One result of the Bundy Gang take-over has been the abundant media attention to their assertions of government “overreach” and “aggressive enforcement“ of environmental regulations that, according to Bundy and Gang, has driven ranchers, miners, and loggers from the land. Unfortunately the media have been slow to counter such assertions.

The reality on the ground is much different from the delusional version put forth by Bundy and associates. Most federal and state agencies are lax in their enforcement of environmental regulations. Though many local people in Harney County where the Malheur Refuge is located decry the use of armed intimidation and threats, a sizeable minority or perhaps even majority agrees with the Bundy gang assertions that local people should control management of these public lands.

The irony of such claims is that local people already have a disproportional control and influence on national public lands. They can attend meetings, go on field trips, communicate their views through local media and use their connections with local and higher level politicians to promote their economic and other interests.

If they disapprove of federal management activities, local people often exercise social manipulation against federal administrators. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service (FS) managers and staff that live in rural areas. Federal employees, like people everywhere, want to be accepted in their local communities. Any manager or staff who initiates management action that upsets the local people or local business interests like ranchers, miners, or loggers, will quickly find themselves socially isolated, their kids mocked or verbally abused in local schools, and at times employees and/or their families are even subject to physical violence or death threats.

I fear that in the aftermath of the Malheur event, no matter how it is resolved, we will see federal administrators even more “cowed” by local hostility to national interests. What BLM or FS manager will be willing to restrict or otherwise control activities that damage public resources if he/she knows that local communities like Burns, Oregon, as well as county, state and sometimes even Congressional members are opposed to the laws or regulations these agencies are supposed to uphold?

Several years ago a friend of mine who is high up in the BLM attended a meeting of BLM state directors and district managers convened by Department of Interior lawyers. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the managers that Department of Interior legal teams were losing law suits over and over because they, the people on the ground, were continuously violating the law. The lawyers were young and naïve. They thought, according to my friend, that they were telling these managers something they did not know. The BLM field staff sat stoically, with arms crossed, and listened.

Finally one of them quipped, “Yes I know I am violating the laws. I do it all the time. You know why? Because if I followed the law I’d have every county commissioner, state legislator, the governor and the state Congressional delegation on my ass–and you know what? You’re not paying me enough to take that kind of abuse.”

Then another manager followed up and said, I don’t follow the law either. I count on being sued by the environmentalists so that I can tell the delegation or the loggers or the ranchers that I had no choice in the matter. The court is telling me I must do this.” He went on to acknowledge that unless he was sued and had that political cover, he would not follow the law.

According to my friend, there were a lot of other people in the room nodding their heads in agreement.

With the recent empowerment of militant groups around the West, particularly militants with guns and other weapons, what rational field manager, especially one living in a small rural community is going to challenge the local “custom and culture?” As one of the field managers said, “You’re not paying me enough.” And indeed, we are not.

If I were a BLM or FS official, I would be loath to challenge a rancher or a miner using public resources. To do so may invite an armed occupation or worse. And those employees know that it’s easier and far less dangerous to simply overlook  violations and to avoid enforcement actions, except perhaps in most egregious abuses.

Unless these field managers get strong backing from the highest levels of the administration, we are not likely to see this change. However, instead of standing up to the local bullies, usually, it seems the general policy has been of appeasement.

A good example occurred recently in Nevada when the BLM backed down from throwing Cliven Bundy in jail for failure to pay fines, resisting and interfering with government employees attempting to capture his trespass cattle. Bundy remains a free man, and worse his cattle are still ravaging our public domain.

Even after the Cliven Bundy debacle, the BLM backed down again in another northern Nevada incident. Because of the long drought that has engulfed much of Nevada, the BLM closed some areas to further grazing destruction. Ranchers in the Elko area intimated the local BLM officials. In this they were aided and abetted by Senator Dean Heller and Congressman Mark Amodei who cheered them on. The ranchers even denied there was a drought—though that did not stop them from receiving profligate federal drought disaster relief payments.

In the end the BLM caved. Not only did they reinstate grazing to the detriment of our public lands, but John Ruhs, a cowboy friendly BLM manager who negotiated the reversal in grazing management, was appointed the Nevada state director.

Unfortunately such incidents are not isolated, and such intimidation and accommodation has occurred for years.

In the aftermath of the Malheur stand-off, we will see more capitulation to local control and our public patrimony will suffer accordingly. We may remain the “owners” of these federal lands in name, but the defacto control will shift even more towards local economic and political interests. No matter what legal consequences the Bundy Gang suffers, they have succeeded in advancing their agenda of increasing local control of our public lands.

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About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

97 Responses to Bundy Gang Won For Now

  1. avatar HLB says:

    At least the Bundy people did not shoot anyone like the Federal people did.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      When I was much younger, my dad once told me that if I go out and “play” and get caught doing something wrong, take responsibility for your actions, don’t come crying back to me.

      Wave guns around, act erratic, blow through a road block, quit whining.

