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  • Heated Cattle Debates Spikes The Question: Who Really Owns The Land?
    by Carin Miller
    Published - 04/10/14 - 11:10 AM | 21 21 comments | 82 82 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Bundy cattle being driven across the range. Image taken from Cliven Bundy's blog found at http://bundyranch.blogspot.com
    Bundy cattle being driven across the range. Image taken from Cliven Bundy's blog found at http://bundyranch.blogspot.com
    (CLARK COUNTY, Nev.) – A 20-year-long dispute over grazing rights and landownership came to a head Saturday exploding beyond state lines and raising serious questions about state’s rights versus federal land ownership by American citizens across the nation.

    Since Saturday morning the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service have removed a total of 352 cattle from public lands in the Gold Butte, Nev. area – cattle owned by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

    Bundy said his family has been working the land in Clark County since before Nevada was granted statehood. He said that the federal government has no right to own land that rests within a sovereign state based on the constitution.

    “It’s really about our constitutional rights and statehood,” he said. “And whether this area known as the state of Nevada is owned by the United States government or is owned by the sovereign state of Nevada.”

    Despite Bundy’s claim that the federal government has no right to charge fees to land that is owned by the state of Nevada, BLM Public Affairs Specialist said that the U.S. government unequivocally owns public lands, and that Bundy is subject to two federal court orders to remove his cattle from said lands.

    She said that Bundy is in violation of both orders, and that he left the BLM no choice, but to confiscate the estimated 908 head of cattle.

    “The United States government owns and has broad authority to regulate federal lands in Nevada,” Cannon said. “In response to challenges of federal ownership of the lands in Nevada, the 9th circuit held that the federal government owned all federal lands in Nevada, and that those lands did not pass to the state upon statehood.”

    In addition, the government does manage those lands, for public benefit, they are your public lands, and Mr. Bundy has been in trespass on your public lands for more than twenty years,” she added.

    In 1993, Bundy said the BLM revoked his grazing rights in order to protect Desert Tortoise habitat. He said that the BLM now has plans to euthanize thousands of tortoises, because they have an overpopulation that has developed from mismanaged lands.

    According to the BLM website, found at http://www.blm.gov/, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center that opened in 1990 to protect the Desert Tortoise, because development was threatening their livelihood, is preparing to close due to a lack of funding. Though the website does not indicate how many tortoises the BLM plans to euthanize, it does say that “healthy tortoises will not be euthanized” in bold lettering.

    NPS spokeswoman Christie Vanover said that Bundy’s grazing rights were cancelled in 1993, because he stopped paying fees, not, because of the Desert Tortoise. She said that since then Bundy has accumulated over $1 million in cattle grazing and trespass fees he now owes the American government, and thereby the American people.

    According to Bundy’s blog, found at http://bundyranch.blogspot.com/, the BLM and the NPS have not simply been removing cattle. The blog reported that the show of force by the federal government has included armed federal agents and helicopters leaving the Bundy’s in fear for their lives, especially after the arrest of Bundy’s son Dave Bundy for filming BLM and NPS activities outside of a “free speech zone”.

    Dave said that when the rangers first approached they had their weapons drawn and they told him that he had to leave, because he could not film on federal land. He said he declined to move stating that he was on a state highway and not federal land, and that he had a first amendment right to protest peacefully and that he was not violating any laws, nor behaving in a non-peaceful manner.

    It was then, Dave said, that the rangers moved in from both sides to take him down in an attempt to forcibly remove him from the side of the road. He said he tried to keep from being pummeled face first into the ground, but a third ranger began to kick and punch him so he collapsed to the ground.

    Iron County Commissioner David Miller said he was on the phone with Dave’s brother Ryan Bundy at the time, and heard the whole thing in real time as it unfolded.

    “He was telling me ‘I’ve got people all around me, and I can see snipers up on the hill’,” he said explaining that shortly after he heard a lot of commotion and then the phone line went dead.

