Click here for conservative commentator Dana Loesch’s look at the history of the Bundy Ranch confrontation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Cliven Bundy reckons he had access to federal lands that predates BLM supervision. At some point he didn’t pay the BLM grazing fees for his cattle – but did pay the State of Nevada an unspecified amount. And then endangered turtles entered the scene. And maybe something about fracking. And political favors. I still don’t understand what this “range war” is all about. Can someone please explain what’s at stake and why militias are deploying on Bundy land? Meanwhile, here’s Shiree Bundy Cox’s explanation of the kerfuffle . . .

Post from Shiree Bundy.

I have had people ask me to explain my dad’s stance on this BLM fight. Here it is in as simple of terms as I can explain it. There is so much to it, but here it [i]s in a nut shell.

My great grandpa bought the rights to the Bunkerville allotment back in 1887 around there. Then he sold them to my grandpa who then turned them over to my dad in 1972. These men bought and paid for their rights to the range and also built waters, fences and roads to assure the survival of their cattle, all with their own money, not with tax dollars.

These rights to the land use is called preemptive rights. Some where down the line, to keep the cows from over grazing, came the bureau of land management. They were supposed to assist the ranchers in the management of their ranges while the ranchers paid a yearly allotment which was to be use to pay the BLM wages and to help with repairs and improvements of the ranches.

My dad did pay his grazing fees for years to the BLM until they were no longer using his fees to help him and to improve. Instead they began using these money’s against the ranchers. They bought all the rest of the ranchers in the area out with they’re own grazing fees. When they offered to buy my dad out for a penance he said no thanks and then fired them because they weren’t doing their job. He quit paying the BLM but, tried giving his grazing fees to the county, which they turned down.

So my dad just went on running his ranch and making his own improvements with his own equipment and his own money, not taxes. In essence the BLM was managing my dad out of business. Well when buying him out didn’t work, they used the endangered species card. You’ve already heard about the desert tortoise.

Well that didn’t work either, so then began the threats and the court orders, which my dad has proven to be unlawful for all these years. Now their desperate. It’s come down to buying the brand inspector off and threatening the County Sheriff. Everything their doing at this point is illegal and totally against the constitution of the United States of America.

Now you may be saying,” how sad, but what does this have to do with me?” Well, I’ll tell you. They will get rid of Cliven Bundy, the last man standing on the Bunkerville allotment and then they will close all the roads so no one can ever go on it again. Next, it’s Utah’s turn. Mark my words, Utah is next. Then there’s the issue of the cattle that are at this moment being stolen. See even if dad hasn’t paid them, those cattle do belong to him.

Regardless where they are they are my fathers property. His herd has been part of that range for over a hundred years, long before the BLM even existed. Now the Feds think they can just come in and remove them and sell them without a legal brand inspection or without my dad’s signature on it. They think they can take them over two boarders, which is illegal, ask any trucker. Then they plan to take them to the Richfeild Auction and sell them. All with our tax money. They have paid off the contract cowboys and the auction owner as well as the Nevada brand inspector with our tax dollars. See how slick they are? Well, this is it in a nut shell. Thanks”

Shiree Bundy Cox

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81 Responses to Question of the Day: What is the Bundy Ranch “Range War” About?

  1. If what I’ve heard about the land being used for a Chinese solar power facility I’m not happy. Frankly I don’t trust the Chinese and do not understand anybody that does. It has nothing to do with race and everything with the super power they’ve become.

    • That is the deal that Harry Reid went to China on our taxpayer money to put his cajoling behind the deal and is son Rory is the lawyer representing the Chinese company to come build their factory on the property being grazed by Bundy’s cattle. Also, there is the element of oil and gas being discovered in the area and the veins though to go right through the grazing lands.

      The BLM has extorted the 53 other ranchers out of business, and the Bundys are the very last in southern Nevada.

    • Many people do not understand what the United States is about. First of all they do not understand why we revolted against the British. My family has been here way before the revolution. It has to do with freedom and democracy. There is one way to solve the BLM problem. SELL ALL THE BLM controlled LAND !!!!!!
      This will do three things. 1. It will diminish our national debt.
      2. It will lower taxes on real estate.
      3. It will get the land into the hands of the U.S. citizens
      where it belongs and eminate gov. communistic ownership.

      Study how the Russian farms and ranches work where the state (fed. Gov) was the owner.
      There is way less incentive to work, they generally produce much smaller amounts.
      When a citizen owns property and works the land, this gives him the GOD given pride
      of working the land and being a real American.

    • So… are the now unlawful owners of assault weapons in CT just bitter old mean for ignoring the law? How about the 900,000 owners of such weapons facing felonies in NY if they don’t register them in the next three days? I guess they are just dopes for not complying with a law that is blatantly wrong, too, huh? I mean the law’s the law, right? Anyone who ignores unjust laws is a drop-dead loser, right? is that your point?

      Because your comment clearly demonstrates you have no idea what the issues are involving federal overreach in public lands in the West. Summing up 100 years of mostly stupid legal wrangling on behalf of the feds around land use, water and grazing rights by saying this event is only about a bitter old man abusing “our” lands is inane and frankly stupid.

    • Why “Bitter old white guy” when “bitter old guy” would have probably sufficed ?

