Saturday, April 12, 2014

Deal reached; BLM will release confiscated cattle to rancher

A deal has been reached between Bundy family leaders and the BLM, but not without some very tense moments. Armed Bundy family leaders met with BLM officers Saturday afternoon in Mesquite to discuss the fate of the Bundy's cattle that the feds removed from BLM land, over the past week. The cattle are being held at a holding area in Mesquite. Prior to the meeting, hundreds of protesters, some armed, tried storming the BLM's cattle gate, but weren't successful. The crowd was urged to wait 30 minutes and give both sides a chance to talk. An agreement was reached that the cattle will be released to the Bundy family later Saturday. At one point, I-15 was closed in both directions, about seven miles south of Mesquite, because protesters had blocked the freeway. Nearly two dozen police officers and a SWAT unit were at the scene to keep the peace and assist the BLM enforcement officers to safely leave the area. The agency said it is concerned about the safety of its employees and the public. Earlier this week, BLM officers and supporters of the Bundy family were involved in a scuffle. Cliven Bundy's son, Ammon Bundy, was tased twice by federal agents. Another woman said she was thrown to the ground by an officer. With more Bundy supporters pouring in from around the country, safety concerns began to grow. Sheriff Gillespie has been negotiating with Bundy behind the scenes for months and reached a tentative agreement Friday night, though Bundy insisted the sheriff come to his ranch to finalize the arrangement face-to-face. In its statement, the BLM said its actions this past week were progress in enforcing two court orders to remove the trespassing cattle from public land. The agency director also asked that everyone involved in the dispute remain peaceful and law-abiding. The BLM had offered to pay Bundy for the cattle already confiscated, sources said, but the protesters wanted the cattle returned to Bundy.  KLAS

Supporters of Nevada rancher in federal fight cause I-15 shutdown outside Vegas

Supporters, some of them armed, rallied Saturday around Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his showdown with U.S. rangers over cattle grazing on federal land, forcing the shutdown of northbound lanes of Interstate 15 near his ranch, the Nevada Highway Patrol said Saturday. No one has threatened violence, Trooper Loy Hixson told CNN. But a U.S. senator acknowledged that “tensions are still near the boiling point.” Authorities dispatched a SWAT vehicle to the protest site at Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, according to photos provided by CNN affiliate KTNV. The large gathering was expected Saturday by the Bundy family, who told reporters a day earlier that many supporters couldn’t attend the weekday protest because of work. The growing protest came despite how earlier in the day, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management put an early end to a roundup of Bundy’s cattle, which the feds claim have been illegally grazing on federal land for 20 years. The bureau cited public safety concerns for abruptly ending the weeklong roundup. The Old West-style controversy — centering on a family who’ve been ranching in Nevada since the 1800s — drew armed militia groups from across the country to the cattleman’s side this week, especially after a YouTube video captured a tussle teetering on violence between rangers and protesters. “Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” said Neil Kornze, director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. In his Saturday announcement, Kornze said that contracted wranglers and U.S. rangers apparently made enough progress in rounding up cattle that belonged to Bundy, who is challenging federal authority in a valley that his family settled in the Wild West era. The roundup occurred near the scenic Virgin River at Bunkerville, where Bundy’s ranch is located. “We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner,” Kornze said in a statement. “After one week, we have made progress in enforcing two recent court orders to remove the trespass cattle from public lands that belong to all Americans,” Kornze said...more

‘The war has just begun’: Bundy supporters mobilize, aim to take back confiscated cattle

Just an hour after U.S. Officials called off the roundup of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle due to safety concerns, hundreds of ranchers and supporters — some armed — have mobilized with the intent to free cattle confiscated by the federal agents. After Bureau of Land Management director Neil Kornze gave the order to cease herding the cattle, Mr. Bundy demanded that all national park service employees working on the cattle roundup operation be disarmed before 10:45 a.m. the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Mr. Cliven said that Clark County sheriff Doug Gillespie had one hour to comply, and demanded the firearms be brought to him. By 11 a.m. members of the crowd stepped forward and began grouping around the cattle corral outside Mesquite, they recited the pledge of allegiance, and prayed. Some protestors held signs reading “this land is your land” and “We teach our children not to bully. How do we teach our government not to be big bullies?” The Review-Journal reported. In a statement released Saturday morning, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said safety was his highest priority and that he appreciated the BLM for listening to people’s concerns. Protestors demanded to know where the 500 cattle already gathered by the BLM were being held. Ammon Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s son, was near tears describing the round up. He told reporters that BLM agents came in, took backhoes to the land and shut down water lines to prevent the cattle from drinking. He also said that the halting of the roundup wouldn’t have been possible without the supporters. “The people have the power when they unite,” Ammon told reporters, the Review-Journal reported. “The war has just begun.”  Washington Times

Cliven Bundy supporters bring cattle roundup protest to Las Vegas police headquarters

Rancher Cliven Bundy’s supporters brought their protests from rural Clark County into the city Friday as they rallied outside Las Vegas police headquarters to tell the sheriff to stand up for Bundy against the federal government. Three Southern Nevada tea party groups organized Friday’s event, which got no visible response from the Metropolitan Police Department or its leader. A pair of American flags and Nevada’s state banner joined handwritten posters calling for Sheriff Doug Gillespie to “do his job” to protect the Bundy family from the federal government, which is in the process of rounding up patriarch Cliven’s so-called “trespass cattle” from a mountainous area northeast of Las Vegas. One female protester had a firearm in a holster in the shadow of the police building, a few yards from the front door. No officers emerged from the building during the 45-minute gathering. A department public information officer did not respond to requests for comment. “Sheriff Gillespie is the top elected law enforcement officer in Clark County and he has abdicated his role as sheriff, leaving the people of Clark County void of protection from abuse by the federal government,” said Connie Foust, president of the Virgin Valley Tea Party in Mesquite and co-organizer of the protest. Protesters said they had heard rumors of snipers deployed by the Bureau of Land Management — the agency leading the roundup — in the hills around the Bundy ranch, as well as the removal of water tanks, which pushed cattle toward the river, causing some to die. Amy Lueder, the state’s BLM director, acknowledged snipers had been in place in the roundup area but offered no further details Friday during a media conference call.

FAA declare's no-fly zone over Bundy Ranch area

Here's the FAA Notice:


Guess they don't want any media helicopters in the area.  You have to wonder why?

1K people expected at Bundy rally

The Cliven Bundy family is expecting more than 1,000 supporters to gather for a rally on Saturday at 9 a.m. on state Route 170, three miles off Interstate 15 to protest the Bureau of Land Management and its actions, Ammon Bundy told a news conference Friday afternoon. “We’re looking for people to unite and show their support for what we’re doing here,” Ammon Bundy said. “This is not about the Bundys. This is about Nevada. This is about the western states. This is about the eastern states that are having the same issues as us. We’re going to show the media and the people who are.” Although all the Bundys have repeatedly said they are against any violence, Ammon Bundy was vague about what might happen. “If the BLM comes by and we feel like we can stop them from gathering cattle, well, we might do that,” Ammon Bundy said. “As always, this (the rally) is an effort of peace, but peace can’t come at the cost of freedom. Ammon Bundy cautioned the crowd about carrying rifles in the area, saying “we don’t mind that you carry side arms in camp but we ask that you don’t carry rifles.”...more