    When Ryan called him back shortly after, Miller said he learned that Dave had been arrested and assaulted by law enforcement officers.

    “At that point I drove down there,” he said. “Not, because I have a vested interest in the Bundy situation, but because I believe wholeheartedly that an injustice against one, is an injustice against all.”

    Vanover said “free speech zones” were designated by the NPS and the BLM for the safety and the convenience of the public. She said the zones are placed in prominent areas and allow protestors to gather so that they can express their first amendment rights out of the way of traffic, but are still able to be seen by the general public.

    “We don’t hide them in an area where they’re not going to be heard,” she said. “We want people to be out there, we want them to express their points of view, because ultimately we work for the American people.”

    Cannon said that Dave was charged with refusing to disperse and resisting issuance of citation or arrest. She said that was the only statement the BLM would release in response to the allegations of excessive force.

    As the crowds of protesters have grown through the week – putting a national spotlight on the issue that has come to be known as the Bundy vs. BLM/NPS “Range War” – deep emotions from American citizens who can still remember Ruby Ridge have swelled pushing many into action.

    The 2014 Progressive Democratic Candidate for Nevada Governor Allen Rheinhart said this is not the first time he has witnessed the BLM strong arm a Nevada rancher. He said the BLM took cattle belonging to a man named Wayne Hage for the same reasons cited in the Bundy case.

    “The BLM took some of his cattle, Rheinhart said. “Then (they) sold them all off for grazing on BLM land, and then sent him a bill for housing the cattle until the auction took place.

    “In the end, he was forced to sell his ranch – a ranch that had been in his family for four generations if memory serves me correctly.”

    Rheinhart said he wanted to contact the Bundy’s out of concern for their safety from the “ultra-nationalist crazies talking about coming here from North Carolina with guns and ammo”. He said he has read the threats on the Bundy’s blog, and he takes them very seriously.

    “It won't take much at this point to turn Bunkerville, Nevada into Ruby Ridge II,” Rheinhart said.

    The bottom line, Vanover said, was that the Bundy’s had been given ample opportunity to voluntarily remove their cattle from public lands before the roundup that began Saturday morning. She said certain parts of public lands will remain closed to the public for the next couple of weeks, depending on how long it takes to gather all of the Bundy’s cattle.

    More information about the history of trespass cattle on public lands, and closure locations including dates and times is available at www.blm.gov

    Look for the next story tonight on KCSG: How The Range War Hit Home In Utah

    Comments-icon Post a Comment
    Jo Josephson
    May 01, 2014
    Arthur Russet, may I commend you on what is apparently extensive research...However, your efforts are incomplete.

    I would refer everyone to the United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 (aka "Enclave Clause"):

    "To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings"

    There is your ultimate legal authority. The Constitution trumps all and was written to protect INDIVIDUAL property and other rights, not the federal govt.

    The federal govt. owning 84.5% of Nevada is way beyond an egregious affront to Nevada's Constitutionally granted State sovereignty.

    Grazing fees are a false color of law and were not a tax levied legally (consent of State and Congress), instead it was done outside the Constitutionally allowed rules by federal bureaucrats drunk on their own power, for the benefit of what can only be labeled as criminals.

    Cliven Bundy’s struggle with the BLM in Nevada is exactly the situation Madison and the founders tried to prevent. The federal government does not have the constitutional authority to own land, beyond what is stipulated in the Enclave Clause, and its seizure of land, under the obviously fallacious pretense of protecting a tortoise, is a serious violation of the Constitution.

    “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined… The [federal powers] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce… the powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

    “It’s really about our constitutional rights and statehood,” Bundy has said. “And whether this area known as the state of Nevada is owned by the United States government or is owned by the sovereign state of Nevada.”