      • avatar Outdoorfunnut says:

        I agree, NOW SAY THAT TO the family of Michael Brown, Travon Martin, Freddie Gray etc etc etc!

        • avatar Yvette says:

          Travon Martin did not have a gun. He had skittles.

          Michael Brown did not have a gun. He had an attitude. Not surprising given the documented and verified history or racism, bigotry, and blatant targeting of black people in the town Ferguson, MO by 100 lb scrawny cops like the one that murdered him.

          OFN, I think you just might be a middle-aged man living in his mommy’s basement. You certainly have plenty of time on your hands. Dude, stop eating the lead based paint.

          • avatar Jay says:

            Forrest is just trying to get a rise out of folks, don’t bother responding.

            That said, I believe I did see Finicum assault the OSP with a handful of skittles in the FBI footage…

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Your the one with the big mouth, you say it to them.

      • avatar Kim says:

        Dude I live in the area this is not at all what this guy is saying. The people there were scared of the FBI and OSP and the other military groups they brought in. They had snipers on the school roofs. I don’t agree with them taking over the refuge but they were not waving guns around. This is what they would
        like you to believe. He took off because they were shooting at him and he didn’t blow through a road block look at the video he was trying to stop even though the road look clear they are still icy. He left his side arm that he carried at the refuge which was recovered by his family. So before you go thinking this you need to look at the whole picture. Read up on the Agenda 21 that this government is trying to pass. By the way it will effect you too. Once they have all this land they plan to start mining it. The UN is trying to take our the US and our dumbass Government is letting them. Look back on your American History and see that is why Kennedy was killed for trying to stand against what was going on. They are closing public road in California restricting access to homes. They are trying to divide our country so they can call for Marshall Law. They will take all our rights. Then they will not have to elect another President. Obama can finish what was started over many other presidents. The ones who stood up were either assassinated or attempt on their lives. Do some history work you will see. If you own a home no matter in the city or rural area they will take it. It is already happening here and in Virginia. It is not just the west coast, those people you are saying were erratic they were standing up against our rights and yours. They took over the refuge because they knew that it would make a bigger impact because they need the people of the USA to take notice of what is really happening. They are doing a lot more then what this moron who is writing these articles is saying and of course they are metered by the government. We need to stand together, like it says, “United we stand, Divide we fall” and that is what they are counting on. Do some research, how would you like to be tormented into giving up your home and your lively hood so the government could have everything you worked for all your life and your parents and grandparents before them. Really do some research on this, because it wasn’t just them this has been happening for years and people are starting to stand up and take notice. You know those first national monument you are so excited for they are being mined by Russian Corporations that Clinton allowed to happen. They are not preserving them they are using them to take the uranium and other minerals off of them. USA is the most powerful and they are tearing us down little by little without anyone noticing. Well guess what now we are noticing. It is time for you to take notice and research what I just told you and then spread the word. We have state representatives, governors, sheriffs and many more who are fighting this in congress. Do you take the word of someone who is not here and seeing it for themselves or the people who are living through it. One other thing those gun waving erratic’s were your FBI and OSP having people of Burns get out of there car at check points and holding guns on them and their children. One was a teacher that is why they closed schools, snipers on the school roofs. Local police from other areas came in and those erratic’s as you call them were talking and shaking hands with them and the people of Burns never threaten them was eating and shopping. So I suggest you and they others who agree with this dumbass do some research.

        • avatar Mal Adapted says:


          POE’S LAW:

          “Without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism.”

          I suspect Kim’s post is a parody, but it’s difficult to tell.

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            Mal Adapted,

            Yes. It has become very hard to tell. I let it through rather than spending it to spam because I thought someone might want to ponder. After listening to the militants, I tend to think it is a real post.

        • avatar Larry Keeney says:

          Hey Kim,
          I’m sure there is a wingnut-blog out there somewhere you will feel much more comfortable with. Hope you find it and I wish you well.

    • avatar Eric T. says:

      Finicum was shot by OSP.

    • avatar Mal Adapted says:


      Finicum was given every chance to save his own life. His confederates saved theirs by yielding to the government’s authority at the last. When Finicum made his choice not to yield, he left that OSP trooper no choice but to shoot him. It was regrettable, but I would fear the consequences more if he had not.

      My only regret is that the facts of Finicum’s death will inevitably be distorted by his followers, to make him a martyr for their cause. You are trying to do that here, but I trust the majority of Wildlife News readers will see through your attempt.

      Our country cannot tolerate armed insurrection. The rule of law depends on the de facto power of the government to enforce it. If the government did not have a practical monopoly on force, its authority would be merely theoretical. Any group that challenges federal authority by force of arms must expect to meet overwhelming force in response. If the challengers do not yield, they must expect to suffer the consequences. Otherwise, the United States of America would disintegrate, and tremendous human tragedy would ensue. If you feel that ought to happen, I will not hesitate to call you a traitor.

