The court declared Bundy’s claims to be “without merit,” and that “suggestions to the contrary are entirely unavailing.”
ST. GEORGE – It has been a week since the standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and the supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Since then the 67-year-old rancher has been hailed as a hero and a villain. During this last week, Cliven Bundy has called for the disarmament of “federal bureaucracies” by county sheriffs; detractors have decried the supposed use of human shields during the standoff; dead cattle and destroyed infrastructure have been found on the ranch; and one of the nation’s most powerful Democrats has labeled Bundy supporters “domestic terrorists.”
There remain two very different opinions over what lies at the heart of the ongoing conflict between the BLM and Cliven Bundy.
- The BLM maintains the rancher has illegally grazed his cattle on public land for 20 years and owes $1 million in grazing and trespass fees. To them, the rancher stands in violation of two federal court orders and continues to engage in illegal activity on public lands. The BLM began to round up Bundy’s cattle on April 5, but ultimately ended operations due to “grave concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.”
- Cliven Bundy has declared that the federal government has no authority to own lands within a state according to the Constitution, and thus chooses to not recognize the federal authority. Cliven Bundy and his supporters see this as a states’ rights issue and example of government overreach and overreaction. For them, the issue is much bigger than unpaid fees and cows.
Details of the April 12 standoff and a history of the Bundy-BLM conflict can be found here.
So who owns the land?
According to two federal district court orders, the federal government owns the land. The BLM itself manages the land as an arm of the Department of the Interior.
In both court orders, the first from 1998 and the second from 2013, the court ruled that the federal government has jurisdiction over the land.
Despite using arguments of state sovereignty, the court declared Bundy’s claims to be “without merit,” and that “suggestions to the contrary are entirely unavailing.”
For their part, the Bundys have never claimed to own land beyond their 150-acre ranch in Bunkerville, Nev. However, they claim grazing and water rights to the land predate those of the BLM, said Ammon Bundy, a son of Cliven Bundy and family spokesman. As such, those claims should be honored, the Bundy family has said.
The Bundys argue the public land is state-owned – period. As for the federal government, Cliven Bundy refuses to recognize it in this capacity.
In the end, as much as states’ rights advocates argue otherwise, the federal government retains control of the public lands in the West. However, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon are pursuing measures promoting the transfer of public lands over to state control.
The majority of the land overseen by the BLM is in the West. Nevada is over 80 percent public land, or, as argued by the BLM – over 80 percent of Nevada is owned by the federal government…(CONTINUED)
Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety and comment directly at the St. George News