Fairy tales about the West are fueling public lands conflict

OfficialPortrait  Rep. Raul M. Grijalva

Source:  High Country News

By Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva

Last month, a federal court indicted the armed extremists who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon on multiple counts of felony conspiracy, making threats and other serious charges. The property damage they caused, which is still being assessed, will likely be charged to the American taxpayers on whose behalf they claimed to be acting.

While they and their patron, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, now face the prospect of years behind bars, their ideology still enjoys considerable support in Washington and shows no signs of going away. The same figures who hailed the militia as patriots and defenders of the Constitution are advancing plans to transfer enormous tracts of federal land to state and local control, which all too often is a step away from selling them off to the highest bidder.

It’s easy to forget now, but when the Oregon standoff was at its peak, few Beltway Republicans offered a word of protest. All too often, we heard that a band of confused, gun-brandishing fanatics had legitimate grievances and good reason to invade a national wildlife refuge. One of my colleagues, Idaho Republican Rep. Raúl Labrador, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, even suggested they were engaged in a “peaceful” act of “civil disobedience.”

On Jan. 6, to restore some balance to the conversation, I offered a resolution of disapproval, calling on the militia to leave the refuge peacefully and surrender to local officials. My colleagues across the aisle ignored it, and not one Republican cosponsored it.

Instead, the Federal Land Action Group, a coalition headed by two House Republicans, is continuing to conduct roundtables calling for the same kinds of federal property giveaways the Bundy group described as its main goal. These efforts are not supported by the Constitution. Unfortunately, given the economic dislocation happening across the West, many Americans see federal land transfers as a chance to return to the good old days: free land, plentiful resources and a blank check to treat the Earth like a bottomless gold mine.

The people selling this fantasy know better, and they need to level with the people they represent before the Malheur standoff is repeated. That begins with telling the truth about the West. Because of episodes as diverse as the Louisiana Purchase and the federal government’s shameful genocide against Native American tribes, Uncle Sam once owned most of our country’s property — not because of any theft from state or local officials but because of the often messy ways in which we became a nation.

Federal agencies spent the past century giving most of this property away, or selling it on the cheap to provide space for homes, farms, mines, universities, railroads and cities across the West. What remains in federal hands today is land the homesteaders or the Union Pacific Railroad never wanted in the first place.

Recently, the West has been hit hard by the fact that our historic levels of resource extraction and development have proven unsustainable. The good old days were great for settling the West, but they were never meant to — and couldn’t — last forever. Many of the elected and unelected spokespeople for the “land transfer” movement know this, but they continue to use people’s anger and frustration to advance their unconstitutional ideological agenda.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

15 comments on “Fairy tales about the West are fueling public lands conflict

  1. AGAIN PRO HORSE SLAUGHTER BEHIND THIS AS WELL.They joined this dicey group with the lamebrained idea take back the west that doesnt belong to them….eliminate the Constitution that they dont like….that WeThe People shed Blood love and tears to uphold and protect. Then Run off Our Mustangs and Destroy the Last of the Frontier….and thereby put up a ramshackle roof funded by Lucas Oil to slaughter (people) I mean horses…..Same thing anymore….. the old let us cause more Methane Gas while depleting the Ozone of Oxygen. Really? Yes. The band of people being investigated Officially Now Includes Sherriff Palmer who sided with these nuts In the Standoff and should eventually expand to Investigate the two Republican politicians who are spearheading land return. It may have been orchestrated to in fact draw media to the plight while they underhandedly turn land over to the States. They needed something compelling but what they got was illegal. Pro slaughter leaders offered ridiculous updates and support go figure. Two underhanded deals at the same time. We have to wonder what will they do to get this plant they so desire….not to mention the Destruction of Americas wild horses. We need to Demand Investigations for the politicians who have been involved in this scenario. We dont need anymore Constitutional Traitors making decisions for America.

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  2. Thank you for writing me about the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) round ups of wild horses. I appreciate hearing from you about this about this important issue.

    The American Mustang is an iconic symbol of the American West. These wild horses are part of the cultural, historical, and natural landscape of this part of the country. As a federally protected species they, like all other wild animals on federal land, must be treated with the dignity they deserve by the government agencies responsible with their stewardship. BLM roundups that have lead to the deaths of many horses because of the methods employed and the improper consideration of climatic conditions have to be investigated. I convened a meeting of national wild horse advocates this past spring with BLM director Neil Kornze to create dialogue and seek solutions in a cooperative manner. My hope would be that we continue seek greater more open minded approach to wild horse management that uses birth control rather than sterilization to seek manageable levels of horses to remain on public lands.