    • There are separate issues in the Bundy matter which should not be rolled into one. While Cliven Bundy may have erred in his choice of action in anger at shifting federal policies impacting a hard-pressed ranching area, there is some evidence that the BLM and the Park Service, together with their supporters on the two coasts, have been driving their own interest in converting ranch land into recreation and nature preserve uses, gaining political support from those wishing to push and profit from development just outside the zones pursued by the naturists. There is a bit of “tag-team wrestlling” apparent in the Virgin River Valley and adjacent BLM allotments, in which development interests and naturists cooperate to push aside the ranchers. They both consider ranching an “unfortunate” legacy use of “beautiful space” which some of the developers would not mind, nonetheless, sheathing in solar panels and mirrors. Such is their respect for the land.

      A party led by Jedidiah Smith was first among European Americans to come across The Virgin River. The river and its valley have become a favorite of the naturists, and the river became Utah’s first “Wild and Scenic River.” Ring a bell? The river arises in Dixie National Forest Utah. The Bundy’s land lies along the lower reaches of the river not far north from where it forms the northern arm of Lake Mead.

      In a region in which “prior appropriation water rights” is the norm, there certainly are interested parties who would just as well see the prior appropriator (first putting the water to beneficial use) slowly squeezed out of business.

      For my part I would like to see some history of 1991-1995 in the valley ranching conditions. I cannot understand why Bundy did not hold the lease despite the 150 head restriction, while fighting that restriction in court. I will point out that the Federal buy-out of the other 50 leases indicates to me that they would not, in the terms of the lease, allow the former lease holders, by definition water rights holders, to transfer any of those rights to Bundy. I’m sure he knew it. I’m sure it made him angry, and rightfully so, because the buyout obviously crushed the ranching ecosystem in the valley, raising costs on Bundy.

      I don’t know who his attorney was in 1993. If he had one, I doubt he followed the lawyer’s advice. Don’t blame the lawyers!

    • COMMENT MODERATED

      This does, as a matter of incontrovertible fact, have everything to do with Harry Reid and his get-rich quick scheme to illegally sell off land that doesn’t belong to the State of Nevada or the federal government make way for a Chinese solar farm and solar panel manufacturing planet.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/31/us-usa-china-reid-solar-idUSBRE87U06D20120831

      Those “laws” that Clyven Bundy has been rightfully disobeying, because he won in several state and federal court cases over them, aren’t even “laws” at all. That being said, he had zero obligation to abide by them, and BLM is stealing his cattle and destroying his private property.

      COMMENT MODERATED

      • That article points out that the land for the solar farm has been purchased, and is south of Las Vegas. I’ve seen people screaming about it, and I’m no fan of Harry Reid, but the proposed solar farm is no where near Bundy’s old allotment or the farm he owns. It isn’t within 30 miles.

        • true. the article does however say that the land was purchased far below its appraised value when the county wanted it leased.

    • Bill, you’re an idiot. You have no idea of what you speak. Watch MSNBC, CNN, CBS, and ABC less.

    • Bill you are whats wrong with this country. The go along to get along bow down and kiss your government’s rear. We need more men like Bundy. the Feds have abused their limited authority for too long.

      Now think, had the Founding Fathers had your attitude, where would you be now?

      But more important is the County Sheriff needs to do what the constitution gives him the right to do; Throw the Feds out.

      Hope you love your enslavement Bill cause if the Feds succeed the best (for you and your ilk) is yet to come

    • I checked out YOUR link. I’ll bet you don’t have the courage to invest 11 minutes in watching THIS one:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSEa-Z9SAqU
      I’ll expect you to PROVE you did by discussing it in an intelligent fashion, and that means MORE than insults and ridicule. It means to prove by your words that you actually watched it, by rational discourse. What do you say, are you up for the challenge?
      If you won’t, I still reccomend it for everyone else who wishes to know what is REALLY going on in nevada right now. Yes, NOW. This is not over yet…

  2. Short version: The federal government should subdidize my for-profit ranching business by giving me and my descendents exclusive use of public land at below market rates forever.

    • I hear this sort of nonsense coming from city slickers all the time.

      OK, instead of parroting the lines of some environmental group, tell us what “market rates” for grazing on the ground are?

      Go ahead and show us some math.

      • You say you know a whole bunch about this stuff, so it should be real easy for you to say what BLM wanted Bundy to pay and what the market rental rate for comparable land is. I have no idea what the market rates are, but I do know the federal government subsidizes logging, ranching, mining, and oil through sweet heart land lease deals. In my opinion it should all stop.

        I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts the Bundies have drawn more milk off the public teat than three families in section 8 housing drawing food stamps. If Bundy could get a better deal somewhere else, I bet he’d take it. It takes a good dose of hypocrisy to villainize the whole federal government when what you really want amounts to money from the taxpayers. Is there some validity in the Bundies’ historic use of the land, preferring ranching to pull, etc. Sure, but that doesn’t mean there’s not more than one valid easy to look at this.

        • In fact I do know how grazing rates are set – and they’re set according to market rates for how much feed exists per acre.

          Which isn’t much.

          City slickers look at a piece of lush pasture on private land with some cows on it, and they try to convince themselves that piece of pasture is no different than the grazing on “public lands.” Well… it is quite different.

