BEEF Daily

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


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.


Subscribe now to Cow-Calf Weekly to get the latest industry research and information in your inbox every Friday!


One of the best accounts I’ve seen of the lead-up to the current standoff in Nevada is provided by 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, 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 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.


More articles to enjoy:

Battle For Grass Calves Stretches Prices Further

9 Nifty New Products For Cattle Producers

Can The Beef Industry Get Along?

I’m Having An Internal Conversation About Beef’s Future

Skipping The Basics Can Carry A Big Bottom-Line Penalty

Have A Laugh On Us! Check Out These Dick Stubler Cartoons

Will Crossing Two Clones From Prime, YG1 Carcasses Produce Similar Offspring?

Discuss this Blog Entry 93

on Apr 15, 2014

I spend my winters in this area, where the cattle were to be rounded up. The situation was handled in the same over bearing government style. Access to all roads in this 600,000 acre area were closed. A small area was designated to free speech. The BLM and other government agencies patrolled the area with vehicles and helicopters day and night. There were snipers on the hills. Everyone was intimidated not only the Bundys. When the Bundys wanted to see what was in the bed of a dump truck dogs and tasers were used on them. This is supposed to be public land managed by the BLM. This is not management, ask any manager if they use this tactic on customers. Now it's on standby I've seen videos of Cowboys abusing the cattle and shooting an unruly bull. If these tactics were used on Wild horses they would be doing time. It's time our government used diplomacy not there federal courts on the so called free Americans.

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

Freedom ('free Americans') exists ONLY within a framework of mutually accepted laws, under OUR constitution those passed with the 'consent of the governed' by our elected representatives and interpreted by our judiciary. Soooooo, be more attentive to casting out ballots. We surely want to avoid casting our bullets. When we REALLY exercise our 2nd amendment rights, we will have failed our Constitution.
For current example of the absence of 'just consent of the governed' all we have to do is feel the chaos in Syria (and unfortunately many other places around our planet).

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

I am no way excusing how the agency or agency people handled this growing problem. I'm just trying to look at the "facts" that are out there at this time that I personally have read and it seems to me that the Mr. Bundy was legally wrong...We farm but we don't lease or have any grazing permits with any state or federal agency but if we did then we would comply with the lease agreement or we would not do the lease...that seems only good business. I think it odd that Mr. Bundy only wants to go back in history where it suits his personal agenda......Why not go back to who 1st "owned or used" the land.....the Native Americans. Praying for a safe and reasonable solution for all involved. Kim McKenzie

Charlie Vaughn (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

I don't feel that many of the facts revolving around this issue have come to light. What is somewhat evident is that the Bundy family has been raising cattle in this area of Nevada for a very long time and their grazing of cattle pre-dates the formation of the Bureau of Land Management as well as the endangered species act which is protective of the Desert Tortoise. That being said, it seems that the grazing rights of the Bundy Ranch were established long before the creation of a government agency and federal regulation, therefore, the question seems to be one of whether those rights were extinguished and or modified by the creation of BLM. It seems that consent to abide by BLM regulation had to be given or those rights that were in existence prior to the creation of BLM should have been grandfathered as a pre-existing right and any loss or modification of that right in favor of the BLM should have been compensated or agreed to through some sort of formal declaration that recognized the BLM as the landlord in authority over the land.

Fritz Groszkruger (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Great post and an important point, so far overlooked.

LineCreek (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

1785 Land Ordinance of 1785 (national lands)
1788 U.S. Constitution adopted. Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 "power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territory and other Property belonging to the United States."
1812. General Land Office created to "perform all such act and things respecting the public lands of the United States."
Lots of acts and strife (including fraud and theft) on public lands over the next 100 plus years.
1936. Taylor Grazing Act passed. Grazing Service created under the Department of the Interior.
1946. General Land Office and Grazing Service merged to create the Bureau of Land Management.
These lands are national lands. Always have been. Hopefully always will be. If you use them, follow the rules (including paying your grazing fees of $1.35 per AUM, half of which is immediately paid back for improving allotments. BLM also pays every county in the nation a Payment in Lieu of Taxes each year to support local government.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 17, 2014

I need to tack this onto your thread seeing as it's the most relevant.

