“The Great Republican Land Heist: Cliven Bundy and the politicians who want to plunder the West”
Christopher Ketcham details the rancher/Republican grab for our outdoor heritage-

Cristopher Ketcham has been writing about the Western public lands now for a couple years. He is in the mold of Bernard DeVoto who wrote the influential column, “The Easy Chair,” in Harper’s Magazine from 1935 to 1955.  Harper’s is the oldest still running political monthly magazine in America. DeVoto, who grew up in Ogden, Utah, almost single-handedly saved the public lands in the late 1940s from a rancher/Republican takeover. His well informed and fiery columns sounded the alert, gave the facts, and stopped the plan to give ranchers almost total control by means of state management and even title to our public lands.

DeVoto’s statement on behalf of the Western lands and our national heritage came at the time like today. Republicans made an unexpected takeover of Congress in the election of 1946 after being locked out since 1932. The had big plans on behalf of ranchers and big industry.

Their mechanism would be to disparage federal ownership and management of public lands and assault the ideals of conservation which had been successfully implemented by the administrations of Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). Rancher-Republicans would build up a movement (from the top) through congressional and public hearings to justify congressional action, which they would then presumably force down the throat of President Harry S Truman, the Democrat who became President who FDR died in office.

Two years later the Republicans were dumped from office en masse and this first “sagebrush rebellion” was over.

In an important homage to DeVoto’s reporting at that time, Christopher Ketcham echo’s DeVoto’s prescient warning. It is worth a purchase. http://harpers.org/archive/2015/02/the-great-republican-land-heist/

 

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

43 Responses to Article in Harper’s Magazine exposes the plot to steal our public lands

  1. avatar Larry says:

    Yes, this is an ongoing threat. It seems to me a shame that some of the people who live in these western states seem to be the biggest problem. They do not know what they have and are willing to sell off their greatest advantage. I was brought up back East and know what it is like to live where all the land it privately owned. I love living in Idaho where we have so much Federal land. I’m willing to put up with a little mismanagement to keep the land open to all of us. The Idaho governor is a serious problem in this regard. We’ll need to keep an eye on them, especially if we get a Republican president next time around.
    I think the risk is increased by the lawyers who keep forcing unreasonable things down the throats of residents of these states, such as importing the invasive species wolves from Canada and preventing the states from managing them along with other wildlife. They should have let the wolves loose in Washington D.C., although they already have plenty of their own unique species.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Larry,

      I grew up in Idaho and Utah, but spent enough time in Wisconsin where there isn’t such great access that I really got interested in schemes that would make the West like the East (folks in Wisconsin didn’t like me calling it the East).

      I don’t think wolves though, love them or hate them, have anything to do with our right to have access to U.S. public lands.

      • avatar Larry K says:

        Ralph,
        The roundabout way wolves play into the public access issue is that morons that hate wolves believe all the hyperbole, rants and terrorist threats from republicans about government land ownership and that’s why they drive a ratty old pickup and can’t afford a dentist.

    • avatar Jeff N. says:

      Larry,

      I feel the same way about the federal government forcing invasive species down our throats. I live in the southwest and spend quite a bit of time in the Apache-Sitgraeves and Gila national forests and every time I come across the non-native elk my blood boils.

      I think you will enjoy the link I have included. I plucked it from the kids section of the AZGFD site. It’s written in a way that won’t be so challenging for you.

      http://www.azgfd.gov/i_e/ee/resources/wild_kids/elk712.pdf

      • avatar W. Hong says:

        I thought Elk and Wolf are native to America? That is what I have read in many of the articles I study online.

        • avatar Ed Loosli says:

          W.Hong:
          You are correct.

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          W. Hong,

          What can you tell me about the gray wolf in China? What is the population status and what is/are the prey species? How is the wolf viewed from a cultural standpoint?

      • avatar WM says:

        Jeff,

        I am not looking for a skirmish, here, but what distinguishing features did the native Merriam’s elk (extinct by 1900’s) have that the current RM elk have in the areas you describe?

        Is it your objection that elk simply were never there, or is it an invasive subspecies replacement you find objectionable?

        • avatar WM says:

          Sorry should read, ++… what distinguishing features did the native Merriam’s elk (extinct by 1900’s) have that the current RM elk DO NOT have in the areas you describe?

