April 20, 2014

Bundy Family Posts Photo Of Dead Cow Euthanized By BLM

The Bundy Ranch Facebook page, run by Cliven Bundy's daughter Bailey, posted a photo late Saturday night with the caption: "Digging up 1 of the HUGE holes where they threw the cows that they had ran to death or shot. I feel that this NEEDS to be put out for the public to see."

by KERRY PICKET
Breitbart News


Nevada Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore previously told Breitbart News on Friday about the practices she has heard the Bureau of Land Management has engaged in when confiscating livestock from ranchers.

"I have literally gotten e-mails from ranchers across Nevada telling me that the BLM does the same practices when they are herding horses. The foals are getting killed. Horses are getting killed. It’s really horrible and cruel. I don’t know any other term than cruel,” she said.

April 19, 2014

Range showdown draws armed supporters to Nevada

Flanked by armed supporters, Cliven Bundy speaks at a protest camp near Bunkerville, Nev. Friday, April 18, 2014. (John Locher/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

By Associated Press
Washington Post


LAS VEGAS — To self-described militia members sleeping in wind-whipped tents, drinking camp coffee and patrolling rocky hillsides with military-style weapons, protecting Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his family from an overreaching federal government is a patriotic duty.

“There are people out here who will sacrifice their lives and their fortunes and their sacred honor to defend them,” said Jerry DeLemus, a camouflaged former U.S. Marine sergeant from New Hampshire who called himself the leader of a Bundy security force of some 40 people.

“If someone points a gun at me, I’ll definitely point my gun back,” he said.

The armed campers are still guarding Bundy’s melon farm and cattle ranch a week after a tense standoff between gun-toting states’ rights advocates and federal Bureau of Land Management police over a roundup of Bundy cattle from public rangeland.

The BLM backed off, citing safety concerns. They were faced with military-style AR-15 and AK-47 weapons trained on them from a picket line of citizen soldiers on an Interstate 15 overpass, with dozens of woman and children in the possible crossfire.

BLM police released the 380 cattle collected, gave up the weeklong roundup and lifted a closure of a vast range half the size of the state Delaware. The agency said it would resolve the matter “administratively and judicially.”

Left unresolved was the government’s claim that Bundy owes more than $1.1 million in fees and penalties for letting some 900 cows trespass for 20 years on arid rangeland of scrub brush, mesquite, cheat grass and yucca near the rustic town of Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Bundy backers claimed victory.

“We won the battle of Bunkerville,” said retiree Bevalyn Marshall, 53, who heads home at night to nearby Scenic, Ariz., but returns by day with her shotgun and her Vietnam veteran husband to a makeshift stage lined with fluttering flags.

It’s a place where conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s voice spills out of travel trailers, and a woman waves a sign at passing traffic reading, “Come Stand With Us For Freedom.”

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., called Bundy’s supporters “domestic terrorists” and said a federal task force was being formed to deal with the unrest. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., told a KSNV-TV interviewer on Friday: “What Sen. Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots.”

Where Heller saw Boy Scouts, veterans and grandparents cordoned off by federal agents, Reid saw a crowd of 600, including men armed with automatic weapons in sniper positions on the freeway overpass, and women and children facing BLM agents in the riverbed below.

Bundy, the 67-year-old patriarch of a Mormon family with more than 50 grandchildren, seems to enjoy the attention. He met the media this week flanked by personal guards headed by a man who called himself Buddha Cavalier.

Bundy took to the stage fashioned from a flatbed trailer to tell reporters he wants sheriffs around the country to seize weapons from federal bureaucrats. He invited everyone to a Friday barbecue at the Virgin River, and rode a horse waving an American flag for photographers.

Then he headed to a Fox News trailer for an interview with conservative TV commentator Sean Hannity.

Bundy said he doesn’t recognize federal authority on the land his family settled and has used since the late 1870s, when Bunkerville was founded.

His dispute with the BLM dates to 1993, when the government designated the scenic Gold Butte area as protected habitat for the endangered desert tortoise and cut his allotment of cows. Bundy quit paying grazing fees that today can be as little as $1.35 per cow per month.

The agency canceled his grazing permit and ordered him to remove his cattle. Federal judges upheld the agency action.

The dispute has reopened a debate about federal land ownership and states’ rights in a Western region where the BLM controls vast stretches of rangeland. Federal park, military and land agencies today control more than 85 percent of the land in Nevada. In New York, by comparison, the figure is about 1 percent.

“This would never happen in any state east of the Mississippi, because they own their own land,” said Janine Hansen, a state’s rights advocate.

Not everyone supports Bundy’s resistance. Andy Robinson, a pub and pizzeria owner in the nearby resort town of Mesquite, said he didn’t like bloggers and radio talk show hosts comparing the standoff with deadly federal confrontations at a religious compound in Texas in 1993 and a farm house in Idaho in 1992.

“Being compared to Waco and Ruby Ridge doesn’t help anything,” Robinson said.

Ammon Bundy, 38, one of 14 Bundy children, was hit with stun gun darts fired by BLM agents during a confrontation 10 days ago. He was not charged with a crime. He said his father received several certified letters this week from the BLM, but hasn’t opened them.

BLM spokesman Mitch Snow said the letters offer Bundy a chance to keep his cattle if he pays the $1.1 million in trespass fees, plus “reasonable expenses of the impoundment.” Agency officials have said the contract for the roundup was $900,000.

Demar Dahl, a prominent rancher who pays his grazing fees, said he knows Bundy won’t back down. “He’s got his mind made up that he’s not going to leave,” Dahl said. “Cliven is the last man standing. He has taken the position that the state of Nevada owns the land, not the federal government.”

DeLemus and other armed campers say they have no plans to leave. They suspect government drones and helicopters are watching them.

“We stay until the Bundys tell us we can go home,” said Jack Commerford, DeLemus’ friend from New Hampshire who drove 41 hours cross-country with a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.

Western lawmakers strategize on taking control of federal lands

April 12, 2014: The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released by the Bureau of Land Management back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. (AP/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL)

FoxNews.com
Associated Press


Officials from nine Western states met in Salt Lake City on Friday to discuss taking control of federal lands within their borders on the heels of a standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management.

The lawmakers and county commissioners discussed ways to wresting oil-, timber- and mineral-rich lands away from the feds. Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart said it was in the works before this month's standoff.

The BLM rounded up hundreds of Bundy's cattle, saying he hasn't paid more than $1 million in grazing fees he owes for trespassing on federal lands since the 1990s. But Bundy does not recognize federal authority on the land, which his family has used since the 1870s.

The BLM released the cattle after a showdown last weekend with angry armed protesters whom Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid referred to as "domestic terrorists."

"What's happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem," Lockhart said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

The Legislative Summit on the Transfer of Public Lands, as it was called, was organized by Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory and Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, addressed the group over lunch, the Tribune reported.

"It’s simply time," Ivory told reporters. "The urgency is now."

Fielder said federal land management is hamstrung by bad policies, politicized science and severe federal budget cuts.

"Those of us who live in the rural areas know how to take care of lands," said Fielder, a Republican who lives in the northwestern Montana town of Thompson Falls. "We have to start managing these lands. It's the right thing to do for our people, for our environment, for our economy and for our freedoms."

Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington also were represented, but none of the other states has gone as far as Utah, where lawmakers passed a measure demanding that the federal government extinguish title to federal lands.

The lawmakers and Gov. Gary Herber have said they're only asking the federal government to make good on promises made in the 1894 Enabling Act for Utah to become a state. The intent was never to take over national parks and wilderness created by an act of Congress, said Lockhart, a Republican from Provo.

"We are not interested in having control of every acre," she said. "There are lands that are off the table that rightly have been designated by the federal government."

Ivory said federal government's debt threatens its management of vast tracts of the West and its ability to make payments in lieu of taxes to the states, the Tribune reported. He said the issue is of interest to both urban and rural lawmakers.

"If we don’t stand up and act, seeing that trajectory of what’s coming … those problems are going to get bigger," Ivory was quoted as saying.

The University of Utah is conducting a study called for by the legislation to analyze how Utah could manage the land now in federal control.

