Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Some protesters disrespect land and landowners, farmers and ranchers say
On a clear, blue-sky day in October, seven or eight protesters showed up in the middle of Jared Ernst’s alfalfa field, unloading their horses without so much as a “by your leave.” Ernst went over to ask them what they were doing in his alfalfa field and was told they were here for the Dakota Access protest. Ernst told them that was fine, but he didn’t want them trampling his hay field.
“This is treaty ground,” Ernst says the older gentleman replied, “and you don’t have a right to be here.”
Two younger men ambled up, meanwhile, swinging lariats as they came.
Ernst turned slightly to make sure everyone could see the revolver at his hip. At that point the older gentleman waved the two younger ones away, and the seven or eight protesters left Ernst’s field. Ernst said plates on the vehicles identified them as from a reservation in South Dakota.
The encounter is just one of the many, Ernst says, which has set the farming and ranching community on edge and has some wearing protective gear and carrying weapons. Ernst was one of few farmers who would agree to talk to the media about what’s happening on the ground to farmers and ranchers. Another who had agreed to an interview subsequently withdrew, saying he received a number of threats...Morton County authorities have been keeping an informal list of incidents, saying that residents haven’t made formal complaints out of fear of retaliation. Their reports include masked men approaching people, out-of-state vehicles playing chicken with them on gravel roads, 65 mph highways being blocked by protesters who refuse to let residents through, hay bales being stolen, access to fields they are trying to harvest being blocked, increased expenses and difficulties getting hay sold or corn to elevators. Ernst’s first encounter in the alfalfa field was about the same timeframe as another incident in which fuel lines to construction equipment were cut on the ranch of Chad and Julie Ellingson, fourth-generation farmers in the area.
Julie Ellingson, who is the vice president of the North Dakota Stockman’s Association, said there have been repeated acts of trespassing and vandalism in the area, as well as thefts. Fences in the way of protesters are simply cut and cast aside, allowing cattle to roam willy nilly. That not only destroys forage that was being saved for later and distresses fields that need rotating, but it distresses the cattle and can result in cows getting mixed in with bulls at times they shouldn’t breed, she said.
Ellingson has not had any cattle killed, but North Dakota Stockmen’s Association says there have been seven dead bison, six dead cattle, two dead horses, two injured cows and more than 30 missing cows and calves reported to them...more