    • avatar Jay says:

      Apparently you have no need for law and order–sounds like Somalia would be a good place for you to move to where one can use threat of force to do whatever one pleases.

  2. avatar Robert Weinick says:

    I agree with most of the article but I don’t think the Bundy’s won. This has been a 5 week lesson in public lands and grazing for most of the country. I have enjoyed it all. Starting tomorrow in Kanab the story moves to its real center, Kanab,Utah. After all, southern Utah sent these guys up to Oregon. We have been dealing with them for a long time.

  3. avatar Larry Keeney says:

    It certainly is a reality for land management employees to feel unaccepted by some groups of locals. Back in the 70’s I had IDFG enforcement responsibilities of the MF Boise River drainage including the town of Atlanta. It was like stepping into an ice cave to roll through the town. Making a lunch purchase was icy in that if the people could serve me without talking they would. Of course then the pop. was only about 18 during the winter. Politics does carry over to exclude personnel of agencies they don’t like. Such is the way it is in society with so many of our interests besides politics. It can manifest itself in religion, race, language and many lesser differences. The best defense is that if our interests are legal and moral then celebrate those interests internally and don’t be afraid of showing it.

    • avatar Yvette says:

      Larry Keeney, you are spot on. It is definitely the way of our society and we find it permeates both on the job and in life. Sometimes it’s inner-departmental; sometimes it’s inter-departmental and other times it is like what you described; one group against another.

      One thing I’ve learned is most people don’t like honest people; they like the ones that tell them what they want to hear; those who excel in life’s politics and are good at playing games.

  4. I agree 99% with George. The stranglehold is what it is, and, in fact, more powerful then we realize. George explained it to a T. My 1% difference of opinion (or 1% hope) is the fact that because the Bundy-led militia takeover of the Malheur was national, if not international news, it did inform, educate, and raise awareness to the violent and outlandish platform of these people. While the national media failed in many regards (calling them activists, protesters, etc.) and in some cases that “awareness” might be problematic, in that some or many folks may now think that grazing is a right, or that the “federal overreach” (as George stated) is real. It’s hard to say, but I do hold out hope that if/when this happens again, the American people will do more then mail sex toys and dildos. Citizens will need to peacefully demonstrate in massive numbers to show support for federal public lands, the enforcement of our public land laws, and the protection of our natural heritage. There will need to be a crisis or tipping point to make this happen. That’s exactly what the Bundy-led militia is doing, except they are fabricating that “crisis” to create a tipping point.

  5. avatar Kevin Jamison says:

    I felt terrible about Finicum, he seemed like a genuinely decent guy; he unfortunately either ignorantly allowed himself to be brainwashed by the Cleon Skousen nonsense or did it on his own. I read an interview with him on one of his several forays out of the refuge and down to his homestead in Arizona, by a young guy who was writing about the problem on a blog or local (AZ) paper. Finicum and his wife were gracious and generous. The writer noted that he had some sympathy with his subjects but disagreed with most all of their philosophies. Still, he wondered “why are these people all so nice?”
    I’m also distressed that the OSP trooper who will have to live with this the rest of his life, having been forced to be the executioner in Finicum’s death by cop suicide.
    Now have to wonder what’s up at his assisted living home
    for special needs teens. $115K/Yr income; is that to prop up a failing ranching operation? What else might drive him to do such crazy shit as this “occupation” which ended with his intentional death? I am truly sorry that it had to come to this; for one thing it echoes the many other deaths on the western range lands from the arrival of the First Americans, fighting among the bands for primacy down to the cattle baron days (Shane) to Claude Dallas (“Give a Boy a Gun”) to Cliven and many others, to this. “Politics is the art of who gets what.” K. Jamison

    • avatar Robert Weinick says:

      Hey Teasdale. Just over the hill between Boulder and Escalante

    • avatar Mal Adapted says:

      Whatever civic and personal virtues Finicum possessed, he turned his face from me when he joined the Bundy gang.

      Bundy’s stated purpose was to return the federal public lands to “the people”, unmistakably comprising a few people he likes, and most definitely excluding me. How dare he unilaterally declare me an unperson! And if he magnanimously extended his people to include me, his agenda for how the federal public lands should be used still wouldn’t intersect with mine at any point.

      Throughout the whole debacle, I kept telling myself “there must be something I have in common with these people”, but I never did find it!

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Yes. That’s the thing, people are nice, intelligent, but we just have a blind spot or block where politics and land ‘ownership’ is concerned. I wish we could have the ability to see further into the future to save and protect our lands, water, and wildlife, and not the ‘use it all up now’ attitude. Each generation seems to leave less for the future.

      I truly wish we’d get together, and all sides compromise for the greater good. It is important to save our wildlands and wildlife, for all.

      • avatar HLB says:

        Thank you for saying that.
        I would like to see a consensus of truth on specific issues as to our environmental concerns. I would like to see respect for the Constitution based on the wording of the Constitution, not necessarily on case law. I would like to see real environmental solutions that are not just watered down compromises that suck the life out of the environment and all people involved.