April 18, 2014

Bundy supporters party, welcome ‘domestic terrorist’ label

Justin Giles of Wasilla, Alaska stands on a bridge over the Virgin River during a rally in support of Cliven Bundy near Bunkerville, Nev. Friday, April 18, 2014. (John Locher/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

By KEITH ROGERS
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL


BUNKERVILLE — Wearing a cowboy hat and with a copy of the U.S. Constitution poking from his shirt pocket, controversial rancher Cliven Bundy on Friday asked dozens of supporters of his cattle-grazing feud with federal land managers what they thought of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid calling them “domestic terrorists.”

“Are you guys domestic terrorists?” he asked the crowd gathered around a stage near the north bank of the Virgin River.

The supporters, many wearing name tags that said “domestic terrorist,” erupted with cheers and applause.

“That’s what I thought. I thought Harry was right,” said the 67-year-old Bundy, who was accompanied by armed escorts.

He made the statement before a “Patriot Party” that started at 5 p.m. with music by Madison Rising and Ron Keel, who sang with Black Sabbath briefly in 1984. A party atmosphere among a few hundred people grew as more supporters trickled in around 5 p.m. Some people were cooling off in the river while dozens of armed militia members wearing camouflaged fatigues patrolled in and around the area.

Bundy was reacting to Reid’s comments Thursday in Las Vegas describing him as a law-breaker for not paying grazing fees and an estimated $1 million he owes the Bureau of Land Management for 20 years of non-compliance with public lands grazing privileges and defiance of court orders to remove up to 900 head of his desert cattle that roamed the Gold Butte area.

BLM agents and contractors on horseback and helicopters rounded up more than 300 of the herd but released them back to Bundy and his backers after an armed standoff on April 12. Because his militia supporters had rifles and assault weapons pointed to where federal officers guarded a corral holding the cattle, Reid on Thursday said a task force would be assigned to deal with what he described as domestic terrorists.

The Bundy camp had asked that the federal law enforcers remove their guns and secure them in a truck while the cattle were released.

At Friday’s news conference, Bundy said, “We’re not asking the county sheriff to disarm the citizens of the United States. We’re asking the United States to take the government-issued guns away from these people, and when they have uniforms on they shouldn’t be packing a gun.”

Asked what he’d do if he was served with a warrant for violating federal laws, Bundy answered, “What I said is, I’d yield to the sheriff but I wouldn’t yield to the feds.”

If the sheriff served the warrant he said he’d surrender. “Well, I’d have to.”

He said he has a right to graze his cattle on public land, not just a privilege.

“They’re rights. And I own those rights,” he said.

Bundy told his supporters that they were the heroes in the standoff, not him.

“You are the heroes. You people are the ones who did it,” Bundy told them.

When a few of the supporters were asked what they thought of Reid calling them “domestic terrorists,” they welcomed the label.

“Him and his organization are the terrorists of this country,” John Vasilchin, 85, of Las Vegas, said about Reid.

“They’ve been destroying this country for the last eight years and previously back to (President Bill) Clinton,” Vasilchin said.

Mike Vanderboegh said he will unveil the “2014 incitement to civil war trophy” to Reid on Saturday at the protest area.

“Harry Reid said this ain’t over. You better believe this ain’t over,” said Vanderboegh, a self-described “Second Amendment activist” from Alabama.

Sitting inside his camper off a road in view of the Virgin River, Thomas Firth offered his perspective on Reid’s domestic terrorist description.

“That would be typical of Senator Harry Reid,” said Firth, 64, of Anza, Calif. “Seems like it was a few years ago when we all got lumped either as a Christian, or a veteran or ‘you own a gun.’ You got lumped into that.

“If that’s the moniker they want to put on this, well so be it. I take a little bit different look at it. I think we are people who are actually standing up for our rights,” said Firth, a former cattle rancher.”

Star Hill, 45, made the short drive to the the rally from Logandale.

“For him to stoop to name-calling is probably pretty appropriate considering what people think of him,” she said about Reid.

She said she doesn’t consider herself a terrorist. Instead, “I consider myself somebody who came out to the river for a picnic.”

Senator urges hearing on Bundy ranch dispute

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

By Mario Trujillo
The Hill


Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) on Friday called for a Senate hearing into the dispute between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over cattle grazing.

Heller described as "patriots" the people who came armed to Bundy’s ranch after the BLM began to seize his cattle for refusing to pay grazing fees and fines that now total more than $1 million.

Heller debated the ranch standoff on a Nevada television station with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has called the armed Bundy supporters “domestic terrorists.”

"What senator Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots," Heller said. "We have a very different view on this."

"If they are patriots, we are in trouble," Reid shot back.

Reid blasted the supporters for showing up with assault weapons and boasting about putting children in the front of the pack.

Asked if he wanted to clarify his "domestic terrorist" remarks, Reid said he meant "just what I said."

Heller blamed the BLM for inciting the incident by bringing in armed officials to help roundup the cattle. He said he wants to know who gave that order.

"I want to talk about the fact that they have this kind of authority and the ability to bully and come in with 200 armed men into a situation like this," he said. "I would like to have hearings. I would like to find out who is accountable for this.”

The BLM was acting on court orders to round up and remove the cattle from public land — a point Reid emphasized. Reid said the rancher does not recognize the federal government's authority, but said it is clear in the state constitution that the area in dispute is public land.

"These characters walk around with their Constitution in their pocket. They should read the Nevada Constitution," Reid said.

The Bureau of Land Management has said it would continue to try to solve the situation “administratively and judicially" after ceasing the roundup over the weekend over safety concerns.

Reid said it is unclear what happens next, but said he had talked to a number of federal and state officials about it.

“We can speculate all we want to speculate about what is going to happen next,” he said. “I don't think it is going to be tomorrow that something is going to happen, but something will happen.”

Sheriff caught in middle of Nevada rancher feud

Rancher Cliven Bundy (2nd L) greets Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie in Bunkerville, Nevada on April 12, 2014. (REUTERS)

FoxNews.com

The family of the Nevada rancher in a simmering feud with the federal government over rangeland rights is refocusing attention on the local sheriff, claiming he could put the standoff to rest with a wave of his hand.

"He could stop this right now, and he knows that," Bailey Logue, daughter of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, recently told Fox News' "On the Record."

Logue claimed all the sheriff has to do is say "no" to federal authorities who for years have gone after Bundy for unpaid grazing fees. "He has more power than all those feds do in this county. This is his county, he runs it. He has got full control over this county. If he says no, they have to back down," Logue said.

Other supporters have made similar comments, suggesting Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie can tell the federal Bureau of Land Management to high-tail out of Nevada.

Gillespie backed federal agents who seized close to 400 head of cattle from Bundy over his refusal to pay more than $1 million in grazing fees over the past two decades.

The sheriff now appears to be caught in the middle of a broader battle between landowners and the federal government -- a battle not just over grazing rights, but the basic authority of federal officials. Despite the family's claims that the sheriff could kick out the feds in an instant, Gillespie has told media outlets he is simply following the law.

The Nevada state Constitution would appear to underscore federal authority, as it allows the federal government to "employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority" if people try to secede or "forcibly resist the Execution of" federal laws.

Gillespie, who was elected sheriff in 2007, has more than three decades under his belt with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. As Clark County's top law enforcement official, he oversees more than 4,700 sworn officers and civilian employees and is responsible for the safety of nearly 2 million Vegas residents as well as 40 million visitors to America's party capital each year.

Gillespie's office has not made the sheriff available for an interview despite repeated requests by FoxNews.com.

Before the ranch standoff, Gillespie's reputation was relatively unsullied. Earlier this year, Gillespie was named by the National Sheriff's Association as the winner of the Ferris E. Lucas Award as Sheriff of the Year for 2014. The award has only been given to 18 people since 1995 -- and there are 3,080 sheriffs in the country.

Gillespie, though, surprised local residents when he announced late last year he would not seek a third term, instead saying he would finish out his second term through the end of 2014.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., also presented Gillespie with a Congressional Proclamation for being selected Sheriff of the Year. Gillespie's closeness with Reid has recently made him the target of vitriol-laced accusations by Bundy's supporters, who have called him a turncoat.

Reid fanned the flames further Thursday when he referred to Bundy backers as "domestic terrorists" during an event sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reid also indicated that Gillespie continues to play an active role with the feds -- Reid, according to the Review-Journal, said Gillespie is working with federal officials on putting together a task force to deal with the Bundy family.

"Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States," Reid said. "The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn't pay his taxes. He doesn't pay his fees. And he doesn't follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority."

Officials tell FoxNews.com that it's likely they'll renew their efforts soon, though they declined to say when a new push against Bundy would take place.

