Decades-Long Cattle Trespass Comes To A Head For Lake Mead National Recreation Area And BLM

A view of the former Bunkerville Grazing Allotment in April 2012, with the Virgin Mountains in the background. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan.

In a situation that reads like a bad plot from an old western movie, officials with the Bureau of Land Management and Lake Mead National Recreation Area are hoping for a peaceful resolution of a cattle trespass dispute with a Nevada rancher that has lasted more than 20 years. It's a tense and tricky situation.

What's going on the desert northeast of Las Vegas?

The answer goes all the way back to the 1800s, when parts of the West were settled by ranchers who controlled vast areas of open range simply by securing relatively small tracts that included scarce and essential water sources—and then grazing their livestock on the adjoining land.

As more settlers looking for their own land arrived, open range was often overgrazed, disputes arose, and the resulting conflicts provided fodder for many a western novel and movie. Order was eventually secured by a combination of land surveys to define property lines, systems such as the Homestead Act to allow orderly transfer of public land to private ownership, and institutions such as courts and law enforcement to keep the peace.

Grazing Leases and the Bureau of Land Management

Public land which was not legally converted into private ownership remained in the public domain, and some ranchers continue to use public property to supplement their private range. Much of that public land is being managed today by the U. S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and that agency faces a challenging and often controversial task: "to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield."

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The BLM manages grazing permits on public land all across the West. BLM photo.

One of those "multiple uses" is grazing, and a dispute between a rancher named Cliven Bundy and the BLM over the use of land in southern Nevada has lasted for more than 20 years. The former grazing lease, known as the Bunkerville allotment, includes public land managed by both the BLM and National Park Service at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, with the BLM handling grazing issues for the NPS.

"Multiple Use" Can Lead to Conflicts

A mandate to manage large areas of land for such diverse uses as grazing, wildlife, recreation, mining, timber and energy development often leads to conflicts, and that's the case on the Bunkerville allotment.

Beginning in 1993, the BLM informed Mr. Bundy about limits on the number of cattle he could graze on the allotment in order to meet regulations to protect wildlife, particularly a threatened species, the desert tortoise. Mr. Bundy refused to accept the limits and stopped paying the required fees for his grazing permit ... but continued to run his cattle on the property.

The BLM subsequently cancelled the grazing permit, and in 1997, Clarke County, Nevada, purchased all the active grazing permits in the area to conserve them for wildlife needs. A tentative proposal was made to Mr. Bundy to compensate him for any stock water rights or range improvements he might have in his former allotment. He rejected the offer...and continued to run his cattle.

Failed Negotiations Lead To Court Cases

After further attempts to negotiate with Mr. Bundy failed, a series of court cases that extended up to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction which permanently enjoined Mr. Bundy from grazing cattle on the Bunkerville allotment, and ordered him to remove all trespass cattle. He refused, despite notices that the livestock would be subject to impoundment and removal if they remained.

While the legal wrangling continued, the number of cattle in the area continued to grow. In 1999, the BLM was able to document 51 head of Bundy cattle on federal range in the allotment; by 2011, over 900 cattle were counted by a helicopter survey of the rugged terrain.

Mr. Bundy apparently concedes that he has never owned any of the land in question, but disputes the BLM's jurisdiction; he contends he has the right to continue to use the property, since his family has been doing so since the 1880s.

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Damage to soil and vegetation from concentrated use by trespass cattle in the former Bunkerville Allotment. BLM photo.

The BLM Still Manages Lots of Grazing Permits

The BLM has taken pains to point out that it is not anti-grazing, noting that it "administers approximately 18,000 grazing permits and leases on 157 million acres of public lands..."Ranching continues throughout Southern Nevada on public and private lands," the agency notes. "BLM currently has three active grazing allotments on more than 100,000 acres of public lands in Southern Nevada."

Kirsten Cannon, spokeswoman for the Nevada BLM office in Reno, says, “His cattle have been illegally trespassing on federal land for two decades and it’s just unfair for those who ranch in compliance,” she said. “We made repeated attempts to resolve this. The courts have ordered him to move his cattle. Now we’ve reached the last resort, which is impoundment.”

You can read a summary of the history of the dispute at this BLM link, and the agency, under increasing pressure from other local landowners and conservation groups, has decided it's time to remove the cattle and resolve the issue.

There's no doubt that Mr. Bundy has flouted the legal system for years, but you might wonder what else is at stake in this situation.

A Long List of Problems Caused by Trespass Livestock

The BLM cites a long list of problems caused by Mr. Bundy's cattle. Among the issues are damage by the cattle to springs and vegetation on public land and trampling of artifacts at cultural sites. Crops on adjacent private property have been damaged by foraging livestock, and residents of the communities of Bunkerville and Mesquite have complained about the impact of trespass cattle on city facilities, including the Mesquite Heritage Community Garden and the Mesquite golf course.

If you've even been around cattle which aren't accustomed to being "worked" regularly by humans, you'll understand the safety concerns for visitors and employees using the BLM and park lands in question. According to the BLM, "a State of Nevada employee at the Overton Wildlife Refuge has been attacked by a Bundy bull, and a feral cow was hit by an automobile within Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Cattle are frequently seen on public roads, including State Route 170, and pose a danger to vehicles and to members of the public traveling on public roads."

