In the wake of the developing situation in Burns Oregon, I thought it would be appropriate to post two stories that illustrate the complete injustices suffered by the ranchers in the West. I wrote these stories during the Bundy crisis in April 2014, and I was horrified by what I found.
My greatest hope is that under a President that cares about the Constitution, the states will finally have their land returned to them.
The following article has been reprinted from TavernKeepers.
Cattle free by ’93
The ongoing saga of Nevadan cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has captured the attention of America. His supporters lament the ongoing government overreach that led to armed agents descending upon the Bundy family home; while his detractors cite Bundy’s failure to pay “grazing fees.”
But some of the most compelling events that led up to this point are being all but ignored by the mainstream media.
“Cattle-free by ’93” is a slogan being heard frequently enough in resource management circles to warrant careful consideration of its implications. It refers to a movement that has existed for some time which has a goal to eliminate all livestock grazing from public lands.”
The goal for some radical environmentalists has always been to get rid of ranching on public lands altogether. A Google search can confirm this easily.
One pivotal figure in this battle is a man who passed away last year at the age of 99.
Vernon Bostick worked at the U.S. Forest Service before he resigned in disgust after seeing that even in his day, the goal was to get rid of cattle grazing on public lands altogether as part of an ideology.
Far from being careless about environmental issues, Bostick “was very active in local environmental and conservation issues including the development of the Wetlands Park…” In fact, “several of its key features are named in his honor…”
In June, 1990, a portion of Vern Bostick’s study, “The Desert Tortoise in Relation to Cattle Grazing” was published in “Rangelands.” He wrote in part (the entire study is worth reading),
“Cattle have been excluded from the Nevada Test Site and the Desert Wildlife Range for many years. Tortoises are rare and doing poorly at both sites.” In fact, he wrote, “The highest tortoise densities known occurred at a time when overgrazing by livestock was the severest ever known.”
While testifying on behalf of yet another embattled rancher Cliff Gardner, Bostick said (page 52),
“…The truth is, that the reason that the ·earliest accounts never mentioned Desert Tortoise was because those people never saw any. [BLM tortoise biologist] Kristin Berry* and a lot of other people would like to get cattle off the range.
They make continuous claims that cattle are destroying tortoise habitat, but they have no scientific data to back up their claims. The truth is there were almost no desert tortoise throughout this region before settlement.”
*Kristin Berry, along with her colleagues, wrote a report in 1984 that “provided tortoise advocates with an agenda for research and activism,” and ultimately led to the designation of the tortoise being labeled as “threatened.” In 1994, Berry took part in suggesting a “recovery plan” for the Desert Tortoise. The report mentions grazing 108 times, and how cattle should be “removed” or designated to an “experimental management zone.”
Further, and his testimony should be read, Bostick stated that when his research did not result in the correct outcome,
“In the end they completely disregarded my report, and instead got someone from the regional office that hadn’t even been involved in the study, to write a final report. I quit soon after that, I resigned. I could see that there was no future for me in the Forest Service.
They weren’t practicing forestry anymore, and their only idea of range management was to remove livestock. All the data we had collected, two years of work and I don’t know how many thousands of dollars that had been put into the study were lost. There was nothing ever published.”
Cliff Gardner, “was found guilty of willfully violating the unilaterally imposed grazing restrictions of the Forest Service.”
In 2001, the Sierra Times reported,
“The arbitrary and capricious rule and enforcement of the Forest Service had left the Gardners with the alternatives of giving up their 129 year-old family ranch or opposing the Forest Service. “
The must-read article also quotes Gardner as saying, “About 26 ranchers have vanished in the last 20 years.”
Watch Cliff Gardner discuss Cliven Bundy here:
So how about the Desert Tortoise?
In a 2008 article, the Tucson Citizen reported on the status of the Desert Tortoise, saying in part,
“…wildlife officials don’t know if it [the protections] has done any good to stop the tortoise’s widespread decline…”
Roy Averill-Murray, Desert Tortoise Recovery Coordinator, said the tortoise may be impacted by climate change.
Evidently, the Bureau of Land Management is just as dysfunctional with protecting the Desert Tortoise as they are with protecting the Constitution.
In 1988, the New York Times reported,
“‘We have seen up to a 1,500 percent increase in the [Desert Tortoise] population in some areas in the last 20 years,’ said Richard R. Olendorff, endangered-species coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management in California. The tortoise is not on the endangered list, but some experts fear the ravens will help push the species into the critical category.”
In August, 1990, The Deseret News reported,
“The ideas behind a drive by some environmentalists to kick livestock off the public range may be as simplistic as their slogans, according to a range expert. Cow free by ’93‘ and ‘No more moo by ’92’ are battle cries of the radical group Earth First!, which has been trying to get cows off the West’s public rangeland. They cite damage to native plants as a result of grazing.”
