Sunday, March 12, 2017

Angus McIntosh responds to PLC: Its time to Drain the Swamp on the “Public Lands”

by Angus McIntosh, PhD 
Executive Director, Range Allotment Owners Association

Recently the Range Allotment Owners Association (RAO), an association of Western ranchers who own Grazing Allotments and Range Units on split-estate land in the 17 Western States, has been attacked in the press by the Public Lands Council (PLC), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and state affiliates of those organizations (such as the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association). In particular, the Executive Director of PLC (and Public Lands Coordinator for NCBA), Ethan Lane, led the attack and included with his stated disinformation, a letter signed by several attorneys who like to style themselves as champions of Western ranchers. There was so much mischaracterizing, deception and outright fabrication in these attacks that it was difficult to know how to immediately respond. Fortunately, many of the Western ranchers who know me and belong to the RAO themselves, began to respond to the attack through Facebook and letters of their own to the various livestock publications which had printed what can only be described as PLC’s “Fake News.” Chief among the respondents, I’m happy to say, was renowned Radio Host and farmer, Trent Loos. By the time Trent was finished questioning him, Ethan Lane had backpedaled to the point where he said he agreed with 95% of what I have been teaching ranchers in my seminars for the past 16 years.

Frankly, I am used to personal attacks by anti-ranching groups and the environmentalist left, so I usually just ignore their ranting, distortions and outright lies. However, since I have been involved in Western Allotment Owner’s property rights issues for 37 years, have been an Allotment Owner myself for 33 years, and, for at least 27 years have been widely known throughout the Western States as an outspoken public supporter of rancher’s property rights, I decided I could not let the falsehoods go unaddressed. Failing to address the issue would only further harm Western ranchers who, for the last 40 years, have been denigrated by a steady stream of misinformation spewed by career lobbyists and globalists inhabiting the Washington D.C. “swamp.” Many of these anti-ranching interests are entangled by Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service. Exactly how have these globalist-controlled Washington insiders helped the Western split-estate ranchers? They have not. By all measures; number of Allotments, number of Allotment Owners, number of head of livestock, or number of AUMs used for stockraising, in the last 40 years the Western Livestock Industry has been cut by approximately 60%.

First, never at anytime has the Range Allotment Owners Association or myself stated that we represent the “public land” rancher.  It is precisely this erroneous representation that has been the cause of many Western ranchers being forced off their Allotments during the past 40 years. The term “public land” has a well established and undeniable legal definition. Neither I nor the PLC get to pick what that definition is. Only Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court get to define that term. During the settlement period from 1776 to 1920, “public lands” were defined as “lands open to entry and disposal upon which there were no rights or claims” (see Words & Phrases and cases cited therein). “Most enduringly the public lands have been defined as those lands subject to sale and other disposal under the general land laws” (Utah Div. of State Lands v United States, 482 US 193 (1987)). By legal definition there are NO private rights on “public lands” and there never has been. However, once land was opened to settlement, occupied, improved and had a possessory right or claim established, it was no longer “public land” because it was no longer “unoccupied,” but now had private rights attached to it that prevented anyone else from settling on the land (see Frisbie v Witney, 76 US 187 (1869), Atherton v Fowler, 96 US 513 (1877), Hosmer v Wallace, 97 US 575 (1878), Rector v Gibbon, 11 US 276 (1884), Cameron v United States, 148 US 301 (1893)).

During the settlement period, bona-fide ranch settlers occupied, improved and possessed the Western rangelands with the intent of permanent settlement. Through their settlement and improvement, ranchers established “possessory property rights,” which gave them a valid claim or color of title to the land. These lands were thereafter called “entered unpatented lands” or “entries,” and the settlers in occupancy were called “entrymen” or “bona-fide settlers.” Under a series of post Civil War statutes, Congress sanctioned and confirmed the water rights, ditches, canals, roads, (1866, 14 Stat 253), reservoirs (1870, 16 Stat 218), improvements (1874, 18 Stat 50), forage/grazing use (1875, 18 Stat 482), timber use (1878, 20 Stat 88), and State/Territorial possessory range rights (1885, 23 Stat 321) of these bona-fide stockraising settlers (or “entryman”) on the Western ranges...

Angus closes with the following: .

...The Range Allotment Owners Association believes that Allotments owned by ranchers in National Forests and Grazing Districts withdrawn by authority of the Pickett Act, are “split-estate” lands, NOT part of the government’s “interest in lands” as defined by FLPMA and the Federal Power Act. I’ve been asked by the following attorneys to publish their names to ranchers as an alternative to the government insiders and the anti-property rights groups who have been colluding with the BLM and Forest Service for decades to undermine Western ranchers property rights. Its time to DRAIN THE SWAMP!

Mark Pollot, (208) 867-8389 Former Spec. Asst. to the US Att. Gen. for Nat.Res. & Environment

Margaret Hageman, (307) 635-4888 Hageman Law P.C.

Korry Lewis, (307) 635-4888 Hageman Law P.C.

Morgan Philpot, (801) 891-4499

Bret Whipple, (702) 493-6075

Blair Dunn, (505) 750-3060

Roger Roots, (406) 224-3105

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