The BLM Debates & Taking a Stand

Grassy Field

I’ve only been vaguely following the issues with the Bureau of Land Management out in Nevada, and neither Sebastian nor I will pretend to be experts in either the land use policies or the land use culture of the West which is very different when you consider that the federal government owns about 86% of Nevada, with about 2/3 of the state falling under the control of the BLM.

There are some folks saying that the rancher is completely in the right and not at all behind on payments for grazing access, and others in the media that claim he admits to about $300k in debt over the issues. To make it worse, a local government official apparently had a message for outside protesters: “if they come to Clark County to support Bundy they ‘better have funeral plans.'”

From what I understand, even though local folks are encouraging people to come in, they don’t want it to be about guns and camo-clad masses. Unfortunately, not everyone may listen to them and things could easily end up escalated, as illustrated by the Clark County’s Commissioner’s remarks. Anyone who ventures out there needs to make sure that they do fully understand every legal issue at hand and determine if they truly classify this as a government overreach that is serious enough to warrant possible jail time (multiple people have already been arrested) or worse if the Clark County Commissioner has his way.

I’m rather surprised at the backlash over something like grazing on land that is established as belonging to the federal government when there’s a case in Texas brewing of the BLM preparing to take over the management of 90,000 acres that landowners have deeds on and have paid taxes on for years. This a report from the Texas Farm Bureau on the issue:

Interestingly, BLM inserted itself in the Texas-Oklahoma border dispute after an Oklahoman sort of “invaded” Texas to set up a dredging operation and declared the land his after careful study of the laws and history of the Red River. That man is fondly known by my family as “Uncle Buck.” Because of that opened door, the BLM now wants more land under their control, and I haven’t found any mention of any offers to compensate current owners for it fairly – either by the federal government or Texas agencies that screwed up in including it in deeds and charging taxes on it. I would think that taking privately owned land without compensation would be a much bigger issue to drive protest than one’s desire to graze cattle on established taxpayer-owned land.

I’m not sure I really have a conclusion to this post. It’s just something that Sebastian and I have been observing and talking about the last few days. It’s been interesting to see what kind of policy debates are getting people worked up about federal overreach, but others that are falling by the wayside when they seem to be more direct constitutionally-related issues. Personally, we both hope that people keep their cool in Nevada, contrary to whatever extreme rhetoric is coming from Clark County officials.

27 thoughts on “The BLM Debates & Taking a Stand”

  1. It is a really interesting situation, and I don’t know who is in the right. But I usually come down on the side of the citizens, especially when it involves the feds.

    I’m watching the situation closely, and it could easily spiral out of control.

    1. Yeah, the Washington Times has a story up on people stepping up the rhetoric even more. I also tend to default to citizens, but I just don’t know enough about the legal history here to declare one side is completely correct.

  2. There was a when a rancher could run as many head of cattle on the public land, wherever and whenever, as he wanted.

    That time was a century ago. By the 1920s, various old-timers have told me, the public range (at least here in southern Colorado, which is wetter than Nevada) was in terrible condition, with half-wild cattle that sometimes were never rounded up.

    But there may be some in Clark County who think it is still 1910.

    1. From the first link: Bundy has in fact paid fees to Clark County, Nevada in an arrangement pre-dating the BLM. The BLM arrived much later, changed the details of the setup without consulting with Bundy — or any other rancher

      If in fact it was 1910, we wouldn’t have large groups of armed @ssholes with badges and dogs threatening people with deadly force and taking a citizens property.

      1. As I note with the second link, he apparently does admit to owing them $300k, so I don’t think you can cite that as an absolute authoritative “fact,” either. Quote: The federal agency says the rancher owes $1 million in unpaid fees, while Bundy contends the debt is closer to $300,000.

        1. Acknowledging the debt, a price of doing business that every rancher with a lease knows very well, is a far cry from:
          “There was a when a rancher could run as many head of cattle on the public land, wherever and whenever, as he wanted.”

          1. If that tradition really did largely go away by the 1920s, then there’s no way that Bundy himself is part of it. They aren’t taking his land, it’s not land he owned in the first place.

            It’s very easy to want to easily place people in the role of “good guy” or “bad guy,” but from what I’ve read so far, I don’t get the impression that either side of this specific rancher’s issue is handling it in a great way and there won’t be an answer that leaves any side truly happy. Anyone who goes out there to protest needs to have the absolute and full understanding of what they are opposing before they declare they are willing to go to jail over it – or worse if some people on both sides of the fight keep upping the rhetoric.

            I actually specifically brought up the Texas case because unlike the guy who wants to graze his cattle on land he doesn’t own, that’s a case that actually may result in the government taking private property without any kind of payment to citizens. It is actually a more extreme situation when it comes to individual rights, and yet fewer people are responding to that case. I’m not saying they should head to the Texas border and automatically escalate the situation to what it is now in Nevada, but rather to point out that the case out West has really gotten quite disconcerting when there isn’t as clear of a picture on the nature of the “crime” against the victim.