        • avatar Ida Lupines says:

          Your welcome. 🙂

          It’s a shame. I didn’t know Mr. Finicum personally of course, but I did see videos he had made at the time of the Cliven Bundy protest. So, we have a sense of a real person, not a news headline.

          At the time, I didn’t know all the background, and thought it was a case of the big, bad BLM picking on a little guy – but then the government agencies are made up of hard-working individual people too – so it ain’t easy.

        • avatar Mal Adapted says:


          In a last attempt to penetrate your self-absorption, I’ll say again what I and others have said, in this and other Wildlife News threads:

          The framers of the US Constitution knew that its wording could not be made free of ambiguity, and that differing interests would inevitably give rise to differing interpretations. They feared that without an impartial authority respected by all parties, those differences would be resolved by violence, and the rule of law would give way to a war of each against all.

          Article III was intended to prevent that unhappy outcome, by creating the judiciary as a third co-equal branch of government. The judiciary’s Constitutional role is to resolve disputes among the other branches, the states and the people themselves, by a process (in which case law is an essential component, BTW) that dissuades the losers from resorting to violence.

          Now, Article III explicitly gives the Supreme Court of the US final authority over how the Constitution is to be interpreted. In addition, Article VI, paragraph 2, the “supremacy clause”, gives the federal government authority to enforce SCOTUS’s decisions throughout the country. Articles III and VI, together with the government’s practical monopoly on force, are what actually establish the rule of law in the United States of America.

          In other words, the Constitution means what SCOTUS says it means. There can be no rule of law in our country otherwise; and no “consensus of truth” on any concern can mean anything if self-appointed authorities like LaVoy Finicum, or you, are allowed to insist on your own interpretations of the Constitution!

          • avatar HLB says:

            Mr. M. Adapted,
            What you say is true. All man created systems have an initial intent, purpose, and duty. Should that system itself violate those intents and purposes in a repeated manner then those violations may serve to self-vacate their appointed authority. Should recourse against the failure of this system occur it will not be because of one or two people, it will result from a substantial involvement of the Citizenry. Since this would not be a desirable process, I would suggest that the merits of the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States be re-examined for alignment with the original intent of the United States Constitution on occasion, which is what I am doing here.

            • avatar Jay says:

              So in other words, you want strict adherence to the constitution only where it supports your personal opinions

            • avatar Mal Adapted says:

              Good grief, HLB! You do realize none of the US Constitution’s framers are available to explain to you what their “initial intent, purpose and duty” was, don’t you? Or have you found a way to go back in time? If so, do you think any two of them will agree on every particular?

              Or do you think there’s some kind of objective reality underlying the words of the Constitution, that you can discern all by yourself? Why do you think you will succeed when, for more than two and a quarter centuries, all others have failed?

              Who else do you suggest should “re-examine” the rulings of the Supreme Court of the US, if not you alone? Whose particular interpretation of the framer’s intent should we prefer, if not SCOTUS’s? Why not involve “the Citizenry”? Shouldn’t all 322-million-odd of us have an equal part, since every one of us has an equal stake in the outcome? Surely you don’t think “popular sovereignty” means “some are more sovereign than others”, do you?

              Do you even recognize that no document written in a natural human language can be free of ambiguity? Will you rely on divine inspiration to reveal the Truth to all? Dog help us!

              Never mind, I yield to your vastly superior ignorance, with my fear for our country’s future vastly magnified. I’m ever more thankful I’m not a father!

            • avatar Doug Henderson says:

              So HLB, you are the god overseeing the true meaning of the Constitution? I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but not many people are believers in your self-appointed godliness. I have no doubt that my interpretation of the true meaning of the Constitution differs radically from yours and I think your claim to be the god of the Constitution has about as much credibility as Donald Duck’s claim.

  6. avatar Richard says:

    Excellent article, George. Your article title may be correct but I hope that eventually it turns out to be wrong. Maybe the prolonged and widespread news coverage of these dangerous lunatics has educated more Americans about their public lands and the growing threats to those lands and the employees who manage them. Maybe if more people end their complacency and become actively involved, the Malheur occupation will end up causing a backlash that brings greater public pressure for long overdue reforms. However, the environmental community also needs to take this growing militia lawlessness much more seriously. Where is the organized campaign to put enormous pressure on the FBI to arrest and the U.S. Attorney in Nevada to prosecute Cliven Bundy? Why are there no civil liens on his real and personal property (including trespass livestock) to ensure that he pays what he owes to American taxpayers? Cliven started this latest string of dangerous incidents with the April 2014 Bunkerville standoff. He is the most prominent leader. If he belatedly suffers the consequences of his lawlessness, it would send a powerful message to his large lunatic following. People should not expect federal officials to have courage or take serious risks unless those officials are confident that the public and media have their backs.

