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April 22, 2014 7:33 am

EDITORIAL: Nevada rancher does not deserve praise or support

Written by Tom Lawrence

If you moved into a vacant home that you didn’t own, and refused to leave it when ordered to do so, you’d be wrong.

If you didn’t pay your utility bill because you disagreed with a government policy, you’d be wrong. If you then threatened to shoot a cop who accompanied the utility worker who came to shut off your service, you’d be extremely wrong.

Not to mention facing criminal charges.

Those are obvious cases. You can’t use property, or take services, and then decline to pay for them. It’s just that simple.

That’s why we’re having a hard time understanding why people support Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. He has been grazing cattle on 90 miles of federally owned land, without a permit, for more than 20 years.

In addition, he has declined to pay the fees for the land his cattle have been using. Bundy admits he owes around $300,000; the feds claim the bill is more than $1 million.

Bundy and his two sons became media sensations two weeks ago when their long-running dispute with the Bureau of Land Management, which, in concert with the U.S. Forest Service, manages grazing on public lands in 16 western states, including both Nevada and Wyoming. It has issued 18,000 grazing permits on 157 million acres and those ranchers pay their bill.

The present fee is $1.35 per month for a cow-calf pair, a rate far, far below the price a rancher would pay to graze animals on privately held land.

The elder Bundy has said he does not recognize the authority of the United States government. To him, it simply does not legally exist. That’s his opinion, but it is far from reality.

He somehow believes the land belongs to Nevada, which reached territorial status in 1861 and was made a state in 1864. In the Nevada Constitution, the state expressly states that it “must disclaim all rights to unappropriated public land in Nevada” and designate them as federal land.

To this day, more than 80 percent of land in the state is owned by the federal government, including the land where the Bundys are running their cattle.

The family have kept cattle there since the mid-19th century, Cliven Bundy said. When the feds designated the desert tortoise as a threatened animal in 1990, and sought to end grazing in select areas including the land in question in 1993, a battle was joined with the Bundys.

It dragged on, with few noticing, for more than two decades. Meanwhile, the BLM sought a court order, which it obtained, to get the Bundy cattle off the land. The Bundys refused to budge.

The BLM seized the cattle two weeks ago, and that made national news. Soon, heavily armed militia members and others who despise the federal government were at the scene. The media and the public paid rapt attention.

On April 11-12, there was a very real threat of violence, sparked by federal officers who used a taser on one of Bundy’s sons and the family’s statements before and after that event. Cliven Bundy openly declared it a “range war.”

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. The BLM returned the cattle and removed its personnel. It was better to allow someone to break the law than it was to risk bloodshed or the loss of life.

But that shouldn’t mean the Bundys have won. Many of their neighbors, who get permits and pay their fees, do not support them and are not pleased about armed people hunkered down in the area all because someone wants something for free.

The Nevada Cattlemen’s Association has not supported the rampant law-breaking. It issued a statement last week that expressed sympathy for the Bundys and said the government is at times too heavy-handed in its approach. We agree with that.

We applaud the Nevada cattlemen for this comment: “In accordance with the rule of law, we must use the system set forth in our Constitution to change those laws and regulations. Nevada Cattlemen’s Association does not condone actions that are outside the law in which citizens take the law into their own hands.”

We don’t think anyone should.

The BLM should have realized it could not force the issue. Bringing in armed federal agents only feeds the fear and paranoia that drives such anti-government behavior. It needs to come up with a smarter, safer way to end this matter, removing the trespassing cattle from the federal land and the Bundys and their armed allies from the media glare.

13 comments

  • Comment Link April 22, 2014 8:13 am posted by c

    do you know both sides? on the face of it would agree but then we are not hearing nor have we seen both sides. besides you have enough in powell to last your lifetime. you want to correct problems start at home.

  • Comment Link April 22, 2014 8:49 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    "The elder Bundy has said he does not recognize the authority of the United States government." Really? Then why does he live in America taking advantage of taxpayers.Reminds me of a few in the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association...remnants of the Johnson County war.

