Our main ranch-country advocate rdennis brought the Cliven Bundy battle to our attention recently, and we’ve been talking about it a bit in comments down below.
Rdennis thought it was worth its own thread. And when rd speaks, I listen, although we might not agree entirely on this one.
Bundy is a 67-year-old Nevada rancher who stopped paying grazing fees on federal land in 1993, apparently because he was upset about management changes designed to protect a sensitive tortoise species. Such stuff can be frustrating. Ask any West River rancher who has to deal with the black-footed ferret effect, or federal management of prairie dogs.
And apparently Bundy’s family has been grazing the land in question for generations, which has given him a sense of philosophical ownership that doesn’t exist in law. He now argues for states rights, refusing to recognize the authority of the federal Bureau of Land Management. There’s no indication in anything I’ve read so far that he was taking that issue to the wall, at least not in any public way, before the management changes to his lease in 1993.
Now he seems to going all Sagebrush Rebellion on the feds, having lost in federal court.
I like this one, too: http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2014/04/03/mgk-range-war-blm-v-bundy/
Look around and you’ll find many more.
I admire ranch folks. I understand federal regulations can be a chore, and at their extremes confiscatory. Sometimes federal officials can be, well, snotty. Sometime ranchers can be, well, stubborn.
Throw in an environmental group, a threatened tortoise, a whole lot of emotions and you’ve got a pretty good news story.
I like pretty good news stories. No, I love them. But this is one that worries me.
I hope nobody gets hurt.
As I said in an exchange with rd down below, when you strip away all the emotions, the historical references and independent-cowboy allure, the state’s-rights arguments and the anti-federal sentiments, isn’t this at its core a fairly fundamental question of whether the guy paid his fees?
He did not.
And if you don’t pay your fees and you lose in court, don’t you simply lose? And at some point, don’t you and your family have to accept that?
Pretty much everybody else has to, or they end up losing property, money and perhaps their freedom for an adjudicated length of time.
What is it here that I don’t understand? Why has Cliven Bundy managed to run his cattle on federal land while refusing to pay the required fee for 20 years? For a heavy handed federal government, that’s a pretty long time to allow things to drag on.
Why did they? And why should they?
And at this point, why shouldn’t the Cliven cattle be removed and the management plan followed?
Rd, I’m willing to be listen.