Article 1, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution:

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

The paramount-allegiance clause, a product of the era in which Nevada gained statehood, originated in Nevada's first (and unofficial) constitutional convention of 1863. Some 3,000 miles to the east, the Civil War raged between the federal government in the North and West and the rebellion that had swallowed the South. In early 1864, Abraham Lincoln—who wanted more pro-Union states in Congress so as to pass the amendment to abolish slavery, and a few more electoral votes to guarantee his reelection that fall—signed a bill authorizing Nevada to convene an official constitutional convention for statehood. The state constitution's framers, who were overwhelmingly Unionist, retained the clause in solidarity with the Union when they gathered in July 1864.

That pro-federal sentiment also guided Nevada's first congressional delegation when it arrived in the nation's capital in early 1865. William Stewart, the Silver State's first senator, proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution in December 1865 that would've enshrined a weaker form of the paramount allegiance clause at the federal level:

First—The Union of the States, under this constitution, is indissoluble, and no State can absolve its citizens from the obligation of paramount allegiance to the United States.

Second—No engagement made, or obligation incurred by any State, or by any number of States, or by any county, city, or any other municipal corporation to subvert, impair, or resist the authority of the United States, or to support or aid any legislative convention or body in hostility to such authority, shall ever be held, voted, or be assumed or sustained, in whole or part, by any State or by the United States.

This proposed amendment—which would have resolved secession's constitutionality for all time—did not succeed. The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled in Texas v. White in 1869 that secession had been unconstitutional and that "the Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible states." Stewart nevertheless left his mark on the Constitution the same year as White, when he wrote what would become the Fifteenth Amendment, guaranteeing black suffrage.

Two decades after Nevada's founders proclaimed unswerving obedience to federal authority, Cliven Bundy's family first settled the land where he and his supporters now make their heavily armed stand against federal power.

Bob Allen (not verified)
on Apr 24, 2014

Yes to all of the above. Optimum word "landlord" versus "non-paying tenant".

on Apr 15, 2014

I live on the east coast so am unable to take advantage of the ability to rent land from anyone but neighbors so I do not have personal experience with BLM.
I am curious how other ranchers who do and have paid rent to the BLM feel about this case. Were it me I would have a problem with a company in the same industry avoiding an expense that I had paid for many years. Seems that Mr Bundy's assertion that the rules others abide by do not apply to him because of his personal views of government doesn't hold water

Dustin Cox (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Thank You for the call.
I really appreciate you asking.
Please research Bundy Ranch Blog and the American lands Council website for more detail but I will try to explain here short version.
United States Constitution never intended for large tracks of federally controlled land.
Under article one of US Constitution says that they can as long as they are a territory. But the west just like the east are states. Once a territory becomes a state under article 4 of US Constitution the federal government must dispose of the lands. Nevada came into the union a month before Nebraska. Nebraska has 1% public lands Nevada has over 80% public lands. When Hawaii came into the union in the 50s they disposed of those lands over 80% of Hawaii is privately owned. So when the states were ready the lands must be disposed bottom-line.
As far as the lease agreement let me try to explain with leasing a ranch in Texas from a private individual.
When you go into lease a piece of ground in Texas as long as you or the landlord don't change the agreement you have the right to graze your cattle on the leased land. But what happens if halfway through a 10 year lease the landlord says you need to get off because of something that wasn't in the lease agreement?
About 21 years ago the BLM told him that he had to get off because of the desert tortoise. He stood by the fact that he had a right to graze cattle. They persisted and he held fast and that is when he stopped paying the BLM and started paying Clark county in the state of Nevada. They received payment for a while and then started sending his checks back. The issue is not the grazing fee the issue is the right to graze cattle on public land that needs to be disposed of to the state's. Utah Nevada Arizona want to be like Texas and the rest of the union.
I hope this helps.
God Bless America.
Thank you Again for asking.
Please share.

