Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Another try at BLM cattle confiscation may be imminent

For more than 20 years the Bureau of Land Management and Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy have waged a ‘cattle battle’ in the Gold Butte area south of Mesquite. Bundy says he has preemptive rights to continue grazing his cattle in the area, at times running up to 1,400 head on what he calls land owned by Clark County and the State of Nevada. The BLM says Bundy’s grazing rights on what they call federal land were cancelled in 1994 and two federal judges agree with them. Two years ago, in April 2012, the BLM was set to round up close to 1,000 head of Bundy’s cattle and remove them from the Gold Butte area. That was canceled at the last minute on orders from Washington D.C. officials who feared a confrontation would become violent. Now it appears the BLM will try the round-up again beginning around March 24, sources tell the Mesquite Citizen Journal. “Various agencies are working to comply with two court orders to remove the cattle,” Kirsten Cannon told the MCJ on Friday. Cannon is the Public Affairs Specialist with the BLM Southern Nevada District Office in Las Vegas, NV. “We are working on a timeline that will see a successful resolution of the situation,” Cannon added. She would neither confirm nor deny the March 24 round-up start date. In a telephone interview, Bundy took the same stand as he did two years ago. “I will do whatever I need to do to defend my rights and my neighbors’ rights.” Cannon says the BLM is working to comply with two court orders issued by Federal Judges, one in July 2013 and the other in October 2013. Those two orders follow numerous others issued by the courts clear back to 1998. United States District Judge Lloyd D. George gave Bundy until Aug. 23, 2013 to remove his cattle from federal lands or have them seized and impounded. Instead Bundy filed an appeal of the ruling and a ‘Motion for Stay.’ Apparently neither action held. In 1998, Clark County bought all valid existing grazing permits for Gold Butte, paying $375,000 to retire them for the benefit of the desert tortoise, Rob Mrowka of the Center for Biological Diversity said in 2012 after his organization filed suit against the BLM for not enforcing previous court orders. All other ranchers in the area complied with the ‘no grazing’ rule except for Bundy who’s been called the last rancher left in Clark County. Bundy tried paying his grazing fees to Clark County in the 1990s but they refused to take them. He quit trying to pay the fees shortly after. His original grazing rights allowed him to run up to 150 head of cattle in the area. Also, Sheriff Doug Gillespie helped mitigate the tensions in 2012 between the defiant Bundy and the BLM. Bundy would not confirm whether he had been in contact with the Clark County Sheriff or the Nevada Governor’s office this time. “I’m keeping some stuff to myself,” he said. “The Sheriff is supposed to be here to protect my rights,” Bundy said on Monday. “I don’t have a problem with the BLM. They’re not my governor,” he added continuing the same theme he’s used for years to reinforce the idea that the land does not belong to the federal government...more

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