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BLM Vs. Nevada Rancher Bundy: What Is The Real Story?

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Here is a roundup of five articles and forum threads on the BLM vs. Bundy case in Nevada. What’s your take on the situation?

I’ve been following with keen interest the case of the federal government's recent seizure and subsequent release of Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy's herd. I’ve also received countless emails from readers requesting I blog about this case. Admittedly, I’m a bit reluctant to touch this subject – not because I fear the controversy – but because I don’t feel close enough to the situation to fully grasp all the nuances and accurately report on the case.

Nothing is black and white, and considering this scenario has been playing out for almost two decades, there is a whole lot of gray to wade through in arriving at an accurate picture of what is going on with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Bundy.

For one thing, there seems to be a strong undercurrent of resentment among many landowners in the area against the federal government’s management of public lands. The federal government is by far the largest landowner in the U.S., and state and federal land ownership exceeds 30% in at least 16 states, including 90% of Alaska, 80% of Nevada, 70% of Utah, and 65% of Idaho. Despite Bundy's arguments having been rejected by two appeals courts, the BLM-Bundy case has morphed into a much wider debate over freedom, personal property, state rights, taxation and government overreach.

 

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One of the best accounts I’ve seen of the lead-up to the current standoff in Nevada is provided by breitbart.com in “The Saga Of Bundy Ranch.” And Glenn Beck interviewed Bundy this week about his motivations in refusing to acknowledge federal authority. You can listen and/or read the transcript here.

Of course, reporting on what’s transpiring between Bundy and the BLM in Nevada is shaded somewhat by your political leanings.

  • For instance, MSN News reports that the BLM “began a roundup of the cattle from the Bundy ranch a week ago, contending he owes more than $1 million in back fees, penalties and other costs for grazing his cattle on public land and has ignored court orders. Bundy stopped paying monthly grazing fees in 1993.”
  • Meanwhile, Fox News tells of how “two of Nevada’s top elected leaders are riding to the rescue of a rancher whose decades-long range war with the federal government has reached a boiling point in recent days… Both Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sen. Dean Heller have condemned the BLM for what they characterize as heavy-handed actions involving Bundy and other Silver State residents.”
  • And Alex Jones’ commentary on Infowars.com, entitled, “Armed Feds Prepare For Showdown With Nevada Cattle Rancher,” has a more militant tone: “A Ruby Ridge-style standoff is brewing in Nevada, where dozens of armed federal agents are closing in on cattle rancher Cliven Bundy over claims that Bundy has allowed his cows to graze illegally on government land. Vowing to take a stand for, ‘your liberty and freedom,’ Bundy says he is prepared to be killed as authorities surround a 600,000-acre section of public land as a result of Bundy violating a 1993 BLM ruling which changed grazing rights in order to protect the endangered desert tortoise.”
  • You also can check out this steerplanet.com thread entitled, “Tyranny,” to read both some thought-provoking and some bone-headed comments on this topic.

Note that I’m not sharing my opinions on this case because I’m simply not close enough to the situation to have a firm grasp on the real story. However, I would love to hear your first-hand accounts, thoughts, opinions and predictions regarding how this scenario might play out. Is this a state vs. federal issue? Did this rancher do wrong, or was he the wronged party? What can others learn from this situation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 93

on Apr 14, 2014

Here is a Glenn Beck interview with rancher Bundy:

http://www.glennbeck.com/2014/04/14/nevada-rancher-i-did-not-graze-my-ca...

Anonymous Beef Farmer (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Unfortunately just the fact that Glenn Beck of hate radio interviewed this guy diminishes Bundy's credibility.

on Apr 15, 2014

Have you ever actually listened to Beck, or just to the folks who tell you not to listen? He has an agenda, which is to fight the liberal progressives, but it's not hate. I hear "the hate" coming from the progressive (so-called "tolerance side"). I'm not a regular listener, but Beck makes reasoned arguments from consistent principles, and it's not hate.

on Apr 15, 2014

Well said, Molly. Agree 100%.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 25, 2014

Glenn Beck's agenda is to stir the pot, even if he has to invent "facts" to do so. He was removed from television for doing just that with the "Obama was born in Africa" campaign.

on Apr 15, 2014

Actually...the Beck gang were pretty indifferent to Bundy during the interview. I felt that they asked pointed questions and at the end of the day were pretty "even" in their assessment. Clearly Bundy has a lot of issues, both personal and business. Perhaps this wasn't the best example or circumstance to deserve the headlines it did. I will standby that any time the FED sets up "Free Speech Area's" in a roped off area I have a serious concern, regardless of the issue. As for Beck's "hate" TV...well, I am a fan and think a lot of what they talk about is patriotic and enlightening. Take from it what you want, leave what you don't, but labeling that as "hate TV" is a bit of a stretch. My opinion only:)

Steve C., MO (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

You nailed my thoughts, precisely. I normally don't listen to Glenn Beck but was in my truck a few days when he came on the station I had on. Whatta crackpot!!