Steve Lacy (not verified)
on Apr 17, 2014

I,m a Texan . In Texas, one does not leave the paved highway.No back country. No place to get away from people. No place to camp. No place to ride an ATV. No place to jeep. High price hunting leases. No fun.

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

Mr. Cox I was under the assumption from court records and media that in '93 Mr. Bundy was asked to reduce his cattle numbers to 150 head if he wanted to continue grazing in that particular area where the desert tortoise habit was degenerating. But instead he chose to not only continue grazing there but also he allowed his cattle numbers to expand and to graze on nonpermited areas that he originally avoided so I don't feel he acted in a very upfront manner at the beginning and now it's all going south as far as actions on both sides. As far as the lease or grazing permit specifics I don't know what he agreed to but it seemed to be OK prior to '93 so I have questions about that area. Don't know anything about the politics behind this but the known facts seem to favor the BLM side.....Wouldn't the best thing for all be to take it to court or congress? Kim McKenzie

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

This sets a precedence that the gov't will bank down if you want to conduct private business on public lands. I guess I run my heifers on the national mall now.

Tracy Johnson (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Without being an insider with all the knowledge within the Bundy family or the government it's hard to form an opinion. I will say, however, that I think it's an accumulation of years and years of government intrusion on many levels. Excuses of endangered species, regulation because of that, and on and on. Every time we turn around the "government" keeps punishing, regulating, and telling people what they can and can't do. People are just fed up!! 'The ones who actually know what's best for the land get dictated to by those who have no idea in the world what is best. We've dealt with it for years.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

All the land in the us belonged to the government to start with and most was transferred to private ownership via a variety means, homestead act, given to railroads, timber and mining,etc. The government spends more than it gets from leases to timber, mining, oil and gas, grazing, etc, to maintain, provide access to the land. I wish my cattle operation didn't have to compete with folks who can graze their cows for free or at subsidized rates.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

This is a 2013 LOCAL article before it became national and international news. And it clearly shows that Bundy increased his head after being asked to decrease, and pushed his stock further afield encroaching on Park Service land.

I am on BLM land right now. I have held 2 BLM permits and if we have people acting like Bundy ALL open ranges will be closed because people do not want to deal with local good-ole-boy systems that run slipshod over the rest of humanity.

Much has been written and debated about the cows that local Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy has been grazing on BLM managed property in the Gold Butte area in defiance of their demands and lawful court orders to remove them. The Bundy family was among the white settlers of the Virgin Valley and firmly fit the definition of the term “Good Old Boys” used by many in Mesquite. Below is some background for those who may not be familiar with the Bundy cow situation:

Beginning twenty years ago in 1993, the BLM has been in dispute with Bundy over his right to graze the Bunkerville Allotment of the Gold Butte area. After the BLM terminated Bundy’s grazing permit for Bundy’s failure to pay required grazing fees in 1998, Clark County, as administrator for the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, purchased the grazing rights from the BLM for $375,000 and retired them, in order to fulfill requirements under that plan to protect endangered desert tortoises.

Despite having no legal right to do so and in defiance of federal court orders, Bundy has continued to graze his cattle throughout the Gold Butte area without paying a penny to do so for decades, competing with tortoises for food, hindering the restoration of extensive wildfires, trampling rare plants, damaging ancient American Indian cultural sites, and threatening the safety of recreationists. A drive along Gold Butte Road will often require that you dodge trespassing cattle. Surveys by the BLM have found well over 1,000 cattle — many in easily damaged freshwater springs and riparian areas on public lands managed by the National Park Service and State of Nevada as well as the BLM.

In April 2012, the BLM was finally planning to enforce the law and have Bundy’s cows removed, but veiled threats and bravado stopped the planned roundup of the trespassing cattle under the 1998 court ruling. The BLM had decided to go to court even again to assure that their planned actions were correct, lawful, and current.