Nevada Ranch Standoff Escalates, Questions about Reid Arise

The situation between Cliven Bundy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over land near Bunkerville, Nev., has intensified as federal officers and supporters of the rancher and his family exchanged a few blows. The Blaze’s Dana Loesch reports on possible ties to another prominent Nevada politician: Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Part of the BLM’s justification for enforcing its authority over the land is that it falls within the boundaries of a protection area for desert tortoises, a threatened species. But, Loesch writes in her blog, exemptions and accommodations for land falling inside the boundaries have been made in the past for wind- and solar-power projects, as well as a top Reid donor named Harvey Whittemore (Whittmore is currently serving time in prison for illegal campaign contributions to Reid’s campaign.) She asks why similar accommodations can’t be made for Bundy. As the situation continues to unfold, Bundy’s daughter has offered a plea to onlookers. “Wake up America,” Bailey Bundy Logue told KSL-TV. “Look what our ancestors fought for and we need to stand up for that. We need to realize what’s happening. They are taking everything away from us. This isn’t only about one family. This is about everyone’s family. This is martial law and it’s in America and so what are you going to do to have it stay out of America?”...more

County commission to weigh in on BLM law enforcement

The latest dispute between the federal government and a Southern Nevada rancher sparked interest from Elko County leaders, who have a history of standing up to the feds. Speaking via cellphone from the area Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, said he’s alarmed that the conflict had escalated so rapidly. “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” he said. “The grazing rights is one thing, but where you have massive amounts of armed BLM employees with dogs, this thing could get out of hand quick. I’m trying to do what I can to slow this down a little bit. “It’s a mess. It’s a total mess.” Although the conflict is hundreds of miles away, Elko has a large ranching community, and Ellison said he’d been on the phone constantly since 7 a.m. Friday. The issue, he added, is important to locals, as well as the state and country. County Commissioner and rancher Demar Dahl, who said he’s known Bundy for more than 20 years, agreed two issues have sprung out of the Gold Butte cattle roundup: Grazing rights and federal law enforcement’s response. “It’s been a big government overreach,” Dahl said. “No question about it.” Ellison said the cattle, which were rounded up by helicopter, were being “run to death.” The county commission will discuss the incident at its next meeting, which begins 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Nannini Administration Building. In addition to the Bundy/BLM dispute, the commission will discuss several BLM-related issues that it believes are cause for concern. In February, two BLM rangers fatally shot an unarmed man, D’Andre Berghardt Jr., during a confrontation on State Route 159. A witness captured video footage of the shooting. Believing the officers were not property trained and used unnecessary force, Dahl said he met with Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., in Washington D.C., who was also concerned about the slaying. Dahl said they were told the BLM was investigating the incident. “It’s a little scary,” he said. The county also has on its agenda discussion of three woodcutting tickets that were issued by a local BLM ranger then later dropped. The commission tried to discuss the matter in October, but the item was not properly put on the agenda, which the attorney general’s office later determined was in violation of the open meeting law. A resident who was issued one of the tickets said he felt the officer erroneously cited him for cutting wood in a wilderness study area, acted in an intimidating manner, and tried to convince him not to fight the ticket...more

BLM state director speaks out about Bundy dispute

Supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy say the Bureau of Land Management is overstepping its boundaries. However, the agency maintains Bundy has been allowing his cattle to graze on public land illegally for 20 years. On Friday, the state director for the BLM talked about the situation. One of the biggest questions surrounding the roundup is the amount of security the agency has set up around the area. BLM State Director Amy Lueders says there is so much security because Bundy has said he would do whatever it takes to win the battle. "Well certainly we want to make sure that we can get the operation done safely. We want to make sure that we can get it done as expeditiously as possible to ensure that the public can go back and enjoy all of the public lands that are available for them and this beautiful state and certainly one of the reasons is the level of rhetoric that we have heard from Mr. Bundy," Lueders said. The Bundy family says they are not encouraging violence. Bundy and his supporters say the dispute is not about cattle or land, it is about their rights and too much federal control. Lueders disagrees and says the BLM is not overstepping its bounds. "We are taking this operation as a last resort. For the past 20 years, Mr. Bundy has not paid his grazing fees has operated outside of the law. The courts have ruled, and we have two court orders in the last year that have looked at the arguments of Mr. Bundy and have ruled that these are public lands, they're not his lands to do with as he sees. They have ruled that his cattle are in trespass. They have ordered him to remove his cattle and the courts have authorized the Bureau of Land Management to remove those cattle, if Mr. Bundy does not do it himself," she said. Lueders also says two bulls had to be killed during cattle removal because they were a threat to employees and the public. However, she says no other cattle has been injured and 352 out of 500 animals have been collected. As for a cost for all of this, she says there is no estimate yet.  KLAS-TV

Former BLM director gives insight into Nevada cattle battle

Patrick Shea was the director of the Bureau of Land Management from 1997 to 1999. He said Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his cattle were on his radar even back then. "I wish Mr. Bundy would mind his law requirements and not try to play to the television cameras about confronting the evil federal government," Shea said. Part of the law requires ranchers to pay grazing fees when their cattle roam federal lands. Shea said this protects the land from overuse and damage. Bundy and his family said this isn't about unpaid fees. "The grazing fees are quite minimal," said Bundy's son, Randy Bundy. "That was never the issue. We keep putting the federal government and the United States flag above everything. We are not anti-government. We are a pro proper government according to our Constitution." "The public ought to know that federal officials live in dangerous situations and because some wacko, in my opinion, who is trying to make a confrontation, they should not sympathize or support that confrontation," Shea said. Shea has seen both sides of the land-use debate. He represented activist Tim DeChristopher, who went head-to-head with the BLM over the 2008 sale of controversial oil and gas leases in Utah. In this situation, he believes the Bundys are disobeying the law. "I consider them to be hypocritical in the sense that they do everything according to the laws as they interpret it, but when it's interpreted against them, they're unwilling to abide by it," he said...more

