CMV: The whole Bundy Ranch thing going on in Nevada isn't really about the government takeover of land to use for nefarious purposes but about a rancher who doesn't like change and refuses to pay grazing rights on public land that isn't his. (self.changemyview)

changemyview

93 ups - 30 downs = 63 votes

Now to start off, I'm completely against federal government being involved in local business. And I love a great conspiracy theory as much as the next guy but this whole Bundy Ranch thing is getting convoluted. Basically, from what I've gathered, this guys' family has had this ranch for generations and used the land adjacent to their ranch (which they do not own) as grazing ground for their cattle. That was all fine until public property laws started popping up. The state started making his family pay grazing fees for their cattle grazing on land they didn't technically own. They were ok with this. It was controlled by the local government at that time. Then came about the federal establishment, Bureau of Land Management. Now how they were given justification, if at all, over this public property that Bundy's cattle graze on I have no idea. But apparently it wasn't an issue at first because Bundy had started making his annual grazing fees to them without issue. Then apparently around 20 years ago he had an issue with BLM that I'm unclear on other than he said they were "managing him out of business" and decided to stop paying grazing fees. He says he's made attempts to pay the state of Nevada the grazing fees but they refuse to take it, which makes sense if it's a federally controlled thing now. So for ~20 years they let him continue to use land that wasn't his without paying his grazing fees. So now I know about the endangered tortoise ploy as well as the Chinese energy company solar panel field conspiracy and Sen. Reid and his son's involvement. There may be some ulterior motive, I'm not saying there isn't, involved in this land deal for the solar panels but there have been at least one report that the projected area for the solar panel field doesn't even come into either the Bundy Ranch nor the contested land this whole dispute is about: http://polizeros.com/2014/04/12/harry-reid-son-plan-solar-power-near-bundy-ranch/?utmsource=feedburner&utmmedium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PoliticsInTheZeros+(Politics+in+the+Zeros).

And the tortoise thing? Could be explained as an easy (albeit unethical) way of getting federal involvement into this issue faster.

TL;DR Bundy rancher is being stubborn and everything else is tin foil hat brigade material.

71 comments submitted at 19:32:45 on Apr 13, 2014 by drykul

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 01:55:38, 14 April

Hello all, native from that area here.

Here's some background, as straight as I can shoot it, as someone who grew up in the area, born of people who have lived there as long as cattle have been driven on that range...

Bundy's family settled the area as pioneers in the 1800s. Nevada had been a state for 6 years when Bundy's family started running cattle on the range. My own grandfather ran cattle with them as a young man.

His, and many other families, have run cattle, farmed, and worked the land responsibly for over 100 years. The BLM has raised many specters to try and push cattle ranchers off land they had worked for generations.

The first I remember is the desert tortoise. Cattle supposedly step on turtles and their burrows, killing them. And there have also been claims that the cattle strip the land bare. Neither are true to any large degree. Cattle tend to be fairly careful and timid animals. They are wary of anything moving on the ground, even small things.

Have there been incidents of cattle stepping on turtles or crushing their burrows, probably. Is it so wide spread that it is driving the turtles to extinction? No. Desert tortoises breed very infrequently. They were always pretty rare, in my experience and the experiences of people who have lived in the area for as long as there have been settlers there.

What the cattle actually do is two primary things. First, they churn up the alkali desert crust that pervades the ground there so that plants can grow. As it rains year after year, mineral leach to the surface and form a crust that most plants cant grow through. The cattle help to break it up.

They also shit, everywhere. Cow manure is one of the richest fertilizers you can find. The cattle fertilize the desert and help feed many animals, including the desert tortoise.

Also, ranchers have build catch basins and wells dotting the land as oasis for the cattle and many other animals. Granted, this has modified the natural environment. However, this modification has been in place so long that many populations have adapted to rely on it. To remove it outright would be irresponsible.

Many of the supposed environmental conservationists that claim environmental damage as a result of the cattle have no clue what they are talking about. They have this image of verdant fields of grass that have been decimated by cattle.

The reality is a more or less barren, alkali, wasteland of sage, creosote, sand, and rock. I studied geology in college, focussing on that area, and it has never been anything else, in recent history. Cattle or no.

Over the last 30 years, the BLM has taken more and more land, locking off more and more public space, and becoming more and more aggressive and less interested in conservation.

