By Ralph Maughan and Ken Cole In the acrimonious case of Cliven Bundy, it is important that folks understand a bit about the history of the U.S. public lands. Cliven Bundy, the rancher whose cattle were rounded up and then released by the BLM over the weekend, claims that his family has used the land in question since 1880 but the Nevada Constitution pre-dates this by 16 years. When Nevada became a state in 1864, its citizens gave up all claims to unappropriated federal land and codified this in the state’s Constitution. The Nevada Constitution (* and the ACT OF CONGRESS (1864) ENABLING THE PEOPLE OF NEVADA TO FORM A CONSTITUTION AND STATE GOVERNMENT) state:

“Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States; …..”

If Bundy “owns the land then where is the deed?  Where are the records he paid property taxes? It’s not his land. Bundy also claims that it his “right” to graze these BLM public lands.  This is not the case. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 specifically states that the issuance of a grazing permit does not confer any right to graze or right to own the land. The Taylor Grazing Act is the granddaddy of the U.S. laws governing grazing on federal land. “Taylor” was a rancher and a congressman from Colorado, hardly someone to want government tyranny over ranching.

So far as consistent with the purposes and provisions of this subchapter, grazing privileges recognized and acknowledged shall be adequately safeguarded, but the creation of a grazing district or the issuance of a permit pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter shall not create any right, title, interest, or estate in or to the lands.

In Public Lands Council v. Babbitt the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the new grazing regulations promulgated by the Department of Interior under former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt to conform to Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and found:

The words “so far as consistent with the purposes . . . of this subchapter” and the warning that “issuance of a permit” creates no “right, title, interest or estate” make clear that the ranchers’ interest in permit stability cannot be absolute; and that the Secretary is free reasonably to determine just how, and the extent to which, “grazing privileges” shall be safeguarded, in light of the Act’s basic purposes. Of course, those purposes include “stabiliz[ing] the livestock industry,” but they also include “stop[ping] injury to the public grazing lands by preventing overgrazing and soil deterioration,” and “provid[ing] for th[e] orderly use, improvement, and development” of the public range.

He has no “right” to graze it. The federal courts have struck down every challenge Bundy has made about his claims, and has issued not one, but two, court orders to remove his trespass cattle. It’s not his land and he has no right to graze it. The simple truth of the matter is that Bundy is a freeloading, welfare rancher who has an inflated sense of entitlement. It also appears that he and his supporters’ use of threats and intimidation likely violated several federal laws. Inasmuch as they used (such as pointed) weapons to cause the government back down, it can be considered an armed insurrection. What about Bundy’s claim that his forebears bought the land he is now accused of trespass grazing upon?  This land was once Mexican land, and was won by the United States after the Mexican-American War. It is part of what is known as the “Mexican Cession.” All of Nevada, California, Arizona and most of New Mexico were part of the Cession. Much of this land was privatized under various grants and laws such as the Homestead Act and the Desert Lands Act, plus mining claims. Several million acres were granted to Nevada for state lands, but those lands that were not privatized have always been Mexican lands or United States lands owned by the U.S. government. Before the Taylor Grazing Act, these government lands were called “the public domain.” They could be privatized, as mentioned, under the Homestead Act and such, but the acreage allowed per homesteader was limited to 160 acres. There were no 158,000 acre homestead privatizations and certainly no 750,000 acre privatizations. Livestock owners ran their livestock freely without a permit on the public domain. They didn’t even need a home base of property (a ranch). The result was disaster because the operator to find green grass and eat it first won out, promoting very bad grazing practices. That was the reason for Taylor Grazing Act — ranchers and others could see the public domain system led to disaster on the ground. Therefore, the more powerful ranchers with “base” private property received grazing permits. This got rid of the landless livestock operators. Taylor Grazing was administered on the ground by the U.S. Grazing Service. Now, ranchers with grazing permits had to pay a grazing fee to use their permits. Bundy’s ancestors probably got one of these grazing permits, but they most certainly did not buy the land. That was not possible. The public domain was not for sale and ranchers generally did not want it. After all, if they owned it, they would owe local property tax. In 1946** the Bureau of Land Management was created by executive order of President Truman to replace the Grazing Service. The Service had been defunded in a dispute between the House and the U.S. Senate. The BLM has since been affirmed by law rather than a mere executive order. It is supposed to manage the public lands for multiple uses and for sustained production (“yield”) of renewable resources such as grass. As before, you need a grazing permit for cattle, sheep, goats, or horses to legally graze. It is a privilege, not a right, and this has been firmly stated by the U.S. courts. Hopefully, this explains why Bundy’s assertions are wrong. It is too bad that few citizens are taught public land law or history in high school or college. We think it is vital for everyone to know these things because these are in a real sense your lands, held in trust by the government. Yes we know the government often does a poor job. They did in Bundy’s case by letting this go for 20 years. He should have been gone before the year 2000. End of story. – – – – –

New comments on this news story are closed


* this information was updated April 21,2014

**  The original version of this story indicated that the BLM was formed in 1948.

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

332 Responses to Cliven Bundy Has No Claim to Federal Land and Grazing

  1. Kevin Lewis says:

    Excellent summary Ken!

    • Ken Cole says:

      Ralph contributed greatly to this article too. For some reason the software we have doesn’t attribute it to both of us even though we have set it to do so.

      • DC says:

        Second, Nevada Revised Statute (“NRS”) 321.0005 and NRS 533.025
        provide further statutory support for the public trust doctrine. NRS 321.0005
        provides in part:
        The Legislature declares the policy of this State regarding the use of state lands to be
        that state lands must be used in the best interest of the residents of this State, and to
        that end the lands may be used for recreational activities, the production of revenue
        and other public purposes.91
        NRS 533.025 provides that “[t]he water of all sources of water supply
        within the boundaries of the State whether above or beneath the surface of the
        ground, belongs to the public.”92 Essentially, these statutes “recognize that the
        public land and water of this state do not belong to the state to use for any
        purpose, but only for those purposes that comport with the public’s interest in
        the particular property, exemplifying the fiduciary principles at the heart of the
        public trust doctrine.”93 With scattered support in the judiciary and clear statutory
        support, explicit adoption of the doctrine under Lawrence was nearly a
        foregone conclusion.

        • Ralph Maughan says:

          Yes, but Nevada has almost no state lands. Thank you for the reference.

        • sylva says:

          Yes, but this is FEDERAL land in question…

          • MJ says:

            Link to court transcript ~

            Pages 3 and 4 explain the judgements

            • WM says:

              This ruling would be the FIRST Order by federal Trial Court Judge Rawlinson telling Bundy to get his cattle off the Bunkerville allotment. Bundy represented himself (and of course we all know someone who represents him/herself has a fool for a client).

              It is a short, well articulated and precisely written ruling on Summary Judgment and Order. Bundy, in his writings, asserts and re-asserts the federal government has no jurisdiction over the matter. The judge goes out of her way to explain it does, and that Bundy is trespassing. She further acknowledges from information submitted by the BLM that it has not removed Bundy cattle because they were worried about “confrontation” even from the period 1993-1998 when the matter was FIRST decided.

              So, this “confrontation” issue has been around for awhile and those who criticize the level of force BLM and other participating federal law enforcement showed for this round-up exhibit now don’t know the history of Bundy’s cantankerous nature or the potential for violence on his end, very well.

              Judge Rawlinson is now on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Clinton appointee 2000), and is the first African American female judge on that appeals court.

              • JEFF E says:

                correct me if I am wrong but can’t Bundy be arrested and kept in defiantly for contempt of court. then I would guess the idiots that might want to “storm” a federal prison might get a different perspective when it is all said and done.

      • Louied says:

        According the the second trial, “the BLM is explicitly authorized
        to impound and dispose of the unauthorized livestock” So why the action now?

        • Ralph Maughan says:

          Huh? Why not now?

          • William says:

            Exactly. As if allowing it to go on is a permit for an unlawful act. Some people.

        • Robert says:

          Laws occasionally are not enforced while appeals, court cases etc. are underway. I guess his time ran out, he’s had his (several) day in court. Time to claim what is owed. I say a public auction of beef would be a good start to pay back his due.

    • Jay_C says:

      “….forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands…”

      His family owned / used the land prior to this. This means the land is not public.

      • Ralph Maughan says:


        Read our article again. In the last 175 or so years, the land in question (the former Bunkerville grazing allotment) has had two owners 1. Mexico 2. The United States, held in trust by the U.S. government — never the State of Nevada, never the Bundys, never any private person or other private entity.

        • vc says:

          And, he had been paying grazing fees up until 1993….. he knew when he was paying fees that he didn’t own the land then….why in 1993 did he remember that his family owned land that he was paying fees for ?…….

      • SAP says:

        Seriously, Jay C, who do they think they bought it from? I’ve also read where they think they somehow bought “grazing rights” in the 1880s — but again, who did they buy them from?

        It may be possible that 1880s Bundys paid or otherwise persuaded other grazers to go somewhere else. That would be transactions between private parties (similar to today’s grazing allotment buyouts?), not acquiring title to land or grazing rights from the actual owner. It may also be possible that successive generations of Bundys “bought” something from the elder generations — such as water developments, fence, and such. Again, a private transaction between private parties that does nothing to change the fact that the US government owns that land.

        • Jay_C says:

          1) Are you are you simply saying this is a federal case of eminent domain? if it’s just a matter of non-payment of some sort of “taxes” why not just a lien on his property?
          2) why now?
          3) Also it sounds like you agree that His family did pay for the land.
          4) he has paid all taxes just not the grazing fees that after many years of paying and getting nothing I’m return for them. Initially, the grazing fees did help the ranchers maintain roads on the ranchers land, now these funds do not help the ranchers

          • Ralph Maughan says:


            This is not a case of eminent domain. It is the eviction of a renter who wont pay the rent. We don’t agree that his family paid for the land, rather we have taken pains to tell why this land was never for sale. Bundy never paid property taxes on this land. He didn’t owe any taxes because it was government land rented to him. He only paid grazing fees (rent). The entire BLM grazing program results in a net loss to the taxpayer. All those who have grazing permits are being subsidized because the fees are too low to recover the costs of the program.

            • Jay_C says:

              The whole basis of your argument is that he doesn’t own anything, but he does own (….meaning his family payed for, with actual dollars…) the water and Mineral rights to the Bunkerville allotment back in 1887. Bought, not rented, not a 99 year lease. Owning the land outright (with a deed) actually would be less beneficial to him in this case, and owning the property doesn’t automatically give the property owner water and mineral rights, that is much more difficult to obtain from the state.

              Since his family bought, and therefore owns the water and mineral rights, and I assume grazing rights as well, (doesn’t matter just threw that in), He apparently needs to be compensated by the federal government.

              “interests in lands controlled by the United States (such as outstanding oil, gas, and other mineral, grazing, timber and water rights) will be extinguished, and easements for rights–of–way for highways,railroads, powerlines, communication lines. waterlines, and sewerlines will be obtained… Payments for extinguishment of grazing rights or licenses on public domain or other real property owned by or under the control of the United States is made per the Act of 9 July 1942, 56 Stat. 654 as amended by the Act of 28 May 1948, 62 Stat. 277 and the Act of 29 October 1949, 63 Stat. 996; 43 U.S.C. 315q–r”

              1) Even then, if the Federal Government are going to use the land for some purpose (roads, sewerlines, highway, powerlines, what have you).They can only do this with purpose. So, to what purpose do they want the land? If there is no purpose, hands off.

              If he owes them money, put a lean on whatever property he does own a deed to. Taking cattle and kicking him off the land is totally arbitrary. He owns the mineral and water rights to the land.

              • Jay says:

                What do mineral and water rights have to do with cattle ranching? If he does in fact own mineral rights, then by all means, extract minerals. Last I checked, grass doesn’t fall in the category of minerals, nor water.

              • Jay says:

                I’ll add, he doesn’t own mineral rights if he didn’t patent the claim. Doing nothing on a claim is, in essence, relinquishing the claim under the 1872 mining act.

              • Jay_C says:

                Water rights pertain to his livestock drinking the water.

                Do you know that his water rights are not in order? Its on you / the Federal govt. to prove that everything is not in order.

              • Jay says:

                I don’t know anything about his water rights, but I’m fairly confident the courts do. This has gone through the courts multiple times, and the outcome has been the same: Clive doesn’t have a leg to stand on. He’s breaking the law.

              • Jay_C says:

                Then to nip this in the bud, why don’t we hear a statement from the courts or the Feds as such? Why all the coy disguises with differing reasons? “Not paying fees”, “The Tortoises” Facts are Stubborn Things.

                If I am presented with the facts to prove that, perhaps I will agree.

              • Clutch says:

                @Jay (not Jay_C).

                “What do mineral & water rights have to do with cattle ranching?”

                Mineral Rights? None; however, Water Rights have quite alot to do with Cattle Ranching. Please scroll down to the most recent posts where I have included a link to a similar court case where Water Rights were involved.

              • Jay says:

                I’m not a water lawyer, but I would assume bundy would have played that card in court. Regardless, federal law supercedes state law, so that implies the blm can enforce grazing laws on federal ground, regardless of state-issued water rights.

              • Clutch says:

                @Kevin Lewis,

                “Administration of Water Rights play no part in the core issue of Bundy refusing to pay grazing fees and penalties”.

                I never attempted to connect those dots. I am merely attempting to locate information (verifiable) on the existence and history of those Water Rights.

                There are excellent and well-researched posts on this forum and then there are some that are argumentative. If my posts appear to fall into the latter, then I apologize, I am simply researching how State Water Rights are affected by BLM decisions on grazing leases & permits.

                Thank you

              • Mike says:


            • Jay_C says:


              “I assume” and “I’m fairly confident” don’t cut the mustard for most folks, sorry. When you know for sure, let us know.

              • Kevin Lewis says:

                The application of state water right permitting and the administration of water rights plays no role in the core issue of Bundy refusing to pay grazing fees and penalties.

                Water rights are state controlled. Bundy’s issues are federal have been fully adjudicated in federal district court in Nevada and the ninth circuit court of appeals.

              • Jay says:

                Look it up yourself jay c–there is a court record that is available to the public. This isn’t some top secret file locked away in the pentagon.

          • Jay_C says:

            Thats half my problem with this.

            The feds go in with 200 armed Agents, helicopters, Trucks cause a huge scene, and expect everyone to just go along when them….”The US Government is pure, they never make a mistake, they “Must know” so Ok, go ahead…USA… USA… Meanwhile in the real world, The rest of us are unsure, it is unclear, it makes us nervous that maybe the Government is wrong, when we hear multiple reasons for their actions that keep changing so it becomes even less clear and it makes us even more nervous. Can the Government just do this without giving the real reason? Its just odd..

            Do we know if this has even been tried in a Nevada State Court?

            • Jay says:

              Being “unsure” and conjecture (“we hear things….”) doesn’t cut the mustard for discounting the ruling of a federal court. Get back to us when you have facts to overrule their decision.

            • Fred Streeter says:

              @ Jay_C
              I’m British. If I can take the time to find appropriate rulings for this case, why can’t you?

              They are on the Web. Try:

              Colvin Cattle Company, Inc. v. United States, 2006-5012 (Fed. Cir. 2006)

              for a ruling on water rights in similar circumstances.

              (In February 1995, Colvin failed to pay the $966 annual grazing fee. As a result of that failure, the BLM issued Colvin a trespass notice on March 15, 1995, demanding that it stop grazing its cattle on the allotment.)

              Non payment of fees, that is the real reason.

            • Mike says:


            • William says:

              And who says there must be one single reason? Multiple reasons to do, or not do anything is still reason. You’re very argumentative and haven’t put out a single cogent statement of rights for clive’s claim. This is a pure and simple case of a person using public lands without paying for them. I’ve tried to see how the big bad government has tyrannized this one poor rancher, but it’s just not there. He’s using public lands that he has no claim to. Water and mineral rights, that he doesn’t currently possess, would never give him land rights. The fact that he paid grazing fees on the land until 93 proves he had no claim of ownership and the courts REALLY DO research the claims presented to them. He hasn’t a leg to stand on. We are basically subsidizing his profits. Makes a lot of sense, if you don’t think about it, at all.

            • allenzachary says:

              The government makes oodles of mistakes and they are remedied via suit, in court, not by an armed crowd of rabble shouting epithets.

        • jarrod says:

          see hage vs us

          • Ralph Maughan says:

            Hage was another guy who thought he didn’t have to obey the law and became notorious for abusing the land with his cattle. The result was a rare roundup of his cattle and then long, long lawsuits which he partly won and partly lost just the other day. He is deceased. So now it is his estate. We have thought about a story on him.

            • Clutch says:

              It would seem a good time for story. If I have read the summary correctly, it appears the BLM over-stepped its authority in certain regards.

              The case also shows the “correct” way to fight the BLM, through the courts and not by threat of violence as Rancher Bundy has been doing since atleast 1998.

              • Mike says:

                Exactly! Thank you sir!

              • Mike says:

                If Bundy or any other person has ACTUALLY “threatened” IMMINENT violence on anyone they should be arrested immediately. IF he did so in 1998 and the government neglected to file charges than I would suspsect “cronyism” in this case, MUCH MORE than I would suspect “nepotism,”or other such close and or nefarious, relations.

              • Clutch says:


                This is one reference to Cliven Bundy making a threat. He made a more specific threat in 2012, which is the reason the BLM canceled a round-up they had planned. I will locate the statement. Cliven Bundy has made the threat that IF BLM action is taken towards Bundy cattle that he would respond with physical force.

                “According to testimony, federal agents attempted to broker a deal involving the Clark County Sherriff that would allow cattle to be wrangled and transported to a sales market of the Bundy family’s choosing and allow the family to keep all proceeds. Court filings referenced Cliven Bundy’s assertion that any such action to round up cattle could lead to a “range war.”


      • Jay says:

        Hellfire Jay_C, he don’t just own that land, he owns the entire damn North Mericuh, and he’s just lettin’ us on his property outta the kindness of his blessed mormon heart.

        • Velma Ronquille says:

          It doesn’t matter who owns it, the reality is that the government controls a lot of the land in the western states, and by deciding now that it is not in the governments interest for Bundy to be able to graze then how will their decisions end up affected not only the Bundy family who depend on grazing grounds for their cattle as they have for years, but for others as well? What is Agenda 21 and how is that affecting the BLM decisions now on throwing off grazers? If at all?

          Velma Ronquille,

          The government did not just now decide to kick the Bundys of the public land. Bundy rejected the grazing permit requirements way back in 1993, and has been running his cattle for free and in excessive numbers ever since. They have not taken his cattle or arrested him yet because of his continual threats of violence. The BLM is much to blame because they should have taken care of the problem before it festered. Webmaster

          • KarenJ503 says:

            Keep in mind that the BLM along with many other “bureaucratic” government agencies like the FDA and EPA have had their budgets decimated by a generation of neocon/libertarian/GOP intimidation in Congress if not outright control of the House Budget Committee (during most of Bush’s administration, and since January 2011).

            That has delayed, interfered with, or actually prevented at least 15 years of follow-up by the BLM in the Bundy case.

            Budgetary concerns for the other agencies has hampered disaster relief efforts, oil spill oversight, Big Energy pollution, bacterial outbreaks in foodstuffs, pharmaceutical recalls due to “adverse effects” (like death), and the recent GM scandal concerning ignition switch function.

            Thanks for nothing, deregulation supporters.

            • WM says:

              ++That has delayed, interfered with, or actually prevented at least 15 years of follow-up by the BLM in the Bundy case.++

              Horsepucky! BLM just didn’t make it a high priority, partly because of local politics, which is the very reason it is a problem today.

            • Mike says:

              Of course… It’s Bush’s FAULT!

        • Harley says:

          Jay_C brings up some interesting points and y’all treat him like he’s in the wrong. That’s the problem with both sides of these issues. If it doesn’t fall in step with what you personally believe, it’s all wrong. Ranchers are all welfare moochers, hunters are all knuckle dragging idiots, environmentalists are all tofu munching city dwellers, wolf advocates are just plain haters …. I could go on and on. I get so disgusted with both sides. Makes me want to find a nice secluded island somewhere. Or maybe just unplug from the internet. I kinda liked when my world was a bit smaller.

          • Immer Treue says:

            ” Or maybe just unplug from the internet.”


          • Jay says:

            Interesting points like this?: “His family owned / used the land prior to this. This means the land is not public.”

            We probably all could use a lesson in civility (I’m certainly guilty at times), but to argue a point with even your most basic “facts” being outright bullshit, it’s hard not to get a little annoyed.

            • Rod O says:

              Not all ranchers are free loaders… but this one is. Sell his herd to cover all these added costs.