There have been other economic costs from the trespass livestock. The Nevada State Department of Wildlife has had to build extensive fences to protect state and federal lands in the Overton Wildlife Refuge from the cattle. The Walton Family Foundation had offered $400,000 for a matching grant to restore wildlife habitat in the area, but has withdrawn the funds until the trespass cattle have been removed. It's a reasonable decision; restoration efforts would be a waste of money as long as the cattle continue to roam and damage the area.

Two Decades of Waiting May Be Coming to an End

So, what's next?

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These trespass cattle, removed off public land in northern Nevada, are being cared for until they are claimed and fines/impoundment fees are paid. BLM photo.

According to a statement from Lake Mead National Recreation Area, "The BLM and NPS have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially. Impoundment of cattle illegally grazing on public lands is an option of last resort. The BLM and NPS are working closely with local, state and federal officials to ensure the gather of unauthorized cattle occurs in a safe and orderly manner."

During what will undoubtedly be a challenging roundup, the area involved will be closed to public use from March 27 through May 12. The park website notes, "Only a small portion of the northern and eastern part of the park will be temporarily closed, and Echo Bay, Stewarts Point, Redstone and the hot springs along Northshore Road remain open." You can view a map of the area within the park involved in the closure at this link.

Bundy's Response

So, what's Mr. Bundy's reaction to the latest developments? That's a cause for concern, and at least part of the reason for the closure of the area to the public during the impending roundup.

A previous roundup scheduled for 2012 was cancelled due to fears of a violent confrontation with Bundy, and the BLM opted for one more try at a solution in the courts. That cancellation in turn brought threats of a lawsuit against the BLM from an environmental group, for failure to enforce court orders to remove the livestock. In 2013, the BLM prevailed once again in court.

Bundy's response to the numerous court orders to remove his cattle has been succinct. "At first I said, 'No,'" he told The Los Angeles Times last year, "Then I said, 'Hell, no.'"

"I've got to protect my property," Bundy told the Times. "If people come to monkey with what's mine, I'll call the county sheriff. If that don't work, I'll gather my friends and kids and we'll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws."

The County Sheriff Urges A Peaceful Solution

It doesn't appear the county sheriff plans to intervene on the Bundys' behalf. According to Carol Bundy, the rancher's wife, “We want him to step in and tell these federal characters that ‘This is Clark County, Nevada, land and you have go through me to get these cattle.’ But we have not heard a word.”

For his part, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie understands the days of the 19th century range wars are long past. The Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted Gillespie as saying: “I’m always concerned when there are situations like this where there is so much emotion. I hope calmer heads will prevail like they normally do. You’re talking about rounding up cattle. You have to keep that in perspective. No drop of human blood is worth spilling over any cow, in my opinion.”

He absolutely right. Let's hope everyone else involved in this situation agrees.

Comments

This individual is an example of the "Sagebrush Rebellion" crowd who reject federal authority. The area is so poorly suited for grazing cattle that ranching can only be profitable by running cows on vast areas of the desert which he doesn't own. What's the legal background of the property? The United States acquired ownership of the land in question from Mexico via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), long before Mr. Bundy claims his family started using the property. The Nevada Territory was officially established in 1861; Nevada became a state in 1864. http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/ghtreaty/ This site (http://www.onlinenevada.org/articles/nevada-statehood) offers a summary of the original constitution of the State of Nevada, which was approved by the vote of the people of the Territory of Nevada in 1864 (before Bundy's first claimed use of the land). It says the requirements of the congressional act enabling Nevada statehood "included ... the statement that all undistributed public lands would be retained by the federal government..." He doesn't have any legal claim, and rejected offers by the county to buy out the value of his grazing lease. Hopefully, he'll end this peacefully.
I will never understand why land management agencies go to such great lengths to avoid bruising the delicate egos of public lands ranchers. Would it be okay if I was trespassing on his land for 20 years? I'm pretty sure I would have been arrested a long time ago. Why is this the one occupation that gets to claim that "western tradition" means they never have to change anything about how they make a living, regardless of the burden they place on everyone else? We can't have wolves because that would mean ranchers would have to actually watch after their livestock (too much work). We can't have buffalo because ranchers don't want to deal with the brucellosis problem created by livestock (that's expecting too much accountability). Most importantly, we can't have cattle free public land throughout much of the west because then ranchers like Bundy might have to make a living that doesn't depend on massive damage to public resources (finding another job takes would require too much initiative and creativity). Seriously, this guy should be rounded up with his cattle.
Coyote, as a member of the Canis latrans family, you should already know that western ranchers pack unduly heavy influence with western Congresscritters. And those western Congresscritters pack a whole lot of influence on western land managers.
Rumor is Mr 'Empty Hat' Bundy sat idly by as he watched a caravan of BLM agents and hired hands move equipment past his melon farm and onto our public lands last Friday...
As a coyote, I should clarify my previous statement. I don't actually want any more wolves around.
I once lived in Poudre Canyon, which is west of Fort Collins, CO. The land was "open range" managed by BLM I believe. The strange part to me was that the BLM told the rancher he could ranch so many head per acre per month, but allowed them to use the following math; x number,per month times twelve months divided by the number of months they acually used. So for about three months of the year their were four times as many cows. I am not saying its wrong or right. Maybe they assume that is what they rancher will do.
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/enforce-grazing-laws-against-cliven-bundy-extent-law-allows/g6y7smks
This was great example of the militarization of the DOI agencies. A huge waste of money over the years arming federal agencies who's sole use is point guns at Americans when they don't comply. The amount of money used to arm agencies would have put a serious dent in the backlog of maintenance.
Dumb--Whose guns were pointed at whom? It seems that the defenders' of Bundy's "property rights" weapons were aimed at the BLM people trying to carry out a court order. Of course, you probably don't believe that complying with a court order is the responsibility of an American citizen. The $1 million that Bundy owes in back grazing fees would also help to reduce DOI's costs. But he doesn't believe in Federal law so what does he care? Rick
Coyote, interesting post. I can understand the emotions involved in the changing lifestyle of this old time rancher, but I agree with you, the rancher should be rounded up as well as the cows. It was disconcerting to see the militia types lined up on the freeway overpass with military assault rifles pointed at the BLM rangers and other employees. I do think the agencies and courts involved should be focusing on Mr. Bundy, the operation was ill conceived in my view, the cows are just doing what the rancher permits. It is another chapter in the sagebrush rebellion, a tough situation for an agency that really is trying to come to terms with the values of sustaining our natural resources on public lands.