          What I find hilarious are the city slickers who tout your line about “subsidies” to all these private industries, but then you turn a blind eye to the costs (purely the monetary costs, never mind the hundreds of lives lost in the last 20 years) in fighting fires on “public lands” where all this “government subsidy of private interests” have been removed. The costs of the fire fighting utterly dwarf any “subsidy” that is given in terms of rates that aren’t high enough to satisfy you.

        • So, the Bundy family buys grazing rights in 1877 from the State of Nevada, which owns the land. Those rights came with responsibilities: said family had to build and manage roads, develop water resources, install fences and other general improvements in the land required by for commercial use. They did that on their dime. The Bundy family then paid fees to Clarke County and to the State of Nevada. This continues for the odd hundred years and then the BLM enters the picture.

          The BLM says that the fees should go to them as they have assumed control of the land as in its land management capacity. The BLM can be very good stewards of public lands. At other times, not so much. So Bundy pays the BLM for a time until he grasps the essential truth: the BLM doesn’t want him ranching that land. They have, in fact, forced over 90 other ranchers to close up shop and move on in Clarke County alone. I wonder if that is because the federal government is such a great manager of complex things like, I don’t know, rolling out signature healthcare laws.

          Oddly, while all this is going on, the total percentage of federally owned lands in Nevada keeps increasing. They don’t buy the land. They claim it. The State of Nevada has to play ball of course, but they do because if they don’t federal dollars disappear. So all the other ranchers are gone. The land is now not under use. So the feds claim it. Hmm… then somehow, in many other places in Nevada, where unused lands ended up as federal government assets, those same assets somehow end up in the hands of commercial developers building subdivisions.

          So rancher says screw you to the BLM and attempts to pay the same fees his family have paid for over a century to the local and state land management agencies. Those agencies refuse. The BLM is the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to land management in the West and this caving into federal power is common in every western state.

          This situation is a lot more complex than most people grasp. Public land use and policy in the West is a heck of a lot more complicated than somebody sucking off a federal teat.

        • Just some info to throw on the fire: Federal grazing fees have long been a fraction of market rates for similar private lands.
          From the BLM website:
          “The Federal grazing fee, which applies to Federal lands in 16 Western states on public lands managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, is adjusted annually and is calculated by using a formula originally set by Congress in the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978. Under this formula, as modified and extended by a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM); also, any fee increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level. (An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.) The grazing fee for 2014 is $1.35 per AUM, the same level as it was in 2013.”
          http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/grazing.html
          AUM = Animal Unit Month, that, is the amount of forage need to carry one Animal Unit (variously defined, but usually about 1,000 pounds of animal biomass) for one month, about equal to 760 pounds of air-dry forage.
          Market rates for private grazing land can range up to and beyond $30 per AUM. There is going to be a discount for how dispersed the forage is (stock has to walk further to find a day’s feed on low-productivity rangelands, meaning they have to eat more or perform at a lower level.)
          The fact is, however, it would be difficult to establish a true market rate for Clarke County, Nev., or probably anywhere in Nevada as there are no comparable large blocks of privately owned rangelands with which to compare federal fees.
          The issue of below-market federal grazing fees has been investigated numerous times, including by Society for Range Management task forces. The conclusion has invariably been that the only way to establish a “market rate” for federal grazing lands is to auction off the rights to allotments for a reasonable time period, say at least 10 years to allow a useful planning horizon to the grazers.
          It is also a fact that livestock grazing in the Great Basin is extremely difficult to do “right,” because the desert ecosystems have no evolutionary history of grazing by herds of large herbivores (no buffalo). This is in contrast to the Great Plains (the column of states from Texas to North Dakota), where the majority of U.S. range-based beef-cow grazing takes place.

        • Bingo. There’s no comparing the grazing rates set by the BLM to “comparable” private lands because in Nevada, there aren’t any comparable private lands.

          In other states, the grazing fees are different on BLM lands (ie, higher), because there are a) state grazing lands and b) private lands, from whence comparisons can be drawn.

          Nevada and the “public lands” therein should be reviewed for how the government will act when they control everything. Executive summary answer: “Stupid, that’s how.”

        • I find the logic difficult to follow here. Whatever can be said, we know that the federal grazing fees in Nevada are very low. We know they are below the costs incurred in Nevada by BLM. We know that the grazing lease exclusivity system was implemented to make ranching profitable again, not to profit the federal government. It was for the benefit of the ranchers, subject only to this, that the ranchers’ cattle herds would be subject to restriction if the land showed over-grazing stress. In Nevada there’s lots of over-grazing stress, naturally. Nothing in the foregoing seems unfair or justifies not paying the grazing fee. Frankly, Bundy would have been much smarter to pay the fee for the 150 cattle, push the limit on it, and deal with that administrative battle. He was, after all, primarily a melon farmer until the prices for beef started to rise significantly. No one else in the country (outside of some NYC bankers) is allowed to shrug off a federal fee or tax and pretend nothing happened. I only know one person in the inter-mountain region cattle business. The ranching is owned by his family here in Philadelphia, but my childhood friend is out there running it. He pays his fees. It seems to me that rejecting a buyout offer AND refusing to pay grazing fees is demanding to have your cake and eat it too. And foolish, as well, from a legal point of view.