          • Clutch says:


            I hear what you are saying. I get a kick out of every user group accusing the BLM of showing favoritism for every other group but their own.

          • Mike says:

            Being involved and frustrated… is the price of freedom brother.

            “It was a sunny day in Philadelphia in 1787, and the Constitutional convention had just finished its work. A woman, watching the esteemed gentlemen congratulate themselves, approached one of the young nation’s leading statesmen, Ben Franklin. “Mr. Franklin, what kind of government have you given us?” she asked. “A Republic, madam…” Franklin quickly answered, “if you can keep it.” The “world” was much smaller when these words were spoken.

  2. Ida Lupines says:

    It’s fascinating. Thanks a lot!

  3. Kevin Lewis says:

    I realized that after I hit “send” 🙂

    This issue needs the spotlight of fact as opposed to the deluded ramblings of the tea party and their ilk.

  4. Maska says:

    This is the best brief summary of the pertinent history and law affecting grazing on public lands that I’ve seen. Thanks!

  5. birdpond says:

    Sharing this everywhere – High time we get some rational facts, background and perspective on this. Bundy is neither a victim nor a hero, that’s for sure . . .In fact, he should be fined for what he’s been stealing all these years.

  6. Gennie says:

    This is great info! Do you have sources? I like to be armed before I share this stuff, because you know someone will try to call me out on a, “But Cliven Bundy says…” and I won’t know how to prove them wrong.

  7. cobackcountry says:

    I won’t go so far as to bash a political party. There is enough blame to go around. I can say, the American people have a strong tendency to ignore facts in favor of band wagons mentalities.

    I would love it if people actually studied the law before they complain about it.

    I think it is imperative for our resources, and for the future of this nation, that people begin to see the propaganda hype and the extremely hysterical rhetoric that has become the media circus of today. Regardless of what we see or hear, there is rarely factual basis and almost always political agendas attached.

    Perhaps, people should know what they are fighting against, and for, with a deeper understanding and the intention of using constitutionally supported facts before they run off and point assault rifles at people.

  8. WM says:

    If somebody had a mind to really push some buttons on this, a well placed call to CBS, and specifically the producer of 60 Minutes, might be a good place to start.

    And, whoever is inclined to make the call, might take an extra moment to comment about really crappy reporting on the done by the local Las Vegas Channel 8 CBS affiliate reporter. She didn’t know up from down, much less the solid legal basis for BLM executing on the federal judgment. I don’t think she knows what “objective balanced reporting” is either.

    It would be a good opportunity to ask CBS for real reporting – the kind Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and a string of mostly quality news reporters since then would have applauded, including Dan Rather. Heck maybe current CBS anchor Scott Pelly (a former 60 Minutes guy might even be proud of good reporting).

    And, BLM with the guidance of the US Attorney office needs to go on the offensive, maybe with a little more help from a federal judge and the US Marshall Service – start attaching Bundy assets wherever they might be.

    This is embarrassing – and the feds should have anticipate this kind of a local tea party populist response. Apparently the didn’t .

    • JB says:

      Let’s recap:

      Tim DeChristopher puts in a false bid for the right to lease oil and gas off of BLM lands and received 21 months in federal prison; Bundy flouts federal law and the BLM for more than a decade and the BLM gives him his cows back (sorry sir). Just goes to show you–if you’re an environmentalist and you break ANY law, you better be prepared to go to prison, but if you’re one of the privileged, landed gentry… well by all means put your thumb in the eye of Uncle Sam and he’ll offer to clean your boots. It’s a goddamn disgrace.

      • Louise Kane says:

        +1 It’s a goddamn disgrace.

      • WM says:

        I think the more logical argument is that if you are a “big fish” it takes a bit longer to get reeled in (especially if the current is running with you). If you are a little fish, you just ground into fertilizer.

        Little fry DeChristoper got what he deserved; Bundy is still hooked, but running down stream – for now. Give it a couple more months, and let’s see if they get him in the net, and maybe run him over the rocks a bit, first.

        They are both anarchists; at least they have that in common.

        • jburnham says:

          Here’s DeCristopher’s statement to the court. He sure doesn’t sound like an anarchist to me. He freely admits to engaging in civil disobedience, but civil disobedience does not equal anarchy. I don’t see him questioning the authority of the government or attempting to undermine the rule of law.

          WM I’m interested in hearing your definition of anarchy/anarchist.

          • WM says:


            anarchist: one (or more) who seek to bring(s) about a state of confusion through wild behavior in opposition to government authority.

            DeChristopher committed two counts of federal fraud in an attempt to disrupt a lawful oil/gas lease auction. His motives are irrelevant. He engaged in an unlawful act to fulfill his own purposes – I don’t recall if at the time he considered it an act of civil disobedience (which of course can still be an anarchist act).

            What would you call that?

            And, by the way, his statement to which you refer was given AFTER his conviction, and (with strategic help from his defense lawyer) made for the purpose of seeking a reduced sentence.

            Query? Did DeChristopher go into this adventure weighing the consequences of his illegal acts? Did he not attempt to escape legal liability through a “necessity” defense? Would DeChristopher’s acts if combined with acts of others behaving similarly more readily meet your definition of anarchy? Because, had he not been found guilty and given such a harsh sentence, perhaps others would have used his model to unlawfully disrupt such auctions. I have no problem whatsoever in viewing DeChristopher as an anarchist (though I may even agree with his motives), just as I do Bundy (though I do not agree with his motives).



            • jburnham says:

              I’m thinking more along the lines of anarchism as a political ideology; you seem to be using the vernacular definition that ranks anarchy next to chaos.

              Your definition would snare anyone involved in a public protest, anyone committing some crimes or acts of terrorism, and probably most forms of civil disobedience, regardless of the person’s political ideology.

              Anarchy as a political movement has many faces, but I would argue that the core ideas are a rejection of coercive, hierarchical authority in favor of tipping the scales toward voluntary cooperation and de-centralized organization.

              There are lots of anarchists in the west who generally call themselves conservatives or libertarians. They argue for de-centralized power in the form of states rights, local control of public lands, “sherriff’s first”, rugged individualism etc. Some would even like to “drown government in the bathtub”. Probably Bundy and most Sagebrush rebel types fit this description.

              Maybe DeCristopher is an anarchist too, but I don’t think we can conclude that from his crime or the court case.

              DeCristopher’s “necessity” defense, rejected or not, wasn’t an attempt to undermine the authority of the government or the rule of law. It was predicated on his belief that the BLM was acting illegally and his desire for this (perceived) illegal action to be corrected. Do his motives matter to the court? No. But they matter if you’re going to try to classify his political ideology.

              I think he’s an idealistic and naive kid who got in over his head and got a disproportionate sentence for his crime. Maybe this will serve as a deterrent, but I don’t think anyone is really living in fear of the next disrupted gas lease auction.

              • Mareks Vilkins says:

                yeah, lets reduce anarchism to a couple bomb-throwing maniacs and with little creativity forget wholesale violence routinely commited by the government or as saying goes ‘Anarchy is order; government is civil war’

                Ten million Americans are working in worker-owned companies; 130 million belong to co-ops of one kind of another … and that phenomenon is based on anarchist principles / values

                On Anarchism

                Noam Chomsky interviewed by Tom Lane

        • JB says:


          You’re right about one thing–DeChristopher broke the law, and for that he deserves punishment. However, the reality is that his breaking the law had very little impact, other than delaying the lease of the very same lands. The economic harm in his actions amounts to the cost of holding the auction, most of this cost being defrayed by other lands auctioned. Bundy has cost the federal government more than 1 million dollars, and consistently broken the law for 20 years without penalty. On what world is this justice?

          • WM says:


            I am still hoping there is justice in this world that extracts whatever damages/costs Bundy and his participating family members or associates have cost the American taxpayer over his excessively long run of illegal behavior. There needs to be an example set here, and with a little creative thought perhaps BLM will relinquish their enforcement role to the US Marshal Service. The old boy should probably do some jail time too, but I expect that is less likely at his age.

            BLM waited too damn long, and someone ought to be accountable for that to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. I have said before BLM ought to be absorbed in a natural resource agency reorganization. They have too much history and are a political lightening rod in Interior.

            Just hope we are not disappointed by the outcome, especially if NV state and local law enforcement get in the way, rather than assist as they should

            • Clutch says:


              “Especially id State & Local LE get in the way, rather than assist as they should”

              On that note, here is an interesting quote made in 2012 when the first attempted cattle round-up was canceled by BLM due to threat of violence by Rancher Bundy:

              Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said he urged the BLM to revisit legal avenues for dealing with the disgruntled rancher. He said the 1998 court order that federal land managers were trying to enforce had withered with time.

              “Those court documents are old,” the sheriff said. “I ask them to take that back to court and address the issue. Then, OK, if he continues to trespass, then you seize the cattle.”


      • Yvette says:

        +++Yes! I’ve been thinking about Tim Dechristopher because of this Bundy blunder.

  9. Mark Bailey says:

    Thanks Ken and Ralph. Cliven Bundy suffers grandiosity and delusion. You two do not. Reasonable men like you cannot reason with men like Bundy. In fact, Cliven Bundy claims to be willing to shoot you if you disagree with his grandiose delusions. You are not willing to shoot him. It is tough to be an evolved progressive.

    Public land has been abused by grazing for a long time. Even with the Taylor Grazing Act it often remains so, as you know. My hope is that this sort of insanity exhibited by Bundy and that so excites the tinfoil hat militia crowd will not play well for them in the long run. Monolithic barriers suddenly fall. Let’s keep working on this grazing problem. Pushing for permanent permit buyouts is one way to poke holes in the dam. Thanks for what you do to poke such holes.

  10. cobackcountry says:

    Here is a similar article. It is unfortunate that I had to sift through 3 pages of crap before finding this link. If only I could bump this to the top.

    • Louise Kane says:

      thanks for posting that cobackcountry

      • cobackcountry says:

        Sure thing. I am so mad all I can do is read and ponder. I can only hope that the number of right wing extremist sites posted are not reflective of the general population.

        There is no doubt they have greased the wheels of the media.

        • Tom Darnell says:

          It is too bad most of the media organizations have failed to consult a Constitutional expert on the legal issues involved in this case.

        • Old firefighter says:

          Nice job Cobackcountry! I appreciate an informed view and some REAL facts in this story. I too am extremely pissed off about this whole thing. Am tired of the anarchist rhetoric – work within the best system in the world to change things legally. Don’t change my country into a place like Somalia!!

          • cobackcountry says:

            Old firefighter,

            Thanks. I always try to be informed when I publicly announce my opinions. The hypocrisy of it all is that these people who are pointing guns at the BLM and fingers at the government they say over-steps, are doing what they accuse others of, forcing their agenda down others’ throats.

            I am usually smack dab in the middle of issues. I don’t walk a party line. At the end of the day, I am a citizen of these United States. I believe that there are right and wrong ways to bring about changes.

            Taking up arms to defend a criminal and an anti-American was wrong. Those persons who aided him have the mentality that brings about the horrific conditions we do see in places like Somalia. And to think, people don’t think it can happen here?!

        • Banjo says:

          There’s many more “right wing extremists” in the general population than left wing ideologues sorry to tell you. I’m also sorry to tell you that this was a clusterF*$@! This was so disastrously mishandled by authorities and we are lucky that not a shot was fired.
          If this was such a clear-cut case, why was Bundy not arrested or assets seized years ago? Answer: there’s more to this than we know!!!

          • Ralph Maughan says:

            THe BLM is noted for bad, slack enforcement of the grazing regulations. There was nothing special now except a new court order against Bundy. I was surprised the BLM has that many law enforcement personnel. You number see them.

            • Mike says:


              Unless BLM has some pretty lenient dress codes, I’d say that some of those armed, out of BLM uniform,”bearderd,” BLM gentlemen were “contractors.” Specifically… the man at the gate who kept telling the Citizen that he had to move everyone back.

          • cobackcountry says:

            I disagree. I think a lot more people lean to the left in matters such as natural resources and public land management. They just aren’t as prone to take up arms and force their ideology on others via intimidation. But yep, a disastrous handling of things.

            I am surprised that most of my far right friends from states mid to east are not speaking up to cheer on the thwarting of ‘the big bad government’ in this story. Perhaps I owe them more credit, for seeing Bundy for the criminal he is.

            • Mike says:

              Can you offer a personal insight to Mr. Bundy? Perhaps a financial insight to Mr. Bundy’s holdings? Is he a Millionaire? Is he just “scraping by” and not able to pay the fees “assessed” to ‘save’ the Desert Tortoise?” Please let us know what facts you have because if Cliven Bundy is a millionaire and a deadbeat, I’ll go down there personally and arrest the SOB (if indeed he is that) myself! If he’s just “gettin’ by” and trying to hold onto his family heritage and land, then I’d lean toward giving him a “Grandfather” waiver. Please tell us what you know about Cliven Bundy being a criminal or his financial position. You seem to be an expert in the matter and your knowledge would clearly be most helpful to resolving this delicate mattter.

              • Ida Lupine says:

                Me too – once the facts are in, and if I’m wrong, I have no problem with admitting so. Not being a Westerner, I had no idea how much land is under Federal control out there. Were they trying to ‘buy’ him out?

          • Jay says:

            The cluster was caused by the psychos that showed up with guns. The luck in no shots being fired comes from the fact that none of the Mental Midget Militia touched off a round accidentally while waving their guns around–I didn’t see any BLM officers with high powered rifles aimed at civilians, but I saw several photos of the MMM aiming guns at them. Those officers showed great professionalism dealing with a large crowd of armed imbeciles.

            • Clutch says:

              MMM 😉

            • Mike says:

              Ha ha, Jay…

              You missed the pictures of the “BLM” snipers, did ya? How convenient. You are a good little “sheeple,” aren’t you? I’ll apologize ahead of time for descending into “name-callin’.”

            • Mike says:

              Sorry Jay,

              I can’t leave it “at that.” There were two things that those BLM employees and “contractors” knew at the moment those protestors showed up. 1). They knew the protestors were unarmed and if they would have fired a single shot (THE BLM THREATENED THEM WITH BEING SHOT IF THEY TOOK ONE MORE STEP, i.e., “ONE MORE STEP AND YOU’RE DEAD!”)the armed militia in waiting would have shown up and KILLED THEM ALL. Three dozen BLM and “contractors” against hundreds of armed citizens. Yeah… pretty “professional thing to do,” when you know you’re going to DIE! Number 2) Somebody knew this would be the start of American Revolution number 2. AMREVII. It was the People who showed restraint AND courage here Jay, not three dozen Federal Agents and Contractors who knew they would die if they did not leave.

              • Jay says:

                Ok Mike, you send a link that has a recording of a BLM officer saying that. You won’t, because it doesn’t exist, because you just make shit up.

              • Jay says:

                Are you for real? Do you hear voices in your head?

              • Greg says:

                Couldn’t disagree more. It was the local, state, and federal officials who saw the mob mentality of the armed protesters and decided to be responsible and show their professionalism. Any one of the various videos or articles made by the protesters clearly demonstrates how much they were itching to throw a 3-yr old temper tantrum with their very adult toys.

                I miss the days of the cold war, when these radicals had commies and their nukes to hate and fear. Now they’ve turned that fear and hatred onto their very own country and its public servants.

            • Mike says:

              And Jay… I have the pictures of BLM “contracted snipers” but not sound, but there’s no means of posting them here. In fact… most of my “thread” has been “shut down” here leaving me no ability to reply, i.e., there’s no “reply” button to your replies to mine. Me thinks the authors of this piece are afraid it will “devolve” into something more frightful. This is not my website nor my “page” to own my position. I merely extend to you ALL that it is the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’s DUTY TO UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS FIRST AND FOREMOST REGARDLESS OF WHAT STATE THEY RESIDE IN. If you disagree than you are a tyrant, plain and simple. People first. Government second, and only if authorized BY THE PEOPLE. Anything else is what? Fill in the blank here…

              • Nancy says:

                Mike – FYI often the reply button disappears if there are too many replies to one comment. And I’m curious, did these “contract” BLM snipers show up before or after, things got out of hand?

                • Sheila says:

                  Were the pictures of BLM snipers or Bundy’s militant snipers. The video I saw had the militants holding the high ground with snipers in position on the overpass.

                • Jay says:

                  Lets clear something up–idiots with guns do not make a sniper. A sniper is a military-trained marksmen, expert in stealth and patience to wait for that single kill shot. Those clowns wouldn’t make past the first day in military sniper training. Secondly, the BLM does not have officers trained as snipers, they have the same basic enforcement training that other land-based LE officers have–they don’t go to sniper school.

                • Mike says:

                  Nancy, I don’t know the answer to that. I got into this quagmire unintentionally by clicking on a link someone posted on Facebook. Somebody in the (official) media took a camera and wanted to document the goings on and there was a still photo of two obvious “riflemen” (God forbid you call ’em snipers or Jay “the expert on everything” here will call you “stupid,” “mentally ill,” and God knows what else).

                  Anyway, the caption under the photo stated words to the effect of: These two “snipers” had their guns aimed at us just for taking a picture of them.” I didn’t save the photo and I don’t care to go looking for it anymore.

                  In fact, folks like Jay and WM have won their battle against me. They shut me up and boy let me tell you I am just in “total awe of their magnificence.” They made it so unpleasant and so frustrating to try to have a rational conversation it’d just drive you crazy, which was probably their desired goal.

                  I clicked on the link to this site to get another perspective on the subject and I got that from some people here who know about cattle, ranching, and grazing fees. But God forbid you offer up another perspective or infer that the Government was wrong to bring in those hired guns which damn-near started a Civil War, and the “Harry Reids” of the left come at you in full force to “put you in your place”.

                  So while I might come back from time to time to see just how much smarter “Jay” and “WM” is than everyone else here, I really need to just NOT CARE about this topic anymore and the name calling for that matter. So far, right or wrong, Bundy won, and the People won a very important fight here. We told the Federal government who they work for and we told them to leave. And they did. God help ’em if they come back. God help us all if they come back.

                • Jay says:

                  poor, picked on Mikey. You show up, you blurt out outright, full-on bullshit, and when you get called on your bullshit, you play the sympathy card like you’re a victim. Buck up little camper–spend a little time obtaining the facts, and be receptive to factual information presented to you when you are wrong (and you’ve been wrong many, many times) instead of digging in your heals and retorting like rambling fool. No doubt everyone loses their cool from time to time, but if you don’t see your contribution to the devolving conversation, then find somewhere else to rant where everyone shares your opinion.

                • Nancy says:

                  Jay – just me or are you flaying/ talking about the same Mike who usually posts here?

                • Jay says:

                  Nancy, that would be the “new” mike. The old mike is pretty mild comparatively.

                  For whatever reason, these posts show up as new, rather than under the posts they were replied to.

                • Mike says:

                  Nancy, I’m not the “Mike” that usually posts here. I wandered into this “hornets nest” by mistake and initially took a position of support with Bundy. I was looking to get information from both sides of the issue and when I inferred that the government might be trying to run Bundy out of business and off his land (and I STILL believe that’s the case) Lordy, Lordy here comes Jay and WM calling me: “Stupid,” “Fruitcake,” “Criminal Supporter,” “Mentally Unstable,” etc. I don’t take kindly to that kind of insult and there’s not a sane man big enough or brave enough to say that to my face, so I got riled, which is what most of these “trolls” hope for, to drag the conversation down into the mud. I made some mistakes here, but make not mistake, I was LED there. In the end, it came to light (my light) that Bundy admitted he owed grazing fees. At that point, I knew I had bet on the wrong horse. I don’t regret standing up for a fellow American Citizen’s rights up and until the facts are known completely. Jay and WM and others were out and out calling Bundy a “criminal” and I merely was seeking proof of that. Well, I ultimately found it from Bundy himself, not from one damn thing anyone on this thread had to offer. To you, and Ida, and Teresa and any other ladies on this thread who might of had to wade through some profanities I written here, I do sincerely apologize. And I suppose IF there is another MIKE who “regularly” posts here, I should apologize to him as well. To Jay, I certainly make no apologies to you whatsoever. You’re the biggest A-Hole I’ve ever seen on the Internet and you should seek mental health treatment immediately. I’m a big proponent of the Second Amendment but I sure hope that you’re on a National Registry of Prohibited Gun Owners! Good day to you folks.

                • Ralph Maughan says:


                  Yes there is another Mike who posts here. So I guess you are heading out now.

                • JB says:

                  “Jay and WM and others were out and out calling Bundy a “criminal” and I merely was seeking proof of that. Well, I ultimately found it from Bundy himself, not from one damn thing anyone on this thread had to offer.”