For the Bundy family, it's a decades-old, legally complicated fight between the federal government and a family that has ranched the area since 1877. Last week's dustup ended Saturday with federal land managers backing down during a standoff with Bundy after hundreds of states' rights protesters and armed militia members showed up in support of Bundy and in protest of government officers seizing his cattle.

But the feud dates back decades, and this isn't Bundy's first time at the rodeo.

The dispute started in March 1993 when the Bureau of Land Management designated hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land for strict conservation efforts.

That meant eliminating livestock grazing and imposing strict limits on off-road vehicle use in protected tortoise territory in Nevada.

The BLM purchased grazing rights from cattle ranchers who had previously used BLM land. It was then when the Bundy family, who had a ranch in the area in 1877, accused the government of a "land grab," and said they wouldn't sell.

The Bundy family has maintained they do not recognize federal authority on what they say is their land.

April 17, 2014

After Nevada ranch stand-off, emboldened militias ask: where next?

Eric Parker from central Idaho stands watch on a bridge with his weapon as protesters gather by the Bureau of Land Management's base camp, where cattle that were seized from rancher Cliven Bundy are being held, near Bunkerville, Nevada April 12, 2014.(REUTERS/JIM URQUHART)

BY JONATHAN ALLEN
REUTERS


(Reuters) - Flat on his belly in a sniper position, wearing a baseball cap and a flak jacket, a protester aimed his semi-automatic rifle from the edge of an overpass and waited as a crowd below stood its ground against U.S. federal agents in the Nevada desert.

He was part of a 1,000-strong coalition of armed militia-men, cowboys on horseback, gun rights activists and others who rallied to Cliven Bundy's Bunkerville ranch, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, in a stand-off with about a dozen agents from the federal Bureau of Land Management.

The rangers had rounded up hundreds of Bundy's cattle, which had been grazing illegally on federal lands for two decades. Bundy had refused to pay grazing fees, saying he did not recognize the government's authority over the land, a view that attracted vocal support from some right-wing groups.

Citing public safety, the BLM retreated, suspending its operation and even handing back cattle it had already seized.

No shots were fired during the stand-off, which Bundy's triumphant supporters swiftly dubbed the "Battle of Bunkerville," but the government's decision to withdraw in the face of armed resistance has alarmed some who worry that it has set a dangerous precedent and emboldened militia groups.

"Do laws no longer apply when the radical right no longer agrees?" said Ryan Lenz, a writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors militia group activity.

Armed Americans using the threat of a gunfight to force federal officers to back down is virtually unparalleled in the modern era, militia experts said. But the BLM, which says it is now pursuing legal and administrative options to resolve the dispute, has won praise for stepping back and avoiding violence.

Energized by their success, Bundy's supporters are already talking about where else they can exercise armed defiance. They include groups deeply suspicious of what they see as a bloated, over-reaching government they fear wants to restrict their constitutional right to bear arms.

Alex Jones, a radio host and anti-government conspiracy theorist whose popular right-wing website, Infowars, helped popularize Bundy's dispute, called it a watershed moment.

"Americans showed up with guns and said, 'No, you're not," before confronting the armed BLM agents, Jones said in a telephone interview. "And they said, 'Shoot us.' And they did not. That's epic. And it's going to happen more."

Militia experts interviewed by Reuters said they could not think of another example in recent decades where different militia groups had banded together to offer armed resistance to thwart a law enforcement operation.

In the days since the showdown, right-wing websites have begun searching for other Bundys. Several conservative and survivalist blogs have seized on the case of Tommy Henderson, a rancher on the Texas-Oklahoma border who they say is fighting BLM attempts to seize some of his land.

MILITARY FATIGUES, RIFLES

Few people had heard of Bundy and his ranch until a few days before the stand-off. Right-wing websites and advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity, founded by one of the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, cast his tale in a folksy David and Goliath light and helped spread it online.

Someone who has known Bundy since his early 1990s fall-out with the BLM is Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who founded the militia group Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

Mack is also a prominent member of Oath Keepers, a similar group of serving or former soldiers, police and firefighters who view themselves as defenders of the U.S. Constitution. More than 100 Oath Keepers headed to the desert, Mack said.

Mack, who proposed putting women on the front line of the stand-off with the agents, said armed resistance was a justified response to a "totally unnecessary" show of force by the BLM.

"It was so obvious it looked like it was going to be another Waco or Ruby Ridge," Mack said, referring to two bloody sieges in the 1990s involving federal agents and armed civilians that fueled the militia movement.

"We weren't going to let that happen again," he said.

A number of Bundy supporters wore military fatigues and carried rifles and pistols and had traveled from California, Idaho, Arizona, Montana and beyond. Most kept their handguns holstered.

Mack, who wore his gun on his hip, and other Bundy supporters interviewed by Reuters said they would not shoot first but would retaliate if fired upon.

"We did not want anything to get out of hand," Mack said.

GAME-CHANGER?

The weekend showdown marked the latest resurgence of violent, anti-government sentiments that have existed in rural America for centuries, said Catherine Stock, a history professor at Connecticut College who specializes in rural militias.

"The question is whether we're going to see sustained flame-up now. We could see more of that if they actually think that the federal government is going to stand down," she said.

"It's not the groups, it's not their concerns, it's not their anger, all of that is old, but the federal government backing down? I was like, wow! Seriously?"

Stock said the rise of right-wing media outlets and websites and the election of Republican politicians who have shifted the party further to the right have given a new legitimacy to groups that were once dismissed as being on the fringe.

At least half a dozen state legislators from Nevada, Washington, Utah and Arizona attended protest rallies in Bunkerville at the weekend.

Michele Fiore, a Republican Nevada assemblywoman from Las Vegas who said she joined the protesters daily after getting a torrent of supportive emails about Bundy from constituents, called the resistance "justified."

"This is historic," she said. "This is the first time we went arm to arm with the federal government."

GOVERNMENT MISSTEPS?

The Bundy dispute has been simmering since 1993, when the BLM took over the management of the land on which his cattle grazed. The agency ordered him to reduce the number of grazing cattle to protect the habitat of the desert tortoise, which had been listed as "threatened."

Bundy refused and has not paid grazing fees since then. The BLM says he now owes more than $1 million.

Critics of the BLM, which administers 245 million acres of public land in the 12 Western states, say it mishandled the situation and was unprepared for the armed resistance, despite fears in past years that the seizure of the illegally grazing cattle could spark violence.

BLM spokesman Craig Leff said the "safety of employees and the public was key throughout the course of the operation." The BLM, National Park Service and the U.S. Park police "had the minimal personnel needed to maintain the safety of the operation," he added.

Two sets of images were frequently cited by those who saw the roundup of Bundy's cattle as a call to arms.

The first showed BLM agents using a stun gun to subdue one of Bundy's sons at a small protest on April 9, bloodying his shirt over his heart, and a female relative of Bundy being knocked to the ground in a tussle with agents.

"Looking at that made it extremely clear that these federal agents are willing to hurt people and didn't think they would be accountable," said militia leader Mack.

Photographs of a so-called "First Amendment Zone", a taped-off patch of desert where agents would allow protests to be held, also prompted outrage.

Mack, and other militia members, say they have yet to pick their next battle. "We're only reacting to what the government does," he said. "We hope that they'll keep it a little calm from now on and not overreact."

What the Networks Aren't Telling You About the Nevada Cattle Battle

Cliven Bundy's son interviewed on the Today show.
By Rich Noyes
Newsbusters.com


The showdown between federal authorities and rancher Cliven Bundy, his family and supporters in Nevada is one of those rare topics from the libertarian-conservative news agenda that actually made its way into the establishment media. Between last Thursday and Monday, ABC, CBS and NBC gave the story a total of nearly 16 minutes of coverage on their morning and evening newscasts.

Network journalists have consistently framed the case as one of a rancher failing to pay the requested fees for his use of government land. But they have failed to use the case to tell the larger story of how environmental rules — in this case, regulations to protect the desert tortoise, have been implemented in ways that help favored interests (land developers, or solar companies) while hurting others (cattle ranchers, for example).

The networks have focused on the amount of money the government has demanded of Cliven Bundy, and let the Bundy side talk about the government’s heavy-handed tactics in seeking collection. On Saturday’s Good Morning America, for example, ABC’s Mike Boettcher framed the story this way: “For 20 years, rancher Cliven Bundy has refused to pay rent to herd his cattle on government land, $1.1 million in grazing fees.”