  7. avatar Real Nice Guy says:

    I think the basic premise here is accurate. Coverage here in the east/southeast has tended to characterize the Bundy crowd as having some legitimate philosophical disagreement with the Federal government akin to the standard Tea Party line as opposed to them being total scofflaws interpreting the Constitution for their own convenience without ever having read it in total. My own favorite line is Ammon Bundy railing against intellectual snobbery of the courts and legislature and then holding forth on the “correct” intent and meaning of the Constitution. The sound bites that air on local and national news portray him as a scholar. Pretty ironic!

  8. avatar Gary Humbard says:

    “Finally one of them quipped, “Yes I know I am violating the laws. I do it all the time. You know why? Because if I followed the law I’d have every county commissioner, state legislator, the governor and the state Congressional delegation on my ass–and you know what? You’re not paying me enough to take that kind of abuse.”

    As a former career BLM and Forest Service employee who was directly involved in making sure timber sale contracts were adhered to, I take exception to the above quote. First, I was told clearly from the top that loggers were neither my friend nor foe and I always kept a professional relationship with them and yes I made sure they followed the requirements of the contract to the letter. I believe we had a good relationship BECAUSE they respected me for my ability to hold them responsible (instead of looking the other way). There may be those few locals that mock federal employees, but I have NO DOUBT the majority of ranchers, loggers, miners and expect to be held responsible and have little use for those that are willing to look the other way and allow laws to be violated. They just want to be treated the same as the next company and yes federal employees do get paid enough to make sure they do their job. Of course you have to have a professional attitude and conscience that directs your life.

    Federal agencies spend a lot of investments in making sure employees are well prepared to do their job and when someone “strays away from the pack”, there is a lot of noise going to the top. I would be real interested in knowing who the author’s friend is that is willing to look the other way because he needs to be held accountable.

    As for Clive Bundy, no action was taken on the ground because THERE WERE A LOT Of ARMED INDIVIDUALS there at his ranch in his support and I for one am glad the feds showed restraint. IMO, Clive Bundy will get his due, just not on our timeline.

  9. avatar monty says:

    “All politics are local”. What are our values? Would a armed bank robber in Burns Oregon be permitted to hole up in the bank for a month without consequences?

    • avatar HLB says:

      What if he held equity in that State Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank claimed authority over his interest in that State Bank? He would then be holding the bank until State authority could be restored.

      • avatar Jay says:

        Except that, using your example, some folks are trying to get the state bank to take over the pre-existing Federal bank that they have no right to.

        • avatar HLB says:

          That is what has to be Constitutionally determined.

          • avatar Jay says:

            So the constitution needs to tell us whether the states–which came AFTER the land was acquired by the Federal government–and those same states that were required to write clauses in their respective state constitutions stating they had no claim to federal property upon receiving statehood…that’s still undecided in your mind?

            • avatar HLB says:

              The Constitution sets limits on the Federal authority over lands of the States unless the state legislature approves and then only for certain purposes. It also gives the Federal Government authority over the Territories and other lands. So it is the transition of the physical land from territory status to state status that could cause discontinuity in the Federal claims to this land.

              • avatar timz says:

                rulings by the nation’s highest court, in 1902 and in 1935, found that the federal government has an incontrovertible claim to the refuge’s wetlands and lakebeds, dating back to the 1840s, when Oregon was still a territory.

              • avatar Jay says:

                and yet we’re not talking about state land, we’re talking about federal land, which has been constitutionally validated by the supreme court–which the Constitution itself give power to be the ultimate arbiter of such questions–so again, there’s no constitutional ambiguity that you seem to want to create.

              • avatar Rich says:


                What’s the point of constantly sniping about U. S. Constitutional Law on a wildlife forum? Your interpretation of the Constitution is right out of Alice in Wonderland and accordingly “means just what (you) choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” Your comments would be more appropriate on a Constitutional law blog of which there are many. I’m sure the Bundy clan posts on such a blog. After all at least 2 of them could be considered captive audiences and would appreciate hearing from someone with legal expertise similar to theirs.

                • avatar HLB says:

                  @ Rich,
                  Legal expertise is not confined to lawyers. It is the application of the principles of logic to constitutional and lawful facts. Likewise, wildlife interest is not limited to any particular culture. If I had to say, I would say the culture here is manifested by the use of the Federal Government as a weapon against any group that violates some very strict notions that may not be fully productive in the best interest of wildlife and the people. There has been some interest shown here in understanding the Bundy people. There might even be some progress to be made if you can lay aside the Federal armor and talk to these people one on one. They did not take the reserve to challenge you or the wildlife. They took it to challenge some of the actions by the Federal Government over many years that they consider unfair.

                • avatar Mal Adapted says:


                  Someday self-awareness may dawn upon you, and if the shame doesn’t crush you you’ll be better for it.

                • avatar Yvette says:

                  “Legal expertise is not confined to lawyers. It is the application of the principles of logic to constitutional and lawful facts.”