This is part of Bundy's point. Some people are claiming that he is raping the land and refusing to pay his way. It is far more complicated than that. As for raping the land, we covered that. His tax bill is another matter. The fees he was paying were supposed to go toward conservation. This wasn't occurring, as promised by the BLM. What was happening was that they were trying to put him out of business. He was paying them and they were working against him. He only stopped paying the fees to the BLM when it was clear to him that they weren't living up to their obligations. He appealed to the state and even sent checks for the fees to the state, which refused to take them. This was about taxation without representation, not tax evasion.

They will tell you it is because he's ruining the land or taking advantage of the system. The real reason is that the area is rich in mineral wealth that various state and local politicians have been using to get rich for decades, the latest and greatest of which is Senator Harry Reid. And now, his son Rory is getting in on the game as well.

Reid is probably involved in two deals currently. One, with the Chinese, to build a huge solar farm in the area. And the other with various oil and gas companies, who have been drilling exploratory wells in the area recently. It seems that fracking is on its way to Nevada and Reid intends to be the wheel that gets greased.

Bundy is in the way of this. Every other cattle rancher in the area has been bribed, intimidated, or both, until they have given up and quit.

His family isn't rich. They aren't even middle class, by most standards. They live in a modest ranch in the middle of nowhere. In a house that has been renovated and added to for generations. To most people, they would be backward rednecks.

But they are good people who do far more good for the community than they do harm. I say this as someone who went to school with their kids and grandkids, who were generally complete dicks to me because they were the tough farm hand jocks and I was a quiet nerd. That said, and put aside, they made me extremely proud the way they acted through this. The men they became showed far more restraint than I might have been able to muster in the face of what they were up against.

The BLM made it very clear their intent in this. During the protests not a single person was harassed, intimidated, or physically abused, that wasn't a Bundy. The BLM knew exactly who was a member of the family and took obvious steps to try and provoke them into escalating the situation. In one case, they jerked a 57yo female member of the family to the ground by the neck from behind, for nothing more than taking pictures and demanding some answers.

This incident lead to one of Bundy's sons facing off with BLM officers. Without taking any more aggressive action than staring them down, they tazed him. He yanked out the barbs. They tazed him again. Again he yanked out the barbs and stared them down. This went on two more times before the BLM finally realized what they were dealing with, as the crowd grew more and more angry.

Another son was arrested, while his children and family watched, for pulling over on a public highway to take pictures of sniper nests that had been set up. Then they took him for a walk and he fell down several times, if you know what I mean. Eventually they turned him out on the streets of Las Vegas, leaving him to walk to a pay phone to call home and then wait for them to drive to Vegas.

The show of support in this has been largely buried in the media. Most articles show a definite pro BLM stance and the hallmarks of the governments recently available legal propaganda rights and demonstrated covert tactics in seeding comments with pro government opinions to simulate support from real people who, some of which at least, are likely bots posting to give the appearance of public support for this sort of thuggery.

And that leads me to my TL;DR and how this event is critically important to all Americans. The reality of this situation is that, with the help of cattle auction houses that refused to take the cattle, state and county agencies in Utah and Nevada that refused to let the BLM move the cattle through their jurisdiction, ranchers from all over the country, militia men not native to the area, and gigantic support from the local community, the BLM was driven out and denied their victory over state and citizen rights.

This is a formula for how you defeat this sort of thing. It requires everyone pitching in just a little bit and standing up to these nutless children with guns and showing that they will not be allowed to run rough shod over our rights. </TL;DR>

P.S. The finale of this event, the focus of the article, was a harrowing, movie quality, scene. With flag waving cowboys on horse back, accompanied by armed militia, demanding the release of the cattle after the BLM had already agreed to leave but failed to move. They rode to the holding pen, faced down heavily armed BLM agents, automatic weapons drawn, warning that they would shoot. The response from the group was "Then start shooting..." And again, the BLM agents balls shrank like raisins in the summer sun and the cattle were released. Here is a picture of them on the way to the pen... http://imgur.com/SMyGlBA

Don't let the thugs intimidate you. All you need is enough people that they can't cover up or hide what actions they take. Like this poor kid...

P.P.S. The other thing the BLM uses the turtle for is to generate money in the shape of fees for impact studies, turtle relocation, and other shenanigans that have held up development of casinos, huge master planned communities, and just about any other desert venture, to the tune of hundreds of millions over the years.

And recently, now that the excuse is used up, they ended up euthanizing around 1000 turtles at a desert tortoise conservation facility due to lack of funding... I wonder how many turtles deaths they can tie to cattle and how it compares to this one event?

  • [-]
  • Deadpoint
  • 1 Points
  • 02:11:26, 14 April

If the landowners want you off their land, they can kick you off their land. It doesn't matter why they want you off, if you don't have a legal right to be there they can kick you out.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 02:30:02, 14 April

The BLM doesn't own public land. The public does. But I can see how it might seem that way...