    Mr. Bundy, despite a propaganda campaign to the contrary launched by the federal government and its subservient media, is absolutely correct – the war shaping up between the Nevada rancher and the federal government is about states’ rights and, ultimately, the rights of individuals.
    Arthur Russet
    April 22, 2014

    Bundy repeated a similar claim Thursday when he told TheBlaze website: “My family has preemptive, adjudicated livestock water rights filed with the state of Nevada. They were established in 1877 when the first pioneers entered the valley. Among those first pioneers were my grandparents from my mother’s side. My father either bought or inherited his Nevada state livestock water rights and I, in turn, have done the same.”

    Contrast that with the 1998 opinion from U.S. District Judge Johnnie Rawlinson in a case where it was determined Bundy wouldn’t be allowed to use federal land for his cattle because of failure to pay grazing fees to the Bureau of Land Management. Rawlinson wrote that it wasn’t until roughly 1954 that “Bundy or his father or both have grazed livestock on public lands owned by the United States and administered by the BLM.”

    Clark County Recorder documents show the 160-acre Bunkerville ranch Bundy calls home was purchased by his parents, David and Bodel Bundy, from Raoul and Ruth Leavitt on Jan. 5, 1948. The purchase included the transfer to the Bundys of certain water rights, including water from the nearby Virgin River. Cliven Bundy was born in 1946.

    Although no Bundys lived in Bunkerville in 1930 or 1940, according to Census records for those years, Cliven Bundy’s mother Bodel and her parents, John and Christena Jensen, lived in neighboring Mesquite in the early 20th Century.

    Census records from 1930 indicate that John was a Mesquite farmer originally from Utah whose parents were from Denmark. Those records state the farm was near Main Street and a bridge over the Virgin River.

    Separate records from the website FamilySearch, which is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, indicate that Christena Jensen was born in Nevada in 1901 and that Bodel Jensen was born in Nevada in 1924. Christena Jensen’s parents originally were from Utah. This is the side of the family where Cliven Bundy claims long-standing livestock water rights.

    Federal grazing districts were established with passage by Congress of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. The Las Vegas area grazing district was established Nov. 3, 1936. The Bureau of Land Management was formed in 1946, the year Cliven Bundy was born.

    County records show the earliest construction on Bundy’s ranch was in 1951. The land is zoned rural open land. Since 1994 the ranch has been jointly owned by the David A. and Bodel Bundy Trust and the Bundy Revocable Trust.

    Census records show that Cliven Bundy’s paternal great-grandfather, Illinois native Abraham Bundy, lived in Littlefield Village in Mohave County, Ariz., as early as 1900. Abraham Bundy was credited in 1916 with establishment in Mohave County of Bundyville, otherwise known as Mt. Trumbull, according to a history of the Arizona Strip on the Northern Arizona University website.

    Abraham Bundy’s children included Cliven Bundy’s paternal grandfather, Roy Bundy, who was born in Nebraska. Two of Roy Bundy’s children were born in Nevada around World War I but Roy Bundy and his family returned to Mt. Trumbull and lived there for many years.

    One of Roy Bundy’s sons was David A. Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s father. David Bundy, who was born in Arizona, lived in Mt. Trumbull until at least 1940, according to Census records.
    April 13, 2014
    What a poor piece of journalism. You simply asked the feds if the feds owned the land and the feds said "you bet ya we own it!" Surprise? My God. Do some research. At least try to pretend the media still has some integrity. Here- It's all done for you.

    April 12, 2014
    Does it make sense to find remedy against a tyrant and bully within the judicial structure that is owned and operated by that very tyrant and bully?

    This is the core issue at hand. Commies supporting the BLM in the case make no sense whatsoever when they categorically claim that Bundy is wrong because of judicial rulings against him.

    Where were you boot licking subjects when it was time to support Sadaam Hussein and his kangaroo courts of aggression against the Iraqi subjects? Oh yeh, you didn't because Sadaam was a tyrant. Whats the difference here?

