National Government Bureau of Land Management Saves The Desert Tortoises And Confiscates Cattle on Federal Land While Beef Prices Skyrocket — Update: BLS Retreat — Videos
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Story 1: National Government Bureau of Land Management Saves The Desert Tortoises And Confiscates Cattle on Federal Land While Beef Prices Skyrocket — Videos
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A Republican U.S. senator added his voice Wednesday to critics of a federal cattle roundup fought by a Nevada rancher who claims longstanding grazing rights on remote public rangeland about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas
Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said he told new U.S. Bureau of Land Management chief Neil Kornze in Washington, D.C., that law-abiding Nevadans shouldn’t be penalized by an “overreaching” agency.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval pointed earlier to what he called “an atmosphere of intimidation,” resulting from the roundup and said he believed constitutional rights were being trampled.
Heller said he heard from local officials, residents and the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and remained “extremely concerned about the size of this closure and disruptions with access to roads, water and electrical infrastructure.”
The federal government has shut down a scenic but windswept area about half the size of the state of Delaware to round up about 900 cattle it says are trespassing.
BLM and National Park Service officials didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to criticisms of the roundup that started Saturday and prompted the closure of the 1,200-square-mile area through May 12.
It’s seen by some as the latest battle over state and federal land rights in a state with deep roots in those disputes, including the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and ’80s. Nevada, where various federal agencies manage or control more than 80 percent of the land, is among several Western states where ranchers have challenged federal land ownership.
The current showdown pits rancher Cliven Bundy’s claims of ancestral rights to graze his cows on open range against federal claims that the cattle are trespassing on arid and fragile habitat of the endangered desert tortoise. Bundy has said he owns about 500 branded cattle on the range and claims the other 400 targeted for roundup are his, too.
BLM and Park Service officials see threats in Bundy’s promise to “do whatever it takes” to protect his property and in his characterization that the dispute constitutes a “range war.”
U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, noted that BLM officials were enforcing federal court orders that Bundy remove his animals. The legal battle has been waged for decades.
Kornze, the new BLM chief, is familiar with the area. He’s a natural resource manager who grew up in Elko, Nev., and served previously as a senior adviser to Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Reid aide Kristen Orthman said her boss “hopes the trespassing cattle are rounded up safely so the issue can be resolved.”
Sandoval, a former state attorney general and federal district court judge, weighed in late Tuesday after several days of media coverage about blocked roads and armed federal agents fanning out around Bundy’s ranch while contractors using helicopters and vehicles herd cows into portable pens in rugged and remote areas.
“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans,” the governor said in a statement.
Sandoval said he was most offended that armed federal officials have tried to corral people protesting the roundup into a fenced-in “First Amendment area” south of the resort city of Mesquite.
The site “tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution” and should be dismantled, Sandoval said.
BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon and Park Service spokeswoman Christie Vanover have told reporters during daily conference calls that free-speech areas were established so agents could ensure the safety of contractors, protesters, the rancher and his supporters.
The dispute between Bundy and the federal government dates to 1993, when land managers cited concern for the federally protected tortoise and capped his herd at 150 animals on a 250-square-mile rangeland allotment. Officials later revoked Bundy’s grazing rights completely.
Cannon said Bundy racked up more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees over the years while disregarding several court orders to remove his animals.
Bundy estimates the unpaid fees total about $300,000. He notes that his Mormon family’s 19th century melon farm and ranch operation in surrounding areas predates creation of the BLM in 1946.
Since the cattle roundup began Saturday, there has been one arrest.
Bundy’s son, Dave Bundy, 37, was taken into custody Sunday as he watched the roundup from State Route 170. He was released Monday with bruises on his face and a citation accusing him of refusing to disperse and resisting arrest. A court date has not been set.
His mother, Carol Bundy, alleged that her son was roughed up by BLM police.
Meanwhile, federal officials say 277 cows have been collected. Cannon said state veterinarian and brand identification officials will determine what becomes of the impounded cattle.
Defiant Nevada rancher faces armed federal agents in escalating confiscation standoff
April 9, 2014 by
A long-simmering dispute between a Nevada cattle rancher and the federalBureau of Land Management has reached a boiling point, and participants have their fingers crossed it won’t erupt into violence.
Since 1993, Cliven Bundy has been battling the agency, as well as the National Park Service, the Center for Biological Diversity and the courts, to graze his cattle on 150 square miles of Gold Butte scrub land in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. He stopped paying his grazing fees back then, saying he “fired” the Bureau of Land Management as land manager. His Mormon ancestors had tilled the unforgiving soil since 1887, long before the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act allowed the federal government to seize control, TheBlaze reported.
“I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life. Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,” he asserted, explaining to TheBlaze that this includes the right to forage, too.