            1. I don’t get the impression that either side of this specific rancher’s issue is handling it in a great way

              Neither do I.
              And to clarify, I never put Bundy in the ‘good guy’ category. Unless he’s appealing his court ruling, I don’t see where he has a leg to stand on.
              That said, I don’t hold the .gov goon squad and their tactics in any higher regard either.

        2. Please note….

          Much of the fees are “penalty fees”. The real issue is that BLM in the permit issuance stated that Mr. Bundy had to reduce his cattle by 90%.

          He refused to sign, and take that big of a reduction. The Feds won’t recognize the grazing as legitimate and accept regular per head payment. Instead fining him, and inflating the costs.

          Mind you, from what I’ve seen, it actually looks like Mr. Bundy owns many of the land, grazing and water rights for the land in question.

          So this is sounding more akin to the BLM’s plan to take administrative control of large portions of Texas grazing land.

          And see, that seems to be the issue, they take control, then after a bit begin to shut down the ranching.

          I think this is all about water IMHO.

          1. Actually, if you go read the summary of the case that Sebastian linked in the new post today, you’d see that he was grazing his cattle on areas he never had permits to use at all. In fact, one of the areas that he was building improvements on was apparently never covered under any permit he used. His cattle were also found on other public lands not managed by BLM that he also didn’t have any right to use.

            After reading about the history of the case and where they have found his cattle – both those that were branded and those unbranded that he admitted were his – I’m actually less sympathetic to the guy than Sebastian is in his post on the subject.

            1. The article I see, says the same premise I’ve been arguing.

              The Federal government used the permit system, in the name of fake environmentalism (just like the protection of an endangered non-native fish in California) to shut down agricultural usage. Why?

              The answer is extremely clear, crystal clear like…WATER!!!!

              This is no different that the crap we did to all the Native Americans.


              I really believe the tortoise is a red herring. In fact, research has confirmed that the combination of herd animals, prairie dogs and fires actually encourages the health of such environments.

              And please don’t get me wrong. I think there is a lot of BS coming from Mr. Bundy too. But I think he reached the I don’t give a darn. He sure wasn’t going to give up his ranching and all his investments and livelihood for a false flag issue.

              “Hundreds of the Bundy family neighbors have been pushed out of ranching, a profession and culture the families shared with generations of their ancestors, by the federal government slowly restricting more and more of the usage of federal lands.”


              The Federal government is up to something. Why the !@#$ are they pushing the ranchers out of business deliberately.

              I’m telling you, it’s all about the water.






              Who gets what in way of water….

              Colorado 3.9 mil acre feet per year (MAFY)
              Nevada 0.3 MAFY
              California 4.4 MAFY


              This is ALL ABOUT ….





              Lake Mead going dry…






              Mind you, California has something NONE of the other states do. Billions of gallons of water along it’s coastline. And yet, next to no investment in desalinization plants.

              Oh, there is zero reason California’s sewage system should expel ANYTHING water.

              Ironically, it’s Nevada that’s done some of the most effective water conservation.

              “Southern Nevada’s water-saving measures are in some ways most impressive of all: Virtually all water used indoors, from home dishwashers to the toilets and bathtubs used by the 40 million tourists who visit Las Vegas each year, is treated and returned to Lake Mead. Officials here boast that everyone could take a 20-minute shower every day without increasing the city’s water consumption by a drop.”

  3. Given the feds have hammered nails they found bothersome in the past, I have a sick feeling that this situation won’t end well for Bundy. I sure hope I’m wrong.

    Why the hell does the federal government own ANY land outside of the land required to fulfill their constitutionally enumerated powers?

    1. That last question is a perfectly fair and reasonable question. Most of the land in Nevada isn’t being used for some greater public good like preserving a historic monument, military bases, or other uses we commonly think of for government purposes. It’s just out there and not being utilized in the market. If the land was freely available to be bought or sold, maybe Mr. Bundy would have the opportunity to purchase enough to graze his cattle however he likes. Unfortunately, the government creates a shortage by just sitting on it.

      1. It appears that BLM worked hard to price and regulate other ranchers out of the area. There has been an effort to turn the area into Gold Butte National Conservation Area for at least 16 years. Around 221,500 acres will be designated as protected wilderness. Environmentalists keep pushing for more open air museums that few will ever get to see.

        1. It’s NOT about environmentalism, it’s about water. Environmentalism, and random endanger animals are the tools in which they enact reduction of water usage in order to allow for more availability of water to California.

          1. Please explain how he has any meaningful water rights? I haven’t found any references to Bundy owning any water rights and I have a hard time understanding how he has “beneficial use” of water when trespassing. Why would Nevada, when they’ve over-allocated their current supply, want to give more water to California?