                  With all due respect, Mike. The guy had his day in court, and the court found his argument wanting. When he refused to remove his cows, he became a criminal. When he made threats to physical harm to law enforcement officers, he became one again.

                • Jay says:

                  Good riddance crybaby. You certainly can dish it out, but obviously can’t take it.

                • Jay says:

                  Mikey, before you go, think about this–seems like you’ve gotten into it with several folks in your short time here, so who do you think is the common denominator in those verbal feuds? Sure appears that it’s your ignorant, argumentative disposition that has instigated most of the discussion. So likewise, I have zero apology to you as well.

                • Jay says:

                  To everyone else who couldn’t divert their eyes from that trainwreck that was my “discussion” with mike, I apologize. I should not have let his Fox-like propaganda or his willful ignorance on the most basic of facts get under my skin.

                • Mike says:

                  Once again, the biggest A-Hole I’ve ever encountered online or in person has to insult, insult, insult.

                  Just so you know Jay, I didn’t give a word you said in this whole thing a turd’s worth of creedance. You’re just a piece of dogshit plain and simple and I’d love to say it to your face.

                  I came to the aid of a fellow American Citizen who’s rights I thought were being violated by the Federal Government, the SAME Federal Government who in the past, has had no problems with violating MINE. The only reason I changed my mind is that Cliven Bundy himself admitted that he owed (in his estimate) some $300,000+ in grazing fees. At that point, it’s a matter of semantics; you owe the money and you’re not paying it. It doesn’t matter to which government you pay it to; State, County, or Federal, you’ve admitted you owe it and you’re not paying it and that’s just plain illegal.

                  That’s why I changed sides Jay. Rest assured, your pompous bullshit had nothing to do with changing my mind and if anything… prolonged my support for Bundy.

                  So you just go to hell you condescending dirt-bag piece of shit. Go straight to hell.

                • Yvette says:

                  Mike, this blog has a lot of regulars that are well informed and up to date on wildlife and conservation laws, hunting, science, and conflict issues. From my short time here, I’ve noticed that this site is less likely to have as much non-informed rhetoric that can be found on many other blogs.

                  It’s a great place to learn if you are truly interested in conservation and wildlife. You may not agree with all of the ideas, opinions and facts, but you will certainly gain enough information to do further study on an issue of interest.

            • Jay says:

              I apologize for calling you stupid, because I think you have a mental disability and it’s just not right to call people like that names.

              • Mike says:

                Thank you brother. If you and I “identified” as “Americans” instead of “Republican” or “Democrat” then we would likely be brothers in arms, and for “individuals” rights UNTIL they prove abhorrent to the public good. If Bundy is guilty, he should have been “assessed” at least 18 years ago. The delay and “heavy-handed” tactics of BLM and co-coordinating agencies does not confer with the DUTY of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS BE UPHELD IN EVERY STATE IN THE UNION. PERIOD.

                • Mike says:


                  Don’t rest for one minute that I overlooked your comment about having a “mental disability.” Check the spelling. Check the syntax. Check the punctuation… This argument between you and I is some okay for non-ranchers like myself who wholly support the rights of PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS and “twerkers” like you, who think Government “is best.”

                • WM says:

                  Hey Mike, have you ever actually read the Constitution? While you talk abstractly about “CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS” I bet you haven’t a clue about how those rights come about, and are protected, or importantly are interpreted when one RIGHT conflicts with another RIGHT. See, Article I – Congress, Article II- Presidency/Executive Power and Article III – Courts.

                  It is interesting to note that all three branches have weighed in on Mr. Bundy’s so-called rights. Congress passed laws covering grazing including the ability to regulate how many animals for long and where they can graze; the Executive Branch agencies (BLM in this instance); and the Federal Trial Court for the District of Nevada have all weighed in (the Court, several times in fact), saying that Bundy can no longer graze cattle on federal lands he has used lawfully in the past, and he now must remove his cattle under penalty of law, or be assessed additional damages for their continued grazing and cost of removal by the BLM.

                  Exactly how much MORE proof do you need that the Constitutional Rights of all Americans as reflected in the laws of Congress, administration by Interior/BLM and ultimately the ORDERS (3 of them by the way) of Federal Courts (2 different judges, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding one order) must be followed?

                  I commend to your reading, just one of the orders (this one is signed by Judge Larry S. Hicks, October 8, 2013) – you only need to look at the last few pages, which says:

                  “Finally, the Court finds that Bundy’s objections to the United States’ Motion, many of which have been disposed of in prior proceedings, are without merit. The Court has stated unequivocally on numerous occasions that it has jurisdiction to hear this case, and that the Allotment is owned by the United States and managed by the DOI through the BLM and the NPS.

                  Bundy’s repeated suggestions to the contrary are entirely unavailing.

                  IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the United States’ Motion to Enforce Injunction (Doc.
                  #50) is hereby GRANTED.
                  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Bundy is permanently enjoined from trespassing on the
                  former Bunkerville Allotment.
                  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the United States is entitled to protect the former
                  Bunkerville Allotment against this trespass, and all future trespasses by Bundy.
                  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Bundy shall remove his livestock from the former
                  Bunkerville Allotment within 45 days of the date hereof, and that the United States is entitled to
                  seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass after 45 days of the date
                  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to
                  impound any of Bundy’s cattle for any future trespasses, provided the United States has complied with the notice provisions under the governing regulations of the United States Department of the Interior.
                  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Bundy shall not physically interfere with any seizure or impoundment operation authorized by this Court’s Order.++

                  I would think you, if anyone, should be screaming your lungs out and writing on blogs in CAPITAL LETTERS that Bundy’s cows need to be gone immediately and he needs to pay his debts for the cows over-staying their welcome on Federal lands, and the costs of their removal. Why? Well, because these three branches of government acting independently or together are PROTECTING OUR (your) CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!

                  On the other hand, you seem to want to continue to confirm your status as a fruitcake. Do you suppose there is a good reason the Nevada Cattleman’s Association won’t even support Bundy? This, from their statement on the matter:

                  ++“This case was reviewed by a federal judge and a decision was rendered to remove the cattle. Nevada Cattlemen’s Association does not feel it is our place to interfere in the process of adjudication in this matter,” ++

                • Jay says:

                  You’d have better luck trying to explain the facts of this case to a classroom of kindergarten kids.

                • Jay says:

                  this should have gone under WM’s response…

                  You’d have better luck trying to explain the facts of this case to a classroom of kindergarten kids.

                • Ty says:

                  WM’s posting of the court ruling pretty much says it all, as does the original piece here which preceeds all this bruhaha.

                  “IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to
                  impound any of Bundy’s cattle for any future trespasses, provided the United States has complied with the notice provisions under the governing regulations of the United States Department of the Interior.
                  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Bundy shall not physically interfere with any seizure or impoundment operation authorized by this Court’s Order.++”

                  Case closed. All this nipping at the edges over water rights and such skirts the issue, which is that Bundy HAS NO RIGHT TO GRAZE HIS CATTLE ON THIS LAND. As ruled by the courts more than once. The arguments for Bundy’s position are ideological, not legal or logical.

                • Clutch says:


                  My attempts to gain information on Water Rights was simply an attempt to gain information on Water Rights. I wasn’t nipping at the edges of anything.

                  “Water has always been the “life blood” of the arid West”.

                  If you don’t understand the importance of Water and Water Rights in The West, both historically and today, then you are really disadvantaged in trying to understand the Western Philosophy. (Harry Reid built much of his fortune through recognizing the importance of water in NV).

                  I have not seen photos of the alleged damage to water tanks, but Bundy does own Water Rights on the Bunkerville Allotment. “This right to the use of the appropriated water is a real property right which can be defined, sold, transferred, mortgaged, or bequeathed (even though it does not imply ownership of the water itself). The right is controlled by the State and not the BLM.

                  The BLM was reminded of this in US vs Hage Sr. (A dispute that had similarities to this dispute with Bundy) and so I would like the FOX news accusation that water tanks were destroyed to be backed up with actual photos. The BLM is aware that Bundy Water Rights (including culverts and improvements to facilitate the beneficial Use of that water) still exist regardless the loss of his grazing rights on the Bunkerville Allotment.

                  Bundy Water Rights dating from 1890 might also provide empirical evidence that his family was grazing cattle on that Allotment much earlier than the 1954 date that is reported on Wikipedia. Perhaps the Bundy in-laws have been trespassing out there long before their first grazing permit was issued 😉

                  I have never been a “nibbler”, Ty, I always eat heartily.

                • WM says:


                  You seem as if you have jumped into the middle of the “water rights” aspects the West, and specifically Mr. Bundy. Not trying to pre-judge your level of knowledge, but only offer some suggestions to better understand how it all works (or doesn’t) in parts of the West. As you may know, the system of water rights administration varies by state. A most important concept that underlies the “prior appropriation doctrine” (first in time is ..usually… first in right) putting water to beneficial use, is that the right to USE water (and consume some) is what is called a “usafructary right,” in legalese.

                  In exercising that right to use this property – water is in fact a type of property- the right holder must not damage the rights of others in system, including junior holders. There are also hierarchies placing some forms of beneficial use above others. Some law firms concentrate their legal practice almost entirely on water rights and water quality. These are very complex areas of law, often requiring the lawyers to understand the history of water in the West, as well as some engineering and principles of hydrology, and even basic physics like gravity, because mostly water flows downhill, except when it flows toward money, in which case it may defy the rules of physics). A patchwork of state and federal laws, water development projects like huge dams and out of basin transfers, inter and intra basin treaties involving multiple states, and relatively new developing areas of law like federal reserved rights and state legislative systems to allow for appropriation for maintaining “in-stream” flows for fish and wildlife add new layers of complexity for a commodity that in drought years and with more consumptive use becomes almost incomprehensible as we look to a hundred years into the future.

                  In Colorado, for example which sits at the very top of the Rockies, where five of the nation’s major river systems originate, there are actually water courts, and basin/river commissioners, as well as a state water engineer and water conservation board, that provide the framework to work water rights in the state, as well as meet obligations to states lower in the system as these rivers make their way to the oceans. There are rules and regulations to cover all this, but in practice to try to maximize the needs of various water user groups with increasing demands for the resource, it is actually more of a practiced art form.

                  If you have not already read it, may I suggest “Cadillac Desert” by Mark Reisner (1986).

                  I won’t go as far as to say what kinds of water rights Bundy has on BLM land, but if, as has been suggested, they are for watering cattle, as his grazing lease goes away, they are probably not very marketable, since he has no leverage without a beneficial use for them. That leverage seemingly diminished when his lease was not renwed and the permissible AUM’s were cut back.

                • Clutch says:


                  For some reason my first attempt to post this failed.

                  Thank you for taking the time to offer me your insight.

                  BTW, I read “Cadillac Desert” when it first came out…about a lifetime ago it seems now.

                  Concerning Bundy’s stock Water Rights, I understand they wouldn’t have value to Bundy to sell as a result of the retirement of all AUM’s in the Bunkerville Allotment; however, its not clear to me what happens to them? Do Junior Water Rights holders now have a larger quantity of water available for their Beneficial Use? For instance, the golf courses in that area? Or possibly aquifer Rights holders?

                  Someone will benefit when those Vested Water Rights expire 5 years after Bundy’s trespass cattle are no longer using it, any guess who that will be?

                  Thanks again

                • Clutch says:

                  OK, I guess they have authorization to remove all improvements except for the well casings themselves:

                  Removal of Range Improvements:

                  The BLM will remove structures and installations associated with cancelled range improvements located on public lands within the project area. Examples of range improvements to be removed include corrals, fences, and water improvements such as pipelines, troughs, earthen water impoundments, and spring boxes.

                  Range improvements that have been previously determined to be of historical significance by a BLM Archeologist will not be removed as a part of the Proposed Action. In addition, any improvements directly associated with a valid state-adjudicated water right (i.e., well casing), will not be removed.


                • Mike says:

                  I know I’ll get criticized for posting something from “FOX News” but:

                  “The feds, though, are being accused of taking the court orders way too far.

                  On a Friday night conference call, BLM officials told reporters that “illegal structures” on Bundy’s ranch — water tanks, water lines and corrals — had to be removed to “restore” the land to its natural state and prevent the rancher from restarting his illegal cattle operation.

                  However, the court order used to justify the operation appears only to give the agency the authority to “seize and impound” Bundy’s cattle.

                  “Nowhere in the court order that I saw does it say that they can destroy infrastructure, destroy corrals, tanks … desert environment, shoot cattle,” Houston said.

                  Plus he said BLM vehicles appear to have crushed a tortoise burrow near the damaged water tank. “How’s that conservation?” he asked.

                  The BLM has not yet responded to a request for comment on these allegations.”

                  Continuing on…

                  “Bundy has refused to pay the grazing fees or remove his cattle, and doesn’t even acknowledge the federal government’s authority to assess or collect damages.

                  The bureau has said if Bundy wasn’t willing to pay, then they would sell his cattle.

                  However, there was a problem with that plan — few in Nevada would touch Bundy’s cattle for fear of being blacklisted.

                  “The sale yards are very nervous about taking what in the past has been basically stolen cattle from the federal government,” Nevada Agriculture Commissioner Ramona Morrison said.

                  Documents show the BLM paid a Utah cattle wrangler $966,000 to collect Bundy’s cattle and a Utah auctioneer to sell them. However, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert refused to let Bundy cattle cross state lines, saying in a letter: “As Governor of Utah, I urgently request that a herd of cattle seized by the Bureau of Land Management from Mr. Cliven Bundy of Bunkerville, Nevada, not be sent to Utah. There are serious concerns about human safety and animal health and well-being, if these animals are shipped to and sold in Utah.”

                  That letter was sent three days before the BLM round-up, which is why the cattle were still being held Saturday in temporary pens just a few miles from Bundy’s ranch. Morrison says BLM was sitting on cattle because it had no way to get rid of them…”

                • WM says:

                  ++However, the court order used to justify the operation appears only to give the agency the authority to “seize and impound” Bundy’s cattle [not destroy infrastructure, destroy corrals, tanks … desert environment, shoot cattle] .++

                  OK, Mike, I’ll take the bait. The Court Order doesn’t have to say any of that. If these structures were once legal, they aren’t anymore because Bundy isn’t a valid grazing permit holder; they may or may not have been permissible “improvements” attendant to the grazing at one time, but are no longer. BLM has independent authority to remove this stuff without a court order. It goes with being the owner and manager of the public lands, or is that too obvious? These guys at Fox are just trying to stir the pot.

                  What would you do if you had a holdover tenant who wouldn’t move off land you manage?

                • Sheila says:

                  I read somewhere that Bundy illegally bulldozed a watering hole and was told by officials to remove it.

                • Mike says:

                  WM, I agree with you. Bundy is violating a court order. My point was that I think BLM went in too “heavy.” Whoever is in charge of BLM in that area of Nevada should have asked the assistance of the County Sheriff to accompany him to tell Bundy, that once and for all, we’re going to move those cattle and sell them at auction to defer some of your judgement and if you interfere, you’ll be arrested. I think if they would have just brought no more than six BLM agents in regular tan uniforms with only sidearms, they might have pulled it off without conflict. Yes, it might have gone the other way too with someone in an “under-armed” BLM contingent getting hurt by a Bundy ally, but that’s the chance you take when you sign up for a lawman’s job. I agree that Bundy, whether right or wrong on principle, is in defiance of the law and he had his day in court, twice. But I’d like to think someone like ‘ol Andy Griffith could go up to him without heavy-handed threats and say: “Now Clive, this is how it’s gonna be. This has gone on too long.” I guess that’s pretty naive to think that way, but I think perhaps if BLM would have tried it that way, there wouldn’t have been as big a fuss and National attention brought to it, and not so many folks would have showed up from all over hell and gone with guns. Then again, Bundy sure went out of his way to notify any news outlet that would give him airtime.

                  I think I understand the position of all sides here; Right or wrong, the Federal Government manages that land, conservationists have a concern and their jobs to do, ranchers have a concern over their livelihood and their rights, perceived or not. What I think is more important than cattle or tortoises is trying to once again unify the people of this country. We’ve not been a unified nation since WWII and it just seems to get worse and worse every year and it also seems that our government sometimes goes out of it’s way to make it worse. I might add that I’m retired from the government with 28 years of service, though I wasn’t a lawman.

                  Thank God nobody fired a gun last week, because honestly… I believe if someone had, we may not have this medium available to discuss this with. They might have had to shut the Internet down to keep folks from calling out to people who are itching to get into a gunfight with the government. Hopefully, that day will never come but I sure fear it will.

                  Once again WM, I agree with you that Bundy’s cattle need to go and BLM is charged with making that happen. I’m sure they’re busy trying to figure out how to proceed in the future with better results. I hope they succeed so no one on either side gets hurt.

                • JB says:

                  Exactly. Congress, via statute, has given the BLM regulatory authority, including the power to enforce these regulations. And let’s not forget that these are FEDERAL lands–they belong to the US government. I’d be willing to bet Fox would not take up the same rant if we were talking about DOD lands–also owned by the federal government. And let’s not forget what the SCOPUS has ruled regarding federal authority over these lands:

                  “grants Congress power only to dispose of, to make incidental rules regarding the use of, and to protect federal property. The Clause must be given an expansive reading, for “[t]he power over the public lands thus entrusted to Congress is without limitations,” United States v. San Francisco, 310 U. S. 16, 310 U. S. 29, and Congress’ complete authority over the public lands includes the power to regulate and protect the wildlife living there. Pp. 426 U. S. 536-541.”

  11. Tom Darnell says:

    A very good read, Art 1, Sect 2 of the Nevada Constitution.

  12. Patrick says:

    Great article with solid historical perspective. What I’ve read says that Bundy also claimed that the BLM changed the rules to reduce the number of cattle on his allotment, which he felt was illegitimate and therefore he stopped paying the grazing fees. What is needed is better articulation for the authority of the BLM to institute those changes for the protection of rare/endangered species. It seems as though, in Bundy’s view, this constituted an illegal taking of his historic use of the property. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that the historic use of the land led to overgrazing and habitat degradation, which warranted reduction of the number of cattle allowed to graze on the allotment, but Bundy seemed to feel that the number the BLM issued was arbitrary and capricious, and was intended to drive him out of business. If collectively we wish to argue that the actions of the BLM were justified, then we need to outline the solid historical and scientific basis for BLM to set the number of cattle allowed to graze in an allotment.

    • cobackcountry says:

      The trouble with that argument would be that he had less than 100 cows when he began grazing without paying. Since then the number of cows has exploded to an estimated 900. If he felt he needed to raise more cows to provide for his family, he’d have had more then. It wasn’t about providing, it was about capitalizing on a cheap means of supporting his financial aspirations. Did he let them proliferate to spite the government? Or was he angry because it was always his intention to allow the cattle to multiply unchecked on land he didn’t have the authority to over graze? I’d assume the later based on his behavior- greed.

    • Bill in NC says:

      He had the opportunity to sign the new contract and then file a legal action back in 1993, but chose not to sign.

      In its 1998 order for summary judgment the court noted the BLM has broad authority to regulate use of the land:

      “The BLM has authority under the FLPMA to place restrictions on grazing when the forage declines to a level that would defeat the goals of multiple use and sustained yield.”…st-LEXIS-23835

    • Clutch says:

      “…was intended to drive him out of business.”

      The fact the BLM drove a number of cattle ranchers out of business does give this impression some credibility.

      • Ralph Maughan says:


        We don’t know that. Running cattle is problematic near Las Vegas in a hot desert. If these ranchers had water rights, they might well have sold them to Las Vegas to become rich people taking it easy.

        • Clutch says:


          You are correct, we don’t know that. Although I have read posts on various forums where ranchers have made this accusation that the BLM drove ranching families “out of business”. I have no personal or direct experience on the matter.

          It could be as you say, all the “out of business” ranchers might have chosen to sell their “Water Rights” to become rich people taking it easy. Then again, by the emotional response of several ranchers, it appears atleast some ranchers consider their chosen “lifestyle” as better than any “life of leisure”.

          Can we be certain that none of these ranchers were pressured to sell by various tactics and maneuvering, for instance, BLM limits to AUM? I am not making this accusation, but I am also not ruling it out.

          I am the first to acknowledge Ranchers have a historic record of damaging rangelands by over-grazing and the BLM is the Gov’t entity charged with mitigation efforts.

          • Ida Lupine says:

            Yes, it’s true I’m sure about ranchers overgrazing. I await to see how this all turns out. I think the BLM needs a complete overhaul at any rate.