Late last week the U.S. District Court of Nevada issued another ruling (see the Court Order here) that affirms, once again, the right of the federal Bureau of Land Management to remove cattle trespassing in southeastern Nevada’s Gold Butte area to protect desert tortoises, other imperiled species, ancient cultural resources, and the safety of the recreating public. In the ruling the court again dismissed Bundy’s claims that the Federal Government doesn’t own the land by again affirming that the property was ceded to the United States of America by Mexico and has been owned by the USA since 1848. The court also again dismissed Bundy’s claim that Nevada’s Open Range statute overrides Federal Law, as well as his other defenses. The decision affirms the previous finding by the same court, made in 1998 and later upheld on appeal. The legal ruling has now been affirmed twice and unquestionably upheld after appeals by Bundy and has now again provided the BLM with a clear and undisputed mandate to proceed with what should have occurred over 12 years ago. The Court Order gave Bundy 45 days to remove the cattle, after which the BLM is authorized to “seize and remove to impound” the cattle. The court order was signed on July 9, 2013 and thus the 45 day period will end on August 23, 2013.

It has been interesting to watch local political figures dance with this issue. Do they support the founding families in defiance of federal law? Do they take the same position as Bundy that the U.S. Government doesn’t own Federal Land? Do they support the enforcement of the law only against those who are not members of the Club? Their position on these questions should tell you a lot about who they represent.

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

Prices are pretty good right now. Seems Bundy could sell these cattle and likely pocket some reasonably large 'change' even after paying the back grazing fees!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

We have a lot of honest and honorable cattlemen here in the southwest who pay their BLM fee's with honor to be able to gain access to hundreds of thousands of acres of grazing.

And I, for one, would have no qualm rounding up abandoned cattle who are trespassing on both BLM and Park Service land and hauling them to the sale barn.

Just hand me a running iron please..

But what I don't like to see are helicopters used to round up any livestock. It's a harsh way to deal with livestock, even those who are semi-feral.

You have to bring them in on horseback.. which is tough to do when you have a bunch of armed civilians willing and able to shoot you.

The general public doesn't seem to have a clue what 1,000 cows are worth, or how much land almost 200,000 acres of "public land" amounts to. Nor how fragile this desert and high desert land is, especially when it's multiple use with recreation, wildlife, protected species, historical sites et al.

Neither do they seem able to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the large number of "conspiracy theories" that have hit the media.

Everything from tortoise, to Democrats, Reid, Wind Farms. are being used as the foundation of these exaggerated claims.

There is a little truth is all.. but not associated with a rancher refusing to pay his grazing fee's for TWO decades.

If Mr. Bundy wants free grazing perhaps we could start the Bundy-Not-For-Profit and then tax payers like myself could decide if we do, or do not, want to contribute to his cow/calf operation.

That option is called "Freedom and Rights" ..

Kevin in WI (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

The tortoises have served their purpose. They are no longer needed.
"In August, however, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas announced that it would begin euthanizing half of the 1,400 tortoises in its 220-acre facility as a result of federal budget cuts, according to The Associated Press.
“The Center is scheduled to close in December 2014 due to funding issues,” said a statement on the BLM’s website. “All healthy tortoises at the Center will be relocated to sites that will support the recovery of the species. Healthy tortoises will not be euthanized.”

Read more:
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Trigger happy wackos. Bundy is in the wrong here, and the right wing are using his wrong doings to push their agenda. Typical. It's a shame it is taking them so long to get them off that land. It is not theirs, it belongs to the people, not the damn Bundys. They need to get over themselves. If these right wingers would take care of the damn planet the gov wouldn't be made to make them. And you can bet if this was just a family trying to live off that land I would be on their side, but they are just trying to make money. What 1 family needs 1000 cows. If the cows are your business then you need to pay. Otherwise its tax $$. These same people gripe about people who REALLY cant afford to live getting assistance for FOOD. The right wing are the real welfare queens.