  • Comment Link April 22, 2014 9:55 am posted by Dustin

    I believe it is more of a concern that he was using it before it was “owned” by the government. Then BLM takes over and adds a fee to use it. He used the land which was public of Nevada before and now it is still publicly owned but by the government, public to all. He feels grandfathered in a way and that the independent State of Nevada should be able to step in. He does raise some good points in that the government “owns” more and more of the land.
    I am glad it ended the way it did and hope this opens our eyes to what the government can, should and is doing. They have overstepped before and it is our responsibility to make sure they stay in line.

  • Comment Link April 22, 2014 7:49 pm posted by Bob Farmer

    yes, ther is always 2 sides to every fence or several ways to see things, 1864 became a State, and he feels Grandfathered in, (sounds like some ranchers around Powell as well) but, they pay for the GRAZING RIGHTS ? (well Bundy does not) will he want to colect Social Secutity ? seems like a lean on the home stead would be in order, that is what the Government would do to you or I. but he's no Hero, Theif, and the Government does not like the competition.

  • Comment Link April 23, 2014 7:17 am posted by Carrie

    Along with the house analogy... If you were renting a house and the landlord wanted the place remodeled, would you sink your own money into remodeling without a guarantee that you could stay there for an extended period of time? That's what Mead is expecting of the Tepee Pools and other concessionaires in Hot Springs State Park.

  • Comment Link April 26, 2014 5:16 am posted by James R. Jarrett

    Mr. Lawrence's editorial was reasonable and even handed. A syntactical correction is in order however. The federal government does not "own" the land. The U.S. "public", meaning you and I own the land. The feds are supposed to administer it to our collective benefit - a point that many ranchers, oil companies, and the various federal agencies have forgotten.

  • Comment Link April 28, 2014 5:00 pm posted by Chris Kuntz

    This editorial lacked a deep dive into Harry Reid. Since the head of the BLM is his former policy advisor, and Harry Reid did call the people who defended Bundy "Domestic Terrorists", I feel a deeper look into Harry Reid involvement, Solar Panels from China, and the Obama Administrations failure in the alternative energy industry (Solyndra etc) coupled with his desire to destroy the coal industry and stifle the Keystone Pipeline makes Harry Reid a major player in all this.

    I mean grazing, whether legal or illegal, is not the kind of crime that warrants Federal Agents, dress in kit attuned to what the Navy Seals used to kill Osama Bin Laden, Sniper team actively targeting unarmed / armed citizens with precision fire weapons (Remember, it is not illegal to carry guns in America, last time I checked).

    The Waco Stand off, the Ruby Ridge Stand off, all resulted from minor offenses the federal government blew out of proportion, and responded to with way too heavy of a hand. They also resulted in the murder of unarmed citizens, some of whom were children.

    A Jaywalking offense doesn't result in the Wyoming State Police SWAT being called out to apprehend the perpetrator, so why should heavily armed federal agents be called in to stop cows from eating grass?

    A shameful press. A shameful citizenry. The press is the biggest threat to America's future and freedoms. Just look at the fraud that is Obama, and his Senatorial henchmen, Harry Reid. I cannot think of one promise Obama kept, except for his promise to fundamentally change America. Now we are all looking at part time employment, 47 million on food stamps, and health care coverage that is well over $1500 a month for me and my family of 4, with no guarantees I will qualify for any subsidies. Oh, and by the way, if I am successful in gaining greater income from my hard work and dedication, I do not qualify for said subsidies. I simply get penalized for being a success, and charged extra to cover for someone else who enjoys food stamps & unemployment. Under Obama, lazy is good. Lazy pays well, and the best part, you don't have to lift a finger.

    The press say they like an open debate, but the press only publishes what benefits their political agenda's.

  • Comment Link April 30, 2014 7:56 am posted by Cowboy Crittic

    So many ignorant people criticizing a topic they know little about. Turn off your idiot tube and do some real research before you flap your lips.

    This is why America is done. And I'll bet you don't see that either.

  • Comment Link May 02, 2014 9:02 pm posted by christine wickelman

    If I had a million dollar bill which I had run up over several years, could I get out of paying it by calling for help from the local militia? We all have to live by the rule of law. Mr. Bunday Has a bill to pay and has chosen not to pay it. That means he can forfeit his cattle, go to jail, and learn to play by the rules. Simple end to story.