Mr. Bundy has done a good job playing to the media and the emotions of the sagebrush rebellion crowd, but the reality is that multiple court decisions, all the way up to the 9th circuit, have agreed that he has no right to use the land in question.

So, what is the legal background of the property? The United States (i.e. the federal government) acquired ownership of the land in question from Mexico via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), decades before Mr. Bundy claims his family started using the property. http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/ghtreaty/

Mr. Bundy say only recognizes the authority of the State of Nevada, so what's the state's position on the land? The Nevada Constitution says it belongs to the federal government.

The Nevada Territory was officially established in 1861; Nevada became a state in 1864. The first constitution of the State of Nevada was approved by an overwhelming margin of voters in the Territory of Nevada in 1864 (years before Bundy's first claimed use of the land by his ancestors). http://www.onlinenevada.org/articles/nevada-statehood

That state constitution says, "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: (i.e. the federal government.) http://leg.state.nv.us/Const/NVConst.html

The requirements of the congressional act enabling statehood also included the statement that all undistributed public lands would be retained by the federal government.

What are "unappropriated (or "undistributed) public lands"? The answer is a bit complicated, but as applied to lands being used for grazing purposes by an individual, the term refers to public lands which are "subject to appropriation, location, selection, entry, or purchase under the nonmineral laws of the United States." http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/43/20/852

In other words, land which had not been legally claimed was "unappropriated," and ownership of all such land by the federal government is recognized by the Nevada state constitution.

If Bundy's supporters want to disregard the above legal trail and continue to harp on the "we were here first" refrain, I presume they'd be willing to turn the area back to Mexico, or one of several Native America tribes, all of whom had possession long before either Bundy's ancestors, the State of Nevada or the U. S. Government showed up on the scene :-)