Furthermore, Bundy has argued that it is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nev., land, not he, and that he is a better steward of the land. He points out that the manure from his cows fertilizes the soil, that he’s built water sources for wildlife, and that his cattle prevent the vegetation from growing overly dense and creating a fire hazard.
But environmentalists, federal officials and the courts disagree. Armed federal officials and contract cowboys have been brought in to execute a 2013 court order and remove the trespassing cattle.
“It’s high time for the BLM to do its job and give the [endangered desert] tortoises and the Gold Butte area the protection they need and are legally entitled to,” senior Center for Biological Diversity scientist Rob Mrowka told theMesquite Local News. “As the tortoises emerge from their winter sleep, they are finding their much-needed food consumed by cattle.”
Bundy’s herd also hinders the plants’ ability to recover from wildfires, tramples rare species, damages ancient American Indian cultural sites and endangers recreationists, Mrowka added.
The Bureau of Land Management website says Bundy has defied trespass laws for more than two decades, ignored rules and fees that other cattle ranchers have observed and refused “repeated attempts to resolve the matter administratively and judicially,” according to TheBlaze. While Bundy stated that he owed the BLM $300,000 in back grazing fees, spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon put the figure closer to $1.1 million.
Plus, the roundup of the approximately 900 unwelcome cattle could cost as much as $3 million. But the 68-year-old Bundy has remained unintimidated.
The Bureau of Land Management “has overstepped its boundaries by not letting me access my rights,” he said, and contended that it had inserted “200 armed officers watching our every move and stealing our cattle.” Bundy’s wife, Carol, said snipers are patrolling the family’s ranch.
Spokeswoman Cannon responded that “There are law enforcement and other personnel in place as needed to ensure that the BLM and National Park Service’s employees and contractors are able to conduct operations safely.”
Bundy has vowed to do whatever it takes to protect his property, and his 14 children and hundreds of supporters stand behind him. Dave Bundy, his son, was arrested on Sunday afternoon while attempting to film the contract cowboys at work, and cited for failing to disperse and resisting arrest.
Thus far, 234 cows have been impounded as the Bureau of Land Management has temporarily closed the public recreation area. Bundy’s plea to the Clark County Sheriff to intervene was stymied as the action fell under federal jurisdiction.
While the last rancher in southern Nevada argues “it’s a freedom issue,” federal officials are executing the “no trespassing” court mandate.
Whether violence and bloodshed can be avoided remains to be seen.
Armed Fed Agents and Snipers? Nevada Rancher Is Taking on the Gov’t in a Battle That’s Reaching a Breaking Point
Armed federal agents deployed last week to northeast Clark County, Nev., for what can only be described as a major escalation in a decades-long standoff between a local cattle rancher and the U.S. government.
Cliven Bundy, the last remaining rancher in the southern Nevada county, stands in defiance of a 2013 court order demanding that he remove his cattle from public land managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.
The 67-year-old veteran rancher, who has compared the situation to similar confrontations with government officials inRuby Ridge and Waco, Texas, told TheBlaze that his family has used land in the 600,000-acre Gold Butte area since the late 1800s.
“I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life. Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,” he said, explaining that among them is the right to forage.
“Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land? Is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Or is it Cliven Bundy who is trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Who’s the trespasser?”
Claiming that all other options have been exhausted, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. National Park Service responded to Bundy’s inflexibility on the issue by calling on federal agents and contract cowboys to restrict access to the public land and to confiscate Bundy’s “trespass cattle.”
“Cattle have been in trespass on public lands in southern Nevada for more than two decades. This is unfair to the thousands of other ranchers who graze livestock in compliance with federal laws and regulations throughout the West,” the Bureau of Land Management stated on its website about the case.
“The Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially. An impoundment of cattle illegally grazing on public lands is now being conducted as a last resort,” it added.
Federal employees and contractors have so far impounded approximately 234 of Bundy’s estimated 900 “trespass cattle.”
The restrictions on the land are expected to stay in place until May 12. Earlier news reports stated that federal officials were considering auctioning the cattle to buyers in nearby counties in Utah. However, a Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman told TheBlaze Monday that the agency has no plans to ship impounded cattle for auction “in the near future.”
The government’s move to assert itself in the Gold Butte area shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the fact that it’s a move years in the making. In fact, the tense relationship between Bundy and federal government dates back to well before the 2013 court order.
The fight began when Bundy stopped paying the Bureau of Land Management’s grazing fees in 1993, arguing in court filings that he had no obligation to pay the agency because his Mormon ancestors had worked the land decades before the agency was formed.
Bundy claims he owes roughly $300,000 in back fees, but the federal government says it’s more than that.