          Bundy’s claims in court were that the federal government didn’t really own the land. That’s simply rubbish. What’s more, his family moved to the valley at some time after 1874, and long after the federal claim to the land was established fact. It was no surprise or problem for his ancestors, and no surprise to Cliven. Certainly there is a large risk involved to set up ranching entirely on federal land, with no options nearby and no capital to relocated. But that is the risk homesteaders knowingly took when they set up farming (not ranching) in the Virgin River Valley, but then expanded into ranching on federal land, first in Open Range, then, willingly, in exclusive allotments of grazing lease.

        • really really short version: government is supposed to be by the people, for the people, and the facts in recent years point to abuse of power.

          it looks like the BLM and its activities started out based on the people’s needs. but once an organisation has so much power, it gets very tempting for those in control to use it to their advantage.

          the only solution is transparency.

    • TT, you are so wrong on this one. Nothing involving public land use in the West is this simple. I say “in the West” because there is no parallel in the eastern states. None. Your comment presupposes the in fact the Feds “own” the land, which is not the case (well, not so much in Nevada because the Feds own about 94% of it through a wide range of highly dubious claims).

      The BLM does not, in fact, own the public lands Bundy ranches on. That land is still owned by the State of Nevada. In that case, the BLM functions as land managers. Sadly, this is most frequently the entry point into a long slide of the land sliding out of the public trust into private ownership of developers and others. This is, indeed, how the Feds ended up owning 94% of Nevada. But even as I write that I am drastically over-simplifying the whole issue. It is a rats nest of legal wranging, competing public vs. private interests, and fundamental conflicts between states and federal rights.

      • Personally I’m amazed at all the people from the east coast who have never lived or worked in nature in a western desert state that are now suddenly experts on western water rights and land use litigation – who knew there was such a market for this knowledge on the east coast? /sarc

        • Don’t get me started.

          The other thing that really winds me up are the horse-besotted women from cities (esp. back east) who want to carp about “over grazing of public lands” but then want the BLM to leave all the “pretty mustangs” alone.

          Want to see rangeland that’s been hammered to dust? Look at some of the HMA’s where the horse numbers are 5 to 10X the AML.

        • And because of those bleedy heart women worrying about the pretty mustangs they suffer from a lot of terrible diseases due to the closed genetic system. That and the horses are generally worthless for riding even after being trained because of their bad conformation caused again by the close genetic system.

        • Mina, some of the mustangs no longer resemble horses. In Nevada, they’re called “Hammer Heads” and they have horrible conformation. Big knobby knees, stubby legs, a big, long head with a Roman-esque nose, their bodies are short through the barrel, etc. They’re flat-out ugly.

          But the truth is that the horse herds reproduce at a growth rate of 17%+ per year. In five to six seasons, they’ll double in size unless there is a really hard winter or the BLM does a gather.

        • That’s bull. Some of the best scholarship on western water and land law has been done by east-coast law school scholars. What I find much more laughable is all the arguments which completely ignore western water-rights and land law, finding a mystical right to graze without paying…when the family moved to the valley to farm, not raise cattle, and moved into cattle raising, eagerly joining other ranchers in ending the open range system that broke the ranchers, happily trading that for a system of exclusive grazing rights for a nominal fee.

          I find the comments sympathetic to Bundy very uninformed about the history of the grazing lease system. I wouldn’t fault easterners for that. Water rights conflicts are found everywhere in agriculture, in all parts of the country. The problems vary of course.

          The “Mesta” system brought to cattle ranching from Spain via Mexico launched (or grounded) the culture of the open range grazing system. The system didn’t work because of greed, rancher greed. Ranchers understood that and willingly pursued a change. They got it. Cliven doesn’t like it. So? It really is that simple. Cliven didn’t have a ‘right’ to expand into other land whose leases had been bought out. I’m sure he feels aggrieved. Again, so? It isn’t a lack of knowledge that burdens the case. It is the possession of knowledge which just ain’t so. But Cliven still has a chance to use politics to improve his lot, when the law does not suffice.

    • TT: You may not agree with Bundy’s method of expressing his anger at BLM’s actions in 1993-94, but I think you are overlooking what actually happened. The BLM decreased Bundy’s head-of-cattle permission to 150 from (I am told) 600, claiming this was justified by apparent over-grazing, together with some ecological concerns about the Desert Tortoise.

      But look at what was really going on: The BLM bought out the leases of 50 of the 51 ranchers in the valley. You can assume what this meant was that the grazing pressure of 50 ranches in the valley disappeared almost overnight. But there’s more: The terms of the buyout required that the prior appropriation water rights revert to the BLM, the federal government. The leases and water rights acquisition were not made available to Cliven Bundy to maintain, let alone expand, the scale of his cattle ranching. At once the government reduced his head-of-cattle permission to 150, simultaneously not allowing him to acquire abandoned neighboring rights to at least an extent that would allow him to stay in ranching economically. And for what? So the government could protect tortoises? That notion fails the least scrutiny.

      The government was systematically, and with your tax money, putting an end to ranching in the valley. Next stop? Federal conversion of the entire Virgin River watershed, from Utah to Lake Mead, into “Scenic and Wild River,” so that the Desert Tortoise and Southwestern Willow Fly Catcher can enjoy a bit more leg room. Wouldn’t such an endeavor on the federal government’s part require major support from the politicians in Nevada, Clark County, Las Vegas? Yes. Do we have any indication that the major politician in the state, Senator Harry Reid, approves of the federal pursuit? It isn’t clear. Perhaps if he and his family don’t get something out of the deal, he’ll no longer support the push. Get my drift? But more likely Washington, the administration, has lots to offer the Reids to keep them on board. It’s just the same old story, isn’t it? The goals and self-interest of remote elites push yet another little guy out of business, for the profit of some and the recreational indulgence of others. It may well be an American shame.