  13. Tim says:

    Bravo. Thank you for the detailed assessment. It is a shame this is not made part of the story when it is being reported on in the larger media outlets. I hope there is a way to get these facts out there .

  14. Mike Bickley says:

    Thank you Ralph and Ken! You have done what media reporters should have. This piece needs to be printed in every newspaper in the nation and spread across the internet.

  15. chris miller says:

    Thank you for this article, I tried for a couple days looking for this kind of information. I guess im not very could with my search techniques, but even if I had it the Low iq idiots I was having a discussion with would have still called me a BLM mole and anti- constitution.

  16. Reno Gal says:

    Does anyone know if Cliven Bundy has paid his per cattle head assessment to the State of Nevada or does he own them money too? See last item on this page:

  17. griffith says:

    There have been a lot of people criticizing Clive Bundy because he did not pay his grazing fees for 20 years. The public is also probably wondering why so many other cowboys are supporting Mr. Bundy even though they paid their fees and Clive did not. What you people probably do not realize is that on every rancher’s grazing permit it says the following: “You are authorized to make grazing use of the lands, under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and covered by this grazing permit, upon your acceptance of the terms and conditions of this grazing permit and payment of grazing fees when due.” The “mandatory” terms and conditions go on to list the allotment, the number and kind of livestock to be grazed, when the permit begins and ends, the number of active or suspended AUMs (animal units per month), etc. The terms and conditions also list specific requirements such as where salt or mineral supplements can be located, maximum allowable use of forage levels (40% of annual growth), etc., and include a lot more stringent policies that must be adhered to. Every rancher must sign this “contract” agreeing to abide by the TERMS AND CONDITIONS before he or she can make payment. In the early 90s, the BLM went on a frenzy and drastically cut almost every rancher’s permit because of this desert tortoise issue, even though all of us ranchers knew that cow and desert tortoise had co-existed for a hundred+ years. As an example, a family friend had his permit cut by 90%. For those of you who are non ranchers, that would be equated to getting your paycheck cut 90%. In 1976 there were approximately 52 ranching permittees in this area of Nevada. Presently, there are 3. Most of these people lost their livelihoods because of the actions of the BLM. Clive Bundy was one of these people who received extremely unfair and unreasonable TERMS AND CONDITIONS. Keep in mind that Mr. Bundy was required to sign this contract before he was allowed to pay. Had Clive signed on the dotted line, he would have, in essence, signed his very livelihood away. And so Mr. Bundy took a stand, not only for himself, but for all of us. He refused to be destroyed by a tyrannical federal entity and to have his American liberties and freedoms taken away. Also keep in mind that all ranchers financially paid dearly for the forage rights those permits allow – – not rights to the land, but rights to use the forage that grows on that land. Many of these AUMS are water based, meaning that the rancher also has a vested right (state owned, not federal) to the waters that adjoin the lands and allow the livestock to drink. These water rights were also purchased at a great price. If a rancher cannot show beneficial use of the water (he must have the appropriate number of livestock that drinks and uses that water), then he loses that water right. Usually water rights and forage rights go hand in hand. Contrary to what the BLM is telling you, they NEVER compensate a rancher for the AUMs they take away. Most times, they tell ranchers that their AUMS are “suspended,” but not removed. Unfortunately, my family has thousands of “suspended” AUMs that will probably never be returned. And so, even though these ranchers throughout the course of a hundred years invested thousands(and perhaps millions) of dollars and sacrificed along the way to obtain these rights through purchase from others, at a whim the government can take everything away with the stroke of a pen. This is the very thing that Clive Bundy single handedly took a stand against. Thank you, Clive, from a rancher who considers you a hero.”

    • MJ says:


      While I appreciate that you believe in the goodness of your intentions, I would like to share some perspective from another side.

      Life is filled with unfairness, and the intent of our Constitution at both the federal and state levels is to mediate the unfairness and find a middle ground. We all need to live here, even though sometimes it requires patience.

      The BLM has been rounding up and slaughtering the wild mustangs, illegally, and sending them to slaughter, often illegally.
      Sally Spencer, BLM employee who sold 1700 federally protected wild horses to a known killbuyer has been “detailed to another agency”, a small start, after years of law suits, legal actions and protests,.. but legally protected horses continue to be rounded up and are due for another roundup in Iron County in Utah. This is often at the request of livestock ranchers who want to use these public lands, or oil companies. Wild horse lovers have written the news, legislators, but have had no legal standing to take up arms against the BLM.

      Wildlife including wolves are illegally tortured and poached without the likelihood of prosecutions. Though about 85% of the public is opposed to the wolf hunt and support non-lethal management, quid quo pro by both livestock ranchers and trophy hunters to subvert the public will and influence local politicians goes on in broad daylight. Wildlife lovers have written the news, legislators, but have had no legal standing to take up arms against the BLM.

      When Boeing closes a plant and goes into a layoff due to supply and demand, the workers go home. They have no legal standing to take up arms against the company or the federal government. This is the same for all forms of employment in this country except ranching.

      Clive Bundy knew for years that this was a situation. He has had free access to the courts during all this time. He has had money and time to fight this in the courts, as the rest of us do. He has never at any point been denied his civil rights.

      The idea that certain types of ranchers are entitled to claim public lands which are publicly SHARED, or thumb their nose at laws that they pick and choose isn’t new, but people are tired of the double standard. No one else expects these “rights”. Except maybe congress and the mafia.

      • Yvette says:

        @MJ, thank you for your response to griffith.

        It’s been stated previously, but once again, there is no “right” to forage. It is a privilege that comes with conditions. It is not a right.

    • Tom Darnell says:

      The Nevada Cattlemen’s Association has not come out in support of Mr. Bundy.

      • Clutch says:


        “The NCA has not come out in support of Mr. Bundy”.

        Tom, I would gander that most NCA members, as well as most Ranchers with BLM Grazing Permits & Leases, wish Bundy would crawl under a rock someplace since his actions have just shined a very bright spotlight on this lucrative practice of grazing on Public Lands.

        According to “Grazing Fees: Overviews & Issues” — June 19, 2012 by Carol Hardy Vincent:

        Grazing fees are at historic lows of $1.35 per AUM as 2012, which is actually lower than they were 30 years ago.

        I wonder if the NCA prefers not to “look a gift horse in the mouth”? 😉

    • Ken Cole says:

      So you’re saying that the BLM has no authority to place mandatory terms and conditions on a grazing permit and that the rancher, or permittee has ownership of the AUMs they are permitted. Wow! What a delusional point of view.

      FLPMA is the law that gives the BLM authority to place the mandatory terms and conditions on a PERMIT (a permit is different than a right). Under FLPMA,the BLM is required to make a rangeland health determination to see whether the allotment is meeting certain standards. If it is not, and the failure is attributed to livestock grazing then the BLM is required under FLPMA to place mandatory terms and conditions on the PERMIT which will ensure that there is movement toward meeting the standards. One of the ways that BLM can do this is to reduce the number of AUMs but they rarely if ever do. It is very, very rare these days to see them do that. Even if they do, they often only reduce the number to a level above what the rancher is actually grazing anyway so it is a cut in paper cows, or cows that exist only on paper.

      The permittee does not “own” the AUMs that they are permitted because the Taylor Grazing Act doesn’t confer any right or title to anything.

      Public lands ranchers have been trying to conflate permits with rights for decades because they want sympathy from the American public who has been subsidizing them hand over fist for decades. The public lands grazing program has run a $121 million annual deficit just in administrative costs and when you add in all of the other costs the figure is more in the range of $500 million annually. On top of that, many ranchers, especially sheep ranchers, get huge federal subsidies, taxpayer funded predator killing programs, cheap immigrant labor, and a BLM that is very hesitant to do anything to ensure that rangeland health standards are actually met.

      • Ida Lupines says:

        Ken, I’d like to see all of these things up for review and change, especially the tax-payer funded predator killing programs. I don’t want to fund that.

    • Teresa Vaden-Hall says:

      Thank you for a rancher’s point of view! We have 50 head here in Alabama. Thankfully they are in a 80 acre pasture behind the house. But they live peacefully with wildlife….except the coyotes! Thank goodness for the Jenny’s and guns during calving. People that don’t depend on the land for their livelihood have no clue. Your example of them losing 90% of their pay is great maybe that will get through to them. I would love to have an agri-tour here and actually have people live the life of a farmer or rancher for a week. They would either fall in love with our way of life or be grateful they don’t work so hard on a gamble that weather, drought, disease won’t destroy your year. Maybe they would be grateful to the people that bust their ass to put food on the world’s table.

      • Ralph Maughan says:

        Teresa Vaden-Hall,

        Thank you for your comment, but grazing the unfenced Nevada hot desert is not at all like raising cattle in a fenced pasture in Alabama. Alabama is a good place to grow beef. In Nevada the rule of thumb is it takes one square mile to provide the forage for just one head of cattle.

        • Teresa Vaden-Hall says:

          Ralph Maughan
          WOW no wonder you have to free range! I couldn’t imagine having enough land for a couple 100 head. That makes me think of the old days of cattle drives. That’s how our European ancestors raised their cattle. They free ranged the highlands spring and summer and at fall they were herded down to the village. Where some were slaughtered for winter food and the rest kept in stables. I hope ya’ll don’t have more drought it breaks my heart for the cattle and the ranchers.

      • MJ says:

        Maybe they would be grateful to the people that bust their ass to put food on the world’s table.

        The cattle industry has enjoyed more legal rights than the rest of Americans since inception. Do you really think a wealthy cattle baron works harder than the rest of America?

        Factory workers who work two jobs or at least mandatory overtime, medical personnel and first responders, police who work mandatory overtime, coal miners, construction workers, or the rest of MOST of America who are struggling to make ends meet in a bad economy with families to feed? The U.S. military, do you think that Bundy works harder that the U.S. military? Counting backwards from 10 right now)

        When we are put out of work do we hold the company hostage in a standoff and think that is a given right? Do we think that we can pay off politicians for policy that favors us while others are stunned by the loss of their constitutional right to representation?

        Actually our leading causes of death are related to the livestock industry, we need to eat less meat. There is politics in our food industry. Bundy is no poor underdog, his actions were propagandized by the Koch brothers, why would oil barons have an interest in this?

        As he walks with his bodyguards and demands that the Sheriff collect guns from the BLM and bring them to him. He wasn’t delusional, this is the abuse of power he is accustomed to.

        • Teresa Vaden-Hall says:

          I am NOT a robbed baron! I DO NOT SUPPORT BUNDY! I am only speaking as a farmer NOT a rancher there is a difference! My family was dirt poor, carrying dirt in buckets up the side of a hill to grow food in the depression. I have gone without new clothes or toys on Christmas and Birthday’s as a child cause of a bad year. We lived in a trailer next to grandparents for 10 years till they saved enough for a down payment on a house. I live on $15,000 a year! My Uncle and 3 Aunts worked in the textile industry till it was shipped off and all of them will tell you my Dad works longer and harder hours. My Mom worked in a factory before having me she thought that it was so horrible that she told my Dad she couldn’t see why people would even want to farm, it’s so much harder.Do factory workers get paid every week? Farm employees do also BUT not the farmer. My Mom gets ONE check a year to run the house from as does my Sister-in-law, and they have to make it last the whole year. Farmers are jacks of all trades, Dad can run the tractors, combines, pickers, bulldozers, welds, constructs parts, mechanics all the equipment, gardens, runs cattle, puts up buildings, he can make some of the best sausage you’ve ever eaten.
          You actually make money only a few times a year so you have to hope your previous years crop earned enough to pay the employees the following year. As for the military my Dad was in the service and has hired two Navy Seals recently one last a day the other three. BOTH said this was the hardest thing they had done. So either it is a hard life or the Navy Seal’s are producing wimpy babies! If I ruffled some feathers GOOD, now go out and meet farmers and learn about farming. Better yet try working for one. My brother went a month without sleep last fall trying to pick cotton because of the weather. Him and our 67 year old Dad run equipment sometimes 24hrs a day for a week or more. Granted there is down time and you better take advantage of it because Mother Nature waits on no human. We live by her cycles.
          I hate defending my family and our way of life I’ve had to do it since elementary school. I was called the poor kid, picked on because of my homemade clothes, and something’s I was called I blocked out they were so hurtful.
          I just think people are so far removed from farming, which pretty much everyone’s ancestor’s did to survive, they think we are stupid, white trash or the robber barons of the old west.
          There are still “gentlemen farmers” or lazy cusses as my Aunt calls them, that sit at home or in an office and let others do all the work. I personally don’t care for them they shouldn’t be called farmers at all!
          I only came here to learn more about the Bundy thing, the only thing I have to say is both sides are going about this all wrong! AND it’s the cattle caught in the middle and to me they are what matters!

          • Nancy says:

            Teresa – An interesting site to wander around in when you have time:


          • Clutch says:

            And there are some that suggest Bundy is more “farmer” than “Rancher”.

            According to Wikipedia:

            “The court found that Bundy and his father actually first began grazing their cattle on the Bunkerville Allotment in 1954, and used it for several years. They paid for cattle grazing again beginning in 1973 and ending in 1993, when the last grazing fees were paid by Bundy for his last grazing application for 1 December 1992 through 28 February 1993.”


            • Ralph Maughan says:


              I think he is more farmer than rancher, and I think he kept a provocation-sized herd of cattle while the rest went wild (feral) mostly to irritate the BLM. He has always seemed spoiling for a fight.

            • Ralph Maughan says:


              Glad you looked at the Wikipedia. There goes Bundy’s claim that he and his family have been grazing this place since the 1870s! The Wikipedia tells us their grazing on the public (government) allotment was an on and off thing.

              • JEFF E says:

                so after reading the article and looking thru the footnotes it is more than apparent that Cliven Bundy is nothing more than a shill and a snake oil salesman,
                which had all the usual suspects from Maine to California slobbering all over themselves about this poor downtrodden rancher just struggling to make ends meet.
                One thing should be clear is that the feds are not done and I would bet that all of the “politicians” and other state agency representatives are getting a lecture on economics, as in if they want to see any cooperation on any little special projects they may have in mind it would be wise to decide which side their bread is buttered on….

              • Clutch says:

                Yes sir, the Wikipedia website has been updated frequently these past few days and that particular information was only added within 48 hours.

              • Clutch says:

                Ralph & Jeff E,

                This is one of my primary interests in Bundy’s Vested Water Rights–i.e. Dates of Claim, Intended Use, etc..
                According to:

                “All that was necessary [to obtain water rights prior to the Code] was that users diverted the water and placed it to beneficial use.”

                It appears to have Vested Water Rights, such Claims had to be made for surfacr rights prior to 1905, artesian rights prior to 1913 and groundwater rights prior to 1939?

                What was the “beneficial use” of those claims filed by Bundy family?

                If it was for grazing cattle, then This would be evidence of grazing that pre-dates the Permit dates provided on Wikipedia.

                I am not suggesting Bundy has any PreEmption Right to the Bunkerville Allotment. I am simply trying to nail down hard facts in what has become a very “fast & loose” culture.

              • Mike says:


                You should know that I or anyone else can “edit” Wikipedia” at our whim. It’s “open source.” I could put your mother’s name (no disrespect meant) in that article and half or more people would accept it as the truth.

                • Ralph Maughan says:


                  I know that and there might be an editing battle now. The Wikipedia has a lot more likely facts on this than any news account I have seen, including my own.

                • Greg says:

                  Go ahead and try that on the Bundy page. Count how many times you can refresh the page before it is removed. I’ll bet it’s not there for more than 90 seconds.

    • WJ MacGuffin says:

      Wow! You mean that if a rancher wants to use land that they do not own, they have to pay a fee and abide by the owner’s restrictions?

      If Bundy wanted more land, he should buy it. If he wants to use someone else’s land, then that person can set whatever fees/terms that he/she/it wants. That’s how capitalism works.

      • Ida Lupines says:

        It has to be reasonable, bilateral terms, otherwise it is no different that a king and his fiefdom.

    • cobackcountry says:


      I would say that grazing on public lands is a privilege, and the public never owed it to a rancher to allow them the privilege. In all of the many years he ranched, Bundy never saw fit to invest in purchasing his own land? He became angered because the federal government on behalf of the citizens of this nation decided to change a lease. That change is a RIGHT.

      Most landlords do change leases at some point. If the tenant chooses not to renew the lease with the conditions and terms presented, they have the option of moving or being thrown out. They don’t have right to squat. If Bundy didn’t like the terms, he had the option of finding other land to use. Harsh but true.

      There seems to be a sense of entitlement amongst some public land grazing ranchers (most of whom are conservative and deplore the ‘entitled mind-set of welfare recipients’). Well, nobody owes public land grazers a living. Not the government, the tax payer, the state or their neighbors.

      If we (the public) effect the price of beef by not supporting the cheap grazing (of less than 6 percent of cattle raised in the USA), then that is our choice. Just as it was Bundy’s choice not to legally access the land he refused to lease.

      This is a changing society, and the way that society views the value of resources and how they spend their money is also changing. We buy fewer gas guzzling vehicles, and that effected the American auto industry. So, the industry got a bail out and adapted. They began building cars people wanted, more hybrids, more efficient motors. Now they are back in the game. The bail outs were temporary, and had to be repaid.

      The ag industry also receives government aid, and has for ages. They have never been required to pay it back (a perk). It is time the industry also adapts. Some of that adaptation needs to come in the form of is self reliance. Some should come in the form of meeting the changes with a supply that is in demand. Publicly grazed cattle no longer fit that bill. Times are changing.

      In essence, we pay extra for beef that is a product of public land grazing. Not only have we paid for it with farm aid, we pay for it with tax assistance that maintains public lands the beef graze on (AUM’s don’t cover the costs of the impacts cattle have). That is on top of what we pay for it when we buy beef at stores.

      The government is not the enemy here, time is.

      I said before, and I will say it again…. we cannot just leave public land ranchers in the dust. We should help them find alternatives. Perhaps we should help them find private grazing lands for purchase? Maybe we create a program to guaranty those loans (a bail out). I do think that there will be conditions attached to any assistance given. I don’t know exactly what the help should be. What I do know is, in order for the public land grazers to continue to be ranchers, they have to accept that they will need to change too. It may not seem fair, but it is reality. If they did any other job and the market changed, they might be laid off, or have to learn a new trade.

      The laws Bundy is breaking are a result of the Taylor Grazing Act (among others). The Taylor Grazing Act was enacted to AID ranchers. It was written by a rancher, endorsed by ranchers, and designed to help ranchers. Like all social aid, it has to adapt as society changes. Ranchers that are berating it now have simply stopped being able to capitalize on it.

      Maybe they did not have the foresight that feedlot ranchers did. It is unfortunate, but it is part of a capitalistic society. The best businessmen prevail. Public land grazing is a bad business model that depends on someone else’s capital to survive.

      Regardless of all of that, Bundy is not exempt from the law because he feels slighted. If he didn’t like the law he should have used LEGAL means to effect change. He is no different than any other criminal, he just feels he should have no consequence. When America allows people like him prevail, America loses. America is more than ranching, and Bundy needs to accept his will and his desires do not out weigh those of all of the voting public of this country. He is no hero.

      • Ida Lupines says:

        Good post, but I disagree that people are changing the cars they drive. They are not. SUVs and pickups are still the highest sold cars in the country. CA has a high percentage of greener vehicles tho.

        Ranchers do not use someone else’s capital to survive. The green energy industry is not self-reliant. They depend on government subsidies to survive. We know that to survive as a capitalist, it isn’t just the fittest, but the most ruthless.

        I’m more than happy to support farmers and ranchers with my tax money. I’m not sure I want to go along with this New World Order. Usually societal changes includes reconsidering what doesn’t work, but keeping what does. Some of the old ways have proven they are worth keeping.

        Modern agriculture techniques are not humane.

        • cobackcountry says:


          SUV’s are being sold, but they are also more efficient and are regulated to meet ‘greener’ standards. Hybrids sales are way up country wide (from what I read).

          Additionally I never said the green industry was self reliant. It was boosted by tax credits and start up grants, nonetheless, it is growing due to demand and a changing perspective about how we get our energy needs met.

          Public land ranchers use publicly owned lands in lieu of using their own capital to purchase their own land. Public land, public expense.

          I would say that the mistreatment of wildlife and wild spaces to make a profit has been pretty ruthless. (Not that it is solely a public land ranching behavior). Many industries survive because of public investment/government assistance. For many years past, and even at present, that includes much of the agricultural industry.

          Some old ways work, some are no longer necessary. I think public land grazing falls into the later category. I too support the ag sector to a great degree. I do not support illegal behavior though. I am a proponent of paying private land owners for conservation areas, and for the implementation of land improvements that better habitat for wild species that are hunted and fished. I say, heck ya, take my tax dollar. I will reap the benefit as well.