The next morning on NBC, Sunday’s Today included a soundbite from Bundy’s son, Ammon, talking about the intimidating force employed by federal agents: “They had the tasers, they had the weapons, they had the dogs, and we had nothing except us. We were almost equally numbered, and then they were the aggressors.”

Omitted from the network coverage: How cattle ranchers like Bundy have been victimized by federal government plans to protect the desert tortoise, and how the current showdown was provoked by an environmentalist lawsuit. As the Las Vegas Sun explained: “Things came to a head when environmentalists threatened to sue the agency to protect the endangered desert tortoise that lives on the land where Bundy’s cattle grazed. The BLM said Bundy’s cattle trampled the tortoise’s habitat.”

In their coverage of the Nevada showdown, neither ABC nor NBC ever acknowledged the role of regulations designed to protect the tortoise, while CBS’s Teri Okita in a Friday morning report included it as an afterthought: “Authorities want the cattle off this land for another reason: Environmentalists say it’s home to the endangered desert tortoise and it’s protected land.”

In fact, the tortoise is listed as a “threatened” species, not yet “endangered,” but it’s that designation (applied in 1989) which led to restrictions on cattle ranchers’ use of land in Nevada, California and Utah. And the federal government has for decades permitted some destruction of tortoise habitats if they like the project, while cracking down on others as they see fit.

As the Powerline blog has well-documented, the BLM has enforced these rules in ways that favor projects endorsed by federal bureaucrats, such as solar projects, while being tough on the cattle ranchers.

But go back more than 20 years, and you’ll find a similar effort in the Clinton era to sacrifice 22,000 acres of tortoise habitat to Las Vegas area land developers, even as they set up restrictions on cattle ranchers including Cliven Bundy. As the Washington Post’s Tom Kenworthy documented in a March 21, 1993 article (retrieved via Nexis, so no link):

Three years ago, with tortoise populations crashing largely because of habitat destruction across its range in Nevada, California, Arizona and Utah, the federal government added the tortoise to its list of threatened species. The designation immediately imperiled tens of millions of dollars worth of construction projects in this development-crazed city.

But it also triggered a novel experiment in the peaceful resolution of endangered species conflicts that is similar, in many respects, to the process Babbitt would like to try nationwide to defuse explosive development-versus-environment fights.

Employing a rarely used mechanism approved by Congress a decade ago, environmentalists, developers, government officials, cattlemen, miners and off-road vehicle enthusiasts began negotiating a “habitat conservation plan.” The hope was it would satisfy both the needs of the tortoise and the Las Vegas area’s rapacious appetite for development.

The result was a plan to protect the tortoise by providing vast tracts of federal land as a refuge while sacrificing other tortoise areas to development....

By mid-1991, the Fish and Wildlife Service had approved a short-term conservation plan that allows for development of about 22,000 acres of tortoise habitat in and around Las Vegas in exchange for strict conservation measures on 400,000 acres of federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land south of the city. The plan is funded by development fees of between $ 250 and $ 550 an acre paid by builders. Almost $ 10 million has been raised so far.

Among the conservation measures required are the elimination of livestock grazing and strict limits on off-road vehicle use in the protected tortoise habitat. Two weeks ago, the managers of the plan completed the task of purchasing grazing privileges from cattle ranchers who formerly used BLM land....

Cattlemen are particularly irate, and have gone to court to prevent grazing restrictions on BLM land now outside the tortoise management area, where the federal agency has tried to keep cattle from competing with tortoises for forage for three months in the spring. Ranchers like Cliven Bundy, whose family homesteaded his ranch in 1877 and who accuses the government of a “land grab,” are digging in for a fight and say they will not willingly sell their grazing privileges to create another preserve.

The Post article was written more than 21 years ago, before Bundy had been assessed even one dime in fees, and validates his claim that his grievance is about the intrusiveness of federal rules aimed at protecting the desert tortoise, and how the government has used the rules as yet another tool to pick economic winners and losers.

It’s background and context that the networks could have provided as they picked up on the story of a rancher fighting the feds — but, sadly, was omitted from the broadcast coverage this past week.

Congressman Accuses Obama Administration Of Illegal Action At Bundy Ranch

He cites a severe violation of U.S. Code

Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX)

B. Christopher Agee
Western Journalism


After the federal Bureau of Land Management agents backed down from their intimidating stance at the Bundy Ranch last weekend, ample evidence has surfaced indicating the standoff between the government and the Nevada ranching family is far from over. Throughout the weeklong stalemate, members of the Bundy family were physically assaulted by armed officers, numerous cows were shot dead, and protesters faced threats of gunfire for merely expressing their outrage.

Immediately after what many considered a victory against a tyrannical federal agency, a number of leftist voices – most notably, Sen. Harry Reid – indicated the action against this family will continue.

In response, Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman sent a letter to Barack Obama, Department of the Interior Sec. Sally Jewell, and BLM Director Neil Kornze, laying out his position that any such action by the agency would violate the U.S. Constitution.

“Because of this standoff,” he wrote, “I have looked into BLM’s authority to conduct such paramilitary raids against American citizens, and it appears that BLM is acting in a lawless manner in Nevada.”

He cited the limited powers granted to the federal government, noting the bureau has no “right to assume preemptory police powers, that role being reserved to the States,” and explained “many federal laws require the federal government to seek assistance from local law enforcement whenever the use of force may become necessary.”

The letter included a section of the U.S. Code — 43 U.S.C. Section 1733, Subsection C — stating exactly that point. [Emphasis Stockman's]

“When the Secretary determines that assistance is necessary in enforcing Federal laws and regulations relating to the public lands or their resources he shall offer a contract to appropriate local officials having law enforcement authority within their respective jurisdictions with the view of achieving maximum feasible reliance upon local law enforcement officials in enforcing such laws and regulations.”

In the case of the Bundy Ranch, he continued, “the relevant local law enforcement officials appear to be the Sheriff of Clark County, Nevada, Douglas C. Gillespie.”

Gillespie, however, conspicuously took a back seat to BLM forces during the standoff.

“Indeed,” Stockman wrote, “the exact type of crisis that the federal government has provoked at the Bundy ranch is the very type of incident that Congress knew could be avoided by relying on local law enforcement officials.”

The stated purpose of the correspondence is for the Obama administration “to bring the BLM into compliance with 43 U.S.C. section 1733.”

Absent a full investigation into the agency’s actions, he concluded, “the federal government must not only stand down, but remove all federal personnel from anywhere near the Bundy ranch.”

Legislators and law enforcement personnel have stood alongside state militia members and the Bundy family in opposing the excessive force employed by the BLM. Stockman’s letter adds even more weight to the growing sentiment against the federal overreach.

April 16, 2014

Huge solar project questioned

The proposed Silurian Valley solar project would install photovoltaic panels such as those pictured here at the First Solar is project near Desert Center. The project would cover 11 square miles of public lands north of Baker, dwarfing the mammoth Brightsource Solar project near Ivanpah Dry Lake. (David Danelski)

David Danelski
Riverside Press-Enterprise


Worries about possible environmental damage from another large-scale solar project proposed for the Southern California desert has prompted the federal government to give people more time to submit comments on the proposal.

The Silurian Valley solar project would go on 11-square miles of public land in San Bernardino County, about 10 miles north of Baker, between Death Valley National Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

The project calls for erecting thousands of photovoltaic panels that would generate a peak of 200 megawatts of electricity -- enough for more than 35,000 homes. The panels would be arranged in several arrays and connected by 44 miles of new roads.

Art Sasse, a spokesman for the developer, Iberdrola Renewables, said the location was chosen because of its ample sunshine and proximity to power lines. The company is the United States subsidiary of Iberdrola SA, which is based in the autonomous Basque region of northern Spain.

The project is one of many large-scale solar plants proposed in Southern California deserts. The Obama administration has approved six commercial-scale solar projects on public land in the deserts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Three already are operating. An additional eight are in the planning stages.

After people raised several concerns about the Silurian Valley solar project during a public meeting in Barstow last month, Sasse said his company supported extending the public comment period by a month. The new deadline is May 28.

“The public needs more time to express its interest in the project,” he said.

David Lamfrom, the California desert program manager of the National Parks Conservation Association, said the project is “poorly sited” and well outside a solar energy development zone set in 2012 by the Obama administration to avoid environmental conflicts.