Friday, April 11, 2014

EDITORIAL: Washington, the Bundy ranch and our rights

    A sure sign of government tyranny: limits on dissenting speech.
    The U.S. Department of Interior and other federal agencies, in rounding up several hundred cattle from the Clark County desert, are behaving like thugs loyal to a tin-pot dictator, not public servants who swore to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.
    The federal government is well aware that plenty of people disagree with Washington’s decision to remove rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle from public range lands his family has used for more than a century. In fact, many people, including the Bundys, disagree to such an extent that they’re furious. And they want those rounding up the cattle to know it.
    But federal authorities are using public unhappiness with the action as grounds to limit protests to that very action. They’ve closed off hundreds of square miles of public land. They’ve closed roads. And they prohibited protected assembly and expression across huge areas of Clark County. They even took the step of creating “First Amendment areas” — where no federal official or contractor directly involved in the roundup would ever have to see protesters.
    You see, even peaceful protests can be intimidating to government types. If government types feel slightly threatened, they arm themselves to the teeth. When they arm themselves to the teeth, they’re far more likely to view a peaceful protest as cover for an attack on the government. And if they believe someone holding a sign or a camera might also have a gun, agents are more likely to hurt someone. Thus, the government suspends the First Amendment as a public safety measure: Citizens are denied their rights to peacefully assemble and engage in political speech because the content of that expression might be “intimidating” enough to make government agents overreact and hurt them.
    Mr. Bundy’s 37-year-old son, Dave, found out as much Sunday when he was arrested. He said he was roughed up by heavily armed agents for taking photographs and peacefully protesting on a state highway.
    “They got on their loudspeaker and said that everyone needed to leave,” Dave Bundy said. “I stood there and continued to express my First Amendment right to protest, and they approached me and said that if I didn’t leave, they’d arrest me.” The family has taken photographs that they say show government snipers on hilltops.
    Yes, Cliven Bundy has been defiant in refusing to pay grazing fees, refusing to move his cattle and daring the government to seize the animals. Yes, his ever-growing base of supporters has been vocal and aggressive in denouncing the government’s heavy-handed response. But this dispute is about far more than grazing rights, the “threatened” desert tortoise and a supposedly fragile desert ecosystem that somehow has sustained cattle and the reptiles since the 19th century. It’s about the power of environmentalists and their federal allies to erase a way of life they disagree with. It’s about the federal government’s control over most of the land in the West — and 86 percent of Nevada — and its inability to manage all that land in a competent and productive fashion.
    The First Amendment was written specifically to allow public criticism of the government and to protect citizens from persecution for putting forward even unpopular or offensive ideas. Free speech is a safety valve. Denying a forum for expression allows pressure to build, making an explosion more likely.
    On Tuesday, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge, ripped the Bureau of Land Management for its handling of the situation. “Most disturbing to me is the BLM’s establishment of a ‘First Amendment Area’ that tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution.” He demanded that the area “be dismantled immediately.”
    “No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans. The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.”
    The governor was absolutely right and, fortunately, the BLM dismantled its “First Amendment areas” Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, Washington has changed little else in its approach. The federal government is all about intimidation and overreach. It’s not terribly concerned about our rights, especially when they get in the way of its exercise of power. We can’t help but wonder what the current federal employee-to-cow ratio is in northern Clark County right now. Or how many rounds of ammunition those agents have. Federal authorities do not have a record of de-escalation.
    As reported Friday by the Review-Journal, the government can’t even be open about potential criminal prosecution. A criminal case against another of Mr. Bundy’s sons, Ammon, disappeared from the federal court system’s electronic docket when a reporter asked the U.S. attorney’s office about it Thursday. The office’s non-spokeswoman, Natalie Collins, said, “We cannot comment on it.”
    As far as the bureaucracy is concerned, we answer to them, not the other way around. That’s exactly why unaccountable agents have the authority to ignore the Constitution without consequence.
    No doubt plenty of city dwellers are laughing at the rubes in ranching country over their disgust with the federal government. The dispute will be characterized as a rallying cry for the tea party. But this desert drama is the just the latest front in the decades-long government assault on all of our rights. If we don’t defend them, eventually we’ll lose them. Then the joke will be on us.

Militiamen make their presence felt in protest of BLM’s livestock grab

The militiamen rolled in to draw a line in the dirt. About 70 miles northeast of Las Vegas, they set up camp on a sun-baked patch of land next to a bend in the Virgin River, keeping supplies — like rucksacks and sleeping bags — in neat piles under the roof of an abandoned shack. Gruff and largely unshaven, dressed in camouflage fatigues and cut-off shirts, the men kept their intentions quiet, telling news reporters the reason they pulled their trucks into this rural desert town — on one of the hottest days of the year — is simple enough: “We’re here to camp,” said one man who would not share his name. But they were really here to protect one of their own from the perceived enemies: a band of federal agents recently dispatched to the scrub desert to seize the cattle of embattled rancher Cliven Bundy. “They’re here to protect Cliven’s family and home,” said Lynn Brown, one of Bundy’s daughters. Tensions boiled over this week when a scuffle between the BLM and Bundy’s supporters ended in violence: Agents reportedly used a stun gun to subdue Bundy’s son and knocked his daughter to the ground. Though called “brutal” by some, the brawl did not land anyone in a hospital or jail. But the incident did prompt Operation Mutual Aid — a national militia with members from California to Missouri — to visit Bundy’s ranch and set up a camp just in case things got out of hand again. Traveling from as close as St. George — and as far as Montana — a mix of characters waved picket signs at an encampment just before a bridge over the Virgin River, protesting the BLM’s campaign. “This is a better education than being in school! I’m glad I brought you. I’m a good mom,” said Ilona Ence, a 49-year-old mother from St. George and Bundy relative who brought her four teenage kids to the ranch. “They’re learning about the Constitution.” Ence’s 19-year-old son Kayden and his brothers shared their opinion with a sign of their own: “CONTROL OUR BORDERS! NOT OUR RANCHERS!” “It’s crazy,” Kayden said. As the temperature crept into the 90s, supporters drove by — beeping their horns and delivering water drinks so the protesters could keep hydrated. Jack Faught, Bundy’s first cousin, drove his forest green 1929 Chevy truck from Mesquite loaded with water and Gatorade. “It’s not about the cows,” he said. “It’s about the freedom to make our own choices close to home.” Polo Parra, a 27-year-old tattoo artist from Las Vegas, even showed up with two of his friends to support the rancher. Dressed in baggy clothes and covered in tattoos, the group carried signs that read “TYRANNY IS ALIVE” and “WHERE’S THE JUSTICE?” in red spray-painted letters. One of Parra’s friends, who would not share his name, had a pistol tucked in his waistband. “I think it’s bull, and it really made me mad,” said Parra, who decided to make the trip when he heard about the violence that broke out on the ranch. “This isn’t about no turtles or cows.” Harry Pappas, a 60-year-old native and “concerned citizen,” grabbed the microphone at a makeshift podium and blasted the BLM. “It’s all a fraud,” Pappas said, arguing the BLM’s preservation of the desert tortoise was just a way to “get rid of all the ranchers.” The ordeal disturbed Jeff Voorhees, a 50-year-old resident of Toquerville, Utah, who called Bundy’s lifestyle “one of the last bastions of American freedom.” “I’m just trying to take all this in,” he said, looking across the river, toward the militiamen and Bundy’s home.


Mescaleros seek to acquire 400 acres of forest land - proposal draws opposition

Efforts continue by the Mescalero Apache tribal administration to secure the 400 acres of Ski Apache Resort that now is part of the Lincoln National Forest. In a six-page letter issued April 2 to tribal members, Mescalero President Danny Breuninger wrote that he and tribal attorney John Wheeler traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with both of New Mexico's United States senators and its congressional representatives to go over issues facing the Mescalero, including health care and housing. "Another issue I discussed with them was our desire to acquire about 400 acres of U.S. Forest Service land where Ski Apache is located," Breuninger wrote. The land would be transferred to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and held in trust for the tribe, he wrote. "To accomplish that, we will need Congressional action in the form of a bill being passed and signed by the President of the United States," he wrote. "This can be a lengthy process and it is our goal to have this completed within the next two years. The reason we are trying to acquire this land is that the tribe over the last 50 years since we purchase Ski Apache (from oilman Robert O. Anderson) has invested millions of dollars in improvements to the property, and by expanding and making additional improvements, we can anticipate higher revenues for the tribe." Former Tribal President Fred Chino was pushing the same initiative two years ago and spoke to the Ruidoso News about the effort at that time. Lincoln County Commission Chairman Jackie Powell said the idea of relinquishing control of the headwaters of the Rio Ruidoso is "horrific," and she will ask for the support of other county commissioners to send letters to the county's congressional delegation and the U.S. Forest Service opposing any land sale or swap at the resort. "You never want to turn over your headwaters, that's the worse scenario," she said. "I want to emphasize to the public how important it is to keep that little bitty headwater open to us. We would have no say if it was part of the (Mescalero) reservation. We have no say about what happens on the reservation now." Transferring ownership also could cut off access to those acres for sportsmen and those recreating, she said.

