Cliven Bundy types ignore drought and law in Northern Nevada

Scoflaw ranchers turn out livestock on parched public lands-

Battle Mountain, Nevada –  Following in Cliven Bundy’s lead, ranchers in Battle Mountain, Nevada have defied drought closure orders and yesterday turned livestock onto the North Buffalo allotment managed by the Battle Mountain District of the Bureau of Land Management. Despite ongoing good faith negotiations by the agency and conservation organizations to authorize limited turnout in a different allotment this year, the Filippini family has apparently decided their livestock operations are above the law.

“It’s unbelievable, really, but not surprising, given the fact that Bundy’s cows are still trashing desert tortoise habitat over a year after armed militias defied government closures,” said Ken Cole, Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. “The BLM is enabling this kind of behavior by coddling Nevada ranchers who are surely emboldened by the lack of law enforcement within the agency and the lack of a commitment on behalf of our government to protect the public trust – the lands, waters, and wildlife that are already suffering from the drought and will now be further abused by these private cows.”

The Battle Mountain ranchers have even set up a Facebook page, “Stand with Battle Mountain” to generate support for their open defiance of the BLM’s authority to close these allotments for resource protection where they have posted pictures of the release of cattle onto the allotment. There has been ongoing opposition to the BLM staff, including a protest across the street from BLM offices. Instead of offering support for the local employees following rulings by an Administrative Law Judge that upheld the drought closure decisions on the North Buffalo allotment and the adjacent Argenta allotment, the only action from the national office has been to send a temporary State Director to Nevada to try to cut a deal with the scofflaw ranchers. 

“It’s sick, really. We’re ceding control of important public lands to private interests, an allotment at a time,” said Cole. “The ranchers generate public sympathy for their custom and culture, all the while despoiling the land, wildlife, and water and disregarding the laws that govern the heavily-subsidized grazing permits they feel so entitled to.”

Updated 6/5/2015 Order Granting Govts MSJ 11-27-13

North Buffalo Allotment with land ownership overlay.
North Buffalo Allotment with land ownership overlay.
Drought Monitor Index for May 26, 2015
Drought Monitor Index for June 2, 2015







  1. Ken Cole Avatar

    These people have some pretty messed up friends.

    Also, this area is very important for sage grouse. The riparian areas in the area have been irreparably harmed by grazing that has occurred since the drought began.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      I see their Facebook page big picture shows cattle on the range. It doesn’t say they are standing in ripening cheatgrass.

      When they get a little rain (as recently) in the middle of a long drought, the cheatgrass will take all the new moisture and turn it into impressive (for a month) grass. I think this is what they are crowing about.

    1. Rich Avatar


      Thanks for sharing the article about scofflaw ranchers and officials in Nevada destroying our public lands by their illegal actions. Their complaints about the cheat grass monoculture they have created through their own overgrazing and abuse of our public lands are especially amusing. And the contention that the ungrazed grass was “endangering sage grouse habitat” and “destroying habitat and wildlife” is laughable. And why does the grass burn every year? It burns because the native plant ecosystem has been replaced by a monoculture of cheat grass due to misuse of our public lands by overgrazing. And of course the more the lands are abused the worse the conditions become. We’ve seen it all before when the Dust Bowl was caused by poor land management. It is time to respect scientific research and support good stewardship that will protect, restore and preserve our public lands for all Americans and our wildlife that depend on them. Illegal actions of a few people who ignore unbiased scientific research and make their own rules is just another form of destructive and useless anarchy.

  2. Henry Blake Avatar
    Henry Blake

    Understand that the cattle may be “trashing desert tortoise habitat”, but why is there increase in the desert tortoise population on cattle run land?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Henry Blake,

      There is no tortoise increase.

      1. MAD Avatar

        Let’s for argument sake say that desert tortoise #s have increased in cattle-run land (which I personally don’t believe).

        First, have these #s been verified by scientists or qualified herpetologists, or is this another anecdotal claim similar to “the wolves are decimating the elk, moose, caribou, muledeer herds”?