The project would mar what is now a scenic, 30-mile drive on Highway 127 between Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve, he contends.

”We know this site is critical for kit fox and golden eagle, and is a stunning landscape enjoyed by millions of residents and (park) tourists alike each year. We know there are better places for these projects,” Lamfrom said.

The project area also may have cultural significance. The site is near trails used by Native Americans and it’s close to the Old Spanish Trail, which was the route Mormons and other white settlers took after crossing Death Valley, said Joan Patrovsky, a real estate specialist for the BLM.

Sasse said Iberdrola is following a stringent environmental review process designed for projects that fall outside the solar designation zones and these reviews will address all concerns raised about the project.

He added that projects outside solar zones also are needed to bolster the nation’s alternative energy supply that’s needed to cut the carbon emissions associated with global warming.

He also said the company wants to be transparent and is working with the BLM to publicly release biological surveys and other reviews and studies commissioned by the company during the past three years.

The BLM asks that comments about the projects’ impacts on views, air quality, recreation, wildlife, cultural resources and any other issues be sent to: Katrina Symons, BLM Barstow Field Manager, 2601 Barstow Road, Barstow, CA 92311 or by email to Silurian_Valley_Solar@blm.gov.

Shrink feds' share of the West

Nevada ranch standoff illustrates how much land Washington unnecessarily owns.

EDITORIAL
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

For a brief period late last week, American politics seemed to be transported back to the 1990s. The source of the time warp: Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who was engaged in a tense standoff with officials from the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management.

At issue was the fact that the feds were removing Mr. Bundy’s cattle from federal lands on which he had failed to pay grazing fees for more than two decades. With both sides threatening force – Mr. Bundy joined by armed sympathists [sic], the BLM bringing snipers to the scene – it was hard to avoid the memories of violent ’90s conflicts like Ruby Ridge and Waco.

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed in the Silver State, and armed conflict was avoided. It would have been to the eternal discredit of either side had bloodshed resulted from such a low-stakes fight. Disputes over grazing rights aren’t grounds for summoning either armed militias or militarized law enforcement.

Mr. Bundy, it bears noting, is far from blameless in this situation. He’s been in clear violation of the law for more than 20 years. And his justification for the defiance – that he doesn’t recognize the authority of the federal government – is risible.

While we may not be sympathetic to Mr. Bundy’s specific arguments, we are, however, sensitive to his underlying grievance. The land on which Mr. Bundy’s cattle were grazing had been used by his family for ranching since the late 19th century. During the past few decades, however, federal officials have greatly constrained private access to those lands, while raising the attendant fees – a pattern that has happened throughout the West, taking a devastating toll on the ranching industry. That doesn’t justify Mr. Bundy’s one-man exercise in nullification, but it does call the propriety of the government’s role into question.

The deeper issue here is the excessive control that the federal government exercises over land in the American West. In Nevada, the feds own 81 percent of the state’s acreage, according to the Congressional Research Service. Here in California, nearly half – 47.7 percent – of our land belongs to Washington.

There are plenty of instances, of course, where such ownership is entirely unobjectionable. No one doubts the necessity, for instance, of Washington owning the land necessary for military installations and our national parks. But why should property that doesn’t serve such vital purposes remain in government hands?

We’d like to see Washington divest itself of such holdings. The resulting income could swell the Treasury without raising taxes on anyone. And putting more land in private hands would allow residents of these states to negotiate issues like grazing rights through private exchanges – not threats delivered at gunpoint.

Mr. Bundy was in the wrong in the Nevada standoff – but that doesn’t make the system he was railing against any less unjust.

Feds accused of leaving trail of wreckage after Nevada ranch standoff

By William La Jeunesse
FoxNews.com


The federal agency that backed down over the weekend in a tense standoff with a Nevada rancher is being accused of leaving a trail of wreckage behind.

Fox News toured the damage -- allegedly caused by the Bureau of Land Management -- which included holes in water tanks and destroyed water lines and fences. According to family friends, the bureau's hired "cowboys" also killed two prize bulls.

"They had total control of this land for one week, and look at the destruction they did in one week," said Corey Houston, friend of rancher Cliven Bundy and his family. "So why would you trust somebody like that? And how does that show that they're a better steward?"

The BLM and other law enforcement officials backed down on Saturday in their effort to seize Bundy's cattle, after hundreds of protesters, some armed, arrived to show support for the Bundy family. In the end, BLM officials left the scene amid concerns about safety, and no shots were fired.

The dispute between the feds and the Bundy family has been going on for years; they say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees -- and long ago revoked his grazing rights over concern for a federally protected tortoise. They sent officials to round up his livestock following a pair of federal court orders last year giving the U.S. government the authority to impound the cattle.

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.

Bundy's friends say the BLM wranglers told them the bulls were shot because they were dangerous and could gore their horses. One bull was shot five times.

But Houston said the pen holding the bull wasn't even bent. "It's not like the bull was smashing this pen and trying tackle people or anything," he said. "The pen is sitting here. It hasn't moved. No damage whatsoever. Where was the danger with that bull?"

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.

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 -- setting up a potential tragedy as orphaned calves were not getting any milk and feed costs were about to skyrocket.

The showdown is far from over. The BLM says it will "continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially," though Bundy still doesn't recognize federal authority over the federal lands that he continues to use in violation of a court order. The federal judge who issued that decision says Bundy's claims "are without merit."

That order from October 2013 says Bundy owes $200 per day per head for every day he fails to move his cattle. That amounts to roughly $640 million in damages owed to the federal government for illegally grazing his cattle.

Why One Man Traveled Almost 3,000 Miles To Take On The Federal Government At A Ranch In Nevada

Protester Eric Parker from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge next to the Bureau of Land Management's base camp where seized cattle that belonged to rancher Cliven Bundy are being held near Bunkerville, Nev. April 12, 2014. U.S. officials ended a standoff with hundreds of armed protesters in the Nevada desert on Saturday, calling off the government's roundup of cattle it said were illegally grazing on federal land and giving about 300 animals back to rancher Bundy who owned them.

Brett Logiurato
Business Insider


In early March, the Bureau of Land Management sent a letter to cattle rancher Cliven Bundy informing him they intended to impound his "trespass cattle," contending he owes more than $1.2 million in fees. On April 5, they started rounding up the cattle on his property. Since then, his story has become a cause for conservative activists frustrated with the federal government. The plight has attracted numerous activists to his property, and the conflict between Bundy's supporters and federal officials exploded onto the national scene last weekend.

Days after agents with the Bureau of Land Management ended their effort to round up Cliven Bundy's cattle to ease mounting tensions, the showdown between the rancher and the federal government is still attracting armed conservative activists from around the country to a dusty stretch of land about 80 miles east of the Vegas Strip.

Last Tuesday, as he started to read more and more about the situation on The Drudge Report, Jerry DeLemus decided to give Bundy a call.

They spent more than an hour on the phone. "What do you need?" said DeLemus, who was calling from some 2,700 miles away in Dover, N.H.

"I need help," Bundy told him. "I need bodies."

"I'm coming," DeLemus said.

It was as simple as that, DeLemus told Business Insider Tuesday. Soon, he began the long drive in his truck. His son; his friend, Jack; and Jack's son accompanied him on the cross-country trip. All in all, it took 41 hours across a three-day span. They began driving at 5:30 a.m. last Thursday and made it there by Saturday afternoon. They barely took any breaks.
This Wednesday, DeLemus remains in Nevada. He is now running the makeshift "militia" of conservatives protecting the ranch, some of whom are armed with handguns and rifles. DeLemus said about 100 conservative activists are still there, three days after federal agents returned hundreds of cattle they had taken from the ranch.

To DeLemus and these other activists, the Bundy ranch standoff is one of their most important fights yet over what they consider to be an oppressive federal government.

"We are willing to give our lives," he said in a phone interview.

Bundy's fight with the federal Bureau of Land Management dates back to 1993, when the BLM eliminated livestock grazing in the area, citing protection of an endangered tortoise species.

That was when Bundy decided to stop paying grazing fees. And now, the agency says he owes more than $1.2 million in fees. A federal judge first ruled in 1998 that Bundy was trespassing on federal land. Last year, a federal judge ruled the agency could remove the cattle. The BLM, among others, says Bundy is breaking the law.