    These non-elected bureaucrats are so far off the ranch (no pun intended) and out there in la la land that they're drunk on their own firepower and defer to their own judicially controlled judgments to satisfy their back room corporate deals that hang the public out to dry. Enough is enough.
    Arthur Russet
    April 12, 2014
    Jerry C
    April 11, 2014
    Hey KCSG!! Want to find the real reason this government is driving the ranchers off of this specific patch of land?

    Harry Reid

    Harry's son Rory

    Red China

    A dirty land deal

    Check it out:


    April 13, 2014
    Sorry, that story has already been totally debunked. The company behind the solar project cancelled it last year.


    Why don't any of these right wing blogs check their facts before they copy these lies from other blogs. They must not care much about the truth and are only interested in promoting stories that fit their own narrative.
    Jerry C
    April 11, 2014
    Shane, Sue, USCitizen:

    The Enclave Cause of the Constitution explicitly provides for federal purchase of land from the states, for a narrow list of purposes. Why would that clause even be there, if, as you believe, all non-private lands belong to the federal government by default?

    And where did you get that false belief? From your slavish devotion to authority, as found among all weak-minded persons.

    When was your last original and/or critical thought? When was your last questioning of the Cult of All-Powerful Government? Have you ever?

    Thomas Jefferson was a liberal, as in "liberty". You are not liberals. You are flaming authoritarians of the worst stripe, and as such, perfect pawns of the mafia thug banksters running this federal government.

    You have no clue about the limits of federal constitutional authority, nor do you care. Your default position on everything is "D.C. Uber Alles"

    Just like your average 1932 German.

    Jerry C
    April 11, 2014
    These lands belong to Nevada. They are only "federal" by force, not by law. Which is just fine with weak-minded flaming authoritarians such as yourselves.

    Until the same people move to steal your bottom dollar, and disrupt your trendy happy lifestyle. Maybe then you'll care. Yes - only when it's about YOU will you care.

    By then it's too late.
    Shane Destry
    April 11, 2014
    guess again Jerry C far from being authoritarian I was opposing the illegal war in Vietnam when you were likely still in the playpen if born at all ! Far from your average anything let alone fascist as you imply ! Your true belief is Cattlemen Uber Alles

    (Bundy) or perhaps Fracking Uber Alles (Miller) both of which have nothing to do with the Constitution or democracy but just plain old profiteering at the public's expense ! Until you get clear on your party's incoherent ideology you would be better off not commenting ! You say on the one hand the federal government has no authority then appeal to the Constitution which is based on the belief that the federal government does have some authority ! Which is it ? Until you Bundy Miller and others of your party refuse as well to pay your federal income tax, indicating truly that you don't believe in federal authority, you are radically inconsistent. By the way we went through this notion of the states' right of succession before. It was called the Civil War. You and your cohorts trying to stir up another one is both violent and irresponsible.
    T. Jefferson
    April 11, 2014
    So the Federal Govt. claims that they own the land? How did they obtain it? Where did the money come from to purchase it? Who pays to maintain it?

    The citizens of the United States of America ARE the Federal Government! ( i. e. a government to, for and by the PEOPLE?)

    Over 200 years ago a war was fought over this. My recollection of history is that England DID NOT WIN!
    April 13, 2014
    From the Nevada Constitution, 1864:

    That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States...
    April 13, 2014
    If only we could be a Super Patriot like you, we have all seen you on tv taking down every rotten to the core government agency for decades now. Thank you strong minded Super Captain America for saving ALL of us with your incredible powers. You are a complete idiot and a do nothing Keyboard Warrior, get real.
    Shane Destry
    April 11, 2014
    This is all smoke and mirror diversion by Bundy and Dave Miller, who are both members of the Constitution party who deny that federal government has any authority and yet hypocritically have paid federal income tax all these years they have supposedly been oppressed by the BLM ! The crocodile tears shed by a deadbeat welfare cattle rancher like Bundy over the fate of desert tortoises are the ultimate hypocrisy from a man who has threatened to shoot wild horses protected by federal law !Bundy says this in order to promote the myth - also shared by the BLM ironically - that without their periodic roundup of wild horses or killing of desert tortoises, species magically overpopulate. The purpose of this mythology is to perpetuate the need for the BLM to be involved in the "management" of wild animals at all - also a myth ! The only difference