Also, it is more complicated than the two sentences you used to describe it.

Not to mention it isn't about cows, conservation, taxes, or ownership. It is about back room political deals with oil and gas companies and a Chinese solar company looking to buy land and mineral rights, with the politicians in between standing to make huge sums of money.

  • [-]
  • IAmNotYourBoss
  • 1 Points
  • 03:09:36, 14 April

The BLM administers public lands in trust, and has a fiduciary duty to the wider public--not just ranchers--to manage three land appropriately. As part of this fiduciary duty, the BLM is empowered by law to lease grazing rights in order to extract revenue to support these lands.

Ranchers aren't the only interested party. I'm here in Ohio, and I'm an interested party. My cousin in New York City is an interested party. The BLM is attempting to represent our interests as well.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 03:20:33, 14 April

That is correct but not the point.

This is about the BLM abusing its power to sell public land to corporate interests, one of them foreign. They are dressing it up the way they need to in order to try and make it appear as if they are the good guy. They aren't.

Trust me, he could pay them all he wants, they will still find a way to push him out in favor of bigger fish.

If the reasons they were doing this were in the public interest then they would be up front about it and not try to hide behind turtles and a relatively insignificant tax burden.

  • [-]
  • Deadpoint
  • 1 Points
  • 03:05:47, 14 April

I know the BLM doesn't own the land, but the US Government does. Public land doesn't mean anyone can do whatever they want with the land, it is still government property.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 03:35:14, 14 April

Let me stop you there. The government doesn't own shit. The people are supposed to own everything, including the government. The elected officials are supposed to represent the people in the government and act in their interest. Not in the interest of oil companies and Chinese solar companies.

The US government owns nothing. The government is supposed to be for, of, and by the people. And THAT is where the Federal government is going wrong.

Suffice to say this is a complicated issue. But the fact that you think the government owns public land and can do with it as they see fit is pretty disturbing and exactly why I am putting this out there.

  • [-]
  • Deadpoint
  • 1 Points
  • 03:38:25, 14 April

Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution: "The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State."

You are absolutely wrong. You may not like it, but the government does own property.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 03:47:53, 14 April

Am I?

Who exactly is the United States? Is it all senators and BLM agents? Or is it a Chinese solar company? We are a representative democracy. Who do you think those representatives represent, exactly?

The point that you repeatedly miss, intentionally or otherwise, is that the public in that area expressed it's interests, apparently very clearly. Something the elected officials have refused to do increasingly.

So, either you consider yourself a citizen and therefore not an owner of public land in the United States, and at the mercy of the federal government, or you consider yourself some government agent with the title to public land, public opinion be damned.

Either way, I pity your future. Because it will be a bleak one if you are correct.

  • [-]
  • Deadpoint
  • 1 Points
  • 04:03:10, 14 April

As a US citizen, I do have partial ownership of everything the US claims. That doesn't mean I get to take a nuclear sub out for a joyride, even if all of my buddies agree that I should. You can't redefine property rights on the fly at your conveniance and talk about liberty and justice and fighting the good fight. Not with a scrap of honesty. Yes, the government is sickeningly corrupt. But that doesn't excuse landgrabs.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 04:20:57, 14 April

P.S. You are right. I can't redefine property rights on the fly. But the federal government sure can. They do it all the time. And they don't ask you, me, or anyone else. In fact, they actively ignore anything we might have to say, unless you force them to obey their real masters, The People. You just have to look for it.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 04:15:36, 14 April

OK, since you are going off into lala land and comparing apples to orangutans, I will leave you with this.

You might want to start reading the whole book and not just the cover. Or one of these days you are going to wake up to an America you wish you could leave but aren't allowed to. Because you left your decisions in the hands of a government increasingly owned by foreign business interests that don't give two shits about what you want.

The official version of the world is the shiny white tip of a shitberg of monumental proportions. And you, me, and the rest of this fine planet are on a boat headed right for it full steam, with a bunch of assholes at the helm that pretend to give a shit about what we want long enough to position themselves to sell us and everything we own to the highest bidder.

You may not care about this, because it doesn't affect you. In your eyes this guy is denying you tax money, or failing to pay his way. But when it is about you, trust me, it will be more complicated than a headline.

This event is a particularly large crack that exposes a bit of that. Pay attention or don't. It's your prerogative.