LineCreek (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Hi Amanda. Good comments.
I am a solid conservative. Life long westerner (Montana). I am very familiar with public land history.
First, Bundy has no case. The land is now, and has been federal since about 1848. There are about 270-million acres in the west and Alaska that remain under BLM management from the original vast public domain.
Second, Bundy and his supporters don't like the feds. Seem to want to return to the days of range wars and fighting homesteaders and other ranchers to grab as much grazing ground as possible.
Third, Bundy has had opportunity to make his case before a federal judge. He has lost at least twice. Judge ordered BLM to go round up his trespassing cows.
Fourth, If Bundy and friends don't like current law, they need to do was law abiding conservatives do. Try to elect people to office that share their philosophy.
Finally, I and millions of other Americans use these BLM lands for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, rockhounding and a myriad of other activities. These lands generate millions of dollars for local businesses. We are very fortunate to have them.
Thousands of other public land ranchers are able to comply with the law, pay grazing fees, and make their livlihood.
Nothing makes Bundy special. He needs to be held accountable before a court. We are either a nation of laws or anarchy. Following the law is a better option.

Anonymous Beef Farmer (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

well put LineCreek. I'm a solid liberal and you have transcended political bs to lay out the facts. Thank you!

rancher5 (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

As a long time Rancher who has and never will have access to BLM,State,Forest Service land I at odds that Bundy got to rune cattle on land for free, or 1.37 AUM or whatever the rate is compared to private leases which go for 14-25 dollars an acre yes he has to fix improvements, I love his battle but does it mean he now owns Public land, or can I run a few hundred cattle too. Yes I didn't think so

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

If someone owed or Glenn Beck over a million dollars you can bet they would want to get paid right now.

on Apr 17, 2014

Absolutely! And if there was a Republican in the White House right now there wouldn't be this hard push against the federal government by the right wing media.

on Apr 15, 2014

This site pretty much discusses the real story:

Mr. Bundy is protesting the Fed's failure to relinquish "public lands" to Western States. I believe he is right. We need to stand behind Utah and other Western states in obtaining their land. But because the Western States do not have the money to educate their children in American History, I doubt if they will care.

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

Thank you Beef Magazine for this forum so we all can express our opinions without being bullied and targeted like so many forum . Keep up the good work and I pray this issue is settled in a peaceful manner for all. It saddens me that the animals in the end had to suffer because a rancher would not remove his cattle when he was given a 45 day period to do so (and I'm sure had he acted in good faith the BLM would have given him more time to remove his cattle. God's Peace Kim McKenzie

Lisa Doyal (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

It is sad commentary when the citizens of the greatest, most gracious country on earth find themselves pitted against one another over competing interests. Even more sad is the lack of compassion for the cattle when the government rangers brutally terrorized the peacefully grazing, unsuspecting herd, dispersing them in multiple directions while chasing them with helicopters. The cows were separated from their babies, some only hours old, and run until they collapsed from the stress. Some were crippled, others died while the people looked on in horror.
I do not believe it was a matter of who was right and who was wrong in the initial dispute that made the government decide to end their aggression. I truly believe that it was the realization by the rangers that their actions were not only cruel to the animals but a shameful display of unnecessary force in a situation better settled among cooler heads. I feel that they saw the fear in the eyes of those animals and felt the desperation in the voices of the citizens as they tried to stop the despicable mistreatment. For a brief moment both sides met in the middle connected only by their true AMERICAN hearts. This was the only good thing that happened that day. AMERICA is still the greatest country on earth and it is that compassionate spirit that remains intact. Now that tempers have flared and the populace is watching, I believe the facts will come forth and a solution will be found that will make AMERICANS, once again, proud to be AMERICAN.

hem raj jain (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2014

Can some one enlighten me on a point of law.

If Bundy was not paying monthly grazing fees to authorities then why his cattle were allowed to graze on government land and why arrears of grazing fee allowed to increase for absurdly long time of over two decades to such unbearable amount of more than $ 1 million which necessitated the rounding-up of Bundy's cattle by Fed government or BLM?

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

I am pleased with reader comments. Most realize that Bundy is wrong and has been for more than twenty years. Federal grazing fees are a fraction of the going rate and he won't even pay that. He wants the land turned over to states because state politicians are easier to buy and bully than the federal government. Grazing is a legitimate management practice for grasslands but it's not free-for-all.

