Protesters, federal officials clash over cattle, land rights

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BUNKERVILLE, Nevada - The range war continues in Clark County, and while protesters are coming from several different states, the Bureau of Land Management has rounded up hundreds of cows they said are trespassing on federal land.

Protesters once again took to the streets, rallying for the western states to take the land they say is rightfully theirs.

“The western states have been deprived of their land and the eastern states were established under the Constitution, primarily correctly,” Protester Ammon Bundy said.

Ownership of state land is an argument activists have long made, but now comes after a decades old battle with local rancher Cliven Bundy. Bundy stopped paying grazing fees in the 1990s because he says the land should belong to Nevada, and his rights inherited from the state.

The BLM, however, has managed the public lands for the federal government for decades and says Bundy’s cattle are trespassing. Bundy has ignored court orders to remove the cattle, so the BLM is doing it for him.

That’s led to serious confrontation. Wednesday, multiple people caught one confrontation on camera between Bundy’s son and federal law enforcement agents. Ammon Bundy took a shot from a stun gun while questioning officers about the operation.

“We wanted to know why and what was in that back hoe that was so important, and also we were wanting to protest what they’re doing,” Ammon Bundy said.

In a statement, the BLM says protesters blocked a federal truck and threatened employees. They’ve also said a heavy law enforcement presence is for safety during the operation and anyone getting in the way could be cited. But protesters see it as limiting free speech. Designated First Amendment areas were taken down at the request of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

The movement has drawn in crowds from neighboring states. Moms from Utah said they saw it as an opportunity to stand with those who share their belief.

“I felt really strongly this is something I can do,” protester Linzi Hansen said. “I can come down and show this family that I support them and that I don’t agree that the federal government owns 84 percent of the land in Nevada.”

Utah lawmakers are also weighing in. Thursday, in a joint letter, U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee and Representatives Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart urged the BLM to keep confiscated cattle out of Utah. The letter echoes one sent by Governor Gary Herbert earlier this month saying, “going forward with the plan to transport the Nevada cattle to Utah may endanger the health of Utah herds and place Utah state employees and other Utah residents in danger.”

Currently the cattle are being held in a compound on the public land. The BLM said leaving the cattle on the range wouldn’t be fair to thousands of ranchers who use the land in compliance with the law.

13 comments

  • Utah Red

    Just saw the report that said they have snipers on the high ground. Anybody remember what Janet Reno did at Waco?

  • Doc

    This is totally BS, unconstitutional, why did Nevada, Alaska and other states have to give up such a high percentage of their land to get statehood, that in itself is unconstitutional all new states are supposed to have the same rights as the original 13….. Oil and Gas thats why, already the BLM have driven out over 52 farmers from the area, the reason… Oil and Gas, they want to develop the ‘Golden Butte’ preserve to bring in money for the federal coffers and of course some well connected people will stand to benefit… corrumption at its finest… Think about this, this family has been here since the 1800’s and using the land under the open grazing established by the state, he was paying grazing fee’s until 93, when they declared the area a sanctuary for a turtle, so they said they were protecting an endangered species… good so far except they are having to kill the turtles they already have as they are now overbreeding… so the turtle story is bs, why the hell is the local Sheriff not invovled, he has ultimate right in his county… he should step in and tell the BLM to hoof it…. this is Federal overeach and verging on another Waco or Ruby Ridge…

  • Wilma

    Bundy is wrong here. Move cows and then go to