But activists view the situation in terms of a dispute over states' rights and an oppressive federal government. It was a major topic of conversation among conservative activists last weekend in New Hampshire, where the grassroots groups Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Citizens United hosted the Freedom Summit. It was there that Business Insider met DeLemus' wife, Susan, who said he had been inspired by "freedom."

"Lawlessness," DeLemus said of the situation. "You look that up in the dictionary, and you'll see the definition of our government right beside it. They all are. Congress, both houses, and the White House."

Despite the retreat of the BLM, which cited "escalating tensions" when it returned the cattle to Bundy, DeLemus and many others there have no plan to leave anytime soon.

"You s---in' me?" he said, when asked if he was planning to head back to New Hampshire.

They, and the Bundy family, do not believe their fight with the federal government has ended. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the senior senator from Nevada, said Monday the situation was "not over," citing Bundy's apparent violation of federal law. BLM spokesman Craig Leff told CBS News the agency would now seek to resolve the situation "administratively and judicially," but was unclear on the specific next steps.

Bundy, DeLemus, and the other activists, however, might face another, more unexpected hurdle. They have failed to see much support from some prominent conservatives, who are far from unified in their opinions on the situation.

Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson said on Fox News Monday that, while Bundy was mistreated by the federal government, the land doesn't belong to him. Conservative host Glenn Beck warned conservatives against glorifying "the right's version of Occupy Wall Street."

DeLemus is an avid follower of Beck, having started up a local version of Beck's "9-12 project," comprised of nine principles and 12 values Beck says represent those of the Founding Fathers.

Though he said he actually agreed with some of the points made by Occupy Wall Street, DeLemus thinks there's a key difference here: The Bundy supporters are not being reactionary and "causing destruction." They are fighting for constitutional rights, he said.

His message to Beck and other skeptical conservatives: Come to Nevada and see the situation firsthand.

"Glenn doesn't know the whole story," DeLemus said. "He needs to come out here."

‘The Rise of the West’

Nevada standoff signifies movement against federal control of public lands

Cowboys and patriots pause for the National Anthem outside of Bunkerville, Nev. while gathering with other supporters of the Bundy family to challenge the BLM. (Reuters)

Elizabeth Harrington
Washington Free Beacon


BUNKERVILLE, NEV.— For some, the story of Cliven Bundy and his 20-year fight against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is about one man’s refusal to pay grazing fees on public land he doesn’t own.

For the family, and scores of supporters that have come to his aid in the face of aggressive force used by the federal government, what happened in Bunkerville, Nev. is about the “rise of the West.”

“As important as it is for a man to fight for his ranch and his livelihood, this is much bigger than that,” said Ammon Bundy, Cliven’s son. “This is the American people fighting for their freedoms.”

The BLM brought 200 armed officials, helicopters, and snipers with them to take the Bundys’ cattle away, a result of a two-decades court battle over $1 million in unpaid grazing fees, and the BLM’s decision to block off nearly a third of the land for the “critical desert tortoise.”

After a week of heated clashes with the family, the standoff ended on Saturday when the federal government called the operation off citing safety concerns, and cowboys and protesters stormed the impound gate to set the Bundys’ cows free.

As of Monday, not a single BLM ranger remained. But for the Bundys, and many like them, the fight has just begun.

***

Hundreds of supporters from across the country gathered off Interstate 15, about 70 miles outside of Las Vegas, on Monday. A sea of cowboy hats, “No BLM” pins, and American flags, many members of the crowd had their own story of federal bureaucrats infringing on their land.

“I’m standing on a metal knee that I got from a Bundy bull 43 years ago,” said Allen, who came from just across the border in Utah.

Allen used to do rodeo, and was bucked off one of Cliven’s brother’s bulls in 1971.

“We’re totally completely surrounded by the Forest Service where our ranch is on the mountain,” he said. “And they screw with us constantly.”

Allen said he’s been harassed by Forest Service Rangers patrolling near his family’s livestock ranch, telling him he can’t ride his ATV on the land because it isn’t “licensed.”

“I tell them, ‘You’re on my property, dude. You ain’t gotta tell me what I’m gonna do on my property.’”

“I’m sorry the Bundys are going through this, but it’s a good thing,” said Bruce Olsen, from Arizona. “It had to happen sooner or later.”

“I’ve been waiting for this event for 59 years,” he said.

Olsen grew up near Kansas City, and watched thousands of farmers displaced after the government built a dam he said the community didn’t want or need.

“The federal government in this country is gone,” Olsen said. “The best thing that could happen to this country is go to Washington, D.C., throw a long chain around the District of Columbia, drag it down the Potomac out to sea, let it sink. And it’d be two months before anyone in America ever missed them.”

David R. Rawls from Florence, Ariz., has spent most of his life battling the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service.

When Rawls, 70, was 15 years old the family was told that a railroad would be built through their six mining claim properties. His family then spent decades battling the government in the courts, and Rawls and his mother were evicted by dozens of heavily armed U.S. Marshals and Forest Service officials.

His father, a “real man of the West,” died a decade into the ordeal.

“All of the strain of this put him under so much stress, after 10 years he got kidney cancer and died,” Rawls said. “He got heart broke and sick. When dad saw that everything he had worked so hard for all his life was being stolen he got sick and died.”

Rawls has set up camp just off River Cliff Road. His white van that’s covered in political signs and quotes from Thomas Jefferson sits on the shoulder, along with hand-made six-foot signs telling his story, and messages against “totalitarianism.”

“They’re just thieves,” he said.

“Over the last 55 years I’ve watched with an eagle eye, I’ve watched them wipe out thousands of small miners, thousands of small farmers,” he said. “They’ve basically wiped out the family farm.”

Rawls said he hopes the Bundy standoff will bring awareness to what his family and so many others have gone through at the hands of federal bureaucracies.

“If fault was done to us, and a whole bunch of other people, these people could get wide exposure in this country. They would turn everything around,” he said.
“The American people would be really outraged of what’s been going on.”

***

The Bundy family stood proud during the Monday press conference, standing atop a trailer that was used for a stage. Margaret Houston, Cliven’s sister who was pushed to the ground by BLM rangers, said she feels like she has friends “all over the United States.”

“We’ve opened the door for the sheriffs and the people to step in, take care of their areas,” she said. “I feel wonderful.”

Though the family and supporters felt a sense of accomplishment, they won’t be satisfied after just pushing out the BLM.

“It’s incredibly important that we take that victory and take it and spread it around the West,” said Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, an organization of current and former military, police, and first responders who came to the Bundys’ aid.

“What’s going to happen now is the rise of the West,” he said.

In a post noting that Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on legally, attorney and blogger John Hinderaker explained why people should nevertheless be sympathetic to the family’s plight.

“The bedrock issue here is that the federal government owns more than 80% of the state of Nevada. … Most of the land is federal. And the federal agencies that rule over federal lands have agendas,” Hinderaker wrote. “At every opportunity, it seems, they restrict not only what can be done on federal lands, but on privately-owned property. They are hostile to traditional industries like logging, mining and ranching, and if you have a puddle in your back yard, the EPA will try to regulate it as a navigable waterway.”

For the Bundys, the issue isn’t about grazing fees, or the desert tortoise. The 600,000 acres of public land that the family has ranched since the 1870s should be in the hands of Nevada, they say.

“It’s not at all [about grazing fees],” Ammon Bundy said. “Because you shouldn’t have to pay rent on your own property.”

The Bundys lost in court because the federal government has held title to the land since 1838. The BLM did not begin managing the land until 1946, when the agency was founded. Believing the agency doesn’t have Nevada’s interest at heart, the Bundys want the land to be ceded to the state, and are hopeful their state government will work to make that happen.

“I think our state elected officials are going to completely take over from here,” Ammon Bundy told the Washington Free Beacon. “And they’re going to protect the people in most areas, and in ones that won’t, they’ll be replaced.”

“We’re gonna get this right,” he said. “It’s going to take a little bit of time, but we’re gonna get it right.”

Over 80 percent of Nevada is public land, but the majority of it is no longer ranched. Bundy is the last public land rancher in Clark County, and only three remain in all of Southern Nevada, according to the BLM.

The future of Bundys’ ranching in the Gold Butte area remains uncertain. Though they called off the impoundment, the BLM said it would continue to “work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said, “It’s not over.”

“We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it,” Reid said, who has close ties to the Interior Department and energy companies that have benefited from fast-tracked approval to lease federal lands for solar projects in Nevada and California. Neil Kornze, the principal deputy director for the BLM is a former energy staffer for Reid.

