From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | U.S. | Animal Liberation | Environment & Forest Defense
Federal Agencies Capitulate to Armed Militia: Allow Rancher to Run Trespass Cattle
by Center for Biological Diversity
Sunday Apr 13th, 2014 12:55 PM
LAS VEGAS— The Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and other federal agencies on April 12 capitulated to threats of violence from armed militia members and ceased their legally and morally required duty to remove trespass cattle from public lands. Even worse, they returned 400 head of cattle confiscated over the past week so they can be illegally turned out on public land again without permit, payment or management.
“The BLM has a sacred duty to manage our public lands in the public interest, to treat all users equally and fairly. Instead it as allowing a freeloading rancher and armed thugs to seize hundreds of thousands of acres of the people’s land as their own fiefdom,” said Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The BLM monumentally failed to remove the trespass cattle, collect fees, or protect the land for more than 20 years. Now it’s backing down in the face of threats and posturing of armed sovereignists. This is absolutely pathetic and an insult to ranchers and others who hold permits and pay their required fees to use the public lands for profit.”

In stopping the roundup of illegal cattle on public lands, the federal agencies are ignoring two court orders, one from 1998 and the most recent from 2013, as well as their duties under the Taylor Grazing Act, Federal Land Management Policy Act, Endangered Species Act and Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.

Twenty years ago, rancher Cliven Bundy stopped paying the Bureau of Land Management for the natural resources his business takes from BLM lands in the Gold Butte area south of Mesquite, Nev. His permit was consequently revoked, but he has continued to graze cattle on the land illegally and without payment, giving him an unfair business advantage over the thousands of other ranchers who pay for the grass they use on private, state and public lands. Bundy has racked up $1 million in fees, penalties and interest that he refuses to pay. He has also refused to obey two court orders obtained by the BLM requiring him to remove the trespass cattle.

Federal agents began rounding up cattle a week ago but decided today to call it off. As many as 400 of Bundy’s cattle that were impounded are now being given back to him so he can once again turn them out on public lands without any payment or management.

“The BLM’s 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. It is opening the door for every business to stop paying for the water, wood, grass and minerals they take from our public lands. It is encouraging armed extremists to take over whatever lands it wants and threaten the public and public-land managers,” Mrowka said.

Bundy abdicated his grazing permit in 1994 due to lack of payment. In 1998 Clark County, as administrator for the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, purchased from willing sellers all the valid existing grazing leases in the Gold Butte area for $375,000 in exchange for being able to destroy a set amount of tortoise habitat on private lands to facilitate growth and development. The purchase included the revoked grazing permit, but Bundy has continued to graze on the county’s conservation land, undermining the agreement.

In April 2012 the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the BLM for canceling a planned roundup of the trespass cattle at the last moment.

“The situation is still very dynamic and uncertain,” said Mrowka, “and we are still gathering the facts and assessing the situation. That said, it’s clear that the BLM has a legal duty to remove trespass cattle for the land entrusted to it by the American people. It has a moral responsibility to not let armed thugs and threats of violence seize hundreds of thousands of acres of public land for their own. We intend to hold the BLM accountable to the American people, fair play, and the clear intent of the law.”


The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 675,000 members and on-line activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Dan
Sunday Apr 13th, 2014 3:15 PM
Open warfare? Is the BLM trained or equipped to take on heavily armed militia members? I suspect not. Add to that the reality that the State of Nevada doesn't want a war within its borders. And that's what it would be. I believe this country is teetering on the edge of a takeover by the US Army-field grade officers have talked about it for the last few years. Armed resurrection would provide the perfect excuse for the Army to step in despite federal law to the contrary.
by Little Joe
Sunday Apr 13th, 2014 3:55 PM
Well you are off to a bad start right there. The BLM isn't sacred and neither is the federal government. The BLM and the BIA are also "managing" native traditions off the lands, asserting authority over our tribal sovereignty and shaking automatic weapons in people's faces.

There's nothing moral or ethical about a land grab. Did you know these agencies are euthanising over 1400 of these "protected" turtles? They claim they can't afford to take care of them! Why aren't they releasing in other areas? Because they determined all other areas to be at present optimal "population density" in other words...THEY AREN'T ENDANGERED AT ALL.

The assertion that these cattle aren't "managed" is pure cow poop. The lands in question have been carefully managed and stock ponds maintained that all of the animals in the area depended on--not just cattle. This land has sustained cattle since the 1800s. Does it look a lot different than the surrouding area to you? A drive there would sufficiently inform you.

This is a land grab. This land is slated for development. How eco friendly do you think that's going to be? It's further habitat loss for all animals EXCEPT humans. And there's nothing sacred or holy about it. Mr. Bundy pursued legal recourse and he was winning against BLM! It was BLM that informed the courts themselves that they had no jurisdiction and they they EXITED THE COURT AND RECUSED THEMSELVES FROM LEGAL PROCESS. If they chose to resume the legal process all they have to do is show up next time. Admittedly the legal basis for this land use is complex but apparently you haven't even bothered to look into it so shall we assume it's too complicated for you?

See that's why some people don't trust the "liberal environmental spin". You are too used to reading from scripts to understand any particular situation.
Yes. Absolutely. The BLM has special tactical units and can call in any other federal agency needed including the US army via their 'reserves' without consulting the state... Because "Federal Land". They also have intelligence units. Just ask the Rainbow Family about the "Rainbow Squad" from the BLM and Forest Service tasked with harassing them onsite, and on the road to the event.

As I said in another indybay post regarding a bill in congress 'protecting the bay from Shale Oil development'.

    ROTF! And that 'analysis' will simply be a peer reviewed, congress/petroleum industry pandering shoo-in for Fracking off the California coast. Or else those "analysts' will have to find some other way to make their living because they'll never get a penny from the federal government again

    Maybe the approach illustrated above would work better to ensure the environmental sanctity of the Monterey Bay, and it was just tested by Right wing militias from the Western US because the federal government has also developed a bad habit of impinging on American citizen’s land available for food production so they can “Frack” it.

    Too bad Californians in their fear of "The Other", have allowed themselves to be disarmed of even one of the most common hunting rifle in the US, the M1 carbine, no less any more modern weapons.