BLM Won’t Say if They’ve Euthanized Cows in Ranch Standoff

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will not say if they have euthanized any cows in the roundup of Cliven Bundy’s cattle on public land in Nevada. Amy Lueders, the Nevada state director for the BLM, said in a conference call Thursday evening that the agency does have a “protocol,” but would not release any numbers for animals they have found dead or that they have euthanized. A reporter asked about heavy construction equipment that was seen coming in and out of the blockade, and whether cattle have been found dead, injured, or euthanized during the operation. “In terms of the number that we’ve found, animals who are, I think, deceased on the range, or if we’ve had to euthanize an animal, we don’t have an answer to that question at this time,” Lueders said. “We will euthanize an animal during the impoundment if they exhibit dangerous characteristics, threaten the health and safety of the employees, display a hopeless prognosis for life.” “So, we do have a protocol in terms of when we would euthanize animals,” she said. “But we don’t have any answers at this time in terms of the numbers.” Lueders said she understood that the heavy equipment was being used to “restore land that has been affected by the trespass cattle.” The Bundy family has expressed concerns that the cattle are being mistreated. Stetsy Bundy Cox, Cliven Bundy’s daughter, told the Washington Free Beacon that she believes calves are being left behind. “I watched them gather a herd off the river with helicopters, and they had rounded them for miles and by the time I saw them they were pushing them up the wash,” she said. “Most of them were mamas with babies because it’s calving season, and they’re just little. And I watched the calves, they couldn’t keep up very good and they kept slowing down and the helicopter would swoop down and you could hear them honking at them. And he kept swooping down and honking at them.” Cox said that calves will hide under brush, and it is likely that employees removing the cattle would not see them. “I also know my dad’s cows, because a few of those cows out there are my own personal cows,” she said. “When you push them too hard, or if you rope them they sulk. They’re kind of stubborn. And if they don’t want to go they’ll sulk. And if they get down and sulk they’ll sulk so long they won’t even get up, they’ll just die. So if you stress those cows out too much, they’ll do that.” “Do I think they are leaving baby calves out there? I do,” Cox said. “Do I think that cows are dying? I do.”...more

Many will recall it was just this situation - the separation of the cows from their calves - that caused the confrontation between rancher Kit Laney and the feds and that eventually led to him receiving a prison sentence.  

Drudge Report Slammed as ‘Recklessly Hyping’ Cliven Bundy Standoff by Liberal Organization

Drudge Report has been criticized by a liberal blog over the portrayal of the standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and federal authorities. Drudge Report, a conservative news website that links to stories, promoted a story about the standoff by proclaiming that “heavily-armed feds surround Nevada ranch.” The story was featured prominently in the top part of the website, an area that can drive millions of pageviews to stories. However, the way the website portrayed the story was not well-taken by Media Matters, a liberal blog that often criticizes Fox News and other conservative outlets, as well as conservative elected officials and other conservatives. The blog asserts that Drudge Report is “recklessly promoting” the conflict between Bundy and the federal officials. he post by Media Matters highlights the difference in how conservative and liberal media outlets have been covering the dispute. Some liberal outlets have downplayed any concerns about government overreach and labeled Bundy as a terrorist (Media Matters calls him a “scofflaw Nevada rancher”). Conservative outlets and some others have been publicizing Bundy’s views and say that the use of force in the situation was unwarranted...more

New Mexico attorney general backs fishing access over property rights

    Landowners can't stop New Mexico sportsmen from fishing in a stream that crosses private property if the fisherman is wading or standing in the water rather than trespassing on adjacent land, Attorney General Gary King said Wednesday in a legal analysis applauded by a sportsmen group.
    King reached the conclusion in a nonbinding legal opinion that could spark a fight over fishing access in a state where many prime trout streams, such as the Brazos and Pecos rivers, are bordered by private land and are small enough to wade.
    King said fisherman can't trespass to gain access to public waters, but that "walking, wading or standing in a stream bed is not trespassing."
    Existing state laws and regulations don't directly address the question of the public's right to fish in streams crossing private land, according to King's office. State wildlife agency rules deal with trespassing by sportsmen.
    Game and Fish Department rules prohibit fishing on private property without the landowner's written permission when the land is properly posted with signs.
    The New Mexico Wildlife Federation praised King's opinion.
    "This is great news for New Mexico anglers," said Garrett VeneKlasen, the group's executive director.
"This opinion reverses decades of actual practice," he said in a statement, "and we all — sportsmen, landowners, the Game and Fish Department — need some time to assess the implications and figure out how to implement the changes. For starters, we'll need to implement an intensive stream-steward program, widespread educational and outreach effort to anglers and landowners to prevent conflicts. This is not going to be an easy transition, but it is a red-letter day for New Mexico anglers."
    The New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau voiced opposition to King's legal opinion and said it would ask for clarification from the Game and Fish Department.
    "This opinion goes against the grain of private property rights in New Mexico," Chad Smith, the organization's CEO, state in a statement. "New Mexico's farmers and ranchers should be able to post no trespassing signs and expect that those will be honored by hunters and fishermen across the state."
    According to the opinion written by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Farris and signed by King, landowners — even if they own the stream bed and surrounding land — can't prevent fishing in streams and rivers because the water belongs to the public.
    "The public's right to use public waters for fishing includes activities that are incidental and necessary for the effective use of the waters. This includes walking, wading and standing in a stream in order to fish," the opinion concluded.
    "A private landowner cannot prevent persons from fishing in a public stream that flows across the landowner's property, provided the public stream is accessible without trespass across privately owned adjacent lands," according to the attorney general's opinion.
    King stressed that the opinion did not deal with fishing access to streams crossing federal or tribal lands.

WANTED: The Stompy Kid

A lot of sad and in some cases crazy news items about the Bundy situation.  Still, we've got to have a little fun.

Ruby Ridge Redux?

by Rick Moran

Two hundred armed federal agents have virtually surrounded a ranch in southern Nevada whose owner is defying a court order to keep his cattle from grazing on federal lands.

The feds have set up a "Free Speech Area" for protestors, no doubt trying to keep them out of the media eye - and perhaps remove potential witnesses to whatever the armed feds have in mind to do with Mr. Bundy and his 14 children.

Someone is going to get hurt due to the stupidity and incompetence of the BLM in carrying out the court order. Didn't these idiots learn anything from Ruby Ridge? Then as now, the government had the law on their side. But the criminally negligent manner in which the law was enforced led to a completely avoidable tragedy. 

Bundy is not in the right. He spouts nonsense about "preemptive rights" that do not exist in precedent or the law. He refuses to pay grazing fees while every other rancher who grazes on federal land must do so. Bundy is losing his cattle because he is defying the law and the courts - no matter his reasoning or claims to the contrary. The BLM is enforcing a law passed by Congress, and enforcing a court order that Bundy is not challenging. It's hard to see how Bundy has any kind of a legal case to continue to defy the law.

Beyond that, we have the spectacle of the Bureau of Land Management overreacting in a situation that calls for tact and diplomacy, not snipers targeting his family. I hardly think 200 armed agents are necessary to enforce this court order. It's pure intimidation on the part of the feds. 