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          WM,

          The elk transplanted to the SW from YNP are not as large and aggressive as the original Merriam’s Elk. They are actually kind of whimpy.

          I was just responding absurdly to Larry’s equally absurd use of the term “invasive species” he seems to frequently include in his posts regarding the “Canadian” gray wolf. Nothing more nothing less. I hold no prejudices, no matter where the elk are from.

          • avatar Barb Rupers says:

            Theodore Roosevelt didn’t seem to think that the wolves of the United States Rockies were smaller than other subspecies that had yet to be named and described by scientists: “The difference even among the wolves of different sections of our own country is very notable.”

            “The great timber wolf of the central and northern chains of the Rockies and coast ranges is in every way a more formidable creature than the buffalo wolf of the plains, although they intergrade. The skins and skulls of the wolves of north-western Montana and Washington which I have seen were quite as large and showed quite as stout claws and teeth as the skins and skulls of Russian and Scandinavian wolves, ”
            “A full-grown dog-wolf of the northern Rockies, in exceptional instances, reaches a height of thirty-two inches and a weight of 130 pounds; a big buffalo wolf of the upper Missouri stands thirty or thirty-one inches at the shoulder and weighs about 110 pounds.”
            http://www.readcentral.com/chapters/Theodore-Roosevelt/Hunting-the-Grisly-and-Other-Sketches/009

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              How are you doing Barb?

              • avatar Barb Rupers says:

                OK, thanks.

                I was just looking through pictures today which I took on our trip to Maine in 2004. We stopped in Ely, Minnesota to visit the wolf center. I have some nice shots of the wolves and one of my favorite dog, Pic, at the foot bridge going over to Big Island which was near the area we stay at overnight; beautiful country. The trip was timed for the fall season’s color display.

          • avatar WM says:

            Jeff,

            Can you point us to a source that gives the attributes of the Merriam’s elk as compared to the other subspecies, including its alleged more aggressive nature? I have been unsuccessful in finding anything substantive in a quick internet search.

            And again, were there historically no elk in the area you speak of?

            • avatar Jeff N. says:

              WM,

              Seriously? I was, as I stated, being absurd in response to Larry. However, based on the link I provided, it does appear that, yes, elk were originally inhabitants of the National Forests that I frequent and I’m sure between you and I we can find dozens of sources that confirm the presence of the Merriam’s elk in the SW.

              Regarding my assertion of Merriam’s elk as being more aggressive, I think you are smart enough to realize where I was going with that nonsense. No disrespect intended.

              • avatar WM says:

                Mutually, no disrespect intended. But, to be clear, elk do exhibit varying behavior. The Roosevelt elk, larger and heavier bodied than Rocky Mountain elk can be 200+ pounds on average heavier than their cousins; they are also more secretive. So, it would not be unreasonable to suggest Tule(which are much smaller) or the now-extinct Merriam’s of slightly different genetic make-up, habitat and learned behavior to be different, yet. And, while I did detect your sarcasm to Larry (I’m laughing), my query was still a serious one. Never found much on the Merriam’s elk regarding behavior or physical characteristics. Anybody else out there have verifiable information?

                • avatar Jeff N. says:

                  WM,

                  Had the opportunity to see a Tule Elk, almost a year to the day, along the PCH about 50-60 miles south of Big Sur, CA. Sadly it was road kill, but I was shocked to see an elk literally right on the coast. Apparently there is a population in the area and a Tule Elk reserve near Bakersfield, CA.

    • avatar Ed Loosli says:

      Larry:
      Do you expect to be taken seriously, when you write such drivel as, “I think the risk is increased by the lawyers who keep forcing unreasonable things down the throats of residents of these states, such as importing the invasive species wolves from Canada…”?

      Wolves in Canada are species Canis lupus, the same species that were historically found in the Rocky Mt. West, and the same species that are still found in the Great Lakes region of the USA.

      • avatar Scott MacButch says:

        What Ed said – amazing anti-wolf folks still think the reintroduction was of some Canadian Super Wolf. If nothing else, just plain logic would dictate that a animal capable of dispersing large distances, five hundred miles and more, spreading there genes over the millennia as they go would some how stop at the Idaho and Montana borders?

        I have some ocean front property in Arizona I would like to sell to these folks.

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Got to remember there was a glacier separating the wolves from Canada from the wolves in the lower 48…ad nauseum 10-12,000 years ago.