  • [-]
  • koalamurderbear
  • 1 Points
  • 03:53:37, 14 April

What are you talking about? The United States government is the people and they do legally own the land. Thats the definition of Public vs. Private land. Public land and property is what is owned and leased out by the United States government or the state or local governments, etc. Private land is what is owned by private individuals or entities.

None of this issue has to do with corporations or the Chinese. The BLM isn't some evil agency out to stop freedom, they are just trying to enforce a rule that all other ranchers have to deal with on BLM land. They are like the IRS going in to collect taxes on someone who isn't paying. Why is that wrong?

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 04:04:17, 14 April

You are talking about how it is supposed to be and I am talking about how it is.

If this were a matter of the government fairly leveraging tax against someone for using the land, I would agree with you. But, again, it isn't that simple. That is the spin laden headline version of the story. But on the ground it is a bit less black and white, as stated in my post. I can understand if you didn't want to read my post. It was a wall of text. But not everything can be boiled down to an easy to consume paragraph.

The US is carved up into states and districts to boil down the public interest to more granular levels, so they can be represented more true to their actual interests and not lump everyone into one set of rules. That is what was called states rights, before corrupt business interests started buying politicians and fucking with the laws.

Nevada is a large state. And the area this occurred in is relatively small. The show of solidarity of local people, who clearly aren't being represented correctly, demonstrates the gap in taxation vs representation.

And, if you recall, that is the sort of thing that created this country, and why this event is so important.

This isn't about his desire to pay. It is about his desire to keep ranching and maintain his way of life, which isn't interfering with anything but Harry Reid's business deals in the area.

If this rancher had happened to be running cattle on less valuable land, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

So tell me again about how this is as simple as a tax dodging cowboy.

  • [-]
  • koalamurderbear
  • 1 Points
  • 04:32:54, 14 April

What? I was using the tax arguement as an example, I didn't mean it literally. The man doesn't owe taxes, he owes fees. Fees in which ranchers all over the United States pay to have access to BLM lands. This has nothing to do with states rights or anything like that. The state of Nevada would defer to the BLM on this issue since it is their land.

I get that the whole locals vs big bad government thing, I really do. But the man was not using land that he owned. The BLM let him use the land that he didn't own or pay fees for for over 20 years. It isn't his property, plain and simple. It is the BLM's (technically the US government, but the BLM administers it, so that is why I am saying it theirs.) Other ranchers pay this fee no problem, it is a privelage just to use the land. Most profit off of this arrangement. So is Bundy, except he isn't paying his portion compared to others. That is why people are upset. Not because of Taxation vs. Representation. This isn't Colonial America, the BLM has been properly administering land for a very long time without much incident. I don't understand why that is so hard to understand for you.

This event isn't as important as you think this is. This will go to the courts most likely and the BLM will win. Bundy may even get criminal charges since he threatened Federal officers with guns. The whole thing boils down to fair use and Bundy isn't fairly using the land. Plain and simple.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 04:45:57, 14 April

I understand what you meant. I continued using the example because so many people in this don't see a difference. Some are calling it taxes, some fees, further demonstrating the overall lack of visibility into the actual issue.

They were trying to drive him off the land regardless of whether he paid the fees. That, and their failure to live up to the obligations those fees were supposed to secure, was why he stopped paying them.

If every time you registered your car, the DMV, instead of investing that money into road infrastructure and other things they promised to, the money was instead used to remove roads and block off roads you used every day, roads the DMV told you you could use as long as you paid your fees. And you started having a harder and harder time finding roads to get to work, eventually affecting your ability to pay your DMV fees, what would you do?

This is all this guy knows how to do. He can't just go get another job. And the example above is a very lightly edited version of exactly what the BLM is doing, not only to him but to every rancher using public land and not being properly represented. And that is why the support for this was national.

  • [-]
  • koalamurderbear
  • 1 Points
  • 10:59:40, 14 April

If this is all the guy does, then he should have just paid the fees! I mean really? There is no logical excuse in avoiding them. Yes, the big bad government is probably coming after him to set an example, but that happens all the time. It is called setting a precedent, they don't want ranchers running all willy nilly on public lands.

But you know what? I think you are right, let the man continue to use the land without paying for it. Land that my money helps pay for. I mean, regardless of the impact he or others who might start squatting on it might have on it, I should just accept that he is a free citizen of the United States and doesn't recognize the laws of the land. Nope. He can go trample all over. I hear Yosemite is a good place this time of year to go ranch. I mean its not like the Park Service is spending their money exactly how I want it. So he should just go there.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 04:53:25, 14 April

Let me ask you this, are you a rancher, do you know a rancher?