Bundy vs. BLM: Interest in cattle dispute widens

The Bureau of Land Management quietly dismantled its so-called “First Amendment areas” in northeastern Clark County on Thursday, as the fight over Cliven Bundy’s cattle widened into a national debate about states’ rights and federal land-use policy. State lawmakers from Arizona to Washington are headed for Nevada to rally alongside the Bundy family and its supporters. Most of them are tea party Republicans or Libertarians associated with a patriot group known as the Oath Keepers. Several of the elected officials said they were drawn into the issue by video footage of Wednesday’s clash between angry protesters and BLM rangers that shows Bundy’s sister being tackled to the ground and one of Bundy’s seven sons being shot with a stun gun. “Watching that video last night created a visceral reaction in me,” said Arizona Rep. Kelly Townsend, a tea party Republican who is driving up from Phoenix to take part in a rally with lawmakers and Oath Keepers near the Bundy ranch Monday. “It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don’t recognize my country at this point.” Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, called the footage “horrifying.” The pro-gun lawmaker has made two trips to the Bunkerville area in the past two days so she could meet with protesters, “protect our Nevadans and keep the peace.” “I’m highly offended by the feds coming in as aggressively as they have,” Fiore said. During a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, Amy Lueders, state director for the BLM in Nevada, said the agency heard the governor’s concerns and “made some adjustments” to address them. “We are allowing people to congregate on public land as long as they don’t inhibit the operation,” she said. Bunkerville resident Jim Olson lives across the street from where one of the First Amendment areas was set up. He said it reminded him of East Berlin during the Cold War, and he was glad to see a crew of BLM firefighters take it down Thursday morning.  Townsend, the lawmaker from Arizona, said Bundy “may be in the wrong as far as the law is concerned,” but the way the roundup is being conducted is “un-American.” She is part of a delegation of sympathetic state lawmakers, former law enforcement officers and military veterans who have been invited to stand with the Bundys and camp at their 160-acre ranch, with certain conditions...more

Two brothers detained, cited by BLM in Bundy cattle dispute

Two protesters scuffled with federal rangers out at the Cliven Bundy cattle protest near Bunkerville Thursday evening. The Bureau of Land Management says the two men were trespassing in a federal holding pen near the Overton Marina, where some of Bundy's cattle are being held. The animals had recently been rounded up by the BLM. The men are brothers, Tyler and Spencer Schillig. They say they were surrounded by rangers, threatened with tasers and detained for hours. "I decided you know what, enough is enough," Tyler Schillig said, "I went down and confronted the officers and then I was also arrested." Tyler Schillig wasn't hurt, but Spencer said he was. "They took me to the ground," Spencer Schillig said. He says the marks on his face are a result of the encounter. "Were you physical with them at all, before this happened?" 8 News NOW reporter Lauren Rozyla asked. "No, I was not. I showed no signs of aggression," Schillig said. The BLM have been moving the cattle off public land since Saturday, because they say Bundy allowed the animals to illegally graze on the land. The brothers were detained by the BLM for two hours and released with citations for interfering with agency function, disorderly conduct and violent behavior. KLAS

'It was like a war zone': Battle between southern Nevada's last rancher and feds escalates as pregnant woman and cancer survivor assaulted by agents

Protesters and militias swarming into Nevada are being arrested as a rancher wages war against federal agents he says are trying to take both his cattle and his land. At least three people have been arrested while protesting the removal of the cattle from land rancher Cliven Bundy, of Bunkerville, says has been in his family since the 1870s - the government claims it is federal land Bundy is using illegally. Armed private militias have even joined the family in its fight against the government, according to 8 News Now. A spokesperson for one of the militias claimed he 'isn't afraid to shoot.' Margaret Houston, Cliven Bundy's sister and a cancer survivor, told those gathered Wednesday at a town hall meeting that the scene 'was like a war zone, I felt like I was not in the United States.' 'Serious bloodshed was narrowly avoided,' the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, as dogs were also socked on a pregnant woman and the rancher's son was shot with a taser, witnesses said. Houston claimed during that town hall meeting that an agent threw her to the ground.
'All of a sudden I get hit from the back, it was like a football tackle,' she said. 'They took me and just threw me down to the ground.' She was not hurt in the incident, but said she was 'shocked that somebody would actually do this.' A BLM spokesperson told 8 News Now the protests turned violent after one of the protesters kicked one of the K-9 units.  Another protester, from Utah, accused the BLM agents of 'Throwing women to the ground, tasing them [and] sicking K-9 dogs on them,' in comments to the station...more

Nevada ‘range war’ protest growing in size after video of encounter with federal agents

A roadside protest supporting the Nevada rancher who threatened the government with a “range war” over using public land for grazing his livestockhas drawn more people, with cellphone video capturing clashes between protesters and federal offiicials, KTNV-TV reported on Thursday. “This will be the end of ranching in Clark County if they get away with what they are attempting,” one demonstrator, Richard Jensen, was quoted as saying. “Our federal agents — who I’ve not had the opportunity to speak with yet — have been quite aggressive from the video footage that I’ve seen, and I don’t think that that is OK,” state Assembly member Michelle Fiore (R) said after visiting the protest site on Wednesday. “As an elected official for the state of Nevada, protecting Nevadans is Number one.”...more

Militias ‘mobilizing’ to support embattled Clark County rancher in clash with federal rangers

From near and wide, armed men are trickling toward Cliven Bundy’s ranch, where the rancher’s fight with the federal government has become a rallying cry for militia groups across the United States. On Wednesday, that dispute teetered at the edge of deadly conflict, when Cliven Bundy’s family members and supporters scuffled with rangers from the Bureau of Land Management sent to protect the federal roundup of Bundy’s cattle on public land. One of Bundy’s seven sons was shot with a stun gun, and Bundy’s sister was knocked to the ground; but no one was seriously hurt, and no arrests were made. By late Wednesday, three militia members — two from Montana and one from Utah — had arrived at the ranch 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Other militia groups have inundated the Bundy household with calls and pledges to muster at the site. Their stated goal: to protect the Bundys from tyranny. They say they are prepared for armed confrontation, but they insist they will not be the instigators if bloodshed happens. Ryan Payne and Jim Lardy, members of the West Mountain Rangers, made the 12-hour drive from western Montana on Tuesday night. Payne is also a coordinator with Operation Mutual Aid, a national association that describes itself as a coalition of state militias. Stephen Dean, 45, an artist from Utah, said he made the trip in hopes of heading off another Ruby Ridge or Waco, referring to deadly confrontations involving federal agents in Idaho in 1992 and in Texas in 1993. A member of the People’s United Mobile Armed Services, Dean said he also carries weapons more powerful than his firearms: a camera and the Internet. Those tools will document the plight of the Bundy ranch and bring the issue to light, he said. “I’m here to see it does happen differently.” Serious bloodshed was narrowly avoided earlier in the day, when a BLM ranger shot Ammon Bundy, a son of Cliven Bundy, with a stun gun during a heated confrontation a few miles from the ranch house. A YouTube video shows protesters and law enforcement officers yelling and threatening each other as trucks involved in the roundup attempt to drive through. The officers have stun guns drawn, and one is trying to push the crowd back with a barking dog on a leash. Cheryl Teerlink, said Ammon Bundy was hit by a stun gun in his arm, chest and neck, but he shook off the first attempt to incapacitate him. “I pulled the tasers out of him,” Teerlink said. Shortly before that, Cliven Bundy’s sister, Margaret Houston, was thrown to the ground by a BLM officer, Teerlink said. The incident unfolded near the intersection of Gold Butte Road and state Route 170, where protesters gathered after they saw BLM vehicles coming down from the range...more

Utah Congressman weigh in on BLM controversy

Utah's congressional delegation weighed in Thursday on the Bureau of Land Management's shelved proposal to bring cattle seized from a Nevada rancher to the Beehive State for auction. In a joint statement, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee joined Reps. Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart in urging BLM director Neil Kornze to keep the cattle out of Utah. “We strongly support Gov. (Gary) Herbert and echo his concerns expressed in his April 2 letter," the statement said. "Going forward with the plan to transport the Nevada cattle to Utah may endanger the health of Utah herds and place Utah state employees and other Utah residents in danger.” The lawmakers argued that putting Utah's cattle industry at risk, "particularly when there are alternatives available for selling the animals in Nevada, would be imprudent and careless." Mike Styler, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources and operator of a family farm in Millard County, said he understands the emotion involved in the Bundy situation. "These folks are very passionate. They're passionate about their heritage. They're passionate about being on the land," Styler said. "They see their lifestyle being threatened. "I hope that calmer heads will prevail and no one does something that we'll all feel bad about," he added...more