                  I’m not sure what to make of that comment. Such a comment should be supplemented with at least some supporting reference. “the application of logic to constitutional and lawful facts”. What is a lawful fact?

                  When I think of legal expertise the first that comes to my mind are the many sub-specialties of law: constitutional law, water and water rights law, Indian law (we have an excellent Indian law program in my city at the Univ. of Tulsa law school), tax law, and many others.

                  LOL, my adviser and dept. chair (who is on my graduate committee) added a chapter to my thesis in the final throes of this degree. It was on a topic where I had to dig down into my tribe’s culture and get into water and environmental law to back up my argument. Holy shomoly, the law research was an entirely new ballgame for me. It took far more work and time than I expected and was a different type of research than I had done previously. What I can say from that experience is lawyers write long papers. They put in the work on citing their argument or topic, and that is within one sub-specialty (environmental law) of one faction of law (Indian law). I’d urge caution with what and who is tossed out there as having expertise in law.

                • avatar Mal Adapted says:


                  Holy shomoly, the law research was an entirely new ballgame for me. It took far more work and time than I expected and was a different type of research than I had done previously.

                  No kidding. My own training is primarily in the sciences, and I think the salient difference b/w scientific and legal research is how quickly the law departs from first principles. Like the US Constitution itself, every law on the books is the outcome of a political process whereby competing and often hidden agendas are reconciled, often with only lip-service to foundational precepts. One can get lost in the weeds pretty quickly, trying to trace a coherent thread leading to the current predicament of interest. Sadly, it’s clear our cocky friend HLB hasn’t understood that.

  10. avatar timz says:

    The Constitution, through the Property Clause, specifically gives the government the power to own land. Over time, the Supreme Court has ruled that not only does the government own the land, but it enjoys broad rights in deciding what happens on that land.

  11. avatar monty says:

    Walden, Colorado, population of 1000 is a ranching and timber community (only town in the county). The county commissioners were all ranchers. They over ruled the state load limit of 80,000 lbs for log trucks by allowing up to 130,000 lbs loads. In this case, the Routt NF timber sale contract was ignored. That’s local politics!

  12. avatar rork says:

    I agree with a few others that it has had a good side of educating some folks who never knew there were issues. I’m not saying it’s all good. In Michigan, reporters were not very good, but public sentiment was over 95% ridicule. People may have heard of well-fare ranching for the first time. Maybe I’m just an optimist. Whether Easterners awaking can help spine up our agencies or administrations is not obvious, I admit. Politically, easterners aren’t awake to the degree to which water projects, grazing, and even timber, is subsidized out west. I’m partly a cheerleader cause it might be good for the folks working the land near me (no public grazing, plants mostly grown on rain). Logical land use planning says to do it where it pays, and quit doing it where it doesn’t. Here, if land was unsuitable for a certain exploit, it was taken as a sign that it should be done elsewhere. We have the luxury of growing trees even on bad land, I admit.

    • avatar rork says:

      Sacralot! I think St. Aldo’s obituary of P.S. Lovejoy in the Journal of Wildlife Management is behind 42$ of paywall if you aren’t in ivory towers. Vol. 7, No. 1 (Jan., 1943), pp. 125-128. I’m gonna chew them out.

  13. avatar Mal Adapted says:

    I was afraid of this:

    Mourners assemble for LaVoy Finicum funeral in Utah

    Songs written in his honor have been posted to YouTube. The most popular, The Ballad of LaVoy Finicum (Cowboy’s Stand for Freedom), was composed by Jordan Page, a singer-songwriter who has played at patriot-movement events across the West as well as Ron Paul campaign rallies.

    More than 30 memorials, candlelight vigils and rallies in at least 17 states are planned for Feb. 5, Feb. 6 and Feb. 7.

    He’s being made a martyr for the seditionists’ cause.

  14. avatar Yvette says:

    The discussion on ranchers, loggers and locals making it hard for federal agency staff to enforce policy and/or regulations. I can’t say about that since I don’t know, but it reminded me of an George Wuerthner article I read on here a few years back. It’s not quite in the same vein, but I think it’s worth a re-read.

    Managing Forests through a Rear View Mirror

    Former chair of the U of Montana Economics Department, Tom Power, often noted that most rural communities in the West see their economies in a rear view mirror. They have no idea of what is driving their current economy, and often continue to support economic activities that may be detrimental to the new unfolding economic sectors. Long after activities like logging, ranching and mining are in steep decline and have already been replaced by other economic sectors like tourism, service industry, education, medical or transfer payments, many communities continue to think of their towns as logging towns, mining centers or ranching communities.

    In a similar way, we see many land management agencies at the behest of timber company lobbyists, uninformed politicians and community leaders managing the public forests through a rear view mirror when it comes to fire policies. The climate that created the past forests is no longer operating. For instance, in California alone, the average temperature has risen 1.5 degrees since 1895. In the Southwest we are experiencing a 500 year drought—a drought unlike anything that shaped the forests that exists in this region today.