“So, it’s not over,” he said.

***

Armed with his DPMS 5.56 Oracle, Dale Potter was stationed at the top of the ridge, guarding the entryway into the Bundy Ranch homestead. Though the BLM is gone, armed Bundy supporters remain, in case the government comes back.

A member of the North Dakota Defense Force, Potter quit his day job doing garage door installation to help protect the Bundys.

“We are not leaving until the Bundys are safe,” he said. “Even if they think they can run us out.”

Outside the Bundys’ home were Booda Cavalier and Ryan Payne, former Marines who have joined local militias, and are running security for the Bundys’ and their 14 kids and 48 grandchildren.

“I don’t get much sleep,” said Cavalier, who operates an off-road vehicle business in Prescott, Ariz. He returned home on Saturday after the cattle were released, but quickly realized the Bundys still needed his help.

“There are still safety issues here,” he said. “And Mr. and Mrs. Bundy are concerned with their safety and their family’s safety.”

“This is duty,” said Payne, an industrial and commercial electrician from Montana. A former assistant team leader in a long-range surveillance unit for the XVIII Airborne Corps, Payne joined the West Mountain Rangers, 41st Mountain Field Force militia group a year and a half ago.

He started Operation Mutual Aid, a coalition of militias that travel across the country to provide defense of “public and private property, lives, and liberty,” with Jerry Bruckhart.

“We’re normal people, just like anybody else,” Cavalier said. “We’ll sit here and bullshit, and have a beer and a campfire, let the kids run around.”

Cavalier said the Bundys’ stand against the BLM will have major implications.

“It’s huge. I wish there would have been more, true mainstream media coverage to share this to the world,” he said. “This is a serious event.”

“Part of Operation Mutual Aid’s mission is to illuminate how you can stand in defense of liberty and actually accomplish it, because people are scared and they don’t know how to do it,” Payne said. “They just saw how to do it.”

For Cavalier and Payne, witnessing the Bundys’ young grandchildren play as if nothing has happened makes the sacrifice of their time and energy worth it.

“Seeing the kids reinforces why we’re here,” Payne said. “This is to secure freedom for our progeny.”

“I come out here to do a duty that’s right,” Cavalier said. “And to see the feeling of Mr. Bundy’s cattle coming down that hill. And [Cliven] just tells me, ‘Booda, let’s go into my river.’”

“And we all went into that river, and watching him bend over and splash some cool water in his face, and then Mrs. Bundy coming down, and him splashing his wife, saying, ‘Hey, we almost did it, honey.’ And the kids playing out here,” he said. “The people’s comfort that they provide you is—it’s almost erotic. I can’t walk into that house without coming out and Mrs. Bundy trying to rifle some food down our throats.”

“The rewarding feeling of something like that, I can’t even put it into words,” he said. “That’s the simplicity of it.”

April 15, 2014

Obama administration’s ‘Culture of intimidation’ seen in Nevada ranch standoff

Critics say fight isn’t first instance of feds’ ‘overkill’

By Valerie Richardson
The Washington Times


Sending scores of armed agents along with helicopters and dogs to confront an elderly Nevada rancher over grazing fees may seem like overkill, but critics say it’s not inconsistent with the federal government’s recent approach to environmental enforcement.

The simmering truce between the Bundys and the Bureau of Land Management comes after high-profile raids last year by armed federal agents on small-time gold miners in tiny Chicken, Alaska, and guitar makers at the Gibson Guitar facilities in Tennessee.

That doesn’t include more subtle threats, such as recent efforts by the Obama administration to raise grazing fees or pressure permit holders to transfer their water rights as a condition of renewal, said Ryan Yates, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau.

“Some have called it a culture of intimidation,” Mr. Yates said. “It’s issue after issue, threat after threat. It’s becoming harder and harder to keep those operations in business.”

The atmosphere was quiet but tense Tuesday at the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville, Nev., just days after Bureau of Land Management chief Neil Kornze pulled federal agents off the property and returned about 400 head of cattle to rancher Cliven Bundy.

A BLM spokesman said the agency would work to resolve the dispute “administratively and judicially,” but so far Bundy supporters aren’t buying it. Patrols of armed supporters remained at the ranch on the lookout for the return of BLM agents, instead of heeding calls from lawmakers to disband and return home, according to KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.

That may be in part because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned Monday that “it’s not over.”

Meanwhile, former Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, told Fox News he worried the federal government could hit back hard at the Bundy ranch.

“The other thing is, governments don’t give up their power easily, and they may well come back with a lot more force, like they did at Waco with the Davidians,” said Mr. Paul, referring to the deadly 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound. “So I don’t know which way it’s going, but so far, so good.”

Examples of hostile behavior by federal agencies prompted an Oct. 29 oversight hearing by a House Natural Resources subcommittee on “Threats, Intimidation and Bullying by Federal Land Managing Agencies.”

Rep. Rob Bishop, Utah Republican, said in his opening statement at the time that the hearing would feature “a number of troubling cases in which federal land managing agencies have employed abusive tactics to extort rural families into giving up property rights or to bully farmers and ranchers into making concessions to which the federal agency had no legal right.”

While Mr. Bundy has been criticized for failing to pay his grazing fees, a move made after federal efforts to limit grazing after the desert tortoise was listed as threatened, the BLM’s over-the-top response has helped turn him into a sympathetic figure among rural Westerners.

“I think there are many people who object to someone not paying grazing fees but who also find the federal government’s behavior in this situation in particular, and with regard to management of the enormous federal estate in general, to be increasingly indefensible — intimidating, destructive and cruel,” said Heritage Foundation senior adviser Robert Gordon.

As Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval put it shortly after the BLM’s arrival, “No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation, which currently exists, nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans.”

Nevada Rancher: ‘The Founding Fathers Didn’t Create A Government Like This’

Rancher Cliven Bundy outside his ranch house on April 11, 2014 west of Mesquite, Nev. (George Frey/Getty Images

CBS Las Vegas
AP


RENO, Nev. — A Nevada rancher said Monday he’s trying to determine if federal agents damaged his cattle when the animals were rounded up then released in a showdown with angry protesters over a decades-long dispute about rangeland rights.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze said the agency backed off to avoid a potentially violent situation over the weekend.

However, he vowed to go to court to collect more than $1 million in back grazing fees he says Cliven Bundy owes for trespassing on federal lands since the 1990s.



Bundy, whose family has operated a ranch since the 1870s southwest of Mesquite a few miles from the Utah line, does not recognize federal authority on the land that he insists belongs to Nevada.

On Saturday, the bureau released about 400 head of cattle it had seized from Bundy. The operation had been expected to take a month to collect as many as 900 cattle.

The animals were freed after armed militia members joined hundreds of states’ rights protesters at corrals outside Mesquite. Bundy said they were united in defense of their constitutional rights.

“They have faith in the Constitution,” Bundy told a local Las Vegas radio station on Monday. “The founding fathers didn’t create a government like this.”

Bundy told KLAS-TV that American citizens helped get his cattle back.

“There is no deal here. The citizens of America and Clark County went and took their cattle. There was no negotiations. They took these cattle. They are in possession of these cattle and I expect them to come home soon,” Bundy told KLAS.

The BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board was meeting in Sacramento on Monday on the broader issue fueling the conflict over how to divide the scarce forage on mostly dry lands across the West between livestock, wild horses and wildlife.

Wild-horse protection advocates say the government is rounding up too many mustangs while allowing sheep and cattle to feed at taxpayer expense on the same rangeland scientists say is being overgrazed. Ranchers say the government refuses to gather enough horses in the herds that double in size every five years.

Advocates on both sides accused the board of not addressing their concerns.

“Americans want wild horses on our public lands,” said wild horse advocate Bonnie Kohleriter. “You cattlemen and wildlife people are special interest groups. … You need to stop attacking the wild horses, attempting to diminish their numbers, and make resources available to them.”

Debra Hawk, a biologist representing the Wildlife Society, said the BLM’s failure to cut the number of wild horses is harming other species that rely on the land. She criticized the agency for indicating it may not continue the horse roundups, saying the BLM should “utilize all methods available” to cut the population.

“Not conducting roundups will result in further degradation of native ranges, harming native wildlife and plants,” and is better for the health of native horses, she said.

Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore said she spent much of the past week with the Bundy family and helped feed some of the calves that were returned over the weekend.