Arizona lawmakers upset at Nevada range clash, may go to Bundy Ranch

A group of Republican Arizona lawmakers are upset with a brewing showdown in Nevada between the federal government and a rancher who claims rights to graze his cattle in a remote area about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Rep. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff said Thursday he is among about three dozen state legislators sending a letter to federal and Nevada officials about the standoff between rancher Cliven Bundy and Bureau of Land Management officials. Federal officials say Bundy has racked up more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees over the years while disregarding several court orders to remove his animals. Thorpe says lawmakers aren't arguing over whether Bundy has broken laws or violated grazing agreements. They're more concerned with what they perceive as government heavy-handedness and how officials are restricting protesters to "free speech zones" near the closed off federal land. Thorpe said he may join a handful of Arizona lawmakers on a trip to the site Monday morning. AP

Clark Co. Commissioner manages to insult, offend Utahns with comments on Bundy roundup

Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins fears the dispute at Cliven Bundy’s ranch that has drawn protesters from across state lines might turn violent. So when Collins talked this week with a county commissioner in Utah who said others are coming so Southern Nevada to support the Bundys, he did what he usually does: He spoke his opinion without mincing words or worrying if he offended someone. Those comments are now making the rounds on social media and have attracted criticism from people ranging from Utah ranchers to his colleagues on the County Commission. It started when Darin Bushman, a Piute County, Utah, commissioner, called Collins about the Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy’s cattle in the Gold Butte area, about 80 miles east of Las Vegas. The cattle are being seized after Bundy failed to pay grazing fees over 20 years. When the conversation ended, Bushman posted on Facebook that Collins said Utahns are “inbred bastards” and if they come to Clark County to support Bundy they “better have funeral plans.” Collins also told Bushman that they should mind their “own (expletive) business.” “Now that’s some classy leadership for you,” Bushman wrote in his post. In an interview, Collins downplayed Bushman’s elected office, noting his county has only about 1,500 people. Census data shows the tiny rural county has just 1,556 people. “I’m trying to do everything I can to discourage anybody who tells me they’re coming here with loaded guns,” Collins said. “I’m going to tell them not to come.” The issues at hand are complex and a protester who doesn’t understand rural Nevada fails to grasp the whole picture of the situation, Collins said. In an email to the Review-Journal, he added: “This isn’t about Cliven’s cows nearly as much as it is about Public Lands access. We don’t need anyone toting guns to fix that.” Collins said he’s been in touch with BLM officials about the issue and is closely following the situation. “The Bundys want peace,” Collins said. “They don’t want any violence going on so all these gun-packing folks just need to go home.” Bushman said he contacted Collins to discuss his views on jurisdictions of lands. He said the conversation for the most part was “civil and professional,” as he shared his understanding of how federal jurisdictions work. Bushman said he told Collins he was heading to the protest and expected some people from his county to be there, as the issue has attracted the concerns of Utah ranchers. “This guy was just off-the-hook weird,” Bushman said. “I’ve never ran into a fellow commissioner who treated me like that.”...more

Oath Keepers vow to stand by Bundy Ranch in dispute with the Feds

Now Oath Keepers, a non-partisan association of 40,000 current serving and former military, police, and first responders who have pledged to fulfill their oaths to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’” has released a statement that they, too, will stand by the Bundys against the corrupt actions of this government. It reads in part: This is not about cattle. This is about power, and the trampling of rights. It’s about a systemic power grab and abuse of power by the federal government as it runs roughshod over the rights of honest, hard-working rural Americans and over the rights of all the Western states. This is not an isolated incident. It is but the latest in a long train of abuses aimed at subjecting rural Americans to absolute despotism while destroying the property rights, economy, and independence of the rural West, in particular, and eventually wiping out all of rural America. This is an attack on all of the West, which is why patriotic legislators and lawmen from all over the West are answering the call to defend it. And it is not just ranching that is under attack. It is also mining, farming, logging, fishing, oil and gas, and any other industry that uses natural resources or the land. This is a full spectrum, frontal assault on the rural West...more

Sheriff Mack Responds To Federal Actions at Bundy Ranch - video

Thursday, April 10, 2014

More protesters arriving - including militia, which some locals don't like

More protesters are showing up to support rancher Cliven Bundy, who is resisting federal rangers outside Mesquite. So far, the Bureau of Land Management has not backed down. The agency says Bundy's cattle are on public land illegally. People are coming in from out of state to hold off the federal rangers and many are armed. Tensions reached a boiling point Wednesday after rangers tased Cliven Bundy's son Ammon Bundy twice, leaving bloody marks on his neck and chest. A sister to Cliven Bundy also told 8 News NOW that a BLM ranger hit her with his car. Now, armed militia are joining the protesters but not everyone is happy about it. Ammon Bundy is telling his supporters that federal rangers won't hesitate to go on the attack, if necessary. "These are heavily armed individuals with fully automatic weapons," Ammon Bundy said. For days, the land around the Bundy ranch has seemed somewhat like a police state to people in the community. "Throwing women to the ground, tasing them, sicking K-9 dogs on them," Ernie Jessop, a protester from Utah, said. Those accusations have caught the attention of private militia from across the country, who feel First Amendment rights are being violated. "That is what we do. We provide armed response," Jim Lordy with Operation Mutual Aid said. Lordy came from Montana to join the protesters, and he says he is not afraid to shoot, if necessary. "They have guns. We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government," Lordy said. He says other militia members are joining him. "There is many more coming," Lordy said. For the small community where the dispute is taking place, violence isn't a part of the conversation. "These people that are coming in could totally disrupt everything," restaurant owner Judy Metz said. Metz says adding guns and militia men to the mix could lead to lives lost. "That frightens me. That absolutely frightens me," Metz said. "If somebody does something or says something, and somebody pulls a gun, that is going to be it," Overton resident Michelle Webb said. For now, things remain peaceful. However, these protesters stand ready, expecting things could turn ugly at any moment. There was one success for these protesters. The BLM took down the controversial First Amendment areas at the urging of Gov. Brian Sandoval...more

Neil Cavuto Show - Rancher battling federal gov't over cattle on public land

Go here to see the segment.

BLM Rangers Brought in From Out of State for Nevada Ranch ‘Emergency’

Armed Rangers were brought in from out of state by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to assist in security surrounding the Bundy Ranch, according to the family. A heated confrontation on Wednesday resulted in Cliven Bundy’s son Ammon being tasered by BLM officials and a 57-year-old protester being shoved to the ground. Stetsy Bundy Cox, Cliven’s daughter, told the Washington Free Beacon that some of the rangers had Oregon and California license plates. “You know, some of these guys don’t even know why they’re here,” she said. “A few people have talked to them and they got called in here on an emergency feed and they didn’t know what it was for, it just said they had to be here.” “They’re almost like a hired gun,” Cox said. “Because what they’re supposed to do is they each have a road, and are told to stay on that road, and they’re supposed to keep people off that road, whatever means possible. That’s their job. They don’t even know how many cows have been gathered.” The BLM did not respond to requests for comment by press time. Cox said she spoke with an out-of-state Ranger who was ashamed of his job. “I actually went and talked to one, he was in the back, nobody was even talking to him. He didn’t say much,” she said. “He had a huge big gun on him, but he didn’t really even touch his gun.” “I asked him, ‘What are you doing? Do you know what you’re doing? You’re stealing an old man’s cattle, his livelihood. He’s a poor man that doesn’t have anything,’” she said. “And I said, ‘You’re pushing baby cows’—I watched a baby cow not want to move and a helicopter swoop down and honk at him till he had to move.” Cox said the Ranger said, “No, no, we don’t want that.” “But I saw it,” she said. “‘Well, well,’ and he goes, ‘I don’t even want to be here. Do you think my grandfather’s proud of me? You think I like this? You think this is fun for me?’” “Then what are you doing here?” Cox asked him. “He said, ‘It’s my job.’”...more

Here is the BLM's response followed by one from the Bundys.