    It’s a good article and one of the first that I remember reading on here. Something about it grabbed me. I remember where I was and what I was doing when I read it. It stuck.

  15. avatar monty says:

    Is it ok for these clowns to point a gun at the county sheriff or an Oregon State patrolman? What would have been the local response if a federal law officer had been killed. Would have happened if these law breakers had been from the middle east?

    • avatar Leslie says:

      I watched the entire video recently posted of the roadblock and LeVoy shooting. Everyone knows that even at a simple traffic stop, cops do not want you to get out of your car. That guy ran two roadblocks, then ran out of his car shouting ‘Shoot me’ and reached twice into his pocket. It’s hard to imagine how one can spin that as a murder? The cops already knew these guys had lots of guns. It was an extremely dangerous situation for them.

    • avatar Leslie says:

      I’ve always thought the model of Uluru was a good one for managing sacred sites that were once tribal lands. Give the lands back to the tribe, who leases management back to the Government. Still open to the public, but closures for ceremony can be decided upon. And the orientation of the visitor centers are focused on traditional uses and customs, not just geology or wildlife only. Why not give back the Refuge to the Pauites with the U.S. government having a 100 year lease to manage it, yet policy is decided jointly.

      • avatar Ida Lupines says:

        Good idea – it’s ridiculously tiny, what the Paiute are now left with, as well as other tribes. We truly need to address in a real way our past wrongs. It’s just plain offensive.

        I believe that in many cases our Native people can do a much better job managing land than what we’ve got now. Cringe-worthy cheap and tacky is what we’ve got now, and getting worse. In two hundred or so years, it’s hard to comprehend the damage we have done to everything. What a nightmarish disaster. It’s not too late to give back or ‘jointly manage’ lands where we can, because I know we’re much too tight-fisted and can’t relinquish control, even today. That’s what it’s all about, and why our Native people are living in such awful conditions in many cases, and why we’re the first to offer aid to foreign countries while ignoring the conditions of our Native people. We can’t move forward if we’re still behaving like it’s 1492.

        • avatar Ida Lupines says:

          It really does make me cringe when I read about the Interior Dept. throwing money at this, and blithely talking about turning pages and new chapters.

          You can’t put a price on genocide and cultural destruction, ever. It can never be enough to fix the damage done, and it can’t ever be made right. The best we can hope to do is come to terms with it and move ahead. More needs to be done for tribes to hold on to their individual heritages and cultures. And get rid of the stupid sports team names. We should be people of our word and honor the original agreements made, not slimeballs.

          • avatar Leslie says:

            We’ve still got a large segment of our population who have no connection to land and that can include these militant ranchers, as well as fun-hogs.

            A bunch of different tribes fought for a long time to have Devil’s Tower off limits to climbing. After a lot of hassle, since it was mandated that the Park Service could not dictate that, they were given the month of June and it is ‘requested’ that people respect and do not climb. I visited the Tower last june and saw some climbers. Most climbers do respect it, but why climb at all? There are things one does not do in church, so same things goes with sacred lands. It’s just that so many white folks have little spiritual connection to Land.

            Same thing with Uluru. Sacred mountain and people are not supposed to climb. But they do, and they do all sorts of obscene things on the top, just because it feels good to desecrate someone’s spiritual values.

            I visited Canyon de Chelly. The only Park that is actually run by a tribe in the U.S. Seems to be working fine and Navajo still are living in the canyon. I have long felt that a partnership of some places that are special or sacred to a tribe would be a good thing. Australia is making amends. We could too.

            • avatar Leslie says:

              And after so long, why is it still called Devil’s Tower? A white man’s name. Tribes have petitioned forever to have the name returned to it’s original name, Bear’s Lodge. Just another example of disregard for first nation peoples.

            • avatar Nancy says:

              “The third ‘minority’ in penal Australia was not, in round figures, a minority at all, for until about 1845 there were probably more Aborigines scattered across the continent than whites clustered around its coastal settlements.

              The fate of the Australian blacks was intimately connected to the System. A frontier society based on slave labor (convicts from England & Ireland) run by the threat of extreme violence and laced with rigid social divisions was not likely to treat the Aborigines compassionately or even fairly. Nor did it”
              A passage from the book The Fatal Shore/Robert Hughes.

              Just started reading this book a few days ago. Fascinating. I wasn’t aware that England (after 1717) shipped 40 thousand convicts to American shores over a 60 year period, before the Colonies rebelled.

              • avatar Leslie says:

                If you haven’t seen them, there are some excellent films, available on Netflix, with David Gulpilil. Ten Canoes, The Tracker, and Peter Weir’s first movie, The Last Wave and others. Gives you a good feeling for Dreamtime of aborigine culture.

  16. avatar Leslie says:

    “In 2005, Kane County, of which Kanab is the county seat, unilaterally opened up scores of routes across federal lands to off-highway vehicles (OHV) after managers closed them to protect the environment and cultural artifacts”

    This is what these jerks are fighting for, cattle, mining, ATV’s, cultural artifact damage.