LineCreek (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

Re the blog, thanks to all for reasonably calm and thoughtful posts. I have followed other posts online, and the level of incendiary and violent language is frightening.
Points: Grazing BLM is a privlege, not a right under the law. (Supreme Court)
Grazing allotments were formed with passage of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. Bundy apparently paid fees and abided by rules until 1993. As I understand, when his cow numbers were reduced in 1993, he was paid for their loss.
He set himself above the law and Supreme Court decisions and BLM tried to work with him for 20 years with no success. Federal judge finally orderd BLM to remove the trespassing cows (including those on neighbors areas).
So, if I follow the Bundy reasoning, since I am a solid pro-life person, I can ignore the Roe v. Wade decision and take action? Of course not! Principle is the same. We either are a nation of laws (even ones we don't like), or we have anarchy, which appears to be what Hannity and crazies blogging on other posts.
Final point. I live in the west and use BLM public land for hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. Millions like me spend lots of money with local businesses in support of our passions. We should be grateful these lands are available to us!

DLR (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

So is it a fair that he has accumulated 1.1 million dollars in fees for grazing 400 cows since 1992 at 1.35 per AUM? Or is that more like grazing 3000 cattle on blm since 1990? Was it sensible to spend 2.1 million dollars on an operation attempting to collect a 1.1 million dollar debt? while in fact the debt negative interest is closer to 250,000$. Why could they not put a lien on his house or cattle? Take him to jail? They impounded and tried to sell his cattle, and you defend that as due justice in the most free country in the world. He has in fact said he would pay money to the state of Nevada, so the money is not the issue. To him it is moral. and Ronald Reagan declared himself a sagebrush rebel in an August 1980 campaign speech in Salt Lake City, telling the crowd, "I happen to be one who cheers and supports the Sagebrush Rebellion. Count me in as a rebel.". So some of you arent rebels, fine. But there are some still in the middle of the sagebrush rebellion.

Dennis Hoyle (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

Take a look at what the BLM is doing along the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas. It is a federal land grab wherever they can. Endangered species, Clean water act, it is all about government taking away freedom and personal property rights.

on Apr 17, 2014

Since the majority of these comments seem to be from far right GOP types I thought I'd interject a little insight from a more progressive, left leaning perspective.

Hypocrisy: Right-wing media are quick to call Obama "lawless," but are happy to support a rancher who has spent decades refusing to pay federal grazing fees on public lands.

on Apr 17, 2014

I'm sorry but I really can't hold my tongue. This blog piece says it "isn't political" but then includes links to Beck, Fox and Alex Jones and then a final reference to an article entitled "Tyranny." Please! Tyranny is defined as cruel and oppressive government or rule. What on earth could be tyrannical about trying to follow a federal judge's order to collect 20 years worth of unpaid grazing fees? This isn't a gray area. It IS black and white. Everyone else plays by the rules and pays their dues. Now that is not to say that further discussion is not warranted about BLM practices. In fact, I would say this is very true. But those discussions need to be productive and not at the point of a gun. Good ranchers have reached out to work to educate Washington about how progressive range management techinques can improve and enhance range land. Not only do native species (included endangered) get more and better habitat, but ranchers get more grass production. It is a win/win. I'm just so fed up with right wing media stoking fears and creating conflict. The best quote I've read on the subject came from a article: "The Bundy Range War was perpetuated by an irresponsible media vying for nothing more than ratings and an ill-informed and willfully ignorant public who, much like a NASCAR fan, come to the race simply in hopes of seeing a crash."

bj (not verified)
on Apr 20, 2014

Please pull your heads out of the ground, all you Fed backers... HARD CORE TYRANNY is sweeping the land and you've gotta be dumb as a rock not to recognize it. For the love of God... open your eyes.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 25, 2014