          I don’t buy into the New World Order hype. Although I don’t know how you feel it plays into the end of public land grazing.
          I just don’t think it is a viable industry any longer, nor do I feel it a helpful industry to public lands. I do think we should help these people find a more viable means to support themselves. Many say that I am a socialist because I feel that way. I am not. I am merely a person who would like to do right by others, and to help others to be productive in a non harmful way. I think it is selfishly in my own best interest in the long run.

          • cobackcountry says:

            Modern agriculture techniques, to a great degree, are not humane. You are correct. I don’t think Bundy’s treatment of cattle was humane.

            I personally eat a lot of food that I know was raised humanely, or that I shot or caught myself.

            I also see a trend toward a different way of eating these days. Holistic growing is, well, growing.

    • Clutch says:

      @ Griffith,

      I sure widh you would return.

      We need your perspective.

    • Clutch says:

      @ Griffith,

      I sure wish you would return.

      We need your perspective.

  18. Patrick says:

    It is interesting to note that in the Nevada constitution (the link is in the first paragraph), there are two versions of the Ordinance from which the section of the forfeiture of unappropriated federal land is mentioned. Evidently, an amendment has been made that removes this section from the constitution, but for this to become reality it has to be ratified by congress or a legal determination has to be made that this is not necessary. There are links in the constitution to the Statutes describing the amendment. From my point of view, this amounts to an attempted land grab by Nevada of all federal lands.

    It reads:

          Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that lands belonging to citizens of the United States, residing without the said state, shall never be taxed higher than the land belonging to the residents thereof; and that no taxes shall be imposed by said state on lands or property therein belonging to, or which may hereafter be purchased by, the United States, unless otherwise provided by the Congress of the United States.
          [Amended in 1956 and 1996. The first amendment was proposed and passed by the 1953 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1955 legislature; approved and ratified by the people at the 1956 general election. See: Statutes of Nevada 1953, p. 718; Statutes of Nevada 1955, p. 926. The second amendment was proposed and passed by the 1993 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1995 legislature; and approved and ratified by the people at the 1996 general election, effective on the date Congress consents to amendment or a legal determination is made that such consent is not necessary. See: Statutes of Nevada 1993, p. 3136; Statutes of Nevada 1995, p. 2917.]

    • Patrick says:

      I should have also pointed out that the Nevada amendment to repudiate the forfeiture of unappropriated federal land likely gave Bundy philosophical ammunition to suggest the Feds never owned the land in the first place, and because of that, he sent the grazing fees to the state instead.

  19. Reno Gal says:

    Interesting family history related to the Bundy Ranch bunch. Mr. Bundy’s family in the maternal side were polygamists and one of his relatives was involved in the Mountain Meadow Massacre: Dudley Leavitt.

  20. Scotus says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m a conservative American who loves his country. I’ve been trying to explain to others why Bundy is clearly in the wrong and not a conservative folk hero. Again, this article explains everything I’ve been thinking since this began. Spot on with the truth!

    • WM says:


      While you are explaining to others that Bundy is wrong, here are a couple of talking points. The same US Constitution that allows free speech, right of assembly and the right to bear arms (not that they are needed in this instance), is the same Constitution that allows for a Congress to pass laws, an administration and agencies to pass needful rules and regulations to administer the laws, and enforce them, as well as a court system to determine whether the laws and regulations as written and carried out are in fact lawful.

      Looks to me like Bundy has had his fair crack at all aspects of the above described system and his position has been found to be repeatedly lacking – the most obvious are the very straightforward wordings of the federal Court orders that command the BLM/government to, among other things, seize his cattle.

      What is even more irking is that Bundy then turns around and says he does not recognize the federal government when it suits him, personally. So, prior to 1998 he recognized the federal government and paid his grazing fees under the permit issued to him. Seems he should be criticized for his earlier recognition of legitimacy of the federal government, and then later disavowed it when it didn’t meet his personal needs. Legally, he would be estopped (legalese for prevented) from taking a position contrary to the one he already advanced. The man is a hypocrite, as well as a thief.

      And, as for the water rights mentioned by “griffith” above, water rights can typically be bought and sold pursuant to state water rights administration systems, and I would guess there might even be a very lucrative water rights market in this part of NV for changed beneficial use of this scarce and economically valuable commodity. (See NV state water rights primer

      It seems there are something like eight or nine golf courses in the Mesquite/Bunkerville section of the Virgin River, and maybe more in the development stage. Golf courses are huge consumers of water, which they must buy on the open market. Most states, NV included, I believe, find municipal and industrial water use a higher beneficial use than watering cows, which by the way seem to crap and urinate in the very water they and others use degrading some beneficial uses [see recent videos of the cows there].

      Alternatively, maybe there is even some environmental value in leaving surface water in streams (See , or groundwater in the ground for recharge purposes.

      • Ida Lupines says:

        That’s a ridiculous use of water in the desert – golf courses. Las Vegas is a beautiful, but an environmental nightmare. When I remember my trips to Nevada, the drive to Vegas (and the sunrises!) are the most memorable things. New golf courses should be limited in desert areas, and I think some should be taken out of service and left to return to their natural state. At least cattle ranching has a basic, need purpose. Golfing is just recreation, nothing more.

        • Ida Lupines says:

          And the Joshua trees! I have never seen the desert in flower, which I hope to do someday. For a New Englander, it was hot! Triple digits. I felt like if I didn’t have bottled water with me, I’d float away like a dried-up leaf. It was awesome.

        • WM says:

          Yes, Ida – golf courses in Bunkerville/Mesquite. If you have access to Google Earth, zoom in on the towns and watch those golf courses come into view – they are the only verdant green in the valley bottom for miles around. Bunkers cows, according to the BLM, have been a source of complaints on the fairways and greens, if I recall correctly.

          • Yvette says:

            Just wait until Lakes Mead and Powell drop below dead pool.

            Don’t know when that will happen, but it will happen.

        • WM says:


          Something to consider (other than the impacts to natural environment). Golf courses provide jobs – construction of the courses, houses and motels/hotels/RV parks and bike/hiking trails around them, and serve as a focal point for other recreational/industrial growth. You (we?) may not like it, but they do provide economic benefits. The desert West is full of places with water guzzling golf courses. Las Vegas has 20; Phoenix, AZ has nearly that many. Ever hear of Palm Springs, CA?

          • Ida Lupines says:

            Yes, I have. I’ve been up one side and down the other in CA. Jobs, jobs, jobs. The economic benefits won’t last, and then cause irreparable harm, like in the fishing industry. Short-term benefit shouldn’t prevail, but we should see the long-term picture. We don’t seem to be able to.

            • MJ says:

              Ida agree, the use of golf courses is an artificial stimulant to benefit a few and a waste of land in the long run. They require extreme maintenance and cater to a market not committed to the good of the overall economy. They do nothing for an ecosystem that we need to begin to take seriously.

          • Bill M says:

            Who owns the land that these golf courses are built upon?

            • Jeff N. says:

              I’m pretty sure Bundy does.

              • Jay says:

                Darn tootin’–Bundy’s pappy’s pappy was knockin’ in 20-footers and hittin’ 300 yard drives on them golf courses back in the 1800’s when them Mexicans was still around (who do you think mowed the courses fer ’em?).

      • Scotus says:

        The irony is that those who are supporting Bundy are the very ones who would criticize those who want something for nothing, which is exactly Bundy’s freeloading position. It astonishes me that so so-called conservatives would hail armed revolt against government agents as a victory for conservatism. I stand with the law and against mob rule.

        • Ida Lupines says:

          I wouldn’t exactly call him a freeloader in that sense. He hasn’t paid his grazing fees, but does provide the country a service and improving the lands for decades. How on earth did the environment survive the buffalo?

          • Ralph Maughan says:


            Don’t know if you are serious, but in case you are. There were no bison in this part of Nevada ever. His improvements harmed wildlife. His cattle seem to be pretty much unmanaged and just wander around without being herded.

            • Ida Lupines says:

              Yes, I’m serious. 🙂 I didn’t mean Nevada specifically, but the large herds that historically roamed the country. I just don’t want to paint all ranchers with the same brush, it’s what the ultra-conservatives do to environmentalists all the time – I’m increasingly finding the extremes on both sides to be very similar to each other as far as ignorance about facts, name-calling and ad hominem attacks on each other, and want to find a middle ground.

              I wonder what the effect of Sally Jewell’s unleashing a herd of millions of children into the National Parks for recreation will have also.

              • Scotus says:

                Ida: for the record, I consider myself a conservative Republican. When I first heard this story, I smelled a rat. My initial reaction was that Mr. Bundy had a bloated sense of entitlement and that he was simply breaking the law for his own end; wanting to feed his cattle for free. Anyone who thumbs their nose at rightful law and order is no conservative. Those who support Cliven Bundy are not true conservatives. I think those who support the government on this go beyond party and ideological lines. Rule of law vs. Mob rule.

              • Mark L says:

                If they’re anything like cub scouts, more urine in unexpected areas….trust me. (sorry, couldn’t resist)

              • Sheila says:

                Bison are not as hard on the environment as cattle are.

            • Ida Lupines says:

              Look at it this way, I provide a little comic relief during difficult times!!!! 🙂 I’m learning a lot about a subject I love, truly.

    • Linda says:

      Agree completely. Hey if I don’t pay the parking fee my car gets towed. Bundy’s cattle should be towed. And if I still don’t pay the fee I am cited in contempt and go to jail…which is where Bundy should be.

  21. snaildarter says:

    The main difference between us and the third world is the rule of law. Without it our economy and civilization would fail. Bundy is no hero, he lost in fair court because his facts are false.

    • Scotus says:

      This is the point I’ve been trying to make to fellow so-called conservatives. What are we without law? How is it conservative to set yourself up against a just, constitutional law, supported by even the Nevada Constitution?

    • Immer Treue says:

      “The main difference between us and the third world is the rule of law. Without it our economy and civilization would fail. Bundy is no hero…”

      The sad thing is, there are all too many hoping for this failure. Anarchy, Once the realm of the far left, now the province of the far right.

      • Ida Lupines says:

        The distinction is becoming less and less as time marches on, I think. That ideal is becoming meaningless – how soon we forget things like Wall St. and come back for more punishment from our leadership.

      • Mark L says:

        “Anarchy, Once the realm of the far left, now the province of the far right.”

        Only until a (R) is in office, and has support. Then their story may change…

        • KarenJ503 says:

          There’s all too many of the R/TP persuasion in office obstructing the business of legislation, or enacting legislation harmful to the majority of Americans both R and D. And there are a few Ds guilty of doing the same thing.

          Since when was it OK to work just 110 to 130 days a year, and spend the rest of the year raising campaign funds back in one’s district, so that the slacker work schedule and legislative perks could go on for another term, and another…?

  22. Peter Kiermeir says:

    I learnt a lot about Public Lands and Grazing rights and all this stuff. Interesting but complicated to digest for a non-native speaker of the language. But now, for a baffled observer, what was that ruckus all about? Law enforcement withdrew, defeated, facing an angry right-wing mob. The local hero got his cattle back. Even the honorable Governor sympathizes with him. Just a show of force, that went awfully wrong and only revealed, who really rules America?

    • Mark L says:

      Aw come on, Peter, just a bunch of Americans trying to act like Russians. How often do you see that, huh?

      • Peter Kiermeir says:

        Hey, I love horse operas! “Open Range” one of my favourites! :-))

    • WM says:

      Stay tuned Peter. There are more chapters of this modern saga of the West yet to be written. Bundy will eventually go down; it is just may be be a matter of when and how.

      Curiously, no famous personality actors/actresses have jumped into the fray on either side -yet. Gotta wonder when an agent for one figures out the immense PR value of this – where’s Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall or even Jane Fonda when you really need them?

      • Mark L says:

        “All the Federales say
        They could have had him any day
        They only let him slip away
        Out of kindness, I suppose.”

        Maybe Willie will show up, who knows?

  23. Ida Lupines says:

    I really do appreciate all this background, I really do. Ordinary people can’t be expected to know or remember everything about our legal processes and government. This is why we vote for people to represent us or hire legal professionals. Lately, our government has been the epic fail of all epic fails, and I think people are getting fed up. Public sentiment isn’t with our leaders – and people can be emotional creatures as well as reasonable.

  24. Ida Lupines says:

    It’s interesting. Maybe some good will come of it. It will wake people up and have them start paying more attention to what is going on in this country, Peter. I know that the glaciers are melting faster than ever before, but a glacial pace is still to slow for the change we were promised.

  25. rork says:

    You didn’t need the paragraph about insurrection, but couldn’t resist, eh?

    • Sheila says:

      It is an insurrection for which the US Constitution gives Congress the power to call up a militia to combat per Article 1, Section 8.

  26. D.Cox says:

    I am appalled that a person, I will not call him a citizen, such as Cliven Bundy can get away with, what is has and is perpetrating on We the people. The public lands are just that – Public.

    Thank goodness our forefathers had the good sense to set aside and fight for public lands. If private investors had their way we would be coast to coast concrete.

    No parks, no place for wild life, no place to breath, and no eco system.

    We just paid our taxes, no we didn’t like it, but we do realize and are thankful that we have a government of laws that are to work for and protect our people from insurrectionist from without and within. These extraordinary rights must be maintained and paid for —— Voila – our taxes.

    A person such as Cliven Bundy should have no use of anything the rest of us, the Citizens of the United States pay for.

    This hot head, gun toting, faction, no matter where it comes from, the State of Nevada, Florida and every state in the union, must be reigned in.

  27. Jerry Black says:

    Paul Watson comments:
    Captain Paul Watson
    April 12
    Welfare Ranching Show Down in Nevada

    There is a silly little drama going on in Nevada and the Neo Cons, the militias and the welfare ranchers would have us believe there is another Waco about to happen.

    For some strange reason I am on the Conservative Daily mailing list. I think they confused the word “conservation” with the word “conservative.”

    Joe Otto who I assume speaks for the Conservative Daily sent me this message today (below) and I could not resist responding to it.

    It’s all about a rancher named Cliven Bundy who has not paid his grazing fees since 1990 and is now upset that the government has come to collect over two decades in back fees.

    You see, Cliven believes that he has every right to graze his cows free of charge on public land. It’s called welfare ranching and they believe their “right” to feed at the public trough trumps the right of endangered species to exist.

    So I decided to inject my comments into Otto’s somewhat hysterical letter defending Cliven and his fellow welfare ranchers from the tyranny of Obama. You see when anything happens they don’t agree with, Obama is always at fault, and Obama is especially at fault when the thing the Neo Cons are upset with is something initiated by one of the two former Bush Presidents like this particular case.

    Anyhow, this is Otto’s letter with my comments.

    Dear Conservative, (PW: You mean dear conservationist Otto. You were addressing me I think.)

    By now you have probably heard about the crisis surrounding the Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. In case you haven’t, here is the basic synopsis.

    (PW: Yes the Fox Network has their undies in a knot over this, which means it is hardly a major story elsewhere.)

    Cliven Bundy is a cattle rancher whose family has lived near Bunkerville, NV for the last 140 years. The Bundy family’s cattle have always grazed on what had always been state-owned, public land. In 1993, the Federal Government discovered that Bundy’s grazing area was also home to the endangered Desert Tortoise. As a result, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) swooped in and took over control of the land. In order to dissuade farmers and ranchers from using the land and threatening the tortoise population, the BLM instituted a policy where ranchers would be forced to pay a grazing fee before using the land.

    (PW: Let me see, the Bundy family has lived on the land for 140 years and the desert turtle has lived there for hundreds of thousands of years. The Bundy family took their land by force from Native Americans but the turtles were there even before the Native Americans. In 1993, the government did not discover that the grazing area was home to the turtle. They knew that. What they discovered was that the turtle was endangered and one probable cause was over-grazing by rancher Bundy’s cows.)

    For Cliven Bundy, this was an unacceptable affront to his livelihood. His family has lived off this land for over a century, long before the creation of the BLM, and the idea that he would now have to pay a tax to protect a turtle was nothing short of absurd.

    (PW: To the turtles it is an unacceptable affront to their right to survive as a species. Rancher Bundy believes the turtle’s right to survive is absurd yet he believes he has a God-given right to graze his cattle for profit at public expense. It is also not a tax but a grazing fee. In exchange for the fee, Bundy gets to graze his cattle. Bundy wants free food for his cows at public expense. In other words he wants welfare.)

    So, Bundy refused to pay the tax. He allowed his cattle to graze on the land and didn’t pay the federal government a dime to do it. Why should he? The land is technically state-owned public land, yet the federal government want’s a cut because of an endangered turtle. Well, after twenty years of court battles, the Bureau of Land Management has finally swooped in and begun confiscating Bundy’s cattle at gunpoint to pay the $1.1 million that he owes in back “grazing fees” for using public land! This is absurd and should be a wake-up call to everyone! The government doesn’t care about common sense or decency… these militarized agencies and bureaus will use every law, regulation, and technicality to come after YOU with the full weight of the Federal government!

    (PW: The law assessed a fee and rancher Bundy refused to pay the fee for over two decades and now he seems surprised that the government has called to collect back fees. Otto states the land is state owned and public but somehow rancher Bundy has a right to use it free of charge. Bundy owes back fees and the government is collecting those back fees by the confiscation of the cattle that Bundy has been raising at the expense of the public. It’s a classic case of welfare ranching where the rancher believes he is entitled to have his animals raised for slaughter at public expense. I hope the government does use every law, regulations and technicality to collect the back fees and to protect the right of the turtles to survive.)

    Tell Congress to STOP the out-of-control militarization of agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and put an end to the Obama administration’s intimidation tactics!

    (PW: I intend to tell Congress in the words “Good on you for defending the turtles and enforcing the grazing fees.”

    How despicable is this… The federal government is seizing a rancher’s cattle because he didn’t pay a $1.1 Million “grazing fee” that was set up to protect a damn turtle! Anyone with half a brain can see that this is ludicrous… yet the government continues to wage its war on Cliven Bundy and proceeds to seize his cattle at gunpoint.

    (PW: If anyone else does not pay their bills, they forfeit their property. Why should ranchers be exempt and above the law. Why should the public support Cliven’s damn cows? Why do his damn cows have more rights than the desert tortoise? The government is not waging war on Bundy, they are simply enforcing the law. Personally I disapproved of the fee myself. He should have been banned completely from grazing his cows on the land occupied by an endangered species.”)

    I’ve said it before: It is absolutely ridiculous that we have so many militarized, non-law enforcement agencies in government. Agencies like the Department of Education, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the IRS, and even the Bureau of Land Management have been arming themselves to the teeth for years.

    (PW: I’ve never seen an armed IRS agent, That would be scary, hell they are scary enough unarmed. I have certainly never seen an armed member of the Department of Education but considering all the school shootings, that might not be a bad idea. A law has been broken and it is being enforced. Pretty damn straight forward to me.)

    Now, the full weight of the government has come down on the Bundy ranch. There are snipers watching the family’s movements, armed agents rounding up cattle, and the BLM has effectively made the whole area a “constitution free zone,” or at least that’s what they want it to be. The land is public land on a public road. Yet, anyone who wants to protest the government’s tyrannical actions is limited to doing so within a preset “First Amendment Zone” set up by government officials.

    (PW: Can someone tell me where in the Constitution it says that ranchers have the right to graze for free on public land? The land as Otto says is public land on a public road. It is not Clive Bundy’s land. It is however turtle land. Thank you United States government for defending our endangered turtles. As for snipers, the fact is with dozens of trigger happy militia nut bars in camo, armed to the teeth, the deployment of snipers seems like a reasonable response. I admit the First Amendment zone is unacceptable but by order of the Governor of Nevada it has been taken down.)

    That is ridiculous, and the protesters have fanned out, taking their frustration directly to the federal agents. In the last two days, one protester has been tackled to the ground and another has been shot with a stun gun. Now, militias from around the country have been mobilized and are beginning to arrive in Nevada to defend the ranch from this clearly tyrannical action. One county official warned the “inbred” militiamen (his words, not mine) from neighboring Utah that if they come to Cliven Bundy’s aid, then they “better have funeral plans.”

    (PW: Oh no not the Mormons!!! I hope this is not another Mountain Meadow Massacre. It is amazing to see so many ultra conservatives ready to rise up and die to defend welfare rights for ranchers. Oh the tyranny of collecting unpaid bills.)

    How despicable is that? Rather than defend the local rancher against the government thugs, the local Clark County Commissioner is actually threatening people if they show up to help him!

