A closer look at “sagebrush rebel” Ken Ivory of Utah

SL Tribune raises a question about his motives-

Whenever public officials in the West gather to talk about “taking back” (transferring) the U.S. public lands to state ownership, the name Ken Ivory is likely to show up.

We first first heard of this Utah state legislator about two years ago. He has been traveling to a number of Western states to spread the message and apparently to recruit county commissions into signing up their counties (at a hefty fee) to support the movement. “Cody Coyote” from Park County, Wyoming first alerted us to this method of joining in a lengthy comment to the earlier Wildlife News article “Federal public land equals freedom to roam.”  An interesting question is how many county commissions asked their constituents, or even told them they had taken such a controversial step?

Now Paul Rolly of the Salt Lake Tribune has taken a closer look at Ken Ivory and his concern about the federal government owning these lands instead of the states. Ivory likes to point to the Constitution as his motivation. So does Cliven Bundy, and apparently too at least one of his children who cited the document as justification for illegally riding his ATV up a closed trail in the Native American ruins area of Recapture Canyon in SE Utah.

Despite the talk about the Constitution, it looks like the word of the Framers is only part of the equation.

Here is the story. Rolly: Lawmaker’s constitutional causes earn him money. By Paul Rolly. The Salt Lake Tribune. First Published May 24 2014.



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  1. Kathleen Avatar

    Ivory was invited to Hamilton, MT by one of the county commissioners (a county whose governance is in shambles, BTW) not too long ago.

    His appearance was preceded by a program on the “new Sagebrush Rebellion” delivered by a University of Montana forestry professor and natural resource policy expert whose appearance in Hamilton was apparently not deemed worthy of news coverage in the local paper. However, MT public radio carried an interview with him.

  2. MJ Avatar

    Thank you for this important information. Hard to say what the next chapter will be in this.

  3. Greta Hyland Avatar
    Greta Hyland

    There is so much more to this. If interested

    1. Marc Avatar

      Great website, Greta! I found the historic map of the original state of Nevada particularly interesting, as it doesn’t include Cliven Bundy’s Clark County. I knew the area had once been part of New Mexico Territory, but I had to do some searching to see what happened at Nevada statehood.
      Apparently, contrary to history according to Ivory and Bundy, it was the Feds who transferred jurisdiction to Nevada! (I assume that this didn’t cede any Federal land ownership rights.) Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia on Pah-Ute County:
      On May 5, 1866, the United States Congress approved legislation transferring the portions of Pah-Ute and Mohave counties west of the Colorado River and west of 114 degrees west longitude to the state of Nevada. The assignment took effect on January 18, 1867.

  4. Zach Avatar

    If anyone watched the Idaho Republican debate a couple of weeks ago, Otter was on record saying Idaho would never get or seek Federal Land transfer because it’s too expensive and Idaho doesn’t have the budget to do so. Watch it.

    1. alf Avatar

      That’s the point I tried to make, although probably not very well, when I commented on George Weurthner’s post of 21 May, titled “Wildfire and Forest health : Myths and Reality” :

      “Much to his credit — although I hate to give him any credit for anything — Idaho governor Butch Otter admitted during the much-publicized debate with the other 3 candidates for his office last week, when questioned by one of the other idiots about his position on “taking back”(?) the federal lands and the state “managing” them, that the state simply can’t afford to. As an example, he stated that wildfires in Idaho cost “the government” $200,000,000 last year, of which the state only had to pay $14,000,000, with the feds picking up the rest.”

      1. Zach Avatar

        That debate was heavily mocked by citizens all around the country. What he said gave me a tiny bit of hope.

        1. Yvette Avatar

          That was the most bizarre political debate I’ve ever seen. The old dude that wanted to ‘take back’ the land responded to Otter by saying logging and mining would pay for all of the state’s needs. Phew, and I thought Oklahoma was full of political bizarros.

          1. alf Avatar

            Pay for all the state’s needs, indeed ! His pencil is about as sharp as his brain — but probably not as sharp as the point on his head.

            Most of the agitation to grab the federal lands is coming from up north, on the panhandle, where the timber is. The private timberlands up there have been absolutely decimated, the existing state timberlands have also been way over cut; and thanks in no small part to political pressure (read ex U.S. senators Jim McClure and “Fairy” Larry Craig), the federal timber lands aren’t really all that much better off.

            But they want to get the rest. So after they’ve slicked off the last stick big enough to make a fence rail, grazed the grass down to bare dirt, and strip-mined any and everything they think they might make a buck, from what are they going to do with it ? I’ll give you a hint : turn it back over to the feds, and bitch and moan until the feds give them yet more (again) welfare in the form of PILT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes), etc.

  5. Marc Avatar

    Late-breaking news from Otero County, NM’s representative on the American Lands Council:

    LET’S R O R Rally For Our RIGHTS.

    10:00 a.m. Saturday, May 31, 2014

    3463 Las Palomas Rd, Alamogordo, NM 88310

    As ranchers, loggers, miners, hunters, trappers, fishermen, energy producers and all of us from across the West fight for our existence
    please join us to peacefully







    Supported by the Otero County Cattle Growers
    New Mexico Cattle Growers

    Come Join US!!!

  6. Rosemary Lowe Avatar

    This guy is one of a growing number of fanatical state’s rights, anti-government, get rid of public lands, anti-wildlife, efforts across the west. These public lands moochers love the federal government as long as they can get their cheap subsidies, and call on the infamous Wildlife “Services” killers to slaughter native animals. It is time to “draw the line in the sand” as Abbey said, and those who really care about The Wild had better start getting some intestinal fortitude. These lawless, gun-toting good ol” boys have a great tradition of violence, and love to kill. Hey, all you sweet, “let’s get along with the enemy” people, who claim to be for The Earth and her animals–do you think holding hands and compromising with these public lands trespassers and animal killers will help save our wild lands? Think again. The animals are losing out there–enough compromise. Let’ declare War against these sociopaths.

  7. snaildarter Avatar

    I agree these guys work the farm bill and the DOA for a handout then trash the Federal Government when things don’t go exactly their way. They seem to forget that the government is trying to protect wildlife and habitat because other Americans are pushing it to. I think its called democracy, where you have to compromise to make the government work for everyone. Duh!!!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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