Letter Re: Clark County Nevada Cattle Situation

Hugh,

I have been a long time reader of this site and find it informative and useful. I think it would be prudent of you to do a bit more research into the accusations that Mr. Bundy is making regarding his cattle. I am not an investigator or a lawyer and do not want you to take what I am saying at face value. Please do your own research. Mr. Bundy is probably a good guy fighting what he believes are injustices to him and fighting in the only way he knows. The bottom line is that according to media reports including “Theblaze” he admits that he has not been paying grazing fees to the Bureau of Land Management since 1993 for the grazing use of public land managed by that agency. When people do not pay their grazing fees, it means they are taking public resources without compensating the public for that “takings”. We, you and I, are the public so he is taking from us by not paying his fees.

Apparently, in 1998 the BLM and USFWS set aside the land he grazes on for the threatened Desert Tortoise. So he no longer has any “right” or permit to graze that land. Because of his family’s long history in the area and that fact that this designation may harm him and his families future that battle seems like the one he should be fighting not the grazing fees.

Having said that, I will also say there are no real good guys here because the BLM has fumbled this from the start. Setting up a so called “First Amendment Area” and/or arresting those that are protesting their actions outside of those areas is obscene and unconstitutional. I also can not see why they need to close such a large area of roads in order to accomplish their goal of rounding up his cattle.

I am only going off of news stories, and to be honest stories in the news are not always factual, so I wouldn’t bet my reputation on them. I am just providing a bit of background information so you can do your own research and realize that this is a bit more complicated situation then Mr. Bundy being persecuted by the feds. And honestly, I think comparing this situation to Ruby Ridge incident where Mr. Weaver was persecuted for a relatively minor infraction and his family members injured and killed is inflammatory to say the least. – Anonymous

HJL Replies: We have received a number of responses similar to this one, and at first glance they seem to have a valid point. Mr. Bundy isn’t paying his fees and shouldn’t be allowed to graze. The point being missed is one called “prior usage rights”. Most people in states on either coast generally have a very limited knowledge, because the Federal government “owns” very little land within those state boundaries. In the Southwest, though, the issue is often forefront because resources can be so scarce. The issue generally comes up regarding water rights due to the scarcity of water, but land and mineral rights also occasionally occur. This case falls under that category. As stated in my notes today, the Bundys had prior usage of the land (and possibly prior usage to the formation of the state of Nevada). This means that the BLM’s options according to long standing tradition and case law are pretty limited. By bringing the Desert Tortoise into the mix, it is unclear whether that is simply a ploy by the federal government to pre-empt those usage rights and declare eminent domain or if it is a real problem. It is even unclear if the federal government has any standing on owning land in these states, as there is a clear trail suggesting that the federal government was supposed to turn over that land to the states upon them becoming states. There is no cut-and-dried explanation for any of the BLM’s actions, and there is clear precedence on Mr. Bundy’s actions. In any case, the federal government’s heavy-handed tactics should be reigned in.

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