    (PW: Yes I would imagine that the Clark County Commissioner would be opposing mob rule. When a bunch of wild eyed men in camo arrive with heavy weaponry it is reasonable for the County Commissioner to condemn their invasion of his county.)

    I pray to God that there isn’t bloodshed. I really hope that the Federal government realizes that they are waging this war over nothing but a damn turtle and pull back. I mean, think about it… people could actually die over a dispute over cattle grazing on a turtle sanctuary… What on earth is this world coming to?

    (PW: It is a world where human greed is eradicating endangered species and diminishing biodiversity. Otto you said it yourself, it’s a turtle sanctuary. It seems to me that people would be making a decision to risk dying for some damn cow. I think the turtle is much more deserving, after all it is a sanctuary for turtles. This is not a dispute over a turtle anyhow, it is a dispute over the fact that a welfare rancher has refused to pay his grazing bill.)

    The fact remains that this is just one of the latest attempts for the Federal government to use loopholes to seize property for the “common good.” There is a case in Colorado where a couple’s mountain cabin is being seized and demolished to create “open space.” The government is actually using eminent domain to seize a piece of property just to create more open space.

    (PW: If you build a cabin on public land you don’t have rights to the land just because you built the cabin. People have seized too much open space for their own use and by doing so they deprive nature of open space for wildlife. Nature needs more open spaces, more turtles and fewer cows.)

    Rather than using common sense and restraint, the Federal government looks for every opportunity to come down hard on average citizens! This has to stop!

    (PW: If citizens are a threat to the survival of an endangered species they should be stopped. Welfare ranchers are not average citizens, they are people who have grown rich at the public expense.)

    The government shouldn’t be allowed to levy $1.1 Million fines on hard working Americans because their family’s ranch’s historical grazing grounds are now occupied by an endangered turtle! Americans from across the country shouldn’t have to mobilize in order to fend off tyrannical government agents!

    (PW: It is not a fine, it’s a grazing fee, a fee that rancher Bundy has refused to pay for over two decades. Bundy’s lands are not now being occupied by an endangered turtle. The turtle’s land is being occupied by Bundy’s cattle.)

    What if the government came into your home or business and threatened you because of a technicality or nonsense regulation? Things like this happen every day across America because we have given the Executive branch and its numerous agencies too much power over our lives!

    (PW: When the U.S. Court and the IRS came after us for defending whales they were acting on the request of the Japanese whalers, I did not see many conservatives defending our rights to defend the whales. No most of them were defending the “right” of Japanese whalers to use American courts to stop American whale defenders.)

    The Obama administration wouldn’t even send in one soldier to protect our ambassador in Benghazi, but it has sent in over 200 agents to harass a rancher in Nevada! This is despicable! The time has come to rein in these out of control, militarized government agencies. Congress must put an end to the Obama administration’s intimidation tactics!

    (PW) Wow, they actually managed to fit Libya into their rant. That’s a stretch. The law removing free grazing rights came under the George H. Bush administration, not Obama.)

    Tell Congress to STOP the out-of-control militarization of agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and put an end to the Obama administration’s intimidation tactics!

    I will tell them in the words of George W. Bush, “Go get ‘em boys.” We need to put an end to Welfare ranching.

    Joe Otto
    Conservative Daily

    • Clutch says:

      Captain Paul Watson,

      Turtles dwell in the water. Tortoises dwell on the land. This is an important distinction for a feller in your line of work, I would think.

      • Greg says:

        Uhhh… Turtle and Tortoise are common names with definitions that change depending on where you live. Same with terrapin, salamander, newt, frog, and toad. They don’t describe monophyletic groups. All tortoises are members of the Order Chelonia, commonly referred to as “turtles.” In the US, the term “tortoise” is usually assigned to more terrestrial-dwelling turtles, but (just as one example) the terrestrial Box Turtle isn’t called a “Box Tortoise” despite it living on land.

        • Clutch says:

          Thanks for the insight. In my 20 hours of research on Bundy vs BLM, I have never once seen them called Desert “Turtles”.

          Just a coincidence I guess 😉

  28. Tom Darnell says:

    A good read is, “Sacred Cows at the Public Trough”.

  29. Mareks Vilkins says:

    that guy C.B. is a f@#ing Emperor!!
    and now on the streets he has that thing called ‘credibility’ while the government has not.

    Ken has brought down Savebears after the first clouded threat while BLM is playing a sissy

  30. Here is an article outlining the penalties Bundy and his supporters might face for their actions:

  31. Tom Darnell says:

    Check out “Sacred Cows” by Ted Williams, Audubon Magazine, 03/2006.

    • Yvette says:

      Thanks for posting about ‘Sacred Cows’, Tom Darnell. That was an interesting read. ‘sigh’. What are we to do? Honestly, how can we resolve these conflicts?

  32. Mike says:

    “Taylor Grazing was administered on the ground by the U.S. Grazing Service. Now, ranchers with grazing permits had to pay a grazing fee to use their permits. Bundy’s ancestors probably got one of these grazing permits, but they most certainly did not buy the land. That was not possible. The public domain was not for sale and ranchers generally did not want it. After all, if they owned it, they would owe local property tax.”

    “In 1948 the Bureau of Land Management was created by executive order of President Truman to replace the Grazing Service. The Service had been defunded in a dispute between the House and the U.S. Senate. The BLM has since been affirmed by law rather than a mere executive order. It is supposed to manage the public lands for multiple uses and for sustained production (“yield”) of renewable resources such as grass. As before, you need a grazing permit for cattle, sheep, goats, or horses to legally graze. It is a privilege, not a right, and this has been firmly stated by the U.S. courts.”

    Let’s review folks. While this article may be factually correct, what Mr. Ralph Maughan and Mr. Ken Cole are really saying here is that it is more than okay for the Government to come in and charge an exorbitant yearly fee (for something that was once free)that will run you completely out of business. That’s the crux of it here. Mr. Maughan and Mr. Cole are saying, “Too bad, you can’t make a living the way you always have, but the government is going to force you to pay or leave, and that’s okay by us.” Well Mr. Maughan and Mr. Cole, that’s not okay by a lot of people that are sick and tired of the government moving the goal posts any damn time they want to, and it’s going to stop and stop soon. Good day to you gentlemen and all of your “progressively”-indoctrinated… excuse me… “educated” supporters.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Mike (not one of our regular TWN “mikes” wrote)

      “Mr. Ralph Maughan and Mr. Ken Cole are really saying here is that it is more than okay for the Government to come in and charge an exorbitant yearly fee (for something that was once free)that will run you completely out of business.”

      Mike, it looks like you know nothing at all about grazing fees. They were first instituted in the late 1930s with the passage of the Taylor Grazing Act. They are nothing new. They were much lower than today, only pennies per head. However, and this is very important, today’s grazing fee of $1.35 per cow or cow and calf per month is in real terms (that means taking into account inflation since the 1930s) quite a bit lower than then. Public land permittees, such as Bundy once was, get a tremendous deal. Comparable private pasture is often $15 to $20 per cow, or cow and calf (this is called an AUM for “animal unit month”).

      Bundy was not hit with some high fee. The BLM and the Forest Service has no authority to single out a particular permittee to “charge an exorbitant yearly fee,” as you say happened. Bundy didn’t even complain about the grazing fees. He didn’t like the terms of his new ten-year lease back in 1993. So he quit paying. I don’t know the terms he didn’t like, but it was likely a reduction in the number of AUMs permitted, perhaps to protect the desert tortoise.

      Because you don’t know how grazing is administered, a great book for you would be The Western Range Revisited by Debra Donahue (and for other interested folks).

      • Mike says:

        You would be entirely correct sir, that I know absolutely nothing of grazing fees. I have to admit that I assumed that Bundy’s accrued fee to the Gov’t of 1.1 Million would have been divided up by the 20 years in question. If so, that to me, would be exorbitant. There was a better way to handle this then sending in armed (BLM) which is the only reason why you saw so many people (perhaps as ignorant of the situation as I) showed up, some of them “armed,” in defiance of what they see as the Federal Government out of control. Here’s one I completely agree with:

        • Ralph Maughan says:


          The million dollars are fines on Bundy for repeatedly refusing to remove his livestock from the land where he no longer has a permit. It is late at night now, so I won’t look it up exactly, but he has been fined something like $200 a day for a long time now.

          • Mike says:

            That would do it alright. Just like the IRS does. I’ll stand down (and corrected) and leave this argument to the folks that have all (or most of) the facts. One thing you were right about for sure… BLM should have settled this at least 18 years ago. They came damn close to starting a civil war and still might. When our Police and Law Enforcement agencies start dressing, arming, and acting like the military, I don’t see any good coming out of it. From an uninformed perspective, it just seems like more government theft and overreach and that will always educe a “knee-jerk” reaction. Thanks for the lively debate folks. You’ve changed my mind on this issue. I’ve already passed along your article to everyone on my email list as “Very interesting perspective on the Bundy issue.” I’ll share it with others for them to ponder as well.

            • Ralph Maughan says:

              The Washington Post this morning has a good timeline on the controversy. This shows in more detail what was happening in the 1990s and early 21st century.

            • WM says:

              So, aagh….Mike, who is nearly starting a civil war? Do you sort of pick and choose when the federal government has authority to execute on judgments, from several different federal judges over an 18 year time period?

              Exactly who would you suggest carry out valid Court Orders? How should they dress and what should they say?

              Do you think Bundy would comply with whomever comes to seize his cattle under a valid Court Order- oh, that’s right HE doesn’t recognize the federal government, which means HE doesn’t recognize the Court which issued the order?

              Isn’t that convenient. Has the state of NV formally said it does not recognize the federal government authority over 87% of the land in the state? When that happens, maybe Bundy has the underpinnings of a legal argument, otherwise, it would seem he doesn’t. The guy is a fruitcake, and by the tenor and tone of your comments, so are you.

              • Mike says:

                Hey WM,

                Thanks a bunch for the “fruitcake” comment, that really endears me to your cause and position. It also makes you one of the first sons of bitches I’d be happy to shoot if an all-out war broke out, but nevermind that. If BLM would have showed up with a hand full of agents in their tan uniforms with only sidearms, and said: “We’re here to protect these cowboys while they removed trespass cattle from BLM land,” Bundy might have interfered (and got arrested), but he damn sure wouldn’t have gotten the publicity which he did, after the SWAT teams and helicopters swooped in. You won your argument WM, but apparently that’s not good enough for the likes of you. You still have to “poke the bear” with your “fruitcake” comment don’t you? You’re no different than the pin-head protester who was taunting the BLM “soldiers” as they were leaving by walking backwards. “The idiot (perhaps it was you?) was yelling: “Yeah, look at the tough guys now with their big guns running like a bunch of pussies…” What a moronic thing to do when your opponents concede. Not enough to be right huh WM? Gotta throw in a insult too?

              • WM says:

                Now just wait a minute there Mike. Didn’t Bundy, through his failure to comply with past Orders, and OPEN THREATS already set the tone for how this matter might play out. Wasn’t the round-up already delayed once because of this? How would the BLM “protect” the cowboys, by the way, without some way to actually do it?

                The logic of your argument is pretty thin. And, your personal threat to me is precisely why I would bet the US Attorney and the folks doing the strategic planning for this decided to use the dogs and the guys in black with the BP vests and helmets in case things went sideways, which they did.

                By the way, you prove in spades my “fruitcake” observation was spot-on, with your last post.

                I suggested earlier that BLM should let the US Marshal Service (less intimidation and more familiarity maybe), execute the Order, but then I’m not fed decision-maker, just a taxpaying arm-chair general at this stage of my life.

              • Clutch says:

                Hey, I am sure not trying to get in anyone’s crosshairs but whatever happened to the days when a guy like WM just deserved a lesson in manners from a fist?

                Now, today, societal norms have escalated to the point where his simple disrespectful attitude results in his deserving to be shot?

                Whatever happened to this country?

    • SAP says:

      “Exorbitant yearly fee that will run you completely out of business”?

      Let’s review your arithmetic here, Patriotic Mike. Let’s say Mr. Bundy has 500 Animal Unit Months (cow-calf pair for one month). 500 x $1.35 = $675 per month. I don’t know how long he keeps them out on the federal domain, but let’s say six months (it may be longer, but six months in an arid environment doesn’t give much opportunity for re-growth at all). 6 months x $675 = $4,000. Four grand for half your annual forage?

      Let’s say Mr. Bundy has 500 mother cows, and let’s for easy calculating that 70% of them bring a healthy calf to the shipping corrals in the fall — 350 calves to sell. Goodness, those little guys are bringing about $1.80/pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange today! Let’s assume that calves raised in a place with about 10 inches annual precip get on the truck a little light — maybe 500 pounds? So, each calf should gross maybe $900, x 350 calves = gross revenue of $315,000. Unless he’s sleeping late and spending all his time making up legal theories, that should be a low-ball estimate.

      $315,000 gross, and you’re saying he can’t pay $4,000 for what they eat half the year?

      Sorry, I guess I’ve been “indoctrinated” from an early age by math teachers.

      • SAP says:

        oops, typo — that’s $4,050. You’re right, that extra $50 is gonna put him in the poor house. He’ll have to become a blackjack dealer down on the strip.

      • Mike says:

        “Patriotic Mike.” Great. Just great Mr. SAP. Very apropos name, by the way. I may not know a damned thing about grazing fees but your own liberal, progressive “jounalists” puts it at $1.35 per cow-calf pair. The article goes on to say that Bundy has more than 900 head of cattle.

        “Assuming that he had to pay $1.35 for EACH head, my calculator says that would be: 900 x 1.35 or $1,215.00 per month or $14,580 per year. Now that’s if Mr. Bundy had to pay $1.35 per month for EACH head of cattle! I have no idea how many “cow-calf” pair there are in that 900+ head but I’m sure it’d be sufficient enough number of pairings that the fees would be far less than $14,580! But let’s go with that figure and multiply that times 20 years which would be a grand total of: $291,600. Can someone tell me why Cliven Bundy owes $1.1 million to the Federal Government? To me, it would seem like they want him to pay $50,000+ a year to graze 900+ head of cattle. If that ain’t “exorbitant,” then I don’t know what is. Especially if it used to be “free.”

        From “Eco-Watch.”

        “The feds argue Bundy owes U.S. taxpayers more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.

        • WM says:

          Well, Mike, if it gives you any solace, the federal judge(s) that wrote the Court Orders will likely review the tally of however many Bundy cows (or others he claims are not his) are eventually removed from BLM lands, the overall costs of the removal, and the estimated time period over which however many cows have been previously counted (BLM I gather has been keeping a tally). The judge will likely rule on the “fairness” of the costs, any Bundy caused damages, and come up with an amount that Bundy is obligated to pay. Maybe, even as a part of the judge’s review there may be an identification of his assets that might go to pay or satisfy the tallied monetary number, and it will all be printed up nice in a neatly typed document that you and all Americans can review. Of course, if Bundy feels he has been improperly treated by the trial court judge, then he can take it up by appealing to the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

          So, don’t worry sport, Bundy will get his day in court as he has for the past, what is it now 18 years?

          And, do you think this series of confrontational incidents would have been dealt with any differently, if BLM and affiliated federal law enforcement types (typically there are times when law enforcement officers are called upon to execute on a judgment and seize property, though it is usually a sheriff, but no help here from Clark County for obvious political reasons), HAD COME UNARMED?

          Being as though Bundy doesn’t recognize the federal government in some instances and has publicly stated so, have also kind of wondered if Bundy pays federal taxes, and regularly files his federal income tax returns. Whaddaya think, there Mike? Will they turn the IRS loose on the Bundy clan next? And, are his melons, really organic? Ya gotta wonder about the truthfulness of a character like that. Maybe USDA ought to do a little inspection? Why, a paranoid type could just have a field day over where this might ultimately go.

        • Jay says:

          My gawd you’re stupid Mike. I pay $1500 a year just to feed a couple horses (fair market value)–where’s my government handout? Why should I have to pay for my own feed? Why can’t I get free grass? Why doesn’t everybody get free grass or feed from the government to raise their animals?

          • Ida Lupines says:

            Are you raising animals commercially, Jay? Because at one time in our history, farming and ranching were valued, because these people raised our food products, and were given incentives and a bit of a buffer from risk from our government.

            The Obama Administration’s Secretary of Agriculture has said that rural America is becoming less and less relevant.

            That’s not a good thing, when we no longer know or care about where our food is coming from or have any respect for those who produce it. When we’d bet on unknowns and put our wildlife at risk of extinction for so-called green energy.


            • Teresa Vaden-Hall says:

              Thank you Ida! Farming is getting so much harder. Land is hard to come by with the elders in the community dying an their heirs selling off the land instead of continuing to rent to farmers. The government devalues us and wants more and more imports of food for America. I honestly can’t understand why we have to import other counties crops and export ours!
              The subsides people have forever complained about annoy me. It is money given so you WON’T plant a field and allow for more imports and you really aren’t given a choice. Our farm started in 1945 by my Paw Paw and boy I remember when subsides came in, he cussed for months, okay years. We only earn money when crops are sold and cattle sold. The life is a gamble. We now have 2000 acres of corn in the ground and had a freeze last night. Praying for no damage or losses. Seed prices are unreal and the companies have such control over the seed that they could have put me in jail for picking up TWO seed, taking them home and planting TWO cotton stalks. Thankfully my Dad knew and would say he gave me the seed. Chemicals are astronomical, I used to be able to take possession of them no problem, then new regulations came along and now I have to pay for a license to just stand there and take inventory as they come off the truck.
              I realize my words will never change a person’s mind and often lead to harsh words. Over the years I’ve learned to ignore it, for my own sanity. The only way people will truly understand is to work 18 hour days, race to beat the weather then worry for months what kind of crop you’ll yield. Many years you break even, a lot of times it’s a loss and once or twice in your lifetime you might get a bumper crop.
              I worry that people are so far removed from farming that if god forbid the worst happened they won’t know how to grow food or raise livestock. Possibly there won’t be enough farmers to feed you all. The average age of farmers is rather high and many children aren’t carrying on, so thankful for the ones with dirt in their blood!
              I just ask that everyone please learn about farming! Visit farms, read a farm journal, talk to old timers. I would invite you to work for my Dad but considering 2 navy seals washed out after a few days I’m not sure many people could keep pace with him. But I sure try! I’ve spent 2 months chopping corn stalks out of a cotton field in 100 degree heat at 40 something. So it’s a hard job but I am like my Dad and grandparents I love the dirt and nature and the animals too much to be confined in an office. It’s a rewarding life, just a lot of worry.
              I am still forming my opinion of this matter, as I have stated earlier my main concern has been the welfare of the cattle! I love my girls and it broke my heart that we have lost 3 calves this season, so I worry about the stress these heifers have been through. As I’m learning ranching out west is a lot different, here our cows live behind the house in a 40 acre pasture with rotational grazing, there they have to free range. Free ranging is actually a very good thing! They eat what otherwise could turn into fuel for wildfires. Some places are actually going to farms and asking if they will free range cattle and goats for this reason.
              Oh yeah just thought I’d add I’m known as the tree hugging hippie liberal around here! AND I’m proud of that label! I am absolutely not a typical Southerner. Proudly Pagan, liberal, pro-choice, and want everyone to enjoy the freedom this country was intended to have. (told you I’m not a stereotype, but I do have manners and grace.)

              • Yvette says:

                Hey Teresa, I hope you will start being a regular on this site.

              • Mike says:

                Much respect to Ms. Teresa.

              • Ida Lupine says:

                What a beautiful post, I enjoyed reading it. I agree! 🙂

              • cobackcountry says:


                Thanks for the insight.

                I think that a lot of people are growing more food of their own. I personally like to buy local produce and meats.

                I don’t have an issue with farmers who grow things in the least harmful way possible. And I agree we do too much shuffling of food in and out of the country.

                I am not the right or left leaning extreme myself. My dad often tells me I am like a tree hugging Rambo. Hey, I can live with that.


            • Mike says:

              Much respect to Ms. Ida.

          • Mike says:

            Thanks for the “stupid” comment Jay. I have one question for all of you very informed “ranch” folk here? What if you couldn’t afford to pay “NEW” fees? I understand Jay, but did you go into buying, working, raising horses KNOWING that you’d have to pay $1,500 a year for feed? My question is this: Did the government PUT Clive Bundy in an impossible predicament by assessing new fees which he could not afford and endangered the existence of his ranch, his cattle, and therefore his livelihood? There are reports of 52 other ranchers who “gave up.” Did they “give up” because they could not afford the NEW fees? If so, could that not be construed as empirical evidence that the government’s aim is to get these ranchers to give up their land? Does anyone here have a business in which they would like to see government impose NEW fees on to pay for Obamacare or anything else they can dream up? At what point are you government-loving lemmings willing to say: “I can’t afford this. I’ve never had to pay this before, and making me do it now is unfair and could run me out of business.” ? I’m done here. There’s no talking to folks who can’t have an open mind for both sides and simply resort to name calling. I hope the government (and Monsanto) steals ALL of your lands.