Jim, I whole heartedly support your conclusion: "If Bundy's supporters want to disregard the above legal trail and continue to harp on the "we were here first" refrain, I presume they'd be willing to turn the area back to Mexico, or one of several Native America tribes, all of whom had possession long before either Bundy's ancestors, the State of Nevada or the U. S. Government showed up on the scene :-)" How this situation eventually plays out will make case history for a long time to come.
I'd like to post this so there might be some understanding and realization that things aren't always what you'd them to be. I admit I'm in the tank some for NPS but there is reason to be concerned about what's going on. This post was by Sheriff Brad Rogers, Elkhart, Indiana. My trip to the Cliven Bundy ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. I arrived at the Cliven Bundy Ranch Friday, April 18, 2014 through Sunday, April 20, 2014, taking a personal vacation and not on the taxpayer dime. I was invited by Oathkeepers and the Bundy family to come out and visit. I wanted to see what was really going on in that neck of the woods. There are plenty of opinions all around. I saw first hand many of the dynamics and actually spoke with Mr. Bundy, a 58 year old rancher, on the situation. The Bundy's have a modest, almost rustic residence and buildings, nothing like the Ewing Ranch of TV fame "Dallas". You may think this is a Nevada issue, and why should I concern myself with a rancher in Nevada who is butting heads with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)? This does not impact Elkhart County, so why go to Nevada and get involved? You and I should be concerned about what is occurring in Nevada, Oregon, California and New Mexico, and other states where Sheriffs and County Commissioners have interposed themselves between the Federal agencies such as BLM and Forest Service, and the people of their county. As the highest elected law enforcement officer in the nation, the Sheriff has great authority to protect the people from criminals, and sometimes an overreaching government itself. Even though this is currently occurring in Nevada, something similar will be coming to a location near you. You can bet on it. It may not be the BLM in Indiana, but it will be another alphabet soup Federal agency trying to flex their muscle. I am very sensitive to Federal government overreach since my confrontation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) over numerous and unreasonable inspections of an Amish milk farmer in Elkhart County back in 2011. The Feds had subpoenaed the farmer to appear before a grand jury in Michigan about a week later, likely to make an example out of him and put him out of business. The Amish farmer was committing a horrible crime of distributing raw milk to members of food co-ops in a private contract. No one was getting sick or harmed by the raw milk. The co-op members knew exactly what they were getting in raw milk. The farmer was not breaking any state law. I told the DOJ attorney that any more Federal agents show up to inspect the farmer's property (as the farmer had withdrawn his consent), without a warrant based on probable cause and signed by a judge, that I would have them arrested for trespass or otherwise removed from the premises. I have to abide by the 4th Amendment; the Federal government needs to also. That action by your elected Sheriff (sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution) unleashed a dissertation and threat of arrest by the DOJ trial attorney, stating that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution has always been known that Federal law (or vexations known at administrative rules promulgated often by unelected bureaucrats) overrule anything that state or local government could possibly have laws for or against. I reminded the attorney that the Supremacy Clause (which part he conveniently ignored) "shall be the supreme Law of the Land" only when "...the Laws of the United States shall be made in Pursuance thereof", meaning the Constitution. (Article 6, Sec 2) Why do I get involved, on my vacation, even though this situation has no immediate impact on Elkhart County? Because I love people. I love my country. I love the Republic for which our flag stands. I left my family over the Easter weekend, missed a niece's birthday party, missed a church service celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, my Lord, because I love my family and do not want to see them live in a country where our freedom and liberties are eroded. Because I love people, I don't want to see Federal agents or those opposing those agents come to any harm. I'm seeing violence ready to break out. I was observing this in the media from Indiana and stated on Facebook, "My prediction: This is not going to end well. Another Waco? Another Ruby Ridge? I'm still hoping for a peaceful resolution." Yet, I observed people saying, "Bundy should be damned; he's trespassing... Whatever it takes to get him off the property...Kill the protesters and the family." Some people seem to be really violent and merciless, even without all the facts. Pride, at least on the law enforcement side, is stubborn and unyielding in this case. How can we maintain peace and avoid bloodshed? In any law enforcement action, I always strive to avoid bloodshed in my county. My family said I must go. So, I did. Events leading up to my arrival: On April 9, BLM, encompassing an estimated 200 heavily armed agents, helicopters, and SUVs, swarmed the area of the disputed land and, according to the court order, were to impound the trespassing cattle and sell them at auction, purportedly to offset the unpaid grazing fees. Facing a situation they most certainly did not plan on; that of the family and others who supported the family (and who were also heavily armed, pursuant to their Second Amendment rights and legal under the state of Nevada), and protesting the action taken by the BLM, including the tasering of a Bundy son and Bundy's niece knocked to the ground, the BLM wisely blinked and stood down, leaving behind a mess, of which I will describe later. The BLM claims that Bundy's cattle are on public land (Federal or State land, depending on your