          Deep intentional sarcasm.

        • avatar Jake Jenson says:

          Some “anti wolf” folks.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          Then, too, Scott, their offspring are hunted, and we have weights and measures of I suppose a representative number of those killed.

          These wolves are average sized with a bit of variation above and below.

  2. avatar Yvette says:

    I couldn’t access the entire Harper’s Bizarre article, but I might purchase it. If it’s good enough to catch your attention, Ralph, then it must be a good one.

    I just saw this in thinkprogress. It probably won’t pass and if it ticks off enough people maybe it will turn things next election.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/01/16/3612702/new-congress-no-more-national-parks-bill/

  3. avatar Ken Watts says:

    The real land grab is enviro/democrat in the form of wilderness and national monuments

    • avatar Ed Loosli says:

      Ken Watts:
      I hope you are just being sarcastic about what is a “land grab”… As you must know, Wilderness areas and National Monuments are designated either by Congress or the President out of lands already owned by the federal government… No private lands are turned into federal Wilderness lands or National Monuments. The battle is to help preserve and protect our public lands, not turn them over to land-grabbing private commercial interests.

    • avatar Barb Rupers says:

      KW,
      Why do you consider it a land grab when it still remains public?

      Do you use public lands for any of your activities? Don’t appreciate them? Move to a place with more posted private land.

    • avatar timz says:

      “The real land grab is enviro/democrat in the form of wilderness and national monuments”

      Do your home work before you prove your stupidity.
      Sixteen Presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, have used the Antiquities Act to establish National Monuments.

  4. avatar Jeff N. says:

    Had the opportunity to see a Tule Elk, almost a year to the day, along the PCH about 50-60 miles south of Big Sur, CA. Sadly it was road kill, but I was shocked to see an elk literally right on the coast. Apparently there is a population in the area and a Tule Elk reserve near Bakersfield, CA.

    • avatar Ed Loosli says:

      Jeff N:
      Yes, there are now over 4,000 tule elk, native only to California in 22 different areas around the State. It is a great comeback story for this beautiful elk, which at one point in the early 1900s numbered only around 12 individuals, down from an estimated 500,000 before gold was discovered in California in 1849.

      The latest battle surrounding tule elk is now occurring in Pt. Reyes Nat. Seashore (Marin County), where ranchers who lease land from the Nat. Park Service (at low subsidized rates) want the tule elk removed from what they call “their” grazing lands. Many of us think that these spectacular native elk should not be harassed, culled or relocated from this coastal habitat in favor of commercial ranching/dairy interests inside a National Seashore.

      • avatar Jeff N. says:

        Ed,

        Now that you mentioned it, I do recall seeing the sacred cow grazing in areas along my drive along the coast (starting at Cambria(?) and ending in Monterey. Question for you…..is this land along the PCH public, private, or a mix.

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          Ok, read my post. I used the word “along” three times in a roughly 40 word post. No mas vino para mi.

        • avatar Ed Loosli says:

          Jeff N:
          The coastal lands of Central California are a mix of public and private lands. However, the private lands are tightly regulated and zoned by the California Coastal Commission… Cattle on private land are generally considered O.K. over the option of having the private lands sub-divided for development. Lands however, owned by the National Park Service at Pt.Reyes Nat. Seashore (North of San Francisco) for example, should be places where nature and native species like tule elk rule.

  5. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    Elk and oceans do make an interesting mix on the north Oregon coast:

  6. avatar Cody Coyote says:

    FYI—there are/were 6 subspecies of Elk in North America, and four in east central Asia. Some say there are two species. The Siberian Elk of Asia are indistinguishable from the Rocky Mountain Elk and had a common ancestral genetic distribution pool. Two North Am subspecies are extinct..the Merriam and the Eastern , the latter was present in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts when the Pilgrims landed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elk#Subspecies

    All have/had complementary prey, except where humans broke the predator-prey chain.

    Reintroducing Rocky Mountain Elk to places like Arizona is not a crime against nature. They were there, once long ago. Then again , they occasionally find a Mastodon skeleton in Mexico and Central America…

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      The Siberian Elk of Asia are indistinguishable from the Rocky Mountain Elk and had a common ancestral genetic distribution pool.

      Fascinating! The land bridge. I’m heartbroken over the loss of Berkshires elk!

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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