Bunkerville and Bundy – the real story about the fight and timeline

Mark Levin last night gave a superb explanation and history of the Bundy and Bunkerville showdown.  For anyone who really wants to understand, do take the time to listen to his explanation of how there is more than one kind of BLM land, and it was the re-classification of this land that started this mess.

In short, Levin calls it an abuse of power and believes the BLM should stop referring to the land as a conservation area and allow Bundy’s cattle to continue grazing on the land just as it has for the last 100 years or so.

He cites the Washington Post as doing a “pretty good outline” of giving the history.

Excerpts from the Washington Post, go over to the link for the full thing:

Everything you need to know about the long fight between 

1989: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the desert tortoise as an endangered species. A year later, its designation was changed to “threatened.”

March 1993: The Washington Post publishes a story about the federal government’s efforts to protect the desert tortoise in Nevada. Near Las Vegas, the Bureau of Land Management designated hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land for strict conservation efforts.

“Among the conservation measures required,” according to the Post’s coverage, “are the elimination of livestock grazing and strict limits on off-road vehicle use in the protected tortoise habitat. Two weeks ago, the managers of the plan completed the task of purchasing grazing privileges from cattle ranchers who formerly used BLM land.”

Many people were not impressed by the new conservation plan. “Cliven Bundy, whose family homesteaded his ranch in 1877 and who accuses the government of a ‘land grab,’ are digging in for a fight and say they will not willingly sell their grazing privileges to create another preserve.” People who use the desert to prospect for minerals and to race motorcycles and jeeps also feel shortchanged. “‘It was shoved down our throat,’ said Mark Trinko, who represents off-road vehicle users on the committee that oversees the plan.”

April 1995: The fight between the Bureau of Land Management and the ranchers who want to use the federal land without fees or oversight is growing more tense, according to a story published in USA Today.

The reason that things were ramping up? Counties were starting to challenge federal ownership of land. In 1991, Catron County in New Mexico passed an ordinance that claimed state ownership and local management of public land in the state. Thirty five counties followed suit. Nye County, Nevada, became the first to act on its legislated threat. The county commissioner bulldozed his way down a closed national forest road. Forest rangers soon followed, who the county commissioner threatened to arrest if they interfered.

At this point, Cliven Bundy had racked up $31,000 in fees for grazing on federal land without a permit. Helicopters often hover over his herd, counting up the cows so he can be fined appropriately. “They’ve taken their authority and abused it,” Bundy said. “I’m not being regulated to death anymore.”

March 18, 1996: The federal government, which owns 87 percent of the land in Nevada,  is still worried about potential violence if they try to remove illegally grazing cattle from protected land. Two more pipebombs had exploded in Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management offices in the past two years. The Justice Department has 12 lawsuits pending against Nevada cattle ranchers. A federal court in the state struck down the Nye County ordinance that caused trouble the year before. Not that ranchers took that as reason to stand down, however. One local resident told USA Today,”A single district court decision in one district doesn’t settle it. It’s just a single day in the year of a revolutionary war. We’re going to continue on with the fight.” Bundy is also continuing to graze on federal lands. “I’m still saying the state of Nevada owns that land, and the federal government has been an encroacher. I’m not moving my cattle. We have … rights.”

 

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