  3. I continue to be underwhelmed by our federal government and their heavy-handed dealings. Kudos to a Clive Bundy for standing up to another government agency using monies for ridiculous political purposes instead of we the people.

    Federal government land belongs to we the people. Don’t blindly accept government control at any level. We desperately need less government and more freedom, and I hope that this showdown can help in that direction. Some laws actually are for safety, like DUI or blowing a red light at 30 mph. Many laws these days are simply about control, like requiring taxpayers to use reduced capacity magazines. Some laws are simply an unholy abomination, like Jim Crowe, slavery, and Obamacare.

  4. The history of grazing rights in the west is so complicated that it takes hours of teaching people the history of the west, the tramp sheepmen and the sheep vs. cattle wars of 100 years ago to give some insight into how/why the Taylor Grazing Act came into being. This isn’t the first time guns have come into these things. Look back to see the wars (with guns) of cattlemen vs. sheepmen, and how, several times, cattlemen have shot hundreds of sheep and then shot the sheepman too, just for good measure.

    Then look at the Johnson County War of 1892 here in Wyoming for more evidence of what happens when grazing and water come under pressure from other interests.

    The whole thing is more complicated than people outside the area can comprehend, and as a result, they stupidly think a) the government has ‘clean hands’ in this matter (they don’t) and b) that “public lands” have no private property rights attached to them (which is how the BLM and the government want people to think about “public lands”).

    All this is true well before you get to Harry Reid’s involvement in the matter. Most people here on TTAG can probably agree that Reid is a shifty little POS, but until you’ve met and talked to the man in person as I have, you really don’t appreciate what a sociopathic liar and fraud he is. Reid has been enriching himself on “public land” deals for the last 20 years, and pulling deals where section after section of “public land” is cut loose from the BLM inventory in Clark County for use by his developer buddies at the same time Reid, the BLM and “environmentalists” (another bunch of frauds and liars WRT most anything going on in the west) used policy and sleights of hand to push a rancher in northern Nevada out of business and the BLM takes in said rancher’s private lands and water rights to offset the “loss” to development of the “public lands” that Reid cut loose from the BLM in Clark County.

    • DG, there really is the appearance of an unholy alliance between Reid/Las Vegas and the naturists. What is curious is to be familiar not only with the history of western ranching but of eastern money. So many of those who support the ever-expanding conversion of the Inter-Mountain west to nature preserve are the direct financial heirs, the rich, who profited from what are now abandoned factories, refineries, mills, and warehouses that litter the eastern cities, as well as Detroit, Flint, and others.

      The locking up of the west is essentially supported by the votes and money of those whose money came, in large part, from devastating the decaying parts of eastern and great-lakes cities, leaving the wreckage abandoned after extracting what profit they could. That really does bring in a note of irony to the thing.

  5. The tortoises were never in danger from the cattle. In fact, cattle and other grazing animals actually help process the rough forage of the area into manure that serves as a valuable source of nutrition for the desert tortoise.

    https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/rangelands/article/viewFile/10776/10049

    “Summary and Conclusions
    The historical record shows that:
    1. Desert tortoises have coexisted with cattle for 300
    years in California and Mexico and at least 100 years
    elsewhere.
    2. The highest tortoise densities known occurred at a
    time when overgrazing by livestock was the severest ever
    known.
    3. The fewer the cattle on a range, the fewer the number of tortoises.
    4. Excluding cattle for many years endangers the tor-
    toise population.”

    • Wait, wsa it Desert Turtle, or Red Herring? I forget. Something tells me they are related. Saving the Red Herring is S.O.P for the Feds as they seize lands or regulate enemies out of business.

    • I think the naturists have given up on the Desert Tortoise as their source of great legitimacy. The Southwestern Willow Fly-Catcher, a bird, is the new favorite. Why should the settling families, the ranchers, get to occupy land a charming little bird would make use of? Such are the values today of the people who live and vote on the coasts, but enjoy the prospect of flying in for a few days’ ramble in the west’s great natural settings, constructed by crushing the dreams and livelihoods of the people who actually live there. Harry Reid could probably give the ranchers advice, such as “move to Vegas and sell yourself. Work a burger joint. But just get out of my f’g way, because there’s money to be made…by me.”