Ed Fowler (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

A little more information some may enjoy.

http://scgnews.com/bundy-ranch-what-youre-not-being-told

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 25, 2014

I only have one question: Did Bundy sign a lease saying he promised to pay the Federal government money in exchange for running cattle on Federal land? If so, pay up Mr. Bundy and stop stealing from the rest of us.

on Apr 14, 2014

Here is another article from the Independent Sentinel: "Chilling Truth: The Siege of the Bundy Ranch Reaches into the White House"

http://www.independentsentinel.com/chilling-truth-siege-of-bundy-ranch-r...

Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

The very idea of a "public domain" (especially one that controls over 60% of the land mass west of Denver) is about as Un-American (downright communist) as one can get.

Dustin Cox (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Amen

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

I agree. We should do the right thing, and either give all that land back to Mexico (which we illegally seized it from) or give it back to the Native Americans (who us and the Mexicans illegally seized it from.) Then they can keep it private or sell it as they see fit. It definitely does not legally or rightfully belong to the American government. Glad we agree on this issue.

K.McKenzie (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

The real story? Mr. Bundy was informed in '93 that cattle numbers had to be reduced to 150 head. He did not renew his grazing permit SO his grazing permit was revoked in '94 for NON payment of renewal fees. Then court case begins and Bundy loses but ignores the court and continues to run cattle on area plus increases the cattle numbers AND the area where they graze (if not correct then all the media and court records are wrong and we are ALL in the dark) I believe in Public Domain lands without it we would have no wonderful parks and wildlife areas...
because the richest would have taken them away years ago.....so with the information provided here I am on the side of the UNITED STATES. We CANNOT survive in this world today if our country fractures like some people seem to want. Kim McKenzie

Anonymous Beef Farmer (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

yup. K McKenzie you have the facts of this case correct. And I agree with you on your opinions.

Terry Hutton (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

This ongoing grazing permit issue is out of control. What is the Federal Gvmt. doing by all of a sudden trying to protect a tortoise at the expense of keeping cattle from grazing on land that has been ongoing for many, many years? Your Public Domain argument is flawed. There is no reason to make a change in the use of this "desert" land. Even the "permit" issue is questionable, although I can understand controlling public property to a certain extent if there is abuse. I think this is a "green" agenda by those in current control of the Fed. Government trying to flex its muscle on the private citizens. It is clearly unnecessary and should not be happening - the Fed. Gvmt. should stay out of this issue. There is no harm being done by this rancher. Terry Hutton

D. Manville (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

K.McKenzie this is not about having no public lands or changing this land from being public land. The question is what government owns the land. Mr. Bundy believes it is State land because it is unconstitutional for the Federal Government for any purpose other than what is stated in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution. The other issue is the over reaching power of the Federal Government to deny an U.S. citizen of his rights. I also like Mr. Bundy am from a multi generational ranch family that has grazed on BLM and USFS since 1882 which was before these government agencies were formed which gives us preemptive rights. If you want public lands with access you need to pay attention to what happens here. If the people are kicked off the land the Federal Government will close down access they have done it before.

CornellEngineer (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

Get your facts straight. The federal land in Nevada was originally managed by the General Land Office which was formed in 1812...long before your family or Bundy started mooching off of public land.

So much for your "preemptive rights" nonsense.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

Does that make it okay for me to log in Yellowstone? Because that didn't exist in 1882 either. You're argument is flawed. Federal law supersedes state law in Nv. That was stated clearly in the Nv constitution that was ratified during their entrance to statehood. Btw, republicans were responsible for both Yellowstone and Nevada's statehood.This guy does not get to make up the rules as he goes along.

on Apr 15, 2014

So I guess your happy with Harry Reid giving this same land to the Chinese for a Solar manufacturing plant. Maybe Mr Bundy hasn't paid his fees, I don't know if he has or hasn't, however as always with governments and public domain act it involves money and usually a politician getting rich in the process.
Yes national parks are great and protect the wildlife but people still need to come first. As for liking the public domain act my guess is you live in a city or town and therefore think it will never be your land or rights that are violated. Think again.
http://www.wnd.com/2014/04/harry-reids-last-roundup/

on Apr 15, 2014

Revgazza...good point! I agree with the principles and ideas of the "wonderful parks" but follow the money...if Bundy (or other ranchers) don't use it some politician will. Case in point, Reid and the solar folks...again, follow the cash. There have to be rules and the rule of law must stand, but on ALL sides. That said, Bundy has to follow them, but so does Reid and the BLM.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 5, 2014

We funded "solor" once on the tax dollar and it failed, just like it's pusher. Makes sense to do it again, only the chinese will not try to brush the failure under the rug. Someone will pay and we can only hope it will come out of Reid an company's hide. Stupid is as Stupid does. This is not about Bundy, it it were, why wait so many years to call in the "Feds" on him?