As reported at Liberty Unyielding, the “Center for Biological Diversity” was founded by “Earth First!” members. One of their activists, Rob Mrowka, also worked on a “mitigation” project with the Bureau of Land Management that specifically cited the land upon which Cliven Bundy’s cattle graze as an area to to be used to offset damage done by a solar company, which is – of course – housed on public land.
A BLM document that targeted Cliven Bundy was scrubbed from the BLM website. This author asked the BLM about this on Twitter.
— Renee Nal (@ReneeNal) April 13, 2014
I am still waiting to hear back.
Cliven Bundy has been called a “Freeloader,” a “Lunatic Scofflaw,” a “Big Fat Million Dollar Welfare Dead Beat!” and a “Deadbeat.” The people who went to protest the 200-plus armed federal agents who came to confiscate Cliven Bundy’s cattle (and ended up killing two of them) have been called “domestic terrorists,” “extremists,” and “outlaws, anarchists and terrorists.”
People who dismiss the plight of the Bundy family are also likely to refer to illegal immigrants as “inspiring,” and “incredibly brave.” They are more likely to demand “tolerance,” but only if you agree. They are likely to refer to the Tea Party as “anarchists,” while referring to the Occupy Movement as “young”, “spontaneous”, “focused.” They are likely to denounce racism, while actively bashing black conservatives, simply because of the color of their skin.
Political ideology, you see, trumps everything.
More and more evidence reveals the shocking and pervasive marriage between the federal government and radical environmentalists. As someone who genuinely cares about protecting the environment, this author resents that the environmental movement has been hijacked by those who seek nothing less than a wilderness designation for all public land in the United States.
The following article has also been reprinted from TavernKeepers.
#BundyRanch: It’s the land, stupid!
If one hears the story about the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) confiscating cattle from a Nevadan rancher from a distance, he or she may say that considering that Cliven Bundy stopped paying grazing fees, the federal government’s actions may seem heavy-handed, but are understandable. This is a reasonable position.
Others may cite the Desert Tortoise, a species that was deemed endangered in 1990. As Becket Adams of theBlaze reported, in 1998, Bundy’s land was “finally declared off-limits for cattle.” Adams writes that “a judge ordered Bundy to remove his cattle. He refused to comply.”
As an aside, despite dire warnings posted on the BLM website that people who “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect [the Desert Tortoise]…” are subject to a “$50,000 fine and one year in jail, or both,” BLM themselves have inadvertently and sometimes deliberately killed these wonderful animals, as reported at Liberty Unyielding.
Again, Bundy comes across a bit like a man who is not budging and perhaps unwilling to compromise.
With some digging, one can find that there is really so much more to this story.
It’s the land, stupid!
Radical environmental groups, along with their allies in the federal government like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have been fighting for this land for decades.
As syndicated radio host Dana Loesch writes,
“A tortoise isn’t the reason why BLM is harassing a 67 year-old rancher. They want his land.”
The Sierra Club even has their own “Grazing team,” where they claim to “advocate for eliminating the adverse effects of livestock production on native species and their habitats on all federal public lands of the United States.” Ken Cole is on the “Grazing team” and has written about Cliven Bundy here.
In 2010, Rob Mrowka of the Center for Biological Diversity wrote a letter to BLM lamenting about Bundy’s cattle and demanded a “designation of a National Conservation Area.”
He writes in part,
“On May 4, 2010 I provided a statement to the Clark County Commission during a public hearing on Gold Butte. In my statement I supported the effort to provide Gold Butte with additional protections through the designation of a National Conservation Area. I also raised the issue of the trespass cattle as being a serious threat to the area.”
Mrowka then referenced Commissioner Tom Collins, who he said “told a story of how back in the 90’s he stood on a hill with the Bundys and his gun ready to defend the Bundy’s ‘right’ to graze on Gold Butte.”
Eventually, Senator Harry Reid “proposed to create a National Conservation Area at Gold Butte…”
The article points out,
“Conservationists for more than a decade have lobbied for a Gold Butte to become a federal conservation preserve.”
The very same Commissioner Tom Collins, by the way, was quoted this week saying that Utahns are “inbred bastards” and if they come to Clark County to support Bundy they “better have funeral plans.” Collins also told Bushman [Darin Bushman, a Piute County, Utah, commissioner] that they should mind their “own (expletive) business.”
The very same Rob Mrowka called the protesters “outlaws, anarchists and terrorists.”
He tweeted today,
Why hasn’t the Gov sent National Guard to ,back up fed officers & enforce court orders?
— Rob Mrowka (@ecorob6) April 12, 2014
BLM & NPS “leaders” betray the trust of their employees trying to enforce the law. Federal law enforcement loses huge credibility over this.