        Second, if it is indeed true, what are the environmental conditions present that are causing the increase, and is this directly attributable to the presence of cattle?

        Third, if the conditions are directly related/caused by cattle presence, is there another way to achieve this state-condition without the use of cattle?

        Fourth, are tortoises the only species benefitting from the presence of cattle? In the alternative, what species have declined or are negatively impacted at the same time because of cattle presence? My point being is that if 25 species of plants and animals, as well as the overall health of the local ecosystem, are impacted negatively, then this clearly offsets or negates the alleged increase in tortoises.

        Fifth, if true, what level of increase are we talking about regarding the tortoise, which populations are increasing and/or decreasing, and what is the overall status of the desert tortoise?

        These are all complex questions that need to be addressed by qualified people, and not thrown about like barbs and taunts -like those used by folks like Toby Bridges, Scott Rockholm, and Tom Remington.

        1. Henry Blake Avatar
          Henry Blake

          @MAD, All these are good points. When the environmental aspect of an event, such as Bundy, is somewhat secondary to other causes, such as issues of excessive force, political gain, states rights, and such, it may be beneficial to look at the real environmental cost of that local event and see if the specific environmental damage is more costly than the loss of other human concerns at stake. There are many of us who respect and wish to better the environment but feel we have a multi-issue battle to fight. So if the tortoise is the main concern here and, in this locality, it is not as impacted as some claim because of the cattle, I submit that strong opinions detrimental to other issues only be based on the known and documented effects of cattle. As you say, there is some, but not any certain indication of the end result of cattle on the tortoise population.

  3. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    I never worked for the BLM in Nevada, but I can tell you that when the agency made decisions in Oregon, they made them based on the land use plan and the overall current conditions of the landscape. The district manager is well aware of the outcome of his decisions and I’m sure he did not make them in haste.

    The temporary state director is a former Elk District Manager so he is quite familiar with grazing practices and was probably a great choice to fill in behind the vacating person. There is an old saying when working for the federal government, “when both sides are unhappy, we must be doing something right”.

    1. WM Avatar

      What we are witnessing is a disgusting D “political” solution to an otherwise legal problem – grazing in violation of federal law.

      And, it all has to do with power shifts to and from D’s and R’s, in the coming Senatorial election to replace Harry Reid (D). This is one of several key races in the Senate now narrowly held by the R’s.

      This needs to get fixed and Bundy, and a few others off federal land which they do not have a legal right to occupy.

  4. Yvette Avatar

    It’s too bad these ranchers aren’t Indian. BLM would have removed their trespass livestock 20 years ago. They would have been fined and they would pay or have been sent to prison. The inequality that BLM has shown Cliven Bundy hand like minded ranchers as to the treatment of Mary and Carrie Dann is beyond disgusting. And the Dann sisters were actually on treaty land that was legally still Shoshone. Nor were the Dann sisters on critical habitat.

    If anyone should be in prison it is Cliven Bundy. The BLM has opened a Pandora’s Box by letting that POS slide by with zero consequences. Political? Damn straight it is and it is outright racist. That is just the way the system works in this so called ‘Christian’ nation. Disgusting.

    1. WM Avatar


      The claims against Bundy by the US were for civil (not criminal) trespass and for damages as a result of his over staying his BLM lease.

      While I can understand and appreciate the emotional argument, I don’t believe either Bundy or any other trespasser would be criminal in nature for this kind of claim, even Native Americans.

      That said, I would be among the first who would love to see Bundy’s sorry ass jailed and all of his assets liquidated to satisfy the several outstanding judgments against him. And, yeah, it is political at this juncture. Do remember the Clark County Sheriff was supposed to intercede and do some kind of settlement. Guess we know how that’s going.

      I don’t understand why the US has not gone back to Court to tell the judge what has happened over the last year, and seek further legal remedies which I think it would be hard to ignore. Get the Marshal Service out there. Less baggage than BLM Keystone cops or FBI, and hey some of these redneck Bundy supporters are probably watching forty year old reruns of Gun Smoke in their spare time, so they would sort of understand the concept.

