Defiant Nevada rancher faces armed federal agents in escalating confiscation standoff

Update: See video of protesters’ heated battle with police, below:

A long-simmering dispute between a Nevada cattle rancher and the federal Bureau of Land Management has reached a boiling point, and participants have their fingers crossed it won’t erupt into violence.

cattleranch0409newtest

Photo: BundyRanch.blogspot.com

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 the Mesquite 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.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval weighed in with a statement Tuesday scolding the Bureau of Land Management:

“Due to the roundup by the BLM, my office has received numerous complaints of BLM misconduct, road closures and other disturbances. I have recently met with state legislators, county officials and concerned citizens to listen to their concerns. I have expressed those concerns directly to the BLM,” Sandoval said.

“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. 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.”

Whether violence and bloodshed can be avoided remains to be seen.

Updated 4-10

Video of protesters run-in with police posted on You Tube ( strong language) 

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About Richard Berkow

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at richard2429@hotmail.com

  • djs1138

    Time to start eating those “free range” tortoises…

  • MacDaddyWatch

    Another Waco, Texas. At war against america, this would have never happened with a white president

    • supershwa

      uhm…Waco happened with a white president…

      • Way West 56

        Clinton claimed to be the first BLACK occupier of the White House. Check it out.

    • Guest

      This has been going on since 1993… Clinton was president at the time… Bush 43 was president throughout this…

  • Royg

    Can we eat tortoises?

    • Way West 56

      Turtle soup..~!

  • johnnybgood2525

    I pray the fed officers will all be killed brutally, Lord smite them down!

  • Liberty Stone

    The man lost in court. He either appeals or complies. The rule of law is paramount for a civilized society. If he has indeed been a victim of eminent domain and not paid then he or his ancestors have a claim, and therefore he should sue on that basis. If he does not own the land or his ancestors never did, then the land is the governments or someone else and they can do as they please, even if the law is stupid. An individual cannot put forth a claim for a county, that is the county’s job. Property records should show who owns the land. The government is allowed to say who does what on its land even if the government is filled with morons and with moronic laws. We the people should vote them out of office change this dumb law and allow cattle to graze if he is actually ranching. If all he does is turn the cattle loose then that is not farming. The real tragedy here is that a turtle would trump people in a law.

  • alrui

    The guy should have paid his “fees” but beyond that the gubment simply wants to lock the land up so nobody can use it let alone enjoy it! This is ll being done due to AGENDA 21 folks! Its here and its real and we like Bundy need to fight these pukes at every turn!

  • http://ixquick.com Mark III

    “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” – Barack Obama

    “We are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming America” – Barack Obama

    “The goal of socialism is communism” – Vladimir Lenin

    Read “None Dare Call it Conspiracy” – Gary Allen, 1971

    See: “AGENDA – Grinding America Down” (youtube)

    Look up: State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers

  • Lon Levin

    Don’t send armed federal agents to secure our Southern border though

  • Reid Ralspun

    Corporate welfare? So “free food” for cows, but cut food stamps?

  • infidel420

    Holder needs to be executed for treason