  6. It’s about Federal power vs. State authority and one man’s attempts to run a business between these two conflicting interests. The way it’s supposed to work is that state and federal interests are supposed to “manage” public resources such that endangered species are protected, the land’s resources are used sustainably, and that the public (read as the government) is compensated for one person’s use of the public’s property. In practice it doesn’t work that way. There’s a long and ongoing conflict between the states and the federal government over who is responsible for what realist ate and by extension who gets to regulate/tax that land. At the federal level, it comes down to hording power, getting paid and advancing political agendas—most recently the environmentalist ideals of eliminating as much human impact to the land as possible. If you think about it it’s incredibly stupid to charge grazing rights for land to protect the desert whatchamacallit. If the species is threatened by ranching, then its threatened whether the rancher pays a fee or not. Whether the government should be in the business of prioritizing species interests over that of citizens is an entirely different question. At the state level, government wants to build business, get taxes, and maintain its control over public resources.
    The net affect is that a rancher has to navigate a twisted path between conflicting government groups who all want to maintain control of land, resources, and to get their cut of his earnings.
    As I understand it, this guy got tired of everyone coming over and taking his lunch money for “managing” the land his family has used for decades. From his perspective he was the only person “managing” the land. Everyone else was just making sure that they extorted as much money from the process as possible. Now he owes the Federal government over a million dollars in back fees. The feds, tired of fighting a 20 year legal battle in which he refused to lie down despite multiple court losses, finally decided to make an example of him, shake him down for as much as they could manage, and reclaim water and land control in the process. The feds feel justified in taking action and the law is on their side. The rancher is sick of paying nameless agencies for the right to do something his family has been doing for generations—especially given that they seem to want ever more money but give nothing back in the relationship. That’s my take on it anyway.

    • MD, that’s quite a good summary of the problem. Remote from the west, I wonder at this, that the BLM has built up a very large staff permanently on the tax-payer dime, to manage lands into entirely new uses under the guidance of the moment’s party-in-power. Certainly it doesn’t pay, as the BLM has acknowledged.

      If I were a cynic, I’d assume the BLM and its acolytes looked at the gift Bundy had given them and had an epiphany: “This SOB’s fighting us, but he’s let his lease go. Let’s just come back in fifteen or twenty years, whenever the administration is one that likes our goal here, and evict him. His back fees and our costs will let us hand him a bill he can’t afford to pay. He won’t even have his 160 acres on the river by the time we’re done with him!” Not so far fetched really. If Cliven had the money for some first rate massive lawyering, he could probably find through “liberal discovery” the smoking gun emails to back up such a supposition. He may have even had that possibility under the federal FOA. He didn’t use it. He doesn’t have it, so he won’t.

      • Yes, well that is kind of the problem. We don’t know what is really going on, the media and face book posts not withstanding. As DG pointed out earlier, the BLM and state governments and various Federal departments have long held an incestuous commingling of taxation and influence. Even if good old Harry didn’t foment this conflict in order to clear the way for a Chinese solar plant and further line his pockets, I have a real problem with the way the Federal government handled this situation. I also have a problem with the lack of real opposition the state government posed. I honestly don’t care whether this was about water rights, foreign investors, some supposedly endangered creature, or just a plane old contract violation. Multiple arrests for clearly pretextual reasons? Intimidating and confrontational tactics over what amounts to a hundred year old tradition of where, not whether, cows will graze? If the man did wrong, then arrest him and let justice do its work. If not, then get out of the way. What we saw here was blatant policy mismanagement backed up with inappropriate and inflamitory action. I am very interested in seeing what the new terms are. I am also very interested in seeing what, if any, steps are taken after the truck loads of protesters are gone.
        The larger issue is that government is clearly playing favorites with who and what gets use of “public” resources—often to the benefit of those in power. In my mind the BLM exceeded their mandate. The very fact that no charges have been pressed proves to me that something is ripe in Denmark. That’s not to say that I would have assumed the rancher was guilty if charged, just that when the feds have a case, they usually do a full court press. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this matter.

    • For the most part, I’ve argued with several others that Bundy is wrong, but the post from his daughter helped me understand that it’s more than just refusal to pay grazing fees. This comment (from Out_Fang_Thief) makes a lot of sense.

  7. Mr. Bundy may very well be in the wrong.
    But…
    I feel the rallying cry for Oath Keepers and Militia alike is simple.
    Heavy handed military tactics from our federal government is unacceptable.
    Mr. Bundy refused to back down, heck he might have been stirring the pot too, but this is no excuse for snipers, and MRAPS etc.
    I have felt this for some time now, this country is now a powder keg. Many are upset. Some are looking for a reason.
    Is it worth dying over 900 cows? Probably not, but we need to look at the larger context. Do we want to continue to live in a society of shelter in place, swat teams, and heavy handed tactics for anything and everything?
    Today it looks as though the BLM and DHS are standing down, but… What will happen tomorrow, or a week from now.
    If not Mr. Bundy then some other incident.
    We can debate the legal case of Mr. Bundy till the cows come home, but the bottom line is we the people have had enough of the police state tactics, spying, and financial targeting of individuals and groups that do not subscribe to the group think message.
    If this is any foreshadowing, imagine what would the response be if Cuomo or Omalley were to try some heavy handed tactics of their own.

    • I don’t believe Mr. Bundy was in the wrong.

      Other than that, I wholeheartedly agree. The tactics of the government are heavy handed. SWAT raids have gone up to an unacceptable rate, and for ridiculous reasons. We need to vote for politicians who are currently fighting for limited government such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. I fear what will happen if this nation is collectively dumb enough to elect Hillary in 2016 because “it’s about time we have a woman in there.” I will never vote for her simply because her incompetence is available for all to see. Unfortunately, many aren’t looking, or simply lack the ability to understand the lies behind campaign promises. For the record, I simply do not care about the race or gender of the president. The office is simply too important for an affirmative action mindset.

      I want a president who will protect and defend the constitution. A leader who will understands a limited government accountable to the people, a balanced federal budget, and maximizes the freedom of the people. On those counts, the current man is clearly a failure. Many here have been saying that the government – and particularly the federal government – is more concerned about controlling and taxing us than serving us. I agree.