      1. Marc Bedner Avatar

        Even if the original claim against Bundy was civil, isn’t it a criminal violation to take up arms against the Federal government (or, more prosaically, to threaten a Federal law enforcement officer)?

        1. WM Avatar

          We keep waiting for criminal charges to be filed; there has been an investigation under way for over a year. But, as I understand it, Bundy still has security entourage of armed goons. And, the last things the D’s want is for a “range war” to start with national election primaries and ultimately votes for a President and some Senate seats not too far off in the future.

        2. Henry Blake Avatar
          Henry Blake

          @Marc, It is only a violation of federal law if specific laws are broken. Having an armed presence is not taking up arms against the Federal Government. Having arms to defend yourself against the Federal Government is not taking up arms. Actually defending yourself against the many armed Federal agents present at the Bundy episode would be a tough call. It would depend on whether the Federal agents acted lawfully. who was being threatened there? The Bundy’s or the Federal agents? The agents were the first to use tasers.

  5. skyrim Avatar

    It truly is disgusting Yvette. However I have a strong feeling that something is going to happen here to make this right. The government doesn’t like anything that smells like anarchy, and this mess is about to spill over into a big one soon.

  6. Yvette Avatar

    I hope you’re right, skyrim. I agree that the government doesn’t like any anarchists but fail to understand why Bundy’s situation was allowed to escalate to the point of hundreds of armed militia to protect him against. I’m not even against the idea of citizens being able to stand up against their government with a militia other than the fact that in America the militias seem to mostly be far right thinkers. It appears that the lack of action against Bundy has emboldened others. I doubt there will be any corrective action from the Obama administration. It’s political. It’s political. It could easily turn into anther Waco or Ruby Ridge. Given the growing political division that got a dose of steroids when we elected a Black man for President any action from the Obama administration against an old rancher with a army of militia men (most all White and right) would be a nightmare. It’s bizarre.

  7. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    It does seem a little silly because behind the scenes, lobbies are working with politicians above the BLM to ensure that their interests are looked after. A little teapot tempest or two, or shooting cattle, probably they believe will satisfy the public, and then everything goes back to the way it was. No wonder ranchers believe they can do whatever they want, because they can.

    I am truly sorry about the Dann sisters and the way other native peoples continue to be treated, all minority groups are treated better. I believe it has to do with, as always, land ownership.

    1. WM Avatar

      ++ I believe it has to do with, as always, land ownership.++

      That, Ida, is what almost ALL suppressions, revolutions, power conflicts and wars are about. I get so annoyed when people seem to simplistically believe and state these issues are confined to some sort of “racist” agenda. Think the conflicts in Europe that went on for centuries Germany, France, the Papal states of Italy. Or, Asia, China, India and the rest of the entire world. Same was true in the Native American world long before Europeans came. They fought over the most productive areas to live, fish, hunt and gather, all the time some tribes taking slaves and doing their own massacres on occasion.

      1. Yvette Avatar

        Ida and WM, good observations and excellent perspective. The ethnicity was likely second to the land ‘owernship’. It boils down to these people (who are likely different from these other people) have power (ownership) over what we want. Ba da bing—-war or holocaust or genocide or slavery or subjugation of some sort. The racist or ethnicity aspect is a secondary force (in some cases) that one group applies to justify their actions to overtake a resource or land that that group desires.

  8. D.R. Patterson Avatar
    D.R. Patterson

    As a Nevada sportsman, I support the local BLM’s hard decisions on drought management to conserve wildlife and public lands habitat.

    The Filippini’s illegal grazing violation is a risk to Sage Grouse and DoI/states ‘avoid ESA listing’ strategy.

    If this illegal activity won’t be stopped on public lands, how will controversial plans ever be effectively implemented?

  9. Lloyd Bullard Avatar
    Lloyd Bullard

    Why Doesn’t the BLM & the government do ANYTHING to
    Cliven Bundy’s criminal actions. Yes, I said criminal
    actions. If you break the law it’s criminal behavior.


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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