“In recent days, some peaceful protests have crossed into illegal activity, including blocking vehicles associated with the gather, impeding cattle movement, and making direct and overt threats to government employees,” the agencies said. “These isolated actions that have jeopardized the safety of individuals have been responded to with appropriate law enforcement actions.” “Today, a BLM truck driven by a non-law enforcement civilian employee assisting with gather operations was struck by a protester on an ATV and the truck’s exit from the area was blocked by a group of individuals who gathered around the vehicle,” they said. “A police dog was also kicked. Law enforcement officers attempting to protect the civilian federal employee from the attack were also threatened and assaulted. After multiple requests and ample verbal warnings, law enforcement officers deployed tasers on a protestor.”

The Bundy family posted a statement online that the Wednesday confrontation began after members of the family were taking pictures on an unmarked road of “helicopters running Bundy cattle to death.”
“When we saw the BLM start to surround them we knew they needed our help so we didn’t have a repeat of what happened to Dave Bundy,” they said, referencing their other son’s arrest on Sunday. “We didn’t go there to start a fight we went to stand for our rights, video what was happening and protect those boys and gentlemen.”

Stun gun used on Nev. rancher's son - AP plus another video

Tensions have escalated between protesters and federal police who used a stun gun on a son of a Nevada rancher fighting a roundup of cattle that he claims have historical grazing rights northeast of Las Vegas. No serious injuries were reported and no arrests were made, but family members told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that rancher Cliven Bundy's 57-year-old sister also was knocked to the ground during a confrontation Wednesday involving dozens of protesters and several U.S. Bureau of Land Management rangers. The son, Ammon Bundy, told the Spectrum of St. George, Utah, ( ) that he was hit with stun charges twice.
He acknowledged that he climbed on a dump truck, suspecting that it contained cattle that had been killed during the roundup...more

Federal Agents Taser Protesters at Bundy Ranch - video

What will happen today on the Bundy Ranch?

I don't know, but the Josh Tolley Show is saying there will be a "significant development".  Let's pray they don't do something that will vindicate the gov'ts use of hundreds of armed employees.

Cliven Bundy on Sean Hannity

Using Snipers To Protect A Tortoise

by David Blackmon

    I’m fascinated this week by this story out of Nevada, in which the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is employing 200 heavily armed personnel, including armored snipers, in order to force a rancher off of land on which his family has held grazing rights for more than a century.  While the story is not directly related to the oil and gas industry, it does demonstrate the lengths to which the federal government will go to protect obscure animals it has listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
    Simply put, it occurs to me that any federal policy that ends up with armored snipers pointing rifles at an unarmed rancher, his wife, and his workers might just be a policy that needs to be reconsidered.
The dispute in question goes back to 1993, when the BLM cut the grazing rights of the rancher in question, Mr. Cliven Bundy, from a herd of thousands of head of cattle to one of no more than 150 head in order to “protect” a species of desert tortoise that inhabits the same area of the state.  Most mainstream news media reports on this story naturally did not inform their readers of this fact, or of the fact that this tiny herd allotment would be spread over the 158,000 acres of land to which Bundy held the grazing rights.
    When one understands these key facts, one realizes that such a tiny herd of cattle on such an enormous space would have no impact at all on the desert tortoise or any other plant or animal that lives there, and that no rancher could possibly make any sort of a living running such a tiny herd.  Thus, the obvious conclusion is that BLM rendered its absurd decision with the clear expectation of running the Bundys off the land entirely.   And that is a very reasonable conclusion to reach.  After all, Mr. Bundy is in fact the “last man standing” here – the BLM strategy has worked so well that every other rancher with grazing rights in the region has given up and abandoned what had been their family’s way of life, in many cases, for generations.
    To be fair to the regulators, Mr. Bundy’s reaction to the 1993 heavy-handed action by the BLM is not entirely defensible either.  He simply quit paying his grazing fees at that time, and has refused to pay them since.  After piling up for 20 years, he admits to owing the government over $300,000, while the government claims the delinquent fees in fact exceed $1 million.  ( A good guess is that Bundy is not including penalties and interest in his calculation, and those things have a way of adding up over a couple of decades.)  He has also refused to reduce the size of his herd in compliance with the 1993 guidance, and has continued to occupy the land in defiance of the law.  While one can certainly understand his anger and frustration at his situation, the actions he has taken are really not acceptable in a civil society.
    Nor should it be acceptable to anyone in a civil society for the federal government to willfully and knowingly take actions that destroy American families and their ways of life.   And it’s not just grazers in Nevada who are under assault thanks to enforcement decisions taken by regulators under the ESA, this sort of thing is taking place all over the country.  The entire timber industry of Oregon was destroyed in the late 1980s in order to “protect” a sub-species of spotted owl.  During the Carter Administration in the late 1970s, the Tennessee Valley Authority was forced to modify or abandon billions of dollars in projects to “protect” the snail darter.  As we pointed out a few weeks ago, desperate farmers in Southern California last year had to sit by and watch their crops wither as the feds forced the state to just release more than 95,000 acre feet of fresh water and let it flow to the Pacific Ocean in order to “protect” a sub-species of smelt.
    If you’re wondering why I keep putting the word “protect” in quotes, it’s because the dirty secret of the ESA is that its efforts to “protect” plants and animals have over the years resulted in a not-too-admirable success rate of a little over 1 percent.  That’s not a typo.

Tensions increase as feds seize Nevada rancher's cattle

Tensions are growing as people in the community of Bunkerville are trying to stop federal agents from taking cattle off of public land. Rangers had tasers ready to go as they faced a few dozen protesters Wednesday. One woman claims federal officers hit her with their vehicle. A man says he was tased twice. In just a matter of minutes, the situation escalated from calm to angry with the protestors shouting and the rangers ready to respond with dogs, tasers and physical force, if needed. At the center of this battle is the Bundy family and their herd of at least 500 head of cattle. The BLM says the cattle have been allowed to graze on the federal land illegally for the past 20 years. "You want to tase me? Go ahead," Ammon Bundy challenged rangers. He is the son of rancher Cliven Bundy and he claims the rangers tased him twice. The protesters came within inches of law enforcement trying to get the BLM to leave a section of the public land. The Bundy family says it's willing to put itself in danger for their livelihood. They claim federal rangers are killing their cattle in the process of rounding them up. "There's only one reason they have a backhoe and a dump truck up there and that is because they're cleaning up their mess from killing our animals," Ammon Bundy said. The ranchers say this is calving season and mother cows are being separated from their babies. "They haven't been able to feed their calves and that means the calves are starving to death," Ammon Bundy said. The BLM has denied killing any cattle intentionally, only saying that there may be some cases where a cow would need to be euthanized...more

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Live report from the Bundy Ranch

...More than 100 supporters violated a crudely taped off “First Amendment Area” to rally in support of the Bundy family. They erected two flagpoles with the words “We the People” above a flag which read, “Liberty Freedom For God We Stand”. The first amendment area stood empty, with one sign nearby declaring, “1st Amendment is not an area.” The feds say the move is about enforcing the law and protecting the endangered desert tortoise, but the Bundy family says the spat represents a showdown between big government and American farmers. The Feds claim that the removal of the cattle from the land will cost taxpayers roughly $ 3 million...more

Some hyperbole here, but I'm bringing you all the news on this event, so here is the WHDT report.