      And when our politicians fail us, there is still the will of the people. We saw and impressive display of solidarity of the Bundy family and friends. I wonder if TTAG could muster such support if that dreadful day ever came.

      On the other hand, many have also said that it is impossible to stand up to the federal government. Laws are laws, and we must always abide by them whether they are good or bad. Perhaps this isn’t the forum for those who are incapable of independent thought, and who parrot the justifications of the liberal progressive media without possessing facts or reason.

    • One of the more disturbing things is the revelation of just how many TTAG viewers have chimed in on other threads and suggested that since the man apparently didn’t follow the law, or was obstinate, that somehow it was perfectly understandable and justifiable for the Feds to go on a mass-murder spree. Snipers, Apaches, all that was acceptable. Oh, they didn’t say it exactly in those words, but that was the premise whether they knew it or not. After all, he escalated it (of course ignoring the blatant escalation the Feds were doing) and he broke The Law (overlooking the fact that the Government routinely breaks The Law or otherwise ignores it, or even picks and chooses which ones to enforce when it is convenient). How any person can get onto a message board and suggest it is perfectly OK and reasonable to expect Government to have a mass gathering and then mass murder citizens, and that was the only reasonable approach, is beyond sickening. Somehow we have to find a way to get people to see things through the lens of Liberty, and not through the lens of Government.

      • That’s something I find ironic as well.

        As I said on another thread: one of the reasons why I’m so uncharitable towards cops (and “law enforcement” in general) is that I’ve lived in LA, CA and I’ve seen the LAPD and LASD in action.

        Then I moved to Nevada and saw the BLM in action.

  8. Three cheers for Harry Reid — the most successful grifter in the history of the US. In comparison, Huey Long seems like a paragon of virtue.

    • Oh, the stories I could tell.

      The big difference between the Kingfisher and Reid is that Reid has been quite prolific of loin and then installed his spawn into every nook and cranny of the Clark County government. This has been essential to getting his way for 20+ years.

    • It’s actually rather unfortunate that otherwise decent people believe the worst that they’ve heard about Long. To quote Drew Pearson- who you have have heard of due to his later wranglings with Senator Joseph McCarthy:

      “He was a crook — but he had no money; a corrupt politician — but the cost of government is third-lowest in the country; a demagogue — but he kept his campaign promises; a hillbilly — but he had no racial prejudices; an ignoramus — but he ran a business administration; a dictator — but he broadened the suffrage; an opportunist — but he had ideals.”

      Funny how these things work out. One fails to see how a President Long could have been worse for America, and the world, than the evil tyrant Roosevelt.

  9. I see here a lot of people that support the federal government position in regards to the to ownership of land in states of the union.
    Article 1 section 8: “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
    Article 4 section 3: “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.”

    My question is how a state can actually exists if 86% of its territory is not under its jurisdiction?
    To me seems that when the western states were created out of the territories purchased by US they should have gain full ownership of the land within their borders.
    The US is a union of states. If the US owns so much land then then can they form another entity similar in size to some of the states? Can you be citizen of such entity? In my mind there should be no territory within the border of a state that not within their jurisdiction except the ones specified in A1 S8 above. When Nevada was accepted in the USA the congress failed to grant them the land (part of the deal was for the feds to continue to own large swats of land).
    If the state has more than 50% of its territory subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction does such a state actually exists? Should the borders be redrawn of such state?
    We pride ourselves of being for lesser federal government, yet the majority of us seems to support this large land ownership by the federal government.
    This is an old issue that affect the relationship between states and the federal government. See a good summary here: http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/crsreports/crsdocuments/RL34267_12032007.pdf

    While he may be in the wrong in relation to existing legislation it doesn’t mean that the existing legislation is a right one.
    The Congress should act and grant ownership to the states for the land within their borders.
    to me this whole affair it is indeed an issue of States vs federal government.

  10. I feel sorry for mr. Bundy and his family, but I don’t believe he is justified, and I don’t believe his cause should be conflated with second amendment rights. First of all, it is not his land, it is a lease.it doesn’t matter if mr. Bundy believes the BLM is mismanaging the land or not, he can’t pay someone else, or take the parts of the lease he likes, and discard the rest. It doesn’t matter if he built the road or the fences, he did get the use of this land for many years. I believe if you heard the dollar amount that ranchers pay per cow per acre, you would be screaming to get that deal for a cabin lot or hunting lease. As sad as it might be, the time of the cowboy and the small ranch is over for practical purposes.
    I personally am fortunate enough to hold a small lease with a government agency, I personally believe that it is too costly, that the agency is not a good manager, that it’s rules are whimsical and unfair, that the ever changing provisions of the lease are onerous to me and others. I understand the reality though, that I must pay the lease and comply with the regulations I am given. I also understand that the government may decide that it has another use for this property. I don’t like any of these things, but I have to live with them, as it is NOT my property, just as this is NOT mr bundys property.

  11. I will wait for a less biased appraisal of the facts. The courts are where disputes are settled, not in the press and not with threats of range wars. In fact when someone starts bellowing about starting a war with the government that tells me that they haven’t got a fact or law left to support their claims.

    • It is quite clear that the law is not on Bundy’s side. That is, in large part, due to the way he handled things in 93-94. But law is the handmaiden of politics, not the other way around. I consider it unfortunate that the politics angle being waged by Bundy has been given a militia coloration.