“It’s going to take a lot to revive the calves that were nearly dead when they were returned to the Bundy Ranch because they had been separated from their mothers during the roundup, and a few most likely won’t make it,” said Fiore, a Republican from Las Vegas. “It’s time for Nevada to stand up to the federal government and demand the return of the BLM lands to the people of Nevada.”

Horse protection advocates and other critics of livestock grazing on federal land said the government’s suspension of the roundup sends the wrong signal to law-abiding ranchers who secure the necessary grazing permits to use the land.

The BLM “is allowing a freeloading rancher and armed thugs to seize hundreds of thousands of acres of the people’s land as their own,” said Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s backing down in the face of threats and posturing of armed sovereignists.”

BLM spokesman Craig Leff said the agency will work to resolve the matter “administratively and judicially” but planned no further public comment on Bundy’s case.

“The gather is over,” he said in an email.

In 1998, BLM secured the first of a series of court orders that found Bundy’s cattle in trespass, rejecting his argument the land in an area known as Gold Butte belonged to the state.

BLM filed a new complaint in U.S. court in Las Vegas in May 2012 seeking an injunction to prevent what it called Bundy’s continued trespassing, and Judge Lloyd George issued another order last July authorizing the agency to impound the cattle.

April 14, 2014

Wildflowers color Joshua Tree National Park

Wildflowers are blooming in parts of Joshua Tree National Park. A group hikes through a patch of wildflowers during a research class at the park on Sunday, April 13, 2014.(Ian James/The Desert Sun)

Ian James
The Desert Sun


JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK – Wildflowers are blooming in abundance in parts of Joshua Tree National Park, filling the desert with photogenic patches of yellow, orange, blue, pink and purple.

Flowers have appeared despite the prolonged drought in areas where winter rains wetted the soil enough to trigger the bloom.

“It really looks pretty fantastic,” said Josh Hoines, vegetation branch chief at the national park. “It is one of the better displays we’ve had in recent years, keeping in mind it is confined to a relatively small area.”

The wildflowers are most abundant near the park’s west entrance and in other areas extending to Hidden Valley and Cap Rock.

As he helped lead a research class in the park on Sunday, Hoines pointed out types of wildflowers: Mojave aster, purple mat, tidy tips, woolly daisies, desert dandelions, Fremont’s pincushion and desert globemallow.

“What little rain we did get this winter was patchy and not as widespread as we have had in years past, so what we did get was fairly concentrated,” Hoines said. “We’ve been very surprised and excited to see the displays we do have.”

Some participants in the class bent down to snap photos of the flowers among boulders and Joshua trees.

“The wildflowers were fabulous. They were a real treat for my eyes because I hadn’t seen them in the past few years,” said Esther Shaw, a Yucca Valley artist who participated in the class. “I saw some of the rare wildflowers that you don’t always see.”

Shaw said she will return to the park with a group of artists this weekend with plans to paint a watercolor of wildflowers.

The flowers are now at their peak and will soon start to decline, Hoines said.

“As it heats up, they’re going to go quick,” he said.

Flashback: Sen. Reid Breaks Ground for Nevada Solar Farm Near Bundy Ranch

The senator’s plan for solar farms in Nevada wasn’t just limited to the shelved project near Laughlin

(From RIGHT to left) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) joins Moapa Band of Paiutes Chairwoman Aletha Tom, First Solar CEO James Hughes, LADWP director of power system planning and development Randy Howard, and the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council to break ground on the 250 MW Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project. (Photo: Business Wire)

Kit Daniels
Infowars.com


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who was exposed last Friday as the mastermind behind the Bureau of Land Management’s persecution of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, can be seen in this March 2014 photo breaking ground for a new solar farm near the Bundy Ranch, emphasizing that the senator’s plan for solar projects in Nevada wasn’t just limited to the shelved solar farm near Laughlin.

Signaling the first day of construction of the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, which is about 35 miles from the Bundy homestead in Bunkerville, Nevada, Sen. Reid joined representatives from the Moapa Band of Paiutes, executives from First Solar, Inc. and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for the groundbreaking ceremony on March 21.

“First Solar is thrilled to celebrate this important milestone with Sen. Reid and distinguished guests, and honored to work with the Moapa Band of Paiutes on this landmark project,” Jim Hughes, the CEO of First Solar, said at the time.

The development of solar farms just like this one is exactly why Sen. Reid was using the BLM, whose director is Reid’s former senior advisor, to push Bundy out of the Gold Butte area his family has worked for over 140 years.

As we revealed last Friday in an article that became the #1 news story in the world for 24 hours, the BLM specifically stated that it wanted Bundy and his cattle out of the area as part of the agency’s “regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone.”

The BLM attempted a cover-up by deleting documents exposing the plan from its web site, but fortunately contributors at the Free Republic were able to save them for posterity.

Others have attempted to whitewash the situation by suggesting that the solar farm development was only limited to the shelved 2012 deal between Sen. Reid and Chinese-owned ENN Energy Group in Laughlin, Nev., but by reading the BLM’s own documents it is quite obvious that this is not the case.

“The BLM’s current action builds on the Western Solar Energy Plan, a two-year planning effort conducted on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Energy to expand domestic energy production and spur development of solar energy on public lands in six western states,” the BLM announced in a March 14 press release. “The Western Solar Energy Plan provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah by establishing Solar Energy Zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those Solar Energy Zones, and a process through which to consider additional Solar Energy Zones and solar projects.”

“The Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone is the first of several pilot plans to be developed by the BLM,” the press release added.

In summary, the BLM, acting under Sen. Reid’s corrupt interests, wants Cliven Bundy out of the 600,000 acre Gold Butte area so the agency can use the land for future solar projects and de facto buffer zones surrounding the solar farms.

This is crony capitalism at its finest and Bundy’s supporters, who numbered in the thousands, knew it.

BLM to Pursue Effort to End Dispute with Rancher

Prior to backing down, federal law enforcement officers block a road into the land rancher Cliven Bundy claims is his.

Associated Press
WLIX.com


A day after blinking in a showdown on the range, federal land managers pledged to pursue efforts to resolve a conflict with a southern Nevada rancher who has refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years.

Bureau of Land Management spokesman Craig Leff said the agency would continue to try to resolve the matter involving rancher Cliven Bundy "administratively and judicially." Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees, according to the bureau.

"The door isn't closed. We'll figure out how to move forward with this," he said Sunday. He declined to comment on possible options.

Bundy did not respond to requests for comment.

The fight between Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management widened into a debate about states' rights and federal land-use policy. Bundy does not recognize federal authority on land he insists belongs to Nevada.

On Saturday, the bureau released about 400 head of cattle it had seized from Bundy back to him only hours after announcing a premature halt to the roundup due to safety concerns. The operation, expected to take up to a month, ended after only a week.

The cattle were freed after hundreds of states' rights protesters, some of them armed militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals' release.

Las Vegas Police Lt. Dan Zehnder told The Associated Press that Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie was able to negotiate a resolution after talking with Bundy.

But Leff stressed that the bureau did not take part in the negotiations.

"The BLM and National Park Service did not cut any deal and negotiate anything," he said. "There was no deal we made."

The several hundred cows gathered during the roundup were short of the BLM's goal of 900 cows that it says have been trespassing on U.S. land without required grazing permits for over 20 years.

The showdown over Bundy's cattle was the latest chapter in the Sagebrush Rebellion, which was launched by Nevada lawmakers in the 1970s in an attempt to turn control of federal land to the states.

Environmentalists accused the bureau of capitulating to threats of violence from armed Bundy supporters and urged them to pursue action against the rancher.

"The BLM has a sacred duty to manage our public lands in the public interest, to treat all users equally and fairly," said Rob Mrowka, senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Instead it is allowing a freeloading rancher and armed thugs to seize hundreds of thousands of acres of the people's land as their own fiefdom."

"The BLM is setting a dangerous precedent in announcing that it will pick and choose who has to follow federal laws and who it will reward for violating them," he added.

Leff declined to comment, reiterating that the bureau's top concern was the safety of its employees and the public.

In April 2012, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the bureau for canceling a planned roundup of Bundy's cattle at the last minute.

The dispute that ultimately triggered last week's roundup dates to 1993, when the bureau cited concern for the federally protected desert tortoise in the region.

The bureau was implementing two federal court orders issued last year to remove Bundy's cattle after making repeated efforts to resolve the matter outside court.