The BLM has accepted defeat and is surrendering. Here is the Statement from Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Neil Kornze, on the Cattle Gather in Nevada.
As we have said from the beginning of the gather to remove illegal cattle from federal land consistent with court orders, a safe and peaceful operation is our number one priority. After one week, we have made progress in enforcing two recent court orders to remove the trespass cattle from public lands that belong to all Americans.
Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.
We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner.
Ranching has always been an important part of our nation’s heritage and continues throughout the West on public lands that belong to all Americans. This is a matter of fairness and equity, and we remain disappointed that Cliven Bundy continues to not comply with the same laws that 16,000 public lands ranchers do every year. After 20 years and multiple court orders to remove the trespass cattle, Mr. Bundy owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million. The BLM will continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially.
In response, Bundy set forth a list of demands presented to the Sheriff, you have one hour to disarm the federal agency and to bring the arms to the platform where speeches were made this morning, and to take down their barricades.
The BLM asserts their power through the expressed desire to protect the endangered desert tortoise, a tortoise so “endangered” that their population can no longer be contained by the refuge constructed for them so the government is closing it and euthanizing over a thousand tortoises. The tortoises, the excuse that BLM has given for violating claims to easements and running all but one lone rancher out of southern Nevada, is doing fine. In fact, the tortoise has lived in harmony with cattle in the Gold Butte, Clark County Nevada for over a hundred years, or as long as Cliven Bundy’s family has lived on the land as ranchers. In fact, the real threat to it is urbanization, not cattle.
A tortoise isn’t the reason why BLM is harassing a 67 year-old rancher. They want his land. The tortoise wasn’t of concern when Harry Reid worked BLM to literally change the boundaries of the tortoise’s habitat to accommodate the development of his top donor, Harvey Whittemore. Whittemore was convicted of illegal campaign contributions to Senator Reid. Reid’s former senior adviser is now the head of BLM. Reid is accused of using the new BLM chief as a puppet to control Nevada land (already over 84% of which is owned by the federal government) and pay back special interests. BLM has proven that they’ve a situational concern for the desert tortoise as they’ve had no problem waiving their rules concerning wind or solar power development. Clearly these developments have vastly affected a tortoise habitat more than a century-old, quasi-homesteading grazing area.
BLM has also tried to argue that the rules have changed, long after Bundy claims he secured rights and paid his dues to Clark County, Nevada. BLM says they supersede whatever agreement Bundy had prior; they demanded that he reduce his living, his thousand-some-odd head of cattle down to a tiny herd of 150. It’s easy for the government to grant itself powers of overreach, but it doesn’t make it right. Many bad things are done in the name of unjust laws. Just look at Obamacare. This heavy-handed tactic has run the other ranchers from the area and now Bundy is the last one. He’s the last one because he stood up to the federal government.
For the record and to get the facts straight. Bundy has in fact paid fees to Clark County, Nevada in an arrangement pre-dating the BLM. The BLM arrived much later, changed the details of the setup without consulting with Bundy, or any other rancher, and then began systematically driving out cattle and ranchers. Bundy refused to pay BLM, especially after they demanded he reduce his heard’s head count down to a level that would not sustain his ranch. Bundy OWNS the water and forage rights to this land. He paid for these rights. He built fences, established water ways, and constructed roads with his own money, with the approval of Nevada and BLM. When BLM started using his fees to run him off the land and harassing him, he ceased paying. So should BLM reimburse him for managing the land and for the confiscation of his water and forage rights? This is state owned land folks, why would Bundy pay federal agencies such as BLM for land they do not own and are unable to successfully manage?
It amazes me how the federal government thinks they have the right to do a state owned land grab. The lengths and measures taken to make it so are unconscionable. We have won this bout for freedom but I expect this is not the end by a long shot.
I leave you with a few parting videos after the announcement of retreat from BLM.
Bundy Ranch Waiting After the Demands
Riding out to recover the Cattle
BLM leaves the scene