perspective, and literally out in the middle of nowhere.) I believe the cattle are on public land. There does not seem to be any dispute about this. Bundy had previously, until the 1990's, paid BLM to manage the land. However, BLM did not use the money to improve the land; Bundy improved the land. Ten years ago, the BLM offered to buy out Bundy's contract. Bundy refused. This would certainly seem that Bundy had more of an interest in the land then BLM claims now. Nevertheless, Bundy has lost a couple of recent Federal court battles and was told to get off the land. And, then there is the grazing fee, required by the BLM, to allow continuance of Bundy's cattle to be on the land. In 1993, Bundy quit paying the fee and offered the fee instead to Clark County officials, which refused to accept payment. Bundy is one of two last remaining ranchers in Clark County. I find it interesting that the BLM allowed Bundy to continue using the land until Senator Reid's buddy was appointed to the BLM a couple of weeks ago. Suspicious at best. Nevada is different than Indiana, as most of the land (83%) in Nevada is considered Public Land and controlled by the Federal government in some form or fashion. According to Article I, Section 8.17, The Federal govt is not to own land (outside of Washington DC) unless the state's legislature approves it. The land belongs to Nevada, a sovereign state in its own right. The problem is Nevada's state constitution actually acquiesces their land, purportedly as a requirement for statehood, regardless of the concept of the "Equal Footing Principle" of statehood for states beyond the original states formed. This concept, juxtaposed with the Bundy conflict, is at the heart of the issue. A growing number of western legislators are meeting, partially as a result of this conflict, to see what can be done about states reclaiming their land from the Feds, who neither paid nor asked the states, as required by the Constitution. I really don't know if Bundy is correct in his stand; whether he truly owes money or not. Some people think he's a freeloader, using public land for his cattle. Yet, he is a hard worker, unlike others on welfare sponging off the taxpayer for no work. The tradition of ranchers using public land is centuries old. Bundy supporters agree that the issue is complex. However, what all people, including myself, would agree on, and likely sparked the patriot response to this event, is that we will not tolerate being governed by a Federal government at the point of a gun. When BLM left the land last week, the discovery of what they left behind was unconscionable. The Bundy family found a mass grave (dug by BLM backhoes and dump trucks seen leaving the area on their exodus) containing numerous cattle that were killed by a bullet. Wait a minute. I thought the BLM was to impound and auction the cattle? Where are the environmentalists, PETA, or the Sheriff, at the uncalled slaughter of another man's cattle by government agents? The BLM further destroyed watering holes and fencing that was constructed by Bundy. And, incidentally, it was reported that part of the reason BLM were rounding up cattle is to protect the so-called endangered Desert Tortoise; laughable at best, when you consider the BLM just euthanized hundreds of turtles in the compound where they were caring for them, instead of releasing them to the wild, after BLM ran out of money. Again, where's the PETA outrage? Incidentally, Saturday, April 21 was the anniversary of the Waco disaster where David Koresh and followers (including women and children) were killed by gun fire and a building fire that was started by the Feds. Then what happend? They buried the evidence quickly to keep people from nosing around. Seems as though BLM did not learn a lesson from Waco, and again attempted to cover their misconduct. Then, what about those honorable Oathkeepers, patriots, 3 Percenters, and others who believe this event is a watershed moment for our nation? I met and visited with these men and women, coming from all walks of life, all races, and different religions. Some of these patriots quit their job and came to Nevada to keep their oath; to defend their nation against tyranny. Some are expecting to die here. Nevada U.S. Senator Harry Reid called them "domestic terrorists". Reid's comments were inflammatory and irresponsible, and did nothing to quell the potential for violence. The patriots are men and women who have come to the Bundy ranch to protect the Bundy's from a Federal government that has no logical reason to use force. These patriots are not domestic terrorists. I would not stand with terrorists. I'm convinced that the patriots will not fire the first shot. But, if and when the BLM agents return and start firing, the bloodshed will begin. It will be the battle of Bunkerville. As for the report of women and children being placed out in front as shields during the initial confrontation, that action never occurred. It was wrongly strategized and verbalized by one person that was not even on the scene yet. It was never the intent of Oathkeepers and patriots to put harmless women and children in harms way. There were some women in front, but they were the spunky cowgirls that voluntarily rode with men to retrieve the Bundy cattle. I'm trying to imagine in Elkhart County if I received a court order to remove cattle from a public land, I would go speak to the owner of the cattle, and seek how to peacefully resolve this situation. I might even empathize with the owner of the cattle, and suggest further legal action on his part. But never would I bring my SWAT teams and patrol officers carrying rifles to a trespass call involving unarmed cattle! Ultimately, the Sheriff, the official with a name and recognizable face, with a phone number to contact him, would resolve the conflict, likely without any serious incident. That, my friends, is the crux of this issue. The Federal government has no face, no name (except alphabets), no number to call, and no one to hold accountable if something goes wrong. The Sheriff can intervene, not because of ego or who's gun is bigger, but rather to be the public servant, whom the people elected, and whom can listen, talk, and negotiate a peaceful resolution. The Sheriff has to continue to live in the community he serves. The Feds return to places unknown, never having to live the consequences or see the fears and hear the citizen's life stories. As for Mr. Bundy, he told me he was honored that I would come from Indiana to show support. I asked him how this situation could end peacefully. He told me that he does not recognize the Federal government, but that he would submit to his local Sheriff. The patriot groups also said that if the Sheriff got involved, they would stand down. Wow! Really! The local Sheriff of Clark County refuses to get involved, but could peacefully resolve this issue. Mr. Bundy, whether you think he's off his rocker or not, has said how this could be resolved. I entreat to the unapproachable Sheriff Gillespie of Clark County (who incidentally was given the spurious award of "2013 sheriff of the Year" by the National Sheriff's Association-an organization of which I refuse to be a part of) would honor his oath, honor his citizens, and honor his public service, by getting involved in this situation to prevent the bloodshed that will occur between the Federal government and citizens. I guarantee you, I would intervene if this was occurring in Elkhart County! For the Republic, Sheriff Brad Rogers, Elkhart County, Indiana by Sheriff Brad Rogers, Elkhart, Indiana:
Sheriff Rogers, The things you suggest happening to resolve the issue have all occurred. Many of them 20 years ago. The BLM and NPS have shown great restraint(probably too much restraint)in this situation. The point of fact is that Mr. Bundy refused to comply when those lower profile options offered 20 years ago. So he has been in violation for 20 years. There have been several court cases which did not go Mr. Bundy's way and so he just claims he does not recognize the Federal Government. Sheriff, This is basically anarchy. The rule of law no longer being followed. Unbelievable. And you, a sworn law enforcement officer supporting it! If this is where we are going as a nation, and the rule of law is not followed by law enforcement officers, then we, as a nation are in deep, deep trouble!
Old Ranger, what you say is true. The rule of law is not being followed but is ignored and bastardized to support ideology. DOJ has become a political entity under this admin. Would you comment on how the Senate Majority Leader, his party and his family are connected to the Bundy situation. Lawlessness and disregard of the Constitution when it's not convenient is very much a part of this administration. Many are very much concerned and are becoming more alarmed and active.
Bundy's Ancestral Rights: http://www.8newsnow.com/story/25301551/bundys-ancestral-rights-come-under-scrutiny "Clark County property records show Cliven Bundy's parents moved from Bundyville, Arizona and bought the 160 acre ranch in 1948 from Raoul and Ruth Leavitt. Water rights were transferred too, but only to the ranch, not the federally managed land surrounding it. Court records show Bundy family cattle didn't start grazing on that land until 1954. The Bureau of Land Management was created 1946, the same year Cliven was born." Bundy/BLM history http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/04/15/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-long-fight-between-cliven-bundy-and-the-federal-government/ "Bundy — who retorts that he only owes $300,000 in fees..." "One of them was Bundy's son, tasered after he kicked a police dog." "One protester, a former Arizona sheriff named Richard Mack, told Fox News about the militia's plans if violence broke out in Bunkerville. “We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”" I'm glad the good sheriff has the time to support violent, law-breaking citizens. Someone has to love them, might as well be a 'peace-keeper.'
How IS the senate majority leader connected to this?
The Federal Government has become unrecognizable. Simply the DOI is way out of control, this is just another in a very long list of examples. I don't disagree that Bundy is breaking the law, but in no way was the BLM/NPS response acceptable. Trailadvocate is right, this administrations lawlessness has set the precedence and a very dangerous one. The worst administration in history, is now official.
Just another reason the federal lands should be given to the states. BTW - does anyone know where this property fits in the Eisenhower Report of Jurisdictional Status?
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/31/us-usa-china-reid-solar-idUSBRE87U06D20120831 The Dirty Harry corruption connection.
dahkota, you could Google Harry Reid/Bundy and come up with that info. Might check out Raymond Yowell (Google) as well.
And make certain that y'all follow some links to some of those 'true patriot red white and blue arm the children' sites. The commentary from some of the truly paranoid anti-government folks was enough to challenge even myself, and I was a psych nurse working with the involuntarily committed danger to themselves and others sorts of folks for years. These folks are eager for a violent end of times, just to prove themselves right. Scary. Logic, who is legally right, who got there first, what's on second - none of that matters to them.
What exactly did Jim Burnett say that is incorrect?
This stuff about Harry Reid seems like a complete red herring. Beachdumb's article cited as supposed evidence for why the BLM wants Cliven Bundy off federal land (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/31/us-usa-china-reid-solar-idUSBRE87U06D20120831) notes that a solar energy company wants to buy land from Clark County in Laughlin, Nevada. The BLM wants Cliven Bundy to stop using land near Bunkerville, Nevada, owned by the federal government. Bunkerville is almost 200 miles away from Laughlin up I-15. So how in the world is this connected at all?
"BLM report entitled Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone (BLM Technical Note 444) reveals that Bundy’s land in question is within the “Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone and surrounding area” which is part of a broad U.S. Department of Energy program for “Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States” on land “managed” by BLM." Google is your friend.

"Just another reason the federal lands should be given to the states."

Any that reason would be....? What's going on here is an individual has decided to use force, in the form of a private "militia," to defy numerous court orders and take over property that clearly belongs to the people of the United States. In the process, his cattle are also damaging adjoining private property (see the original story above) and the courts have told Bundy he has to cease and desist and remove his cattle. He's refused.

I've yet to see any evidence to contradict the clear federal ownership of the land in question, as described in my earlier post.

The BLM made a prudent decision to avoid potential bloodshed in this incident. However, one of the key issues at stake here is whether we'll be a nation subject to the rule of law, or if we'll allow people like Bundy and his armed gang to take us down a road that if unchecked leads eventually to the chaos that exists in places like Somolia, where the war lords who have the most guns control the countryside.

Rick B, you do have reasonable arguments it seems at times but often snark is the biggest component and does not do this particular subject much good. Of course if you are somehow connected to our AG, The Held in Contempt, Eric H. Holder, Jr, then it all makes perfect sense. There are very serious events happening, sir.
The sheriff of Clark County refused to become involved because he has tried repeatedly in the past and Bundy has spurned his efforts. The sheriff recognized that several Federal courts have ruled against Bundy and is actually upholding the law as it applies to this situation. Here is a link to a news report that explains the court decision: http://www.8newsnow.com/story/25302186/an-abbreviated-look-at-rancher-cliven-bundys-family-history Here is a link to the story of the euthanizing of desert tortoises that tells of the convoluted history of tortoises pushed from their habitat by land development: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/25/desert-tortoise_n_3813133.html It seems there is a lot more to the story than some folks are telling. Google Sheriff Rogers and it's not hard to learn that he's a very controversial subject in his home county and state and a darling of the extreme right. Maybe we need Paul Harvey to Tell the Rest of the Story.
[quote] Any that reason would be.... [/quote] The states would be more responsive to the needs of their citizens, the citizens would be more respectful of their local officials and there would less likely by the over use of force exhibited in this instance. I am not saying Bundy is in the right. What I am saying is that if the State owned the lands, the problem probably never would have come up in the first place.
Hmm, EC, I spend the winter in AZ and the summer in NM. Maybe the citizens of those states are different than those who live where you live, but I don't see much respect for state government in either of those two places. Many AZ citizens think their state legislature is a joke, passing bills which routinely are overturned in the courts. An editorial recently ran in the Tucson paper entitled, "If only the legislature cared as much about kids as they do guns." Does the Tucson paper lean left more than right? Yes, but the Phoenix paper runs the same kind of stories about the misadventures of the legislature (it recently passed a bill which makes it a felony to take a gun from someone's hands. You can also carry a weapon anywhere. I was in a Big 5 Sporting Goods store a couple days ago and there was a guy carrying a pistol on his hip. From the looks of his girth, I doubt he was an undercover police officer. You can also bring a concealed weapon into a bar) and their lean is in the other direction. I have to smile when I see photos of Bundy riding his horse carrying an American flag, the very symbol of the nation he claims he does not recognize. Doesn't he see the contradiction? Rick
Rick S. Oh we certainly have our problems with local legislatures here in Colorado as well. But then we recall them and throw them out. Something that is far more difficult at the Federal level. Our Founding Fathers were well aware of the dangers of a Federal government and worked hard to place the power in the hands of the States. It is a basic principle of the founding of this nation. Too bad so many have forgotten or just chosen to ignore. BTW - Bundy doesn't disclaim the US and its Constitution, he disclaims the feds right to collect grazing fees on public land. Probably wrong in the argument but that makes him no less an American.
A quote from Bundy, “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” Rick
"Our Founding Fathers were well aware of the dangers of a Federal government and worked hard to place the power in the hands of the States. It is a basic principle of the founding of this nation. Too bad so many have forgotten or just chosen to ignore." Many have forgotten it because it quite simply isn't true. Some Founding Fathers (Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin) wanted most of the power in the hands of the states. Other Founding Fathers (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, George Washington, John Adams) wanted the exact opposite -- for a more powerful, centralized government that didn't repeat the same mistakes that were made under the Articles of Confederation. There was a vigorous debate even in the 1700s over the form our government should take and where its power should reside. You do yourself no favors by trying to bend history to support your own ideology.
Rich. A source for the quote would be helpful Ehtelred you are clueless. The Constitution and Federalist papers defy everything you said. Please identify where Madison, Hamilton, Adams, Washington said the majority of power should reside in a Federal government.
In 2013, Clark County received $3.1M as [url=http://www.doi.gov/pilt/county-payments.cfm] Payment in Lieu of Taxes(PILT)[/url] for the 4.8M acres administered by DOI agencies. The Bunkerville Allotment is ~160k acres (3% of total DOI acreage in the county) so could be worth potentially $100k in PILT. Bundy wasn't paying anywhere near $100k in grazing fees to BLM. I highly doubt Clark County would give Bundy a grazing permit at BLM rates.
Sara So what?
Found in a quick on-line search of the term Federalist: "Most significantly, the Federalists believed that the greatest threat to the future of the United States did not lie in the abuse of central power, but instead could be found in what they saw as the excesses of democracy as evidenced in popular disturbances like Shays' Rebellion and the pro-debtor policies of many states. How could the Federalists convince the undecided portion of the American people that for the nation to thrive, democracy needed to be constrained in favor of a stronger central government?" Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, George Washington, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin are cited as supporters of this idea. It doesn't sound as if everything ethelred wrote has been "defied" by the Federalist papers. If so, please cite specifically where they do and where he was wrong. And please stop twisting the words of others when you say that ethelred claimed "the MAJORITY of power should reside in a Federal government." He said nothing of the sort. Now, let's see you back your claims up with some good documentation.
Trail advocate - My comment about the dangerous and unbridled paranoia of the right wing websites is not 'snark', but a cogent and informed observation. I'm retired and do not diagnose socially, but when I was a practicing psych nurse if I heard a patient on the ward making a comment like these folks comment on the web, I'd be quoting it the next time I testified in Mental Health Court. If it hits too close to home, there is nothing I can do about that to make your life more comfortable.
Lee I don't know where you got that but I will again ask you to cite where in the Federalist papers (to which neither Franklin nor Washington contributed) is there a call for a stronger(vs states) central government. Yes, Federalist wanted more power in the central government than non-federalist but even the most strident of Federalist that participated in the formation of the Constitution wanted a LIMITED federal government. Thus the enumerated powers and later the 10th Amendment.
"So what?" A pitifully desperate response when one has nothing available to refute a statement by another. A debate coach would certainly reward a student who tried that with a great big F on their report card.
I suppose you think Harry's domestic terrorist labeling of Bundy was appropriate? BLM agents target practicing on the herd and destroying watering holes was justified? 2 million spent on a botched commando raid to collect grazing fees? To protect a turtle? That is dangerous and good reason to be paranoid.
[quote] nothing available to refute a statement [/quote] Nothing to refute? I agree. But she might as well have said the sun rises in the East. You can't refute it but it has nothing to do with the issue. What difference does it make what the PILT is? Are you aware that PILT payments are a fraction of what private property tax rates would bring? Are you aware that the Feds are trying to reduce/eliminate PILT? Are you aware that lands can get grazing fees from multiple users? As often happens, Sara's contribution was completely irrelevant.
I know PILT is less than what private property taxes bring in. Bundy would have been paying a lot more in grazing fees on private land than he ever did on BLM land. So how would he had been better off with the land in private hands?
I don't think he recognizes the contradiction, Rick. When Bundy gave that quote and then actually started waving the American flag, I laughed out loud. His crackpot demagoguery had reached the point of an SNL skit.

Bundy's carrying an American flag while riding his horse around for the cameras is a good example of his skill in playing to the media, and of his hypocrisy in using the flag as a symbol of his "cause." He's been quoted by media sources as saying he doesn't recognize the authority or the existence of the federal government. Here's just one: "Speakingto conservative radio host Dana Loesch last week, he [Bundy] said he believes in a “sovereign state of Nevada” and abides by all state laws, but, “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/cliven-bundy-bureau-of-land-management-10-things-to-know-105735.html#ixzz2zfbBTiRl

Some people believe public lands currently managed by federal agencies should be turned over the respective states; ec says "The states would be more responsive to the needs of their citizens... "

That's nice rhetoric, but the reality it's very difficult these days to determine which citizens' "needs" should be met. In the current situation, would that be the "needs" of Bundy, who's been successfully stealing use of public land for years - because he certainly can't stay in business grazing cattle on the land he actually owns? Or would it be the needs of private landowners in the area, who have complained to no avail about damage from Bundy's cattle to their crops, gardens, and other private property? Or would it be Nevada citizens who support use of these public lands for recreational use, or for wildlife habitat (the destruction of which by Bundy's cattle is well-documented)?

Perhaps ec would explain how the state would do a better job in resolving those conflicts.

Sadly, there are too many cases where state officials and agencies seem to be even more subject than the feds to decision-making based not on the "needs of the citizens," but rather the influence of special interest groups or individuals with deep pockets.

[quote] So how would he had been better off with the land in private hands? [/quote] Well one you make the assumption he would have paid a higher fee. Not sure that is the case. But even so, the issue isn't whether HE was better off. The issue is if the people as a whole would be better off.
[quote] Or would it be the needs of private landowners in the area, who have complained to no avail about damage from Bundy's cattle to their crops, gardens, and other private property? [/quote] If that is indeed the case, they have recourse (that has nothing to do with BLM lands). Do you have evidence of this happening? [quote]Or would it be Nevada citizens who support use of these public lands for recreational use, or for wildlife habitat (the destruction of which by Bundy's cattle is well-documented)? [/quote] Are you talking about the feds killing the turtles? [quote]Perhaps ec would explain how the state would do a better job in resolving those conflicts. [/quote] Easy. The state officials are directly responsible to their citizens, not to the citizens of 49 other states many (citizens) of which have never seen a live cow or a know what BLM land is.

A good overview of the whole situation is found at this link:

http://www.factandmyth.com/conspiracy-theory/cliven-bundys-cattle-and-th...

Thank you Jim, informative post. People believe what they read and hear, it is always interesting to read the different viewpoints. I am in complete support of the BLM effort here, our public lands maybe not be around much longer what with population increase, diminishing resources, water and air quality issues, well the list is quite lengthly. The public lands we do have are a tremendous blessing to all Americans, turning them over to local control will just speed up the prospect of their demise in my own opinion.
"I don't know where you got that but I will again ask you to cite where in the Federalist papers (to which neither Franklin nor Washington contributed) is there a call for a stronger(vs states) central government. Yes, Federalist wanted more power in the central government than non-federalist but even the most strident of Federalist that participated in the formation of the Constitution wanted a LIMITED federal government. Thus the enumerated powers and later the 10th Amendment." Hi, ecbuck. First, the Federalist Papers were good for expounding on the thoughts of Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, but they were not law. As far as "enumerated powers" go, most Federalists in no way believed that the enumerated powers of the Constitution were the limits of the national government's powers. Please feel free to reference the debate about the First Bank of the United States, in which Hamilton expressed his belief in implied powers (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bank-ah.asp) -- essentially that the Constitution empowered the national government to take any steps necessary to carry out its duties, as broadly defined as they may be. Thomas Jefferson disagreed with this interpretation. George Washington sided with Hamilton and agreed with the implied powers idea. Washington, you'll also recall, when faced with a situation similar to Cliven Bundy's -- some rural folks in the states not wanting to pay their fees to the federal government -- rode out at the head of the army to crush them. Hamilton's idea of broad, implied powers was reaffirmed by another Founder, John Marshall, in the Supreme Court decision McCulloch v. Maryland, which reinforced both the idea of implied powers and also ruled that states had no authority to interfere with exercises of federal power. My point is this: your claim ("Our Founding Fathers were well aware of the dangers of a Federal government and worked hard to place the power in the hands of the States. It is a basic principle of the founding of this nation.") is not true. Hamilton did not see the Federal government as a danger and he did not work to place "the power" in the hands of the state. He saw a powerful Federal government as being necessary in order to create an industrial economy. Agrarian politicians like Jefferson disagreed; he went so far as to say that the states had the power to nullify any Federal law they disagreed with. Madison initially sided with Hamilton but shifted over to Jefferson over the issue of the national bank. Adams, if you'll look at the Alien & Sedition Acts he signed, certainly didn't shy away from Federal power. It's been a source of continuous disagreement in this country, and vigorous debate (as I said) where power should reside. This manifested during the debates over the Constitution, it manifested over the debates on the First Bank, on the debates over the Second Bank, on Calhoun's desire to nullify Federal tariffs, and it manifested during the Civil War. But the end result of all of this is that the law in this country recognizes the supremacy of the Federal government over the states -- that is, in fact, the entire reason we created a Constitution in the first place, because the weak centralized government created by the Articles of Confederation wasn't doing its job. Nevada isn't a "sovereign state." It doesn't get to impede Federal laws. Neither does some bass-ackwards rancher who claims not to recognize the power of the Federal government. You can complain about the amount of land that the Federal government owns, but it STILL OWNS THAT LAND, and more to the point, Nevada as a political creation never owned the land to begin with. It was conquered by the US's Federal army in the Mexican-American War, it was ceded to the US government, and the US government subsequently created a Federal territory which it then allowed to become a state -- and in so doing, that state accepted the authority of the Federal government (more explicitly than most, given its own Constitution in which it recognizes Federal supremacy and the Federal ownership of much of its land). Cliven Bundy has no leg to stand on.