            • Jay says:

              What new fee Mike? There is no new fee. AUM’s have always been dirt cheap, and probably always will.

              Let me ask you this, criminal defender: who guarantees me the right to continued affordable hay? If the market goes up, I have to pay it, or I get rid of my animals. I’m not promised anything, nor do I expect any promises that my hay will always be the same price. Bundy can go buy hay at market value like the rest of us if he can’t abide by the laws of the United States.

              funny how you conservative, capitalism-over-all types abandon the concept when you get the wrong side of its coin.

              • Mike says:

                Okay Jay,

                You win. Now you’re labeling me a “criminal defender.” You’re such a humanist Jay. Should’ve been a doctor with that kind of “bedside” manner. Missed your “callin’.” If it is too far fetched to suggest that a person who’s family has worked a ranch for some 140-odd years and perhaps “scraped by” (I don’t KNOW, do YOU?) all those years and would be “put out” by some new fees that came down the pike because some environmentalists and bureaucrats decided a turtle was more important than his livelihood or family security than there’s no talkin’ with you “non-conservative, captialism-over-all types,” I suppose. I don’t know Cliven Bundy personally. I do know the goddamned Federal Government personally though, and I know the level of corruption they’re capable of. Do you know Clive Bundy personally? Do you know him to be a criminal? I don’t know. All I know is that a MAN (working for BLM) would have gone to Mr. Bundy’s ranch unarmed and said: “Mr. Bundy,” we have a court order to effect. I’m sorry to tell you sir, but we’re going to have some cowboys round up your “trespass” cattle and move them off BLM land. You’re welcome to buy ’em back at auction. Now, Mr. Bundy, you know very well this court order prohibits you from interfering in this roundup. I have to inform you sir that you and anyone else including your family will be arrested if you interfere with the process of effecting this court order. I’ll have a few BLM Agents with me to protect the hands we’ve hired to round those cattle up. I’ll trust that you won’t interfere in any way ’cause if you do, we’ll have to make some calls and I’m sure that won’t lead to anything good to come out of it.” That’s what a MAN would have done Jay. But the Federal government doesn’t want to be cordial or neighborly in any way, shape, or form. They want to intimidate, insult, and if possible, RUIN any and all opponents to their agenda. And you my friend, are just one more willing “sheeple” that’s more than happy to go along with them. Well Jay, they’ll come for you too one day. Sure as the sun sets in the west… they’ll come for you too.

              • Jay says:

                I thought you were done Mikey?

              • Clutch says:


                There were no “new” fees; however, the number of AUM’s was cut from near 500 down to 150 in 1993 as a condition of his new 10-year grazing “permit” and I have heard ranchers say this kind of decrease in their annual sales would put them out of business. I believe its called an, “economy of scale”:

                —The cost advantage that arises with increased output of a product. Economies of scale arise because of the inverse relationship between the quantity produced and per-unit fixed costs—

                As well as the hard dollar loss when you lose over 2/3’s of your annual income (450 cut to 150).

                So I don’t think you are too far off the mark in this respect; however, the BLM did attempt a peaceful discussion with Bundy and the BLM even offered to round up the cattle and transport them to an auction house of his choosing and give all the earnings and he told them to pound sand. I am not sure what more you expect of the BLM, or anyone, when they have a court order allowing them to keep all auction revenue and instead they offer it to Bundy in a cooperative effort to avoid physical confrontation.

            • Yvette says:

              Mike, I respect that you changed your mind after getting facts. I noticed that earlier in the thread.

              Think of Bundy’s predicament like this; situations on the land changed from the time he first leased the federal land to when the desert tortoise was listed. Other changes have also happened; degraded streams and degraded land d/t over grazing. The situation changed and the law changed to protect the land. Bundy simply refused to comply with the legal changes that BLM and NFS tried to implement.

              • Mike says:

                Thank you Yvette for your kind comments. I realize “things change.” But imagine if the entire life you’ve ever known, changed so that it put you off your family’s land or out of business. I don’t know Cliven Bundy personally. I don’t know if he’s a millionaire or if he’s just “gettin’ by.” I would rather initially side with a CITIZEN over the Government EVERY TIME until I know the facts. Show me that Cliven Bundy is a deadbeat with millions in the bank and I’ll arrest the SOB myself! Show me a man who is desperate to hold onto what his family earned and handed down, and an oppressive government who likely “assessed” fees under the guise of saving a “turtle” (yes it’s a tortoise, not a turtle, I know) when they REALLY just wanted to obtain the land by hook or crook, and I’ll show you several MILLION American Citizens that will show up and change this Country back to it’s founding roots, for at least another another 238 years. God bless you and yours hon.

              • Ida Lupine says:

                I know how Mike feels too. There’s so many things that have contributed to degraded stream beds and land over the decades it’s hard to blame one rancher. There should still be a place for ranching in our culture, IMO. There’s legitimate concern for endangered species, and then there’s hiding behind an endangered species to further a political agenda, and I resent that this puts all environmentalists in a bad light, and puts in jeopardy the real plight of endangered species.

                And it still doesn’t answer why the BLM never pursued it to completion over two decades, and why the show of force now. Nor does it explain Harry Reid’s nepotism/cronyism and the rush to build solar and wind farms. Actually we know the so-called green push is part of the current administration. What a coincidence. The solar farm in question might be miles away, but I’m sure there are others in the works.

                That Jon Marvel sounds like a real character – a resort architect complaining about ranchers! Sounds even worse for ruining stream beds with wastes and land – talk about the cure being worse than the disease!

              • Jay says:

                “when they REALLY just wanted to obtain the land by hook or crook…”

                Enlighten us all Mike–it wasn’t the United States that defeated the Mexican army and forced the Mexican Cession of 1848, giving the United States much of the southwest, including all of Nevada? Are you suggestion Bundy and clan defeated the Mexicans to claim Nevada for his own, and that the U.S. is just trying to take it from him?

            • Sheila says:

              The grazing fee is $1.34. Grazing fees on private property is up to $16-$20 according to some websites.

  33. Joe says:

    Can someone clear this up – How many cattle from one rancher are allowed to graze ( I hear only 150 head per rancher ) and what the cost was ( I hear 1.53 per head including a calf ).

    If 150 head is all he’s allowed, then there could be an issue where you are impeding his rights to a livelihood.

    If 1.53 per head is the price, that would be about .0025 cents per pound per year. In other words, basically free.

    From what I have read, the State of Nevada seems to own the land, but at a point in time , they ceded control to the feds to manage it. Bundy never owned the land. Bundy refuses to pay the fee. Bundy has had his day in court.

    No doubt governments can shoot themselves in the foot. No doubt there is a solution to this problem. No doubt you can’t ignore the law.

    • Ralph Maughan says:


      It is a $1.35 per cow or cow with calf per month. That is almost free, especially compared to comparable private land.

  34. Gloria says:

    My husband and myself have owned land in Wyoming and Nebraska, in Wyoming we had BLM land, we had to pay a fee to run our cattle on it. Also it was open to the public if they wanted to hunt or hike on it, the only thing that kept it from being overrun by people was it was land locked by land we owned. In Nebraska we owned land next to school sections, we had to buy the improvements which were fences, windmills, tanks and what ever else was on the property to make it workable. We also had to pay a very high yearly lease and every so many years it would come up for bidding and anyone who owned land next to it could bid for the school section. If you were outbid they would have to pay us for the improvements. Nothing owned by the government is free.

  35. GPM says:

    A man that urinated on the Alamo gets 18 months in prison and a $4,000 fine. And, Mr. Bundy gets…….

    • MJ says:

      A man that urinated on the Alamo gets 18 months in prison and a $4,000 fine. And, Mr. Bundy gets……


  36. Oliver Starr says:

    Have you seen the ridiculous Faux news coverage on this? They’re claiming government overreach, saying he’s McInnes claimed that they’re using the excuse of an endangered tortoise to mess with his business. It’s par for the course I guess, but how do they justify reporting complete lies?

  37. Lonna O'Leary says:

    Thank you Ken Cole for writing this article. I have been wondering why this guy a rancher, would be at odds with the government. All the postings I’ve seen just ask u to support this rancher without giving any of the reason for the dispute at all. Just support him because it’s him against the government. I’m not that fond of what the government has done to wolves and a few other issues but before I support someone one way or the other I like to know all the details so I can make an informed decision. I appreciate your clarification on this issue.

    • rork says:

      I loved the “habitat, habitat” part (the guy was using 20th century management tactics – to hell with that nonsense) and the final quote from the neighbor.

      I’d almost like use of force on dickish pseudo-patriots who show up and break laws, but alternatives that endanger the innocent less may be available. Sadly too, mass jailings that result in hygenic improvement might breed more grass-root outlaws, some people being not-so-bright.

      • Greg says:

        Even better IMO, is the outright disdain for educated wildlife managers:

        “I’m sure most of the people being considered for his job graduated from a college. These people are the cause of the destruction of wildlife.”

        • Scotus says:

          “We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”

          Good Lord!

          • Ida Lupines says:

            I think this has been ultimately proven false – but we wanted equality!

        • Clutch says:

          I know plenty of people who have disdain for people with Masters and PhD’s…and I have worked with plenty of those degreed individuals who talk down to “common working folk” with equal disdain.

          Cliff Gardiner was 74 when he wrote that.

          In his later years, as the predator control program of immediate result-oriented poisoning efforts was replaced by “science based” management, Cliff Gardiner probably saw his share of young, know-it-all college grads with no ranching, farming or mining experience come out and tell old-timers with a lifetime of predator control experience that they didn’t know what they were doing.

          If people can’t understand the feeling of disenfranchisement of the blue-collar worker then they will have a very difficult time understanding the deep-seated anger that Bundy shares with many of his supporters around the country.

  38. Clutch says:

    This is a topic not explored and deserves some investigation:

    “Nevada Division of Water Resources records show Cliven Bundy has 11 grandfathered claims for water. They are located in Virgin River Valley and the Gold Butte area. Ten of the claims pertain to springs and the remaining one is for a creek.”

    And a fellow rancher states the reduction in AUM’s could adversely effect those Water claims:

    “Many of these AUMS are water based, meaning that the rancher also has a vested right (state owned, not federal) to the waters that adjoin the lands and allow the livestock to drink. These water rights were also purchased at a great price. If a rancher cannot show beneficial use of the water (he must have the appropriate number of livestock that drinks and uses that water), then he loses that water right. Usually water rights and forage rights go hand in hand.”

    • Clutch says:

      US vs. Wayne Hage Sr.

      Some similarities with Hage and Bundy (also some differences).

      My interest is purely in the issue of Water Rights…did the action by the BLM result in a loss of Bundy Water Rights?

      It appears this hinges, in part, as to when those Water Rights were granted:

      “noting that water rights in Nevada vesting before 1905 are
      2 unaffected by later-adopted water law and exist independently of stream adjudications, which
      3 concern only the scope of such rights.”

    • Jay_C says:

      Exactly…Since 1993 the BLM has forced the ranchers in southern Nevada out of business by limiting the acres on which cattle can graze, thereby reducing the number of cattle that can be on “federal land”, and charging grazing fees for the diminishing “privilege”. The effect has obviously (intentional or not) been to drive the ranchers out of business. Prior to these new federal rules, there were dozens of ranches in the area, now, he is the only one left. The others are gone. Realizing this, Bundy refused to pay grazing fees around 1993 as he wants to keep his business. Not enough cattle, as you say: “(he must have the appropriate number of livestock that drinks and uses that water), then he loses that water rights. Loose Loose for him. He chose the one and only thing that could keep him in business.

      • Clutch says:

        I am not attempting to make any claim or assumption–I do not know enough to have an opinion. I am only hopeful that someone can provide insight into the 11 Grandfathered Water Rights of Rancher Bundy.

        I do not know if these Water Rights are for use in his melon farming operation on his own 160 acres parcel or if they were for cattle on his expired BLM lease.

        • Bill in NC says:

          Water rights are granted by the state.

          Since they are federal, the BLM is not required to take into account any potential loss of water rights when setting the contract terms for the issuance of a grazing permit.

          As you note if Bundy had signed the new contract he would have received a buyout offer.

          • Clutch says:

            Thanks. But that still does not tell me the status of his Water Rights today and if they were placed in jeopardy by his loss of grazing permit.

            • Jay says:

              Reading Nevada water law, it appears water rights on public land are contingent upon a valid grazing permit:

              NRS 533.503  Restrictions on issuance of permit or certificate regarding appropriation to water livestock.
              1.  The State Engineer shall not issue a permit to appropriate water for the purpose of watering livestock unless:
              (a) The applicant for the permit is legally entitled to place the livestock on the lands for which the permit is sought, and:
              (1) Owns, leases or otherwise possesses a legal or proprietary interest in the livestock on or to be placed on the lands for which the permit is sought; or
              (2) Has received from a person described in subparagraph (1), authorization to have physical custody of the livestock on or to be placed on the lands for which the permit is sought, and authorization to care for, control and maintain such livestock;
              (b) The forage serving the beneficial use of the water to be appropriated is not encumbered by an adjudicated grazing preference recognized pursuant to law for the benefit of a person other than the applicant for the permit; and
              (c) The lack of encumbrance required by paragraph (b) is demonstrated by reasonable means, including, without limitation, evidence of a valid grazing permit, other than a temporary grazing permit, that is issued by the appropriate governmental entity to the applicant for the permit.

              • Ralph Maughan says:

                Thanks Jay,

                Since water rights are the truly valuable thing in this dry country with a big city trying to get more of them by hook or crook, Bundy really screwed himself by voiding his grazing permit.

                It seems he could make millions selling them to Las Vegas.

              • WM says:

                Always important to read all applicable provisions, including “abandonment” of a water right @ NRS 533.060.


                So if a right has already been adjudicated/permit issued, or if a documented right pre-dates provisions of a state code, and beneficial use of the water has been made (or documentable maintenance/improvements made) it might be tougher to lose it. So, if you have cows illegally grazing, and still using the water, does that mean the owner of the trespassing livestock still has the right, if no claim of abandonment has been made, or even if an abandonment claim is made but still within a 10 year window to reclaim?

              • Jay says:

                That’s where the lawyers come in. However, it looks like his claims were filed in Oct 1997; I don’t know when the BLM pulled his permit, but if prior to that, he may been issued a right in violation of Nevada law.

              • Jay says:

                Ralph, since his allotments are for watering stock–and their law indicates the amount of water to be used is specific to the number of cattle grazed–then they’re really only worth whatever the cost of water is for 100 or 150 cows, or whatever is specified in the water right.

              • Clutch says:


                Sir, thank you for this useful information. I greatly appreciate it.

              • Jay says:

                Clutch–my pleasure. I respect the fact you are willing to search for facts, rather than argue from opinion.

              • Clutch says:

                “So if a right has already been adjudicated/permit issued, or if a documented right pre-dates provisions of a state code, and beneficial use of the water has been made (or documentable maintenance/improvements made) it might be tougher to lose it. So, if you have cows illegally grazing, and still using the water, does that mean the owner of the trespassing livestock still has the right, if no claim of abandonment has been made, or even if an abandonment claim is made but still within a 10 year window to reclaim?”

                Thanks for that contribution.

                For those of you that are retired and have plenty of free time, there is some excellent reading here on this very topic:

                US vs Estate of Wayne Hage


              • MJ says:

                I am not a lawyer but did see a copy of:

                Plaintiff, v. CLIVEN BUNDY, Defendant.
                CV-S-98-531-JBR (RJJ)
                November 3, 1998, Decided
                November 4, 1998, Entered and Served

                On P.4:

                C. Federal Lands
                Bundy argues the federal [*13] government cannot have authority over lands “inside an admitted state.” See Motion to Dismiss (#4), p. 10. That argument must fail because federal lands located within states are federal territories under federal jurisdiction. The FLPMA provides:
                The term “public lands” means any land and interest in land owned by the United States within the several States and administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the Bureau of Land Management, without regard to how the United States acquired ownership, except —
                (1) lands located on the Outer Continental Shelf; and
                (2) lands held for the benefit of Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos.


            • Kevin Lewis says:

              It depends on the nature of the water rights and where the point of diversion and place of use is located. If Bundy has a stockwater right that is located on federal land, his only ability to maintain that right is through watering his stock. If his water right(s) are for raising crops and the point of diversion is on his private property, the current conflict has no effect on those rights. It gets more complicated if the point of diversion is on public land and the water is applied to a beneficial use private lands – still not germane to the current conflict.

              • Jay says:

                It appears all his water claims are for watering stock:

       (search for “Bundy, Cliven”)

              • Clutch says:

                Thanks to Jay’s helpful link:
       (search for Bundy, Cliven)

                It appears Bundy has 11 “Vested” Water Rights (VST) and according to the quoted below, “Vested” Water Rights “can be extremely valuable”.

                The State website does not make reference to these Rights having been “abandoned” suggesting they are still “active”:

                “Proof of continuous use is important in order to prove that a water right has not been forfeited or abandoned.”

                This would suggest they are for Bundy’s farming interest rather than for cattle on the Bunkerville Allotment.

                Can someone find an error in my interpretation?

                — But what about surface water rights that arose prior to 1905, artesian rights prior to 1913 and groundwater rights prior to 1939? Prior to Nevada’s water code, water users did not need to apply to the state to obtain water right permits. All that was necessary was that users diverted the water and placed it to beneficial use. Thus, persons who began using water before Nevada started issuing water right permits for the particular water sources still have valid water rights. Pre-code water rights are called “vested water rights.”

                Vested water rights can be extremely valuable because they have the earliest priority dates. That means that the owners of vested water rights may take water before junior water users when there is not enough water to satisfy all existing water rights from a particular source. Nevada is the driest state in the nation (measured by average annual precipitation), and thus vested water rights are highly coveted by Nevada water users.—


              • Jay says:

                Clutch–all those allotments are for watering stock from specific sources. Its not like they’re transferable to different areas for different purposes, so I’d argue they’re really not all that valuable other than to the next person who bring in cattle legally. Frankly, I think it’s a moot issue–the government has a right to enforce federal land laws, and its bundy’s own fault for defaulting on his grazing permit.

              • Clutch says:


                I am still missing something. Where did you guys find that these were “stockwater rights” and where did you discover the date 1997? Did I not fully explore that link you provided? My own research suggests “Vested” Water Rights had to be “claimed” prior to 1905 and that the only requirement was that the water be placed to beneficial use.

                As for a moot point, I am not attempting to make any point, I am strictly on a fact-finding mission.

                I am not sure I follow your statement, “its not like they are transferrable to different areas for different purposes”.

                Again, I rely on this link:


                —Vested water rights can be extremely valuable because they have the earliest priority dates. That means that the owners of vested water rights may take water before junior water users when there is not enough water to satisfy all existing water rights from a particular source. Nevada is the driest state in the nation (measured by average annual precipitation), and thus vested water rights are highly coveted by Nevada water users.—

                I first arrived in WY in 1984 and have had a layman’s interest in Water Rights since that time. I seem to recall the occasional headline of junior parties attempting to displace Senior “Rights”.

                Those senior “Right” holders were typically small-scale ranchers and farmers and the junior “rights” holders were typically very powerful interest groups who were not immune from using their political “influence” to further an agenda.

                Please do not misunderstand, I am not a conspiracy-type. Its not in my nature. I am just someone who likes to be thorough in my understanding of things before I draw any conclusions. 😉

              • Jay says:

                Clutch–after you click on the individual water right, there are several tabs that you can click with specifics for that tab.

                My point in that statement is that they are very specific rights for watering a specific number of cattle at a specific location. Again, I’m not a water right lawyer, but my interpretation is that regardless of whether Bundy sells or forfeits them, the next user would only be able to use them under the specified terms (certain number of legally grazed cattle from the specified spring or source) as written into the existing right. In other words, they’re only good to you if you plan on legally grazing cattle on that allotment.

              • Clutch says:

                Thanks for the instructions. I couldn’t get it to work on my iPad.

                Some of those “Permits” have a Priority Date of 01/01/1890. I wonder if the State employee performing the data entry just got lazy when leaving the others blank? The date 1890 would pre-date the Code and meet the qualification to be “Vested”.

                Wouldn’t the applicant have to provide some solid evidence to substantiate their claim of when “Beneficial Use” began?