    on this issue is that Bundy claims the BLM is bad at managing such things while the BLM insists they are good at managing such things. The fact of the matter is that the BLM has been following an agenda of "managing to extinction" wild horses since 2009. None of this has anything to do with claims about federal v. state authority ! This "range war" is nothing more than an inhouse quarrel between two profiteers : welfare cattlemen like Bundy and the BLM who are really on the same side of profiting from the destruction of publicly owned land as if they owned it !
    Karl Plass
    April 11, 2014
    The 9th circuit affirmed the District Court Opinion/Judgment ruling that the BLM "could" collect its fees owed by Bundy. Fine. But....the U.S. (BLM) never sought nor was issued a Writ of Execution against Bundy to satisfy that Judgnent by seizing Cattle or any other Bunfy assets....a judicial order is not a legal substitue for a Writ of Execution based upon its own Opinion...Therefore the BLM has stolen the cattle and Bundy should sue the BLM and its Federal Rangers for Wrongful Execution of a Judgment( Damages) and for return of his cattle forthwith.....it is too late for the Feds/BLM to rectify the tort, after the fact.
    sue carter
    April 10, 2014
    Rheinhart are you serious? Bundys are every bit as crazy Right Wing Extremists as any "Ultra National Crazy" in the uS. Randy Bundy recently led police on a high speed chase thru a National Forest. Blew threw the Park Entrance after a No pay at a gas station. He said because, "he doesn't recognize" the Federal Govt. They have been setting this up like a bowling pin. Bundy knows exactly what he is doing.
    Roger Ramjet
    April 10, 2014
    The right will never be as crazy, violent or disgusting as the communistas of the left
    Conrad Kohrs,Esq.
    April 12, 2014
    Sue Carter....Hardly "recognize" the federal govt. myself with dumdem Obuma and his femdems like Seballius and Nancy Belalegosi displaying dumb as rocks incompetence daily. Is that land being used for anything, by anyone..not a national park or historic site or picnic place...as AL Bundy would say: it ain't logistical. The family pays taxes, been there since B4 Nevada became a state raising fine beef cattle and his product is used to feed folks like you..mabe comrade president will issue another exec order pardoning the trespassing cattle, like he did for all you sows last week.I know what my great uncle, Montana cattle baron Conrad Kohrs would do...so google the Kohrs Ranch Natl. Historic Site in Deer Lodge and read what he did after arriving here in the 1870s w/o a dollar in his pocket. ......Conrad Kohrs, Esq. in Malibu

    US Citizen
    April 10, 2014
    You're trespassing on our land rancher.

    Pay up or git off! Why is this a story? Just some rich good 'ol boy who isn't getting what he wants.

    In the immortal words of Jim Carey, "Stop breaking the law ...."
    April 12, 2014
    To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–And
    April 12, 2014
    US Citizen......we currently have a president who is "breaking the law" by ordering Homeland Security and US Border Patrol agents to stop the arrest and deportation of illegal aliens. Obama, in violation of US law, has used personal discretion to justify deporting some undocumented immigrants, but not others. More specifically, he ordered Eric Holder and the US Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security to use “prosecutorial discretion” to stop deporting people who would likely get legal status under the Senate-passed immigration reform bill.

    And in Nevada we have the US government, represented by the Bureau of Land Management, using heavily armed military-style units, to invade a cattle ranch over the disputed use of several thousand acres of otherwise useless desert land inhabited by a non-so-endangered turtle.

    One of these two scenarios shouldn't be happening? Make a wild guess which one.
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