save and grow the Las Vegas Sun,” Greenspun said. “He did it because he thought it was the right thing to do for his community and his family. So, you tell me how he would be feeling.”

        Here is another Link:

        http://www.ralstonreports.com/blog/reids-son-withdraws-great-newspaper-war#.U1_4wKJQbws

        Here is an excerpt from that Link:

        “Leif Reid, whose father is the Senate majority leader, withdrew today as Las Vegas Sun Publisher/Editor Brian Greenspun’s lawyer in his suit against the Review-Journal’s parent company.

        Harry Reid’s son also is asking the court to seal his reasons for withdrawing, saying the judge has “broad discretion” to seal documents. Brian Greenspun still retains the services of Joe Alioto, a San Francisco lawyer.”

        Lovely lady, it is not nice to provide a source in defense of your position that is so openly and declaratively biased in regard to the subject we are discussing. Namely: Harry Reid. This rag has been a tool of his for decades. Although it may not be if it survives the family dust up since sources say that Harry Reid may have given approval for the dissolution by the withdrawal of HIS SON, Leif Reid, as lead attorney.

        My God woman, other people have access to information too you know!

        My work is done here.

        (I still think it’s a cute pic; if not for the Obama pose, much cuter)

      • Something to think about. Thanks for the links and info. I will look into it more. Thank goodness other people have access to information too – there is not enough time in the day to research it all. Have a nice day.

      • Didn’t have a reply button on your last post. I get the hint. Just wanted to say, it was a pleasant way for you to end the conversation about a very divisive topic; it was a refreshing change. I understand now you are a person of integrity. Consider this merely a kind acknowledgment of your professionalism. I apologize if I might have come across in a rude way at any time during our exchange. All the best, lovely lady.

      • Oops! Reply button fail. Disregard first two sentences, pocket the rest. DH out…..

  1. Pingback: Nevada Members Bundy vs BLM - Page 2 - TundraTalk.net - Toyota Tundra Discussion Forum

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