                I would sure like to see the evidence offered.

                Again, I am not trying to prove a point, I don’t have an agenda, I am motivated by curiousity and enjoyment of seeing where the trail leads.

      • Clutch says:


        It does appear that those ranchers who were “run out of business” were compensated:

        “Around that time, there was a land swap between Nevada and the Federal Government where Nevada offered to buy the grazing allotments to set up a preserve to protect the desert tortoise in exchange for desert tortoise habitat that they could destroy for development. At the time, all ranchers who had allotments in the area were offered the chance to sell their allotments and did to the tune of roughly $5 million dollars. Mr. Bundy was not given the option of a buy-out for his allotment because he had forfeited his rights to it when he stopped paying his fees. Therefore, the permit was sold to Nevada for $375,000.00. Mr. Bundy now claims they are taking away his right to make a living, but as will be shown, he forfeited it all on his own.”

  39. Greg says:

    Putting aside the specifics of the current controversy, am I the only one that looks at the photo of the guy lying on the highway overpass with his assault rifle trained down on the crowd (assuming the LE officers, not the protesters, are his target) and says, “This isn’t the USA I know and want to live in”? Why is this guy not in jail?

    • Clutch says:

      Perhaps Law Enforcement is considering a more appropriate opportunity to arrest him. I do recall his identity was confirmed in a caption accompanying the photos.

  40. brian mcnary says:

    Having had Ralph M as an instructor once and being intimately acquainted with Mr. Marvel up in Hailey- I was not surprised at the tone of this piece. It is written by environmentalists- very avid environmentalists- which is ok.

    My problem with all of this was not addressed on the thread. Why is the Federal Government telling states what they can do within their borders? At what point does the Federal Gov return land to the care of state governments?

    The answer is apparently- never. The founders made a pretty good case for state rights using the federalist papers in explaining the roles of government as they saw them way back when they drew up the Constitution.

    I am for local rule. Which is to say- bureaucrats living in Maryland- should not have any say in how Nevada chooses to administer it’s lands.

    If you want to see how effective the Federal Gov is when managing land- just ask the American Indian.

    It’s high time the Federal Gov got out of state business. Turn over land to the states who have a vested interest and let them decide how to run and maintain land within their borders.

    What sayeth the envirocons?

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Brian McNary,

      Yes. I am well acquainted with Jon Marvel. He is my friend. I hope his retirement is going well. Mine is.

      It is too bad you did not take my class “Public Land Politics.” I started it because so many people are clueless about how we got and why keep our wonderful public lands — national parks and monuments, national forests, BLM lands and National Wildlife Refuges.

      The Federalist Papers discussed state rights and the often need for federal uniformity, not just states rights. The Constitution was written mostly to reduce states rights because nothing could get down under the Articles of Confederation, where states had full power.

      Bureaucrats in Maryland do not have a say in Nevada. You also seem not have learned that bureaucracy is not just a thing of government. All large businesses are bureaucratic and so are large non-profits too. I should add religions to that list, at least those that are churches rather than denominations. Bureaucracy is good, bad and indifferent. It depends. The states per se do not have a vested interest in land management. It is certain interest groups within a state that do. I add that the word “vested interest” is usually used in a negative way.

    • Yvette says:

      Brian, the hierarchy of how laws, and statutes pertaining to a multitude of issues varies. IMO, not all of those issues are best determined at the state or local level. In fact, most of our environmental and/or conservation issues would probably fall into decisions that should be based on a level larger than the local scale.

      Why? Natural systems don’t follow the man-made boundaries.

      Take watersheds, they are based on hydrology, not the boundaries of a state or town, and what an upstream state does in that watershed effects downstream users.

      Ecoregions fall in a similar category as watersheds since specific species will live in specific ecoreigons, and again, scale is of pertinent importance, not state, town, tribal, or any other manmade boundaries.

      I don’t understand the when the ‘state’s right’ crowd takes issues to the level of wanting all federal decisions out of their lives. Why not just start your own country? It’s not that I think all federal agencies do such a great job, because I don’t. However, if we left all conservation and environmental decisions up to each and every state we’d be in heck of a mess. This Bundy blunder directed me to read about the Taylor Grazing Act, and why it was codified in the first place. It was because the locals were not taking care of the land and were over grazing and degrading it.

      You asked, “at what point does the federal government return the land to the care of state governments?”

      Did the states ever have complete law over that land? I think the answer is no. Additionally, what would you propose to do with the 569 Tribes? They are sovereign nations within a nation. Their laws trumps state law, and the laws pertaining to those tribes are not uniform with each and every tribe. It varies depending on history and treaties.

      These are just a couple of examples of how turning over every American’s publicly owned lands to each state just wont’ work.

      I’m beginning to think our conservation and environmental laws might be better if based on ecosystems rather than state, federal or tribal laws. Everyone within that ecosystem would be forced to work together. It won’t happen in my lifetime.

      • Jay_C says:

        “I don’t understand the when the ‘state’s right’ crowd takes issues to the level of wanting all federal decisions out of their lives. Why not just start your own country? It’s not that I think all federal agencies do such a great job, because I don’t. However, if we left all conservation and environmental decisions up to each and every state we’d be in heck of a mess.”

        No true… The States that do a better job than others set an example for others to follow.

        That is one of the main arguments for States Rights. Multiple experiments taking place, and the best ideas rise to the top, other states adopt on their own. I hope you have enough faith in the American people to do what is right.

        • Yvette says:

          “I hope you have enough faith in the American people to do what is right.”

          Taken as a whole, I most certainly do not.
          + State “management” of wolves.
          + State “management” of coyotes.
          + State trapping laws.
          + Do you remember the events in West, TX at the fertilizer plant one year ago? Regulations, if there were any, were not enforced.
          + Barnhart, TX has run out of water due to drought, but sold remaining water to fracking operation. They are dry. Cows are dead.
          + Mayflower, AR: still not cleaned up from Tar Sands pipeline break.
          + Gulf of Mexico, still not clean after BP disaster.
          + Prince William Sound, still not clean 25 years post Exxon-Valdez spill. How long were peoples’ rights argued in court? Decades.
          + Duke Energy dumps, yes dumps, toxic coal ash in the Dan River.

          So no, I do not believe people, Americans or anyone else, will ‘do the right thing’. Some do, but most will do whatever they think they can get by with, either willfully or by ignorance.

          Trust me, I don’t like a load of regulations, and I do think many times regulators (state and federal) will choke on a gnat trying to swallow an elephant, but I do not believe most humans are ethical enough to ‘do the right thing’.

          • Greg says:

            My view of humanity is not as pessimistic, but I do think it is important to point out that in a capitalist system it is to one’s advantage to externalize costs to maximize profits. Dumping untreated waste in the river and overgrazing are two examples of “costs” that are paid by the rest of us, while the benefits accrue solely to the company or rancher.

            In 1972, the externalizing of costs in the form of water pollution got so bad that our rivers were actually burning(!)… AND a Republican president (Nixon) signed into law the Clean Water Act. This was a clear rebuke of the idea that we could “leave it to the states.”

            It makes a nice slogan, but Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” wasn’t able to put out those fires. It took federal regulation.

          • Ralph Maughan says:

            I don’t think that in general it can be proven whether states runs things better or the federal government. It depends on the issue, and often on the particular state.

            However, individual interests whether one person or a group interest, can decide which they favor, and it is very often they choose the arena they think they will do the best in.

            I am cynical of people who say they are ideologically attached to one or the other because I see they will quickly abandon their “principles” when they see an advantage to choosing the opposite level of government.

            As for public land, one look at how Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming manage their state lands (and I have taken many “looks”)and I wouldn’t want them to have another acre. Their management becomes flat out management in the interest of the well placed extractive groups (mining, logging and grazing) with no concern for the future or for other land users.

        • MJ says:

          Not true… The States that do a better job than others set an example for others to follow.

          That is one of the main arguments for States Rights. Multiple experiments taking place, and the best ideas rise to the top, other states adopt on their own. I hope you have enough faith in the American people to do what is right.

          I so wish that was reliably true, but it depends on the environemental issue. In theory, the states should do the right thing and if that fails there may be federal actions or protections. In the case of wildlife protection, predator species and other species that depend on public lands, the weight of political power lies heavily with powerful state interests, including ranching and energy extraction for the lands. Trophy hunting is a means to this end. The voter is left to their outrage.

          If left to their own devices, certain states (eg Idaho, Montana) could completely remove apex predators and then kill off the overpopulated prey species that followed. States such as Nevada could remove the wild mustangs without consequence. Environmental consequence if allowed? We could be left with dry habitats and rodents (studies have been done). Environmental decisions are made by politicians first, environmentalists second.

          The honor system in politics just isn’t a real option. Both federal and state governments have corruption and special interests but there has to be checks and balances.

      • Jay_C says:

        “I don’t understand the when the ‘state’s right’ crowd takes issues to the level of wanting all federal decisions out of their lives. Why not just start your own country? It’s not that I think all federal agencies do such a great job, because I don’t. However, if we left all conservation and environmental decisions up to each and every state we’d be in heck of a mess.”

        Not true… The States that do a better job than others set an example for others to follow.

        That is one of the main arguments for States Rights. Multiple experiments taking place, and the best ideas rise to the top, other states adopt on their own. I hope you have enough faith in the American people to do what is right.

        • Jay_C says:

          The Uniformity you speak of, takes place by states adoption of of good ideas from other states.

        • Greg says:

          If states existed in a vacuum, I might agree with you. But the National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, and BLM lands are a “commons,” which I “own” as much as Mr. Bundy. I pay taxes and elect representatives who enact laws and enforce regulations to manage that land for multiple uses in a sustainable manner.

          Without federal regulation you get the Tragedy of the Commons: “Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”

          • Jay_C says:


            ” which I “own” as much as Mr. Bundy”

            does that include “water rights”? he owns those for that land.

            Also, @Yvette, @Greg..

            Bringing up the worst examples (the exception) of an issue doesn’t make it the rule.

            I agree that States and Local Government make mistakes, but so do the Feds. (FDR’s Japanese American internment Camps are just one example)

            Examples of negative State / local behavior is always easier to find than positive, even if it is the exception to the rule. The News media has a lot to do with that, its not their fault really, that is their business, but we forget about the good. Nobody cares when things are run well by a state or local government.

            • Clutch says:

              I am very impressed with the quality of contributions and discussions on this forum–yet, no one has been able to offer clarity on Bundy Water Rights.

              Can anyone help me with this subject?


            • Yvette says:

              Jay_C, I think MJ said it, “there has to be checks and balances.”

              I think I fluctuate in a middle zone on whether laws and regulations are best at the state or federal level. First, there isn’t a perfect system of government since government and its structure and laws are formed by humans. There is so much corruption when dealing with humans at any level. We must work to keep corruption in government to a minimum. It is in all of our’s best interest to attempt to keep special interests groups in check, whether it is the powerful livestock industry, oil & gas industry, or PETA.

              The structure of our government seems to be a pretty good design, but it will only work optimally if all of us work to maintain the checks and balances between the different government levels.

              Believe me, I do not want any level of government in my life. LOL, I won’t even live in one of those neighborhoods where they have a homeowners association telling me how high to keep my grass and what colors I can paint my house.

      • Mike says:

        Wow! Completely and unexpectedly… AGREED!

    • CodyCoyote says:

      Brian- federal lands do on occasion revert to the States or even private hands these days. there have been several instances of Federal—> State or Federal—Private land swaps in my Cody Wyoming area. Many negotiated by nature Conservancy. Almost all done for wildlife habitat improvement and/or winter range consolidation.

      I also cite the current deal to release two State land full sections ( 640 acres each of School Trust lands inside Grand Teton National Park and currently used for private grazing ( inside a national park! ) to the State of Wyoming for both money and a land swap of federal land elsewhere.

      Personally speaking, from experieince and observations on the ground for 40+ years, the very LAST folks I would want managing my large tracts of open public lands inside Wyoming’s borders would be my State Land Board, State Oil and Gass Commission , State Forester, Game and Fish Department, or others. The state land manafers and resource regulators have proven time and time again ehre theyc annot be trusted to uphold the opublic’s best interests, and give wildlife the short shrift in most cases. Why ? —because they sell out to special interests in the extractive industries, and inf act are political tools of those same industries.

      Consequentially I have to say that States are more degrading to stewardship and conservation than the complementary Federal land managers and resource regulators. Nowhere is this more apparent than with grazing.

      Sorry to burst your bubble.

  41. California says:

    Yes, please tell the people of North Carolina how the states do such a great job of keeping their water clean and drinkable, and not allowing Duke Energy to pollute their rivers. I’m sure they will absolutely agree with your statement.

  42. Brian McNary says:

    Dear Ralph;

    Thanks for your reply. I suspected that you might very well support the Federal Government’s positions. My position is simple. States should administer lands within their borders.

    Not that I don’t trust an interpretation by an environmentalist with regard to the Federalist Papers- I defer to a constitutional scholar for advice. As I was beginning to write my question, I stumbled onto this one. I am awaiting her reply to this. (Publius Huldah)

    My dear PH,

    I live out in the west and am watching the Bundy issue with quite a bit of interest. I have a very sincere and serious question for you. In the constitution of Nevada the state government recognizes federal land. When Utah, Idaho and Wyoming (at least, probably others) were admitted into the union, the federal government claimed large portions of land within the states’ boundaries. So, wasn’t that agreement outside of the scope of the constitution? If not, it would mean that there is more than one type or status of a state. One in which the federal government has to abide by the limited lands as describerd in the constitution and one that says they can do whatever they want within the state boundaries. Governor Herbert (Utah) says that the federal government agreed to give the land to the states “later”. I didn’t hear him say when “later” was. I think that time was not specified but I am trying to find out. If the agreement to make these states is outside the constitutional limits, then are the states really states, since the agreement to make them states was not constitutional? Do the states have claim to the land, since the governemt agreed to give it to them “later”? And who decides on what “later” means? We are trying to get our federal lands (in Utah) from the feds but the environmentalists are really fighting that. It would seem that the “federal lands” are not and never legally were “federal lands”. If that is the case then the lands rightfully belong to the states. So, is Bundy right? The land never really belonged to the federal government since they can constitutionally own only as much land as it takes to do their job? Or is the federal government right, they have a different constitutional agreement with the western states? I have heard some say that the federal government should “sell” their land to the states but why should a state have to purchase something that was always theirs since the federal government could not have owned it in the first place? Thanks, IMO.

  43. Clutch says:

    Where did everybody go?

    I will make this last post for posterity.

    The most recent filing date for 11 Water Rights was 10/23/1997. On that date, Cliven Bundy was added as co-owner. Prior to that date, the owner was listed as Keith Nay. Keith Nay died less than one month later, on 11/17/1997 at the age of 63. Wife was Marilyn but Keith being “old school” was smart enough to keep his wife’s name off the record.

    In a news article, Nay is listed as Bundy’s neighbor.

    Now will someone please tell me where you all have gone 😉

    • Clutch says:

      1575 Head of Cattle.

      The total combined acreage data for the 11 Vested Stock Water Rights allows for 1575 Head of Cattle.

      That is no “small” amount of water.

    • Mike says:

      That was a great article Clutch. Thanks for posting it. The “timeline” version of the story was particularly informative.

      Interesting about Cliff Gardner:

      “One Elko County rancher, Cliff Gardner, has decided to take his case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that states’ rights mean the federal government has no authority over the land where his cattle graze.”

      “March 2002: Cliff Gardner is sentenced to a month in a Reno halfway house, along with a $5,000 fine and a year of probation. He has been under house arrest for the three previous months for not taking his cattle off of federal land.”

      “Bundy also says he has a virtual army of supporters from all over the country ready to protect him. He also has Gardner. “I think Cliven is taking a stand not only for family ranchers, but also for every freedom-loving American, for everyone,” Gardner said. “I’ve been trying to resolve these same types of issues since 1984. Perhaps it’s difficult for the average American to understand, but protecting the individual was a underlying factor of our government. … My support is that I am determined to stand by the Bundy family in any fashion it takes regardless of the threat of life or limb.”

  44. Ida Lupines says:

    I had to smile, but can’t take the credit for a comment I read where the commenter said something to the effect of thank goodness those who have defaulted on their student loans for years don’t open the front door to find an armed agent on the doorstep one day and a sniper on the roof across the street! 🙂

    • Clutch says:


      I do recognize the humor in that quip about defaulted student loans. One notable difference is Cliven Bundy could get any judgement against him erased through bankrupcy–not the case for holders of student loans.

      My understanding of the Bundy “round-up” attempts is not so much an attempt by the BLM to collect an outstanding debt as it is to end the continued trespass on Public Land in an effort to abate any further destruction to the ecosystem and initiate mitigation efforts and to remove road hazards of stray cattle in Recreational Land.

      If the BLM was interested in the collection of a debt, then it doesn’t seem likely they would have offered Bundy all the proceeds of the sale: “According to testimony, federal agents attempted to broker a deal involving the Clark County Sherriff that would allow cattle to be wrangled and transported to a sales market of the Bundy family’s choosing and allow the family to keep all proceeds. Court filings referenced Cliven Bundy’s assertion that any such action to round up cattle could lead to a “range war.”

      I know, you were just telling a joke. I need to lighten up 😉

  45. Lon says:

    One of the problems the opposing sides have of this are the definition of “My Property”. As with many of the western ranchers having grazing rights makes it My Property to them. It doesn’t matter that they were renting it’s use from the government for years, by having it available it became “my property”. They are adamant about it because if the Feds stop letting them rent it the portion that actually belongs to them, as in they paid for it, becomes basically useless. It was a common practice to buy every other section, and then lease the rest of the checkboard. If you loose the rights to the leased portion the actually owned portion becomes impossible to get to and thus impossible to use. The feds don’t need an excuse other than not paying the grazing fee which in this case amount to $1.35 per head per month. His refusal to pay this nominal sum doesn’t make this rented property his as far as the Feds are concerned. The feds failure to provide upkeep doesn’t give him an excuse to not pay it, but it also doesn’t make it ranch property either.

  46. Clutch says:

    @ Mike:

    “I think I understand the position of all sides here; Right or wrong, the Federal Government manages that land, conservationists have a concern and their jobs to do, ranchers have a concern over their livelihood and their rights, perceived or not. What I think is more important than cattle or tortoises is trying to once again unify the people of this country. We’ve not been a unified nation since WWII and it just seems to get worse and worse every year and it also seems that our government sometimes goes out of it’s way to make it worse.”

    Mike, I sure don’t find fault with anything you have written in that statement. We had all better start trying to understand the motivations of those with other views than our own if we ever hope to unite our Country again.

    I think this thread gets closed at 300 posts and we are getting close to that number.

    Thanks to the author and all the participants who made contributions to help us all understand this event a bit better.

    • Mark L says:

      Clutch says,
      “What I think is more important than cattle or tortoises is trying to once again unify the people of this country”

      Well said. I think there are some that think its cool to resist being ‘team players’ regardless of who the coach is at the time (and coaches do change).

  47. Clutch says:


    Thank you for taking the time to offer me your insight.

    BTW, I read “Cadillac Desert” when it first came out…about a lifetime ago it seems now.

    Concerning Bundy’s stock Water Rights, I understand they wouldn’t have value to Bundy to sell since retirement of all AUM’s in the Bunkerville Allotment; however, its not clear to me what happens to them now? Do Junior Water Rights holders now have a larger quantity of water available for their Beneficial Use? For instance, the gold courses in that area? Or possibly aquifer Rights holders?

    Someone will benefit when those Vested Water Rights expire 5 years after Bundy’s trespass cattle are no using it, any guess who that will be?

    Thanks again, WM

  48. Clutch says:


    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have had a layman’s interest in Water Rights since my arrival to WY in the early 80’s.

    What alot of people have missed is a good part of Bundy’s “Constructive Notice & Demand for Protection” dated 11/27/1998 references his Water Rights as a defense.

  49. Chris says:

    I knew a little about the issues surrounding Nevada’s entry into the union, and some about the land transfers around the Hoover Dam, but until I became aware of the Sagebrush Rebellion (in some reading about this standoff), I was unaware that up until the late thirties or forties (19), the federal government had been trying as hard as it could to give its federal lands back to the western states, and they didn’t want them. I think the government gave up, and then just established agencies to oversee them. Once that management of the land was institutionalized, I imagine that the impetus to cede off the land disappeared.

    I also imagine that given the choice, Nevada might still decide that it just doesn’t want that land. It’s just a few ranchers who have decided that it would be advantageous to them if they the free use of the acreage, although I doubt that they would elect to buy it at anything approaching fair cost.


April 2014


‎"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