  17. avatar skyrim says:

    BIG NEWS! CNN is reporting that Cliven Bundy has been arrested in Portland.

  18. avatar Mal Adapted says:

    This may or may not be big news:

    FBI moves in on last refuge occupiers:

    UPDATE 10 p.m.: The live stream that broadcast online what appears to be the last stage of the refuge occupation stopped after more than five hours. The phone feed ended as the occupiers headed to their night camp, preparing to surrender Thursday morning. They said they have a promise that the encircling FBI agents would leave them alone overnight.

    BURNS – FBI agents in armored vehicles moved in Wednesday night on the last four occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, hemming them into their rough camp and insisting they put down their guns and surrender.

    The occupiers rejected the demands for hours before one of them said they will turn themselves in at a checkpoint once a national religious figure and a Nevada state legislator arrive. It was scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday, but it wasn’t clear if the deal involved all of the four occupiers.

    I hope the end of the occupation, for all of our sakes. I’m still going to keep donating $10 to Western Wildlands Project every day until the public is allowed into MNWR again. I might do it in weekly chunks, though 8^)

    • avatar skyrim says:

      This pledge is an honorable thing and I commend you. As I’m certain others here have/will have noted same.

      • avatar Mal Adapted says:


        I don’t mind being commended, but I’d rather be emulated 8^).

        • avatar skyrim says:

          I hear ya, and so shall it be done…..
          When I was younger I needed to count on my youth, energy and (in some cases) poor judgment and monkey wrenching skills. That, and that was all I had to offer to the cause(s). Now, as an individual approaching your own chronological milestone, I have the ability to write checks and few of the previously mentioned items. ^..^

  19. avatar Nancy says:

    Wonder if Daddy Bundy did this on purpose (hoping to be arrested) to see how many fanatics show up to support him? Now would be a good time to round those trespassing cows up in Nevada 🙂

    • avatar WM says:

      With Daddy Bundy in custody as of last night, now would be a good time to do a lot of things Nancy. Get his sorry ass in front of the federal judge and get a liquidated damages order that gives the feds the right to seize his property to satisfy what he owes. Fingers crossed for good things to come out of this.

      • avatar WM says:

        A copy of the criminal complaint with copious references to the trespassing cattle, failure to pay grazing fees, and the Bundy ranch/Bunkerville standoff.

        Doubt seriously he will be given bail. He’ll be doing time and be stripped of assets before this is over.

        Also suspect there are arrest warrants out for some of the “helpers” too.

        • avatar Gary Humbard says:

          The only way Clive Bundy is going to walk is the finding of refutable evidence (i.e lack of documentation). It appears from the criminal complaint that the BLM covered their you know what from the beginning to end with well written documentation and I will bet one months pay check, Clive Bundy will be found guilty on if not all, the majority of accounts.

          Credit should be given to the Feds in showing restraint, and patiently waiting for the right time to contain the matriarch of an illegal mindset.

  20. avatar Nancy says:

    Down in the comment section a response from COWS:

    Coalition of Western States – COWS (got to love that name 🙂

    • avatar skyrim says:

      Somewhere in this mess I read where an FBI Press Conference was to be held at 3:00 PM Pacific time. I doubt much will be spelled out other than the standoff is over.
      The circus came to town, and when it moved on the clowns stuck around….

      • avatar skyrim says:

        “clowns” as in the Bundy Clan, not the FBI.

      • avatar Ida Lupines says:

        Thank goodness it’s over (although it won’t be until we find out what kind of a mess they left behind). It’s hard to believe that this dragged on for over a month! They need to be held responsible for fixing/cleaning it up too – not volunteers.

        • avatar skyrim says:

          I believe they will be held accountable. Additional charges could be filed once an accounting of the damages and losses are established.

  21. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Have you ever seen such a beautiful face?

    Apparently, New York Port Authority officials have gone back to shooting birds for safety reasons; I guess non-lethal alternatives first are too much effort. I hope I see one this weekend:

    Well, at least the Bundy gang have been ejected from the bird refuge, a collective sigh of relief – now the FBI has to sweep the place for explosives (unbelievable that this has to be done!). Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  22. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Suitable analogy for the Bundy takeover, and downfall.

  23. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Nice article with a letter from the staff of the Malheur Refuge. Heartening to know how many people care in the comments too. I’m glad everything was handled so well, thanks to all – the patience of the refuge staff, the FBI, the people and leadership of Burns, and the Paiute people: :’)

  24. avatar Cody Coyote says:

    Hal Herring makes the most sense yet of the Malheur Mess, as he calls it , with an insightful first person essay ( web only) at the High Country News.

    Worth a read. Herring was up close and personal with the main characters.

  25. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Just what you’d expect – not just Malheur but malodorous too. I’m not surprised, I figured they’d disrespect the place in some way:

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February 2016
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‎"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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