You wouldn't know tyranny if it came up and bit you. You don't like the laws passed by Congress and signed into law? Then elect people who agree with you; otherwise stop labeling the duly elected officials as tyrants and the laws they adopt as tyrannical.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 21, 2014
ST. GEORGE — By complaint filed Sept. 20 in the U.S. District Court for Utah, Washington County is being sued by a private land developer who, in 1995, volunteered to commit 2,440 acres of his own land into the Red Cliff’s Desert Tortoise Reserve. The land developer, James Doyle, claims that for 18 years the county has failed to meet its obligation to facilitate a deal with the federal government to either purchase Doyle’s land outright, or to exchange it for land of similar value.
County in crisis
In 1990, Doyle purchased 2,440 acres of land in the southern foothills of the Pine Valley Mountain with the intention of building a golf course and a community of luxury homes. In 1994, just as Doyle was preparing to break ground on the project, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated most of northern Washington County as a critical habitat for the endangered Mojave Desert Tortoise. Federal regulations prohibited development throughout much of Washington County until the county presented Fish and Wildlife with a Habitat Conservation Plan that protected the tortoise’s natural habitat.
The permit allowed development in Washington County to resume, just as demand for housing in the area was about to reach an all-time high
County officials worked with private land owners, various municipalities, and federal and state governments to create a conservation plan that set aside 62,000 acres of desert tortoise habitat, forming the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. As a result, in 1996, U.S. Fish and Wildlife issued a countywide incidental take permit: a permit which allowed for the “taking” (disruption) of desert tortoise habitat anywhere outside of the HCP. The permit allowed development in Washington County to resume, just as demand for housing in the area was about to reach an all-time high.
Doyle, along with more than a dozen other private land owners, voluntarily agreed to commit their land to the reserve with an understanding that the Bureau of Land Management would either purchase the land for a fair price or else offer an exchange of similarly valued property, elsewhere.
At a turtle’s pace
Doyle is now suing Washington County, as well as the BLM, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and current U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. Doyle claims that both federal and local governments have not followed through on their promises and, as a result, Doyle has been ruined, financially.
In a 2000 hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management, Doyle testified that delays in reaching an agreement with the federal government had forced him to sell his personal belongings in order to meet the demands of his creditors.
I have had to sell my business assets, including my airplane and my office building in St. George, Utah
“I have had to sell my business assets, including my airplane and my office building in St. George, Utah,” Doyle testified. “I have also had to sell my home in St. George, and just recently, I had to sell my family home in Idaho.”
Doyle’s attorney, Timothy B. Anderson, said that, before the Desert Tortoise issue arose, Doyle incurred many expenses while preparing the land for development.
“Doyle invested significant funds to plan and develop his Washington County land as a golf resort and residential development,” Anderson wrote in the lawsuit, filed on September 9. “He created a Master Plan, obtained water rights, secured zoning adjustments, commissioned transportation and engineering studies, and built infrastructure.”
Doyle said that the government sanctions placed on the HCP land made it difficult to borrow the money he needed to pay off his creditors and meet his tax burdens while he waited for a land-exchange or outright sale to take place.
“I have had to borrow substantial amounts of money, sometimes at interest rates as high as 100 percent,” Doyle said in his testimony to the subcommittee. “I have exhausted both my personal and company resources trying to obtain fair compensation for my property.”
Once Washington County had what it wanted, then it’s incentive to follow up and treat Mr. Doyle fairly had gone away
Anderson said that the HCP implementation agreement obliged Washington County to facilitate compensation for Doyle’s land, or else to purchase it themselves. After 18 years, neither has happened. “Once Washington County had what it wanted, then it’s incentive to follow up and treat Mr. Doyle fairly had gone away.”
Nearly every other private land owner who entered into the HCP agreement was compensated for their land, Anderson said, except for Doyle.
Doyle now retains only 247 of the originally 2,440 acres he originally placed into the reserve. In order to meet the demands of his creditors, he said, he has been forced to sell his holdings, piece by piece, for far less than he believes the property is worth.
“The land developers got what they wanted, the people got what they wanted, but Jim Doyle had his property taken away by creditors,” Anderson said.