“It’s a freedom issue. It’s not about cows. It’s a state rights issue.”
“That number, the $300,00, that was a number estimated through Sept. 11, 2011,” Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon said in a phone call with reporters Monday. “Since then, the estimated amount owed by him – so including the $300,000 – totals $1.1 million.”
In addition, the cost of removing the rancher’s cattle from the public land will cost taxpayers roughly $3 million, according to initial estimates.
The land was finally declared off-limits for cattle in 1998 and became a designated habitat for the federally protected desert tortoise. That same year, a judge ordered Bundy to remove his cattle. He refused to comply.
All throughout his decades-long struggle with the federal government, the veteran rancher has maintained that Washington has no right to order him from the land.
The Bureau of Land Management has “overstepped its boundaries by not letting me access my rights, not recognizing state’s sovereignty, and having over 200 armed officers watching our every move and stealing our cattle,” Bundy said.
The rancher’s wife, Carol, said there now appear to be snipers stationed around the family’s 150-acre ranch.
Asked about the Bundys’ sniper claim, Cannon would neither confirm nor deny the allegation.
“There are law enforcement and other personnel in place as needed to ensure that the BLM and National Park Services employees and contractors are able to conduct the operation safely,” Cannon said. “Specific operations information regarding this impoundment will not be released.”
“Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land?”
But the presence of what appear to be heavily armed agents isn’t the only thing that has the Bundys on edge: Their son, Dave, was arrested and allegedly roughed up Sunday for filming federal agents while outside an area designated for First Amendment activity on the restricted property. He was held overnight.
The 37-year-old Bundy was arrested “following failure to comply with multiple requests by BLM law enforcement to leave the temporary closure area on public lands,” Cannon said. She declined to comment on the claim that he was brutally treated.
Dave Bundy was released from custody Monday and cited for refusing to disperse and resisting issuance of a citation or arrest, she added. Cannon could not explain why Dave was held overnight.
The rancher said that he hopes Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie intervenes soon and ends the face-off once and for all.
“The federal government has no authority here,” Bundy said. “The sheriff has the authority. All he has to say is, ‘no’ and that’ll get the federal government out of here. I think he has that much power.”
It seems unlikely at this point, however, that the sheriff will intervene, as he has opted to let federal agents handle the situation. The sheriff has in the past advised Bundy on seeking legal counsel while the sheriff has extended federal deadlines.
The sheriff’s office referred media inquiries to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which confirmed to TheBlaze Monday that federal officials are handling the Bundy operation.
“That incident is being handled by another agency,” a Las Vegas police spokeswoman said. “It’s something we’re referring people to the BLM.”
Asked about Bundy’s claim that the sheriff’s office has ignored him, the spokeswoman added: “There’s nothing further that’s coming from this department about that incident, this operation. We’re just referring everything over to BLM. It’s not our operation. There’s no statement that has been issued about it.”
But with or without the sheriff, Bundy remains defiant.
“It’s a freedom issue. It’s not about cows. It’s a state rights issue. I really hope that we can learn and defend our liberties here and keep on fighting until the end,” he said. “I don’t when the end is going to be, but I believe that America is the greatest land in the world and it needs to be protected.”
“Our rights and liberties need to be protected and we’re going to stand for that,” he added.
“Constitutional rights sacred to all Nevadans”
Paul Joseph Watson
April 9, 2014
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has inserted himself into the escalating standoff between cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and federal officials by blasting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over their creation of a ‘First Amendment Area’ outside of which free speech is banned.
Image: First Amendment Area (YouTube).
The ‘First Amendment Area’ set up by BLM agents is a crudely taped off piece of land inside which supporters of Bundy, who is engaged in a long running dispute with feds over grazing rights on a 600,000 acre expanse in northeastern Clark County, are allowed to express their free speech.
However, protesters have completely ignored the area, instead staging large demonstrations on Bundy’s ranch. The only presence inside the ‘First Amendment Area’ are signs which read “1st Amendment is not an area” and another that states, “Welcome to Amerika – Wake Up” alongside a hammer and sickle logo.
“Most disturbing to me is the BLM’s establishment of a ‘First Amendment Area’ that tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution,” said Sandoval in a statement. “To that end, I have advised the BLM that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the ‘First Amendment Area’ should be dismantled immediately.”
“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans. The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly,” asserted the Governor.
The Bundy family responded to Sandoval’s statement by saying they were disappointed that he didn’t take a more firm stance to back them in their dispute with the BLM, but they were pleased with his sentiments regarding the ‘First Amendment Area’.
“Whenever you designate an area, then you’re restricting it everywhere else. When you designate an area like that for first amendment rights, you [don’t] give the people any rights. You [take them] away, and every other location,” said Ryan Bundy.