Utahns paying close attention to dispute between BLM, Nevada rancher, Cattlewomen don't support Bundy

Beth Anderson
The feud between Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and federal land managers has been going on for more than two decades. That's far too long in Beth Anderson's mind. "It would be really wonderful if all of the entities involved worked together to control and manage things in a proper way," said Anderson, president of the Utah Cattlewomen's Association. "It is possible," she added. Anderson, whose husband serves as president of the Utah Cattlemen's Association, isn't taking Bundy's side in his grazing dispute with the Bureau of Land Management, as some might expect. "He is definitely not the poster child of how ranchers handle their animals or take care of the land that they're stewards over," she said. "We don't want to support somebody who is breaking the law." Some see the court-ordered roundup and weekend arrest as an example of a federal agency running roughshod over a private citizen. Others see Cliven Bundy as a maverick who is being reined in. "He's taken things into his own hands and is really not following the avenues that would be appropriate," said Anderson, who runs 300 head of cattle with her husband in Juab County. "It has to come to a head because you can't just roll over and allow people not to take care of things the way they should," she added, noting that the comment is directed at both Bundy and the BLM. Ranchers across the West have long had issues with the agency over its management of wild horses on public lands and what they see as a growing list of endangered species whose protection further reduces livestock range. Those controversies are now part of the "snowball of issues" that continue to grow as the situation in Nevada rolls on, Anderson said. "We all have issues with the desert tortoise, sage grouse and wild horses," she said, "but this isn't the appropriate way to go about it." Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox got involved in the situation Monday, traveling to Nevada with Attorney General Sean Reyes to ask the BLM to reconsider plans to ship seized cattle from Bundy's ranch to Utah for auction. "We already have one flashpoint in Nevada, which is where they're rounding up the cattle," Cox said. "And we're already starting to see protests in Sevier County at the auction house. "Our message today was, 'This is a Nevada problem, a Nevada issue. These things should be worked out in Nevada,'" the lieutenant governor said. "If there is going to be a sale of these cattle, it should take place in the state of Nevada." BLM officials agreed to delay and re-evaluate plans to sell the cattle to Utah, Cox said. The agency expects the court-ordered roundup of Bundy's cattle to wrap up sometime before the end of the month...more

Nevada governor and senator join criticism of federal cattle roundup

Nevada's governor and one of its U.S. senators have joined a chorus of criticism of a month-long federal government roundup of a recalcitrant rancher’s 900 cattle that for decades have grazed on hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands near here. Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement that his office has received numerous complaints about the operation by the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to collect cattle belonging to southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who for decades has refused to pay the required fees to graze his animals on public land. The Republican governor called the operation, which has closed off to the public huge tracts of land while workers in trucks and helicopters round up the cattle, a violation of the rights of everyday Nevadans. He singled out the BLM’s so-called “1st Amendment area,” far from the collection of the cattle, for critics to protest the move. In a statement Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) also expressed "disappointment” over the court-ordered roundup. “Law-abiding Nevadans must not be penalized by an over-reaching BLM. After hearing from local officials and residents, and receiving feedback from the Nevada Cattlemen’s Assn. in a meeting this morning, I remain extremely concerned about the size of this closure and disruptions with access to roads, water and electricaepidl infrastructure,” the statement said. “I will continue to closely monitor this situation, and urge the BLM to make the necessary changes in order to preserve Nevadans’ constitutional rights.”...more

For some reason the word tepid comes to mind when considering the politician's statements. 

On Wednesday, Bundy’s daughter, Bailey Logue, said the governor’s statements did not go far enough.  "He could have said anything and all he does is request that the free speech zones be taken down,” she said from the family ranch near the town of Bunkerville, 80 miles north of Las Vegas. “He gave us a crumb of support, so I guess we’re thankful for that.”

I guess a "crumb" is better than the mickey mousin' they got from the semi-sheriff.

A resident is thrown to the ground and arrested for filming, armed agents surround a ranch house, state and county roads are shut off...and Senator Heller is just "disappointed"?

Surely everyone knows that both these politicians were briefed by the feds before the operation started.  Did they object or raise any concerns then?  Apparently not.       


EDITORIAL: Who Is Trigger-happy Now? (Hint - It Isn't Bundy)

It has become abundantly clear that the federal action to round up cattle in our region is much more than it appears. It isn’t about whether Cliven Bundy’s cows are in trespass on federal land; or whether Bundy should have paid his grazing fees; or whether the cattle harm the endangered desert tortoise habitat; or whether the land ought to be under state, not federal, jurisdiction as Bundy claims. While all of these elements have contributed to the story, none of them are at the core of the issue for northeast Clark County residents.

To us here on the ground, the real issue has been the over-reaching display of excessive federal power. It is really about the disturbing police action which has restricted all of us from accessing hundreds of thousands of acres of public land; all over a trivial matter of one rancher and his 500-some-odd head of cattle.

There is no longer any point to arguing who is right and who is wrong in the matter of Cliven Bundy. That has been done to death without resolution. Admittedly it is hard to defend Mr. Bundy in his long-standing refusal to accept jurisdiction and pay the appropriate grazing fees. But that is no longer the chief concern.

The fact is that the BLM is acting under the authority of two federal court orders which grant authority to “seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass”. The documents also order that “Bundy shall not physically interfere with any seizure or impoundment operation”. That’s simple enough. Five hundred head of cattle ought to be a fairly manageable task for a group of seasoned “cowboys” being paid an exorbitant amount.

But nowhere in these court orders does it give authority to throw the general law-abiding public off this huge tract of land, much of which has absolutely nothing to do with the roundup. Federal officials have insisted that they are sensitive to the needs of the public and are only closing off smaller areas directly affected by the action. But 300,000 acres is not small! And it would be a stretch to argue that the east bench of Moapa Valley and much of the western side of the Mormon Mesa has any relevance whatsoever to this project. The fact is, in all of these closures, the federal agencies have far overrun the federal court documents, and have far exceeded what is needful for a safe and successful roundup operation.

In addition, nowhere do the court orders give these agencies power to intimidate the general public with an army of heavily armed federal officers itching for an opportunity to draw and shoot at a moment’s notice. If anything has ratcheted up the tension in Clark County it would be that unwarranted threat of force.

It has reached a point here where the general law-abiding citizenry of rural northeastern Clark County actually fear to venture into their own backyards. This is due to the very real worry of being arrested and/or shot because they may have accidentally stumbled out onto a restricted landscape. The vast open hills and mesas around us, which are usually bustling with recreational activities of all kinds, are now nearly silent. And so are many of the area businesses that usually thrive on tourism at this time of the year. Again, in this intimidation of the public, the federal agencies have far overreached the mandate of the federal court documents.

Finally, nowhere do the court orders give the feds power to marginalize, micromanage and restrict the free speech rights of the public to two small fenced-off areas on the margins of the federal action. Indeed, nowhere do the court orders give federal agents power to arrest and detain people without probable cause or without clearly stating the charges. For example, there are no special powers given to arrest an otherwise law-abiding citizen who is, casually and without threat, exercising his first amendment rights in an unrestricted space outside of these specified free speech areas. This is exactly what happened to Davie Bundy on Sunday afternoon. This example of thuggery is perhaps the most outrageous example of these agencies operating far outside of the legal mandates of their court orders.

...But who is the trigger happy party here, really? The escalation of tensions that have taken place out there on the range, and in the hearts and minds of the general public, has been directly due to the petty, vindictive, excessive and unjustifiable behavior of the federal agencies in this matter. That is what is truly driving the emotions and the conflict at this point.