      It does seem this would have been a good case for re-invigorating the Sagebrush Rebellion movement, but the best forces, some of the successful ranchers, obviously could not be recruited due to the legal issues, the giving up of the lease back in 1993.

  12. The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot–Naomi Wolf (warning, she’s a lefty). Wolfe chronicles the development of fascism in our Republic to the present day. Fact is it is already here and actually in some ways in a late stage of development. We have been on this road since the end of the second war and there is no end in sight. Whatever the “apparent” issues are in Nevada the underlying struggle is between a free and democratic republic and an authoritarian state that wants to crush that free republic under its heel.

  13. In the American West, it is ALWAYS about water rights.
    There is money to be made by diverting water from ranchers and farmers to urban centers.

  14. Why do I suspect the BLM mgt is a bunch of citified urban elites. Darn few cowboys on the unit would be my suspicion

  15. Pretty obvious at this point that there are shady deals turning these wheels behind the scenes. I think Bundy made a mistake by not continuing to pay the grazing fees, but it seems that he was given a raw deal either way. Personally, I’d rather see a rancher make a living and keep a little piece of our national heritage alive than see a bunch of pretentious jackasses have a nice new subdivision to move into. A park adjacent to a working ranch is doable. It’s not about friggin’ turtles and we know it – that’s an obvious lie, and just the telling of that lie reveals something about the nature of our government. And it’s not pretty.

    Sadly, it still comes down to that damn land that he didn’t actually own. Maybe that was never feasible and he just didn’t see it coming, but this case illustrates that relying on the benevolence of the government is a mistake.

    The more I read of this, the more I understand Bundy’s point of view. I won’t go so far as to call him right, but I do sympathize with him.

  16. All the talk of Bundy being right or wrong ion his argument with the BLM is immaterial, and obfuscates the real point.
    Even accepting the BLM account as gospel, in what way does that justify the Feds suspension of the Constitution?
    Because, that is what they did

  17. When a politician wants something done, and doesn’t want his vote or name attached to it, they create and empower a Fedgov agency do the dirty work.

    The bigger picture is the Fedgov encroachment on states rights, something that started just after the turn of the previous century and the beginning of the industrial revolution. To their own discredit, the states willingly ceded state power to the Fedgov for some lucrative redistributed wealth from the income tax that they had codified with the 16th amendment. As it was, 1913 was a very bad year for America, and for our constitutional republic. It continues to this day, with the Bundy Ranch and the state Nevada vs. the Fedgov as the wake-up call. Maybe the states could eminent domain federally owned lands,…and kick THEM out.

    • Finally, someone who understands the situation and is willing to confront it.
      That could be easily done. The states are all sovereign. They can do whatever they want. The Sherriff is sovereign within his county. They can tell any fed to take a hike, just as Sheriff Mack, and many others, have done. All it requires is state and county officials with some guts who will not be intimidated, nor bought with pieces of paper created at no cost.
      Unfortunately such officials are in short supply. But there are more awakening each day. Sheriff Mack has sent a guide to every Sheriff in the US. More join all the time. So far none have departed. Why would they? What human doesn’t want to learn that his position is the ultimate power in his area, instead of a lackey to DC?

  18. Let’s see if the Feds (BLM) OWN the land over 80% of Nevada and not the state… draw me a map of the current State of Nevada. Or, draw a map of the whole United States…but only include the actual States (land they own). What is all that left over that is not part of the United States? 50 states + an ever growing Federal owned “state”? What exactly is it? It’s not a State but it’s part of the United States?

    I’m confused…I thought it was the United States of America with 50 states, and the Federal Government was a representation of all 50 states.

      • Hello fellow washingtonian.

        That was an interesting article. Quite a suprise concidering it’s from a place called “The Daily Sheeple.”

        Anyway, it sounds like that could be a legal leg to stand on. But that’s not the leg Bundy is standing on. Right now it just seems like he is saying he has right to the land, but he does not. No deed, no nothing.

        • TMBK he never claimed that. From what I read he said that he will gladly pay the grazing fee to Clark County (or state of Nevada) but not to the feds. Some rumors said that he even tried to do that in all these years. I can’t confirm.
          BTW, it seems that the feds also own 30% of our state, WA. 🙂

      • On the 1st Wednesday of September 1864, the constitution was approved by the vote of the people of the Territory of Nevada, and on October 31, 1864, President Lincoln proclaimed that the State of Nevada was admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original states.

        Article I, Section 2 of the Nevada constitution:
        Sec: 2.  Purpose of government; paramount allegiance to United States.  All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair[,] subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States. The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existance [existence], and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.

        What the enabling act to the Nevada constitution says about public land:
        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;

  19. Yes. He said he tried to pay the fee to the county. But that is… dumb. He didn’t owe the county the fee, and it’s not the county’s job to deliver the money to the BLM.

    He seems to be clearly in the wrong here.

    And yes, the fed has some of my glorious state. But not for long. The rebellion is progressing on schedule.

  20. BLM was established to help ranchers, ranch. The fact that they have “helped” 50 out of 51 ranchers out of business in Clark County, Nevada, proves they have failed their mission. So determined are they to achieve a 100% failure, they show up with helicopters, hired guns and cowboys to wrestle the cattle from the last rancher standing. This has all the makings of a Bonanza episode.

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