  • Comment Link May 05, 2014 9:10 am posted by Billy

    the government does not want us on these lands anymore and they will do anything and make up as many lies as they can against us to get the job done! This should be handled by the County Sheriff and get the damn Feds out of there, its none of their business!!! this has been going on too long but you Liberals dont get it and never will!!!

  • Comment Link May 05, 2014 11:15 am posted by Chris Kuntz

    Harry Reid's dirty dealings with the BLM:

    Just a day or so ago, stories broke about Reid's ownership of four land parcels in the vicinity of Bundy Ranch. Through Reid Bunkerville, LLC, Reid Acquisitions, and Reid Bunkerville Trust, it appears that Senator Harry Reid is at least a part owner of 30 parcels of land in the vicinity of Bundy Ranch.

    It could be a coincidence. It could also be a coincidence that the land is directly situated within a proximity to State Route-170, a loop off of I-15 that makes development of Gold Butte more than plausible. In fact, to the north of Bunkerville, developers in Mesquite have been quite busy with resorts. It could be a coincidence that Harry's land adjoins BLM land, but the real issue is this: Cliven Bundy's cattle are on the Gold Butte Land that Harry and his cronies would be first in line to buy at any future BLM auction.

    The issue here is water rights, and water access. If the BLM has its way, there won't be any water access for Cliven Bundy's cattle, but there will be plenty of water for the developers who are seeking to build retirement resorts in the Nevada desert. It's corrupt, it's underhanded, but it's par for the course for Dirty Harry and his dealings with the BLM.

    So, if you can't see the forest for the trees, you may want to look other places than the lame-stream media for facts... especially dirty ones, involving Prince Harry reid, and his real estate development di$ires. Money sign inserted for added flare ;)

  • Comment Link May 06, 2014 7:04 am posted by Chris Kuntz

    Received the following in an email today from some folks in NV I converse with relating to the Bundy vs. BLM saga:

    "We've been digging into the BLM's outrageous conduct at Bundy Ranch, and into the backstory on the Cliven Bundy matter, and here's what we've found. In 2006, Clark County published its 2006 Northeast County Planned Land Use map. We compared that map to the existing assessor's map of Cliven Bundy's land, and what we found was explosive: every single privately owned parcel of land around Cliven Bundy was purchased for residential use. That means that real estate developers intended to build housing on the land around Bundy Ranch."

    "Of course, you can't do that with a cattle ranch in proximity, nor can you rely on the water from the Virgin River with a melon farm smack in the middle of your development. The reason is simple: melons are water intensive on the front end, and Cliven Bundy's water rights would predate any water rights conveyed to the developers. He'd be first in line."

    "We also found an interesting revelation in the county map. Across the bottom of the land parcel in question, the flow of privately owned land is uninterrupted. Of course, that isn't the case today and it wasn't the case back then. The BLM controls a parcel of land smack in the middle of privately owned land in the 2006 map. Why would Clark County draw the map the way they did, unless they knew in advance that the BLM would be open to transferring the land to private real estate developers?"

    "It is our belief that Clark County and the BLM worked in collusion for a number of years in the hopes of driving Cliven Bundy off of his melon farm, so that their Northeast County Planned Land Use map could become a reality. Right off of State Road 170, and running along the Virgin River, would be a housing development built and overseen by rich, politically connected developers who would be first in line for BLM land auctions of public land. The BLM would clear out Cliven Bundy and his cattle and melons, and developers could do as they pleased."

    "Harry Reid would get his solar plant offset on the BLM's public lands, developers would get their real estate to build new housing, and Cliven Bundy would be the odd man out. Additionally, how much would you like to bet that Harry Reid had designs on forcing the new houses to be customers of his solar power plant buddies?"

    Guess the writer of this Editorial, along w/ a few commenters, prematurely judged Mr. Bundy, as well as never took the time to see the dirty dealings of "Crime Incorporated", which is the new name of the U.S. Congress & Office of the President. Never forget, the head of the BLM is Harry Reid's former Senior Policy Advisor.

    Facts are a terrible thing to those who jump into a debate, unarmed.

  • Comment Link June 16, 2014 6:44 pm posted by Cowboy Crittic

    Does anyone realize that the Federal Government has no right to own land in America? Bundy claims he had no problem paying the state of Nevada. But, he refused to pay the Federal Government for obvious reasons. WAKE UP!

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