    On August 5, I wrote a letter to Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth that addressed concerns related to the proposed Salt River Horse Herd roundup, which alarmed and outraged the advocacy community and general public. In the letter I outlined my critique of the round up methods used by the BLM and requested that the roundup be suspended. The letter also called for an open-minded stakeholder process to seek long term solutions. I was pleased that the BLM announced on August 6 that they would halt the roundup. We look forward to continuing to work with advocates to create a manageable approach to retaining these horses on Tonto National forest lands.

    I would like to thank you again for contacting me. Please know that my staff and I will be monitoring this issue closely to take the necessary steps to make sure your voice is heard on this issue in Congress. Democracy works best when we stay in touch, so I hope you will continue to contact me about the issues that matter most to you. Please visit http://grijalva.house.gov, where you can sign-up for e-mail updates, send a message to me about current events or pending legislation, access my statements and press releases, request copies of legislation and government reports, and receive detailed information about the many services that I am privileged to provide for my constituents. I am honored to serve you, so please never hesitate to contact me in the future.

    Sincerely,

    Raúl M. Grijalva
    Member of Congress

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  3. He does have some pretty good points although I think the article would have been better if Rep. Grijalva sticked more to the topic itself instead of painting a negative picture of the political right in the process. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have a bad habit of doing that when they should really be focusing on the issues at hand.

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  4. Starry, the negative picture of the political right is reality. The Republicans have historically and continue to fight vehemently against animal welfare and any sort of land or environmental protection. People need to know who are the foxes so we can keep them out of the hen house. Protesting and signing petitions and commenting on blogs is all very nice but it’s not going to protect America’s Mustang. Electing the right people will.

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    • Unfortunately, that is very true. However, both parties fail to realize that animal welfare and environmentalism are moral issues, and as such, should not be turned into political issues. Making them political has killed good legislation and gotten bad bills passed. Statesmen and congressmen who are focussed on making morally correct decisions as opposed to making politically influenced ones are individuals who are deserving of our votes.

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      • Starry, I’m thinking there aren’t many of those politicians(morally correct) left out there! The whole idea seems to be getting enough dollars to be re-elected. And the two men who are running for President on the Republican side apparently haven’t done much of anything for animal welfare OR the environment. Too bad John Kasich is so far behind. At least his record is better than theirs. Sounds like both Democrats have a better record than anyone else. But frankly, there’s not much of a choice for anyone.
        And yes these issues ARE moral – not political. There should be no question as to how they are dealt with – just a matter of doing what’s right. I guess I’m sounding very naïve – and I’ve been around long enough to know better!

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      • Honestly – I don’t know WHY – but have seen the figures here on RT’s blog. For whatever reasons – seems the fact that a politician that has already come up on the side of animal welfare & against horse slaughter should tell in which direction he (or she) is leaning – rather than someone who has a very low rating as far as animal welfare is concerned.

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      • Starry, I don’t think one can legislate morality, and find anyone else thinking they could dictate what is “correct” to be alarming. I don’t think it ‘s realistic to think you could remove politics from electing people into office. Further, what you think is “moral” and “correct” may be very different than what someone else does.

        What to do? Find and support people whose values mesh with your own, and try to seek consensus such that we can raise the national tide through agreement, not dictatorship which favors a few at the expense of the many.

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  5. The Man Who Could Save America’s Wild Horses
    ANDREW COHEN
    JAN 31, 2013
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/the-man-who-could-save-americas-wild-horses/272711/

    Representative Grijalva has been a consistent friend to the herds, and a persistent critic of the way the BLM has handled them. In 2009, for example, he co-sponsored the “Restore Our American Mustangs Act,” which would have buttressed federal protection for the horses. The measure passed the House but died later that year without being put to a vote in the Senate. In 2011, Rep. Grijalva sent this letter to Salazar, urging the Secretary to halt the BLM’s “detrimental new policies” toward the horses.

    So he stands up for the horses. He’s not afraid of the ranching and livestock lobbies, which have dominated the Interior Department for generations. He’s direct about his efforts to restore the balance Congress intended in 1971 when it passed the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the landmark statute designed to protect America’s wild horse herds from precisely the sort of destruction that threatens them today. Oh, and he thinks the Obama Administration could be more transparent in its dealings on the issue.

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