— Rob Mrowka (@ecorob6) April 12, 2014
BLM runs off w/ tail between their legs. Why didn’t METRO uphold federal court orders and run off the outlaws, anarchists and terrorists? — Rob Mrowka (@ecorob6) April 12, 2014
3 court rulings against Bundy,trespassed 20+ yrs & now BLM is offering to PAY Bundy?! Land is ruled by sovereign terrorists and anarchists.
— Rob Mrowka (@ecorob6) April 12, 2014
The Free Republic cites a BLM report that is no longer available.
The author says,
“These posts are to preserve info that may disappear.”
You can try the link, still listed on the government website. But it won’t work:
Tortoises Suffer While BLM Allows Trespass Cattle Eat for Free in Nevada Deserthttp://t.co/8FWqNq9mfD
— Center for Bio Div (@CenterForBioDiv) March 25, 2014
Interestingly, the report also says in part that one of the ways Cliven Bundy’s cattle “impacts” “Restoration Funding and Viability” is:
“Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle.”
“Solar companies that build power plants at the Dry Lake solar energy zone 30 miles west of here would agree to pay a mitigation fee for every acre of habitat they destroy.”
— Friends of NV Wild (@friendsofnvwild) March 27, 2014
Which brings us to……
Senator Harry Reid
Dana Loesch noted wryly, “If only Clive Bundy were a big Reid donor.”
“The tortoise wasn’t of concern when Harry Reid worked BLM to literally change the boundaries of the tortoise’s habitat to accommodate the development of his top donor, Harvey Whittemore.”
The author would be remiss not to mention Neil Kornze, the new director of the Bureau of Land Management. He was “was senior public lands adviser to Sen. Harry Reid” before joining BLM in 2011.
Not surprisingly, Kornze was endorsed by the Sierra Club.
— Friendsof Gold Butte (@goldbutte) April 9, 2014
And there is this,
“Now, questions surrounding family ties are flaring again in Nevada around the Senate majority leader. He and his oldest son, Rory, are both involved in an effort by a Chinese energy giant, ENN Energy Group, to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel manufacturing plant in the southern Nevada desert.”
“More ranchers gave up”
A 2012 article from Vin Suprynowicz of the Review Journal reflects that it is “somewhat curious” that Cliven Bundy, the final rancher -out of 51 – in an area south of Mesquite is accused of “damaging the range by overgrazing as many as 750 head or somehow cheating the public by not paying management fees to the BLM” considering “what’s happened to the 51 other allotments on which ranchers were grazing cattle in Clark County, within living memory.”
Quoting investigative reporter Tim Findley in the summer 1999 edition of Range magazine, Suprynowicz wrote,
“Attempting to cooperate with their federal overseers, “year-by-year their operations were crippled by rising fees and reductions in AUM (animal units monthly)…The numbers of actively used allotments were rapidly diminishing.”
Findley wrote that the ranchers,
“took their cases to court, and won, but the BLM simply imposed new ‘force and effect’ regulations. More ranchers gave up.”
Two years ago, Vin Suprynowicz wrote,
“The right amount of grazing, in the minds of Mr. Bundy’s adversaries, is no grazing. The real plan here is to turn hundreds of square miles into another federal conservation area, if not an outright wilderness. “
There have been many others
The federal government has harassed the ranchers, withdrew their “grazing rights,” confiscated their cattle and “conspired” against them, such as in the case of Wayne Hage, who was the victim of a two-decades-long conspiracy, according to U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones.
A must-read article by Hans von Spakovsky at Heritage.org reported that “federal employees of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the Department of the Interior” conspired “to deny the grazing rights of a Nevada ranching family, interfere with their water rights, and destroy their cattle business by scaring away their customers.”
As reported at Tavern Keepers, Jack Vogt and Julian Smith saw their cattle confiscated in 2001 “for what it [BLM] says are tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid grazing fees and fines.” Also in 2001, Ben Colvin was “fighting an uphill battle with the BLM which culminated in the confiscation of his cattle…” Other cases can be found here, here, here, here, and here.
The federal government stands down…for now
In the wake of the Bundy controversy, the BLM attempted damage control, addressing the matter on their taxpayer-funded website, saying that it is a “matter of fairness:”
“Allowing individuals to continue illegal trespass grazing on federal lands is a matter of fairness to thousands of ranchers whose livestock graze in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations throughout the west.”
BLM did not mention the Desert Tortoise in their statement. It is fortunate that Americans have the federal government to fill us in on what is “fair.”
In the midst of the controversy, BLM released a statement saying in part,
“Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.”
Hysterically, the BLM continues,
“We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner.”
The BLM, incidentally, shot a man a couple of months ago. The shooting by a “Bureau of Land Management ranger” resulted in the death of D’Andre Berghardt Jr., 20, “near the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.”
And I will leave you with a seriously dorky congressional candidate…
Bundy is a scumbag. Fox News glorifies him. He’s on Hannity Monday night. He’s no hero. If you love America PAY YOUR TAXES
— DickinsonForCongress (@VoteMike2014) April 12, 2014