The Bundy family came face to face with the consequences of violating the free speech zone on Sunday when Dave Bundy was arrested for taking video footage from a state highway of BLM agents rounding up his family’s cattle. Video footage later proved that armed snipers had their guns trained on the family during the incident.
On Sunday, Cliven Bundy promised to launch a “range war” on federal officials after they began rounding up his cattle. Authorities are justifying the move by pointing out they are simply enforcing a 1993 rule change which prevents Bundy’s livestock from grazing on the land in order to protect the endangered desert tortoise.
Bundy and his supporters see the spat as something entirely different, portraying it as a clash between out of control big government and patriotic American family farmers.
With Bundy’s ranch under constant surveillance from armed agents ensconced inside what Ryan Bundy described as a “military compound,” some fear the standoff could lead to a Ruby Ridge or Waco-style tragedy.
Wake up America,’ says family involved in BLM cattle dispute
By Faith Heaton Jolley and Dave Cawley
April 7th, 2014 @ 6:56pm
CLARK COUNTY, Nevada — A man has been released after being arrested Sunday during an ongoing dispute over grazing rights between the Bureau of Land Management and a family in southern Nevada, and the family is calling for action.
A federal judge in Las Vegas first ordered Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy to remove his trespassing cattle in 1998, according to reports from the Associated Press. Similar orders were issued in July 2013, and again in October.
Saturday, the BLM began taking some of the 908 cattle from Bundy. The BLM says Bundy’s cattle have been trespassing on U.S. land without required grazing permits for over 25 years. However, Bundy said he doesn’t recognize federal authority on land that he says belongs to the state of Nevada.
The BLM released a statement on its website saying, “Cattle have been in trespass on public lands in Southern Nevada for more than two decades. This is unfair to the thousands of other ranchers who graze livestock in compliance with federal laws and regulations throughout the west. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (NPS) have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially.”
The situation escalated Saturday after Cliven Bundy’s son, Dave Bundy, 37, was arrested. Members of the Bundy family had gathered to film and take pictures of the removal of their cattle in an effort to document the event, according to Cliven Bundy’s daughter, Bailey Bundy Logue.
The family members had parked on the side of Nevada state Route 170, but the highway was included in the temporary closure of public lands, according to BLM representative Kirsten Cannon. Dave Bundy was arrested and cited with a criminal charge of refusing to disperse and resisting officers. Cannon said all public lands are closed within the designated closure area during the removal of the trespassing cattle.
Wake up America. Look what our ancestors fought for and we need to stand up for that. We need to realize what’s happening. They are taking everything away from us. This isn’t only about one family. This is about everyone’s family.
–Bailey Bundy Logue
Logue said Dave Bundy was taking pictures and recording on his iPad when he was asked by federal employees what he was doing. Logue said that Dave Bundy told the BLM workers that he was “exercising (his) First Amendment rights.”
“He did not resist arrest, but they continued to beat him,” Logue told KSL. “They put him on the ground and were standing on his head and had a dozen officers on top of him and dogs.”
The Bundy family was asked to leave the premises after Dave Bundy’s arrest. Logue said that there were snipers and uniformed men on the scene during the cattle impoundment.
“That’s scary,” Logue said. “I was angry, but there was nothing I can do. We were so outnumbered. With nothing but weapons of our cameras, we did our best at taking pictures. But when you’re in that situation your mind is not thinking very straight.”
Dave Bundy was released Monday afternoon. However, the Bundy family said they feel that their First Amendment rights were violated and that they were entitled to meet on state Route 170 to take pictures.
“That is against our First Amendment right,” Logue said. “They say it’s a First Amendment area, but we have rights everywhere. Since when have we had First Amendment areas? That’s not what it says in the Constitution.”
The Bundy family said they organized a rally for people to meet to support their First Amendment rights and their rights to public land. The rally was held near state Route 170 and I-15 on private land and around 100 people held a peaceful protest, Cannon said.
“We have got together hundreds of people from all over the world and they are here, not because this is about cattle,” Logue said. “We are asking people to come and stand up for their rights. We have lost all state sovereignty. I mean (it’s like) martial law in our home town, in America.”
Cannon said 134 cattle had been impounded by federal employees as of Monday afternoon, but the location will not be released during the ongoing operation. The cattle roundup was estimated to take between 21 to 30 days with further temporary closures during the operation.
“Wake up America,” Logue said. “Look what our ancestors fought for and we need to stand up for that. We need to realize what’s happening. They are taking everything away from us. This isn’t only about one family. This is about everyone’s family. This is martial law and it’s in America and so what are you going to do to have it stay out of America?”
Cliven Bundy reportedly owes the BLM and U.S. government $1 million in back grazing fees, according to Cannon.
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