  4. Most probably want to avoid Federal investigations (like the Cattleman’s Association). And grabbing private land for public or private uses is now “law of the land” after the Supreme Court messed up Kelo. Like it or not, the cases with lives on the line tend to get more publicity. (blame the media for not understanding property rights) While Bundy messed up by paying any of the fees (thus validating the claim the gov’t has), his family did predate the reservation of the land. In addition, it’s also public land, which means there should be a high threshold for trespass (there is no silo, gov’t building, etc to claim sensitivity for national security). Plus “owning” over 80% of land brings the statehood of Nevada into question. While I understand Bundy does not have a good court record, I have not seen any analysis on whether or not he has an actual legal case, or even a lawyer. If anyone could do the basic research, it would benefit everyone’s understanding and enlighten the situation.

    I hope the situation doesn’t spiral, but it certainly might. The escalation of force on the Federal side seems high, even for a trespass charge and a million dollar fine. The difference between previous heavy handed operations is (so far) there are no reports of weapons on the Bundy side of the fence. If shooting starts, it will probably be a massacre. That would have serious repercussions, well beyond Nevada. I hope and pray cooler heads prevail.

  5. Nobody in this situation is clean.

    Bundy claims the land belongs to Clark County, NV and the BLM claims the land is protected habitat for the ‘endangered’ desert tortoise. I say ‘endangered’ because the feds euthanized 1000 of this ‘endangered’ species last year.

    In the interview I caught this afternoon, he does not object to paying grazing fees, his objection is to WHO he pays those grazing fees. His claim is that it’s Clark County, Nevada’s land. The feds claim it as theirs.

    1. His objection isn’t even really WHO. Apparently on Yahoo a rancher was explaining that BLM is trying to shut down ranching. So most permit holders, received their renewals with revised terms mandating a 90% reduction in herd size.

      And a LOT of this appears to be tied to water rights, which are expensive, but also require they be maintained. In otherwords, if you buy 10,000 gallons of water rights, you have to justify the need (ie: 1,000 cattle). Reduce your herd to a 100 cattle and you no longer have justification. Your lose the water rights you paid a small fortune for.

      But no worry, California will be more than willing to take that water off your hands.

  6. …A side argument based on Greg’s comment. I wish the government would sell most of their land to US citizens (only) to reduce our national debt and reduce nonsense like this situation.

  7. It was my understanding, that way back when, the then government just basically claimed the land as “theirs.” And that there was supposed to be some sort of agreement for the transfer of land ownership when the state of Nevada was formed that the feds reneged on. Whether any of that is true or not the way they the BLM is going about this just smells wrong. And it’s pushing an already dangerous precedent in this country even further.

    There have been a few sources discussing the possibility that the federal government, or certain persons within it, may have a vested interest in developing solar energy contracts within the area in question. And that Mr. Bundy is the last obstacle to that. I’m not sure if that’s the case but I certainly wouldn’t put it past our greedy politicians. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the theory panned out. But I would be royally pissed.

  8. When I saw the confrontation with tasers and protesters and the idiot 1st amendment zone. I thought this might the shot that sparks the revolt. We are on a precipice and this could have been the straw. It does not have to a major issue.

    However we have a rancher that has land in the family since 1870 and predates BLM. He said he has paid to NV grazing fess but has no contract with the feds. The judge had said the land is closed to cattle grazing.
    So according to federal law and the courts Bundy has lost his case.

    Bundy disagrees and refused to pay or leave.

    BLM sent 250 agents with snipers to surround the ranch and the Bundy’s got the word out.

    This is a dispute between ranchers and the fed. This has tones of Ruby Ridge and Waco and the Bundy’s were not going quietly.

    Today over a 1000 arrived at the ranch and Bundy demanded his cattle.

    BLM refused to release the cattle and the protesters blocked I 15 . Good portion of the protesters were on foot or horseback and were armed. The State Police argued and then backed away . The BLM decided to back down and the cattle were freed back to the ranch.

    The grazing fees are not the real issue. It is the federal gov’t getting rid of the ranchers and people are fed up. This would have been a shooting incident soon. Thankfully the BLM decided to back away. Besides they now did not have the numbers and the other side was armed too.

    Personally I am glad that the BLM has decided to defuse the situation. I really don’t care the BLM has the law on their side. This is a freedom issue and EPA and enviromentalists destroying the business of people.

    The liberals are pushing people to the wall and bloodshed and revolts could start. Maybe not won. I don’t want to see that.

    This disputes dates back to Clinton and his land grab for Monuments. It dates from 1993.

    People have had enough WACO and Ruby Ridge and are more willing to push back or just show force of numbers. Less and less people believe the police or the federal government. Rather people are starting to believe the federal government is the enemy.
    Of course the NSA snooping on Americans has shown that the federal government has believed that the Americans are the enemy.

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