Friday, January 27, 2017

Finicum family, Bureau of Land Management still tangling a year after fatal standoff

by Valery Richardson

Ten months after her husband was killed in a standoff with the federal government, Jeanette Finicum was driving her cattle to their winter range in Northern Arizona when she received a message from the Bureau of Land Management: Keep off. She was told she could not pasture her cows on the grazing allotment she inherited upon the death of her husband, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, even though she had turned in her application and written a check for fees and fines before making the 50-mile trek. “We were in the middle of the cattle drive [in October] when we got word that they were not accepting my check,” said Ms. Finicum. “I had to stop because my attorneys didn’t want me to be out of compliance, and I had to find somewhere else to put my cows.” She was stunned. “Here I am, in the middle of the desert with 150 cows, going, ‘Where am I going to go?’” she said. Ms. Finicum, 56, was able to move her cattle to her sister-in-law’s pasture, but she still has a problem on her hands. She fears the directive may be more than a bureaucratic snafu, that federal officials want to wrest her grazing rights in order to discourage other ranchers from challenging land-management policies, as her husband did. “I believe it’s because of his stand and because of what happened in Oregon,” Ms. Finicum said, referring to the armed takeover of a federal wildlife reserve. “They want to make an example out of him. They want to make sure people don’t do this again by taking my ranch away from me. It’s like, ‘Here’s what will happen to you if you don’t behave.’” J. Morgan Philpot, one of the Bundy attorneys, is aiding Ms. Finicum in her fight to keep her winter range, known as the Tuckup Allotment, a pasture used by ranchers for more than 100 years that her husband purchased the rights to from the previous owner in 2009. Mr. Philpot said she should inherit the allotment rights under Arizona and federal law, “but for some reason the BLM has made a choice to obfuscate and avoid rather than working with Jeanette to ensure that her permit remains in effect.”...more

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