Who’s to blame?
Washington County Administrator Dean Cox said the county has done everything it was supposed to do under the HCP agreement.
“The county’s responsibility under the HCP was to facilitate (a deal between Doyle and the federal government).” Cox said that that several deals for land exchanges or purchases for Doyle’s land have fallen through for various reasons.
“Offers were made,” said County Commissioner James Eardly. “There were offers, substantial offers, but again, the agreement said there has to be a willing buyer and willing seller.”
Doyle turned down multiple offers from the federal government, Eardly said. “One offer was just south of $28-million,” he said, “which would have been many, many, many times what he invested in that land.”
Janine Blaeloch, the director of Western Lands Project – a public lands advocacy group that fights the exchange of government lands into private ownership – spoke about Doyle’s land issues in 2001 to the U.S. House Subcomittee on Forests and Public Land Management. In her testimony, Blaeloch said that when Doyle purchased the land in 1990, he knew that his land was on Desert Tortoise habitat.
For him to portray himself as an innocent victim of federal regulation is grossly misleading
“Mr. Doyle did not make a down payment to the state on his land purchase until June 1990, well after the tortoise was first listed (as an endangered species),” Blaeloch said. “Mr. Doylye did not go blindfolded into this land purchase, and for him to portray himself as an innocent victim of federal regulation is grossly misleading.”
Anderson does not deny that his client rejected a $28 million offer from the BLM. “If I said I wanted you to accept $28 million for all of St. George, that would not have been a very good offer,” he said.
In March, 2006, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Doyle commissioned an appraisal that valued his land at $70 million. Doyle has maintained that his land should be valued at what it would be worth if there were no tortoise issues at all because of a special provision of the Omnibus Parks and Public Management Act of 1996 (sec. 309); the provision states that HCP lands in Washington County must be valued “without regard to the presence of a species listed as threatened or endangered.”
Washington County denies that Doyle has a legitimate claim against the county. The county has done everything in its power to help facilitate a deal between Doyle and the federal government, Cox said. In a motion to dismiss Doyle’s lawsuit, attorneys representing the county reject Doyle’s claims because private landowners were not specifically listed as parties in the HCP implementation agreement. Furthermore, the motion claims that the statute of limitation for taking action on the damages alleged by Doyle has long expired.
Cox said that he can understand Doyle’s ...
Seems there is more to this than meets the eyes... there is clear breach of trust here on the part of the Gov but at the same time Doyle should have made the contract conditional upon the turning over of land of equal value first and or "just compensation" in a bank account first before signing anything over to the gov.... the Gov can not be trusted to honor its agreements,it is bankrupt and has violated its charter far too may times. It is time to pull its charter and follow the Unanimous Declaration of Independence... Or if any one is interested I have a simple solution to most all the problems..... a simple amendment would take care of all the corruption by removing the benefit of corruption there is no reason for it. Simple and effective. It is technically already in place but needs to be written in such clear form as to allow all to realize it and use it so they no longer will need to lie cheat, and steal. Corruption happens when people "sell out" because they want more than what they perceive they have. Even Bundy's problems would all go away with this. Is anyone interested in a real solution? or just too damn happy bitchin about the problem and do not want a solution??

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 21, 2014

As we promote "buying locally grown food" the "federal landlords" are doing an excellent job at over-regulating western ranchers/farmers off "public lands" they have historically used to grow our food. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Well, we'll just have to get used to burning more rain forest to raise cattle and import cheap, preserved meat from South America! I suggest everyone watch this informative and award winning PBS documentary on the challenges western ranchers face before you side with federal thugs and rush to condemn this hard working American family. I applaud the courage of the Bundy family for bringing this to the national spotlight. We need to revisit how we manage public lands...period.

Bob Allen (not verified)
on Apr 24, 2014

I was wondering who Mr. Bundy sells his beef to. Is it in the USA or overseas? Overgrazing can be a problem any where, personal or public property. How many head of cattle can this area in dispute environmentally support?

Curious (not verified)
on Apr 25, 2014

Just curious...what are the grazing fees on private land near Bundy's ranch?

Please or Register to post comments.

What's BEEF Daily?

BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×