  • [-]
  • koalamurderbear
  • 1 Points
  • 10:52:21, 14 April

No I am not a rancher, but I have worked with BLM people as well as the forest service and I have worked extensively in the Western United States on publically owned land. I know the culture of the area and of the people, but that isn't what's important in a legal sense.

  • [-]
  • zx7
  • 1 Points
  • 05:18:19, 14 April

The "as a mother" argument is a logical fallacy and isn't a very good argument.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 05:18:26, 14 April

Also, I agree that this will go to the courts and he will likely lose. But it is important as it demonstrates that this sort of approach can be countered. There are other reasons it is important that I am not even going to bother mentioning. But, if things continue like this long enough, no one will need an explanation.

  • [-]
  • MeMine101
  • 1 Points
  • 02:47:21, 14 April

Apparently not everyone is as ok with bullying as you are...

  • [-]
  • Deadpoint
  • 1 Points
  • 03:13:42, 14 April

You've been awfully fast to jump to insults and assumptions. I'm not some sort of statist shill. I'm all for stopping legitimate government overreach. But this isn't government overreach. Bundy stopped paying his fees on land he does not own. He was asked to remove his property. He declined. They informed him they would confiscate his property if he didn't move it. He threatend violence. If the landowner were anyone but the government, would you have any problem with the situation?

  • [-]
  • MeMine101
  • 1 Points
  • 13:17:55, 14 April

You're awfully fast to jump to defensive, which tells me you are purposely keeping things out of context and you know youre not right here.

  • [-]
  • ManWhoisAlsoNurse
  • 1 Points
  • 03:26:08, 14 April

Not only that but he started using land which wasn't even his lease and his defense in court was both that the federal government doesn't own the land and also that since the federal government owns the land they should have built fences to keep his cattle from wandering off of his lease... You can't have it both ways.

  • [-]
  • wekulm
  • 1 Points
  • 02:36:02, 14 April

This is great perspective, thanks for writing it all up, I really appreciate it. You said things here about the community that I felt was the case but couldn't find it anywhere.

  • [-]
  • drykul
  • 1 Points
  • 02:54:13, 14 April

Ok, I get it that the cattle weren't ruining the land and that tortoises weren't really becoming more endangered because of the cattle. I had assumed that much to begin with. What I don't understand is WHY he stopped paying BLM. Because he didn't agree with how the funds were being spent? How is it his place to begin with to determine whether or not those funds are spent appropriately?

  • [-]
  • Celidos
  • 1 Points
  • 03:18:37, 14 April

From what I got from the above, it was because those fees were supposed to go to conservatism, not actively trying to shut down his livelihood. If the above is true, the artificial introduction of cattle ranching has been extremely good for the environment, and they're using stuff like turtles and things to stir up the people who don't understand cattle ranching and just see bundy as an evil unamerican jerk instead of a man who's doing good on the land and in the community. It's the only way they'd be able to take him on, why is a local problem national news?

  • [-]
  • ManWhoisAlsoNurse
  • 1 Points
  • 03:29:55, 14 April

His response has not been good for the land however. I grew up in high desert cattle land and the Bundy's started running more cattle than the land could sustain. They also moved onto land which is not their lease. And they have also irrigated land and cut hay on it which is against the rules of the lease. Of course it's obvious they don't care about the rules since they stopped paying over a decade ago. The whole thing is crazy... starting with the fact that the Bundy's are crazy.

  • [-]
  • Spooooooooooooon
  • 1 Points
  • 05:26:07, 14 April

If every time you registered your car, the DMV, instead of investing that money into road infrastructure and other things they promised to, the money was instead used to remove roads and block off roads you used every day, roads the DMV told you you could use as long as you paid your fees. And you started having a harder and harder time finding roads to get to work, eventually affecting your ability to pay your DMV fees, what would you do?

And the example above is a very lightly edited version of exactly what the BLM is doing, not only to him but to every rancher using public land and not being properly represented. And that is why the support for this was national.

This is all this guy knows how to do. He can't just go get another job. And what he is doing isn't hurting anyone or denying anyone anything in reality, other than maybe making Harry Reid's latest business venture a bit more tricky.

This is another example of the government using the law, which they make up at will in plenty of cases, to give the appearance of due process. Remember, Harry Reid was a lawyer before he was a senator.

It is easy to look like the good guy when you are holding all the cards. Just like it is also to make the good guy look bad.

  • [-]
  • drykul
  • 1 Points
  • 06:00:23, 14 April

That's what I'm asking. How was the money being spent? If he had enough reason to not pay them anymore after so many years of paying them then there ought to be a very good, really explainable reason.