R.C. Wilbur (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

Well said Revgazza. Public lands belong to all, not only to those in power. I am encouraged by Cliven's 20 year struggle with the Feds. Stand, live free or die. rcw.

texxan (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

I don't know if he had or hasn't. Yes you do. Out just doesn't fit your narrative.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

I believe you have the most correct assessment of the situation so far. We run cattle on BLM land in Utah and get along well with them. If we do not renew our permit, we will lose it, and have no problem doing so. Complying with the regulations is to our benefit as weather & numbers of cattle affect the well being of how well our cattle thrive on the land. I don't believe the desert tortoise is a factor at this time, but the past issue is being brought up as a scapegoat now. There is no way cattle could be raised on private ground for the minimal cost of grazing on BLM land and complying with the laws and paying the fee is worth it. He should have been paying the fees.

John R. Dykers, Jr (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Do you or any contributors know what the "change" was in 1993?
johndykersmd@dykers.com

on Apr 15, 2014

I believe BLM changed Bundy's permit to allow for habitat protection for the desert tortoise.

D. Manville (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

K.McKenzie this is not about having no public lands or changing this land from being public land. The question is what government owns the land. Mr. Bundy believes it is State land because it is unconstitutional for the Federal Government for any purpose other than what is stated in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution. The other issue is the over reaching power of the Federal Government to deny an U.S. citizen of his rights. I also like Mr. Bundy am from a multi generational ranch family that has grazed on BLM and USFS since 1882 which was before these government agencies were formed which gives us preemptive rights. If you want public lands with access you need to pay attention to what happens here. If the people are kicked off the land the Federal Government will close down access they have done it before.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

And where Mr. Mckenzie do you live? Is your milk produced by a milk carton, your corn comes out of a can, your electricity from an outlet, your gas from a gas station, your steak from a Steakhouse, your bread from the bread store and your fancy filtered water from an upscale supplier at the gymn where you work out every morning. I am certain you have spent countless hours on your all terrain vehicle traveling every inch of the public domain. You need a real rancher or farmer wilderness experience in the worst way!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

If your concerned about the nature aspect of this you need to consider the fact that the cattle are being removed by the BLM so that a private corporation can build a solar energy plant in the area for personal profit. And just to let you know i thought this claim was a load of crap this morning until i did some fact checking of my own. how will an energy plant affect the poor littl tortoises? Probably more damage than the cows that i can promise are not hurting anything.

Teresa Vaden-Hall (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

I'm still on the fence. I do have a big problem with a "free speech" zone. I will be watching closely as I'm worried about the treatment of the cattle. Who is taking them and where and do they even know how to properly care for them and help with calving? Thanks Amanda for this article there are so many stories out there it is so confusing. I miss the days of real reporters....just the who, what, when, where, and how. I don't want an opinion in a news story that's what editorials are for.

on Apr 15, 2014

The fight was not really caused by the dispute over grazing rights. It was when the BLM showed up with a large para military force. That upset a lot of people. The militias came running when they used tasers, stun guns, and fists on Bundy's sons and their wives. Just before the BLM retreated, they were threatening to fire on the protesters with automatic or semi-auto-matic rifles. A lone agent, apparently realizing what was about to happen, then negotiated safe retreat of all federal agents.

on Apr 15, 2014

Violence shouldn't even be an option here. On EITHER side. I am a Second Ammendment supporter, no doubt, but common sense and civility must prevail. Had this resulted in a blood bath we would have hit an unproductive low in our American history and it would have changed things immediately and urgently. Thank GOD for calmer heads...or head...of the lone agent who recognized and rectified the situation (if that was the case).

GAE (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

Agreed with BlaineMad. I'm a Viet vet, Iowan and a firm supporter of rights at of men & women died for BUT even in Geo. Washington's time, citizens who did not pay taxes (so-called Whiskey Rebellion) had troops sent after them by the Father of our Country. we are a nation of laws; the rancher went to court, twice, and lost - case closed! Don't like the law? Then why keep electing Reid? (We have Chuck Grassley, a farmer!)

on Apr 15, 2014

The Powerline Blog has a great article on this topic, entitled: "Why You Should Be Sympathetic To Cliven Bundy."

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/04/why-you-should-be-sympathe...!

on Apr 15, 2014
on Apr 15, 2014

This video is most excellent:) Share this! Follow the money, folks!

on Apr 17, 2014

It is only excellent if you don't need to rely on facts.

Fritz Groszkruger (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

I've heard the Teddy Roosevelt line about public lands enough. There is no reason to believe the land in the national park system and other public lands would become an exclusive rich man's privilege. They would be cared for by people who own them. instead of suffering the effects of "the tragedy of the commons."
Bundy has benefited by having free access to the land that he should rent from a private owner or buy himself if possible.
In my logging days in the Northwest I saw the difference between private ownership and government ownership. I don't see how anyone could dispute that people take better care of their own stuff. Besides that, I don't want to own Yellowstone and should not be forced to pay for its upkeep. Places like that should be private and the owners would charge fees to those who want to experience them. The owners would have incentive to maintain them at a level to encourage visitors for a profit.
I hope the Bundy episode stimulates a discussion that leads to privatization. But I'm not optimistic. Too many people want someone else to pay their way and finance their dreams of utopia.

Dustin Cox (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Correct

John R. Dykers, Jr (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Sorry, Fritz. I am as Libertarian as anybody and my economic philosophy is 'Rotarian Capitalism', BUT the National Park System is one of those special deals that we can do only as a nation, not as private for profit enterprises. The problems arise when the Parks system employees begin to be corrupted and begin to abuse the National Park system for their own ease and money. I have seen the same thing happen at our meat packing plant when USDA abused their power for their own comfort NOT for making a healthier product.
johndykersmd@dykers.com

Fritz Groszkruger (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

John, You make my point for me. The corruption you cite would be controlled by the profit motive more efficiently than by some manager with no stake in the game but retaining a job paid for with funds confiscated from taxpayers and spent for the mythological common good. I'm actually surprised what a great job the park service employees do. But the sky's the limit on the potential there. Ours is an incredible land. Government controlled economies have produced toxic wastelands in China and Russia.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Most of your national parks are under the authority of the U.N. (United Nations) through UNESCO
http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/us

John R. Dykers, Jr (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

'Other public lands' are a different matter; different from the National Parks. Imagine I would be much more inclined to agree with Fritz about 'other public lands'.
Johndykersmd@dykers.com

SEG (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Thanks Amanda - good reading. I suspect this case is like a divorce - both parties have their side of the story and both parties share in the blame for what's gone wrong. That said it does seem odd to me that this has simmered along for ~20 years and the govt has now reached the point that NO other option is left but to urgently take the offensive in a provocative and rather ham-fisted manner. The easy analysis I've read from lots of folks is to say Bundy was wrong - he should have paid he deserves what he gets. But I have to wonder how many other guys like Bundy are out there who have paid their fees and are still being pushed off of land they have been ranching for years. A cursory web search turned up several stories - at least enough to make me think the problem is much bigger than Bundy and something we ALL need to pay attention to. At the very least it looks like the folks at BLM should be called out for POOR management of the situation. Not sure if the $ amount reported yesterday on Fox is correct, but whatever BLM paid to the people they hired to gather and deliver the cattle to a sale facility in Utah was taxpayer money wasted. That whole thing looked like amateur hour at the cattle's expense.

kt in montana (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

I don't know all the nuances of this situation either...probably some fault and mishandling on both sides to some degree but I agree with hoffbill in that the BLM showing up with this large para military force was very upsetting. They cannot(will not) use these resources against drug cartels on our borders but yet they utilize these resources against a rancher, his family and cattle. This is disturbing to say the least.

TheUnsilentMajority (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Seriously?!?! The government is concerned over cattle "trespassing and grazing" on public/government land & grass? Are they REALLY concerned about the desert turtle?? Has anyone seen the amount of trash and waste ILLEGAL immigrants leave behind in the desert as they are ILLEGALLY crossing our borders and land?? We can point tasers and guns at productive American members of society such as ranchers and farmers, but we can't point them at those who REALLY break the law and who really trash our country? WAKE UP AMERICA!

on Apr 15, 2014

Amanda,

Thank you for addressing this topic and doing so in probably the most even way possible. I appreciate you laying out the different political slants while refraining from partisan conjecture (that's our job:)). Seriously, well written!

I was one of those who tweeted you asking for your thoughts on the topic. I also appreciate your position of "not being close enough to the the issue." I feel much the same but became extremely interested when the "free speech areas" were set up and the strong military presence was displayed by the BLM. I am a strong 2nd Amendment guy but absolutely will NOT advocate or support armed conflict with our government. If we reach that point, we are in serious trouble. However, we have to continue to monitor these types of events and display our intolerance (peacefully) to infringements on our civil liberties. You as a professional blogger-writer-commentator-spokesperson should certainly appreciate that where it touches on the freedoms of speech and opinion. As for Bundy, if he owes for grazing then he should pay...but if Harry Reids sole intention is to secure this property in efforts to sell use to a foreign company or solar company, we have to watch that carefully, too.

Thanks again for your outstanding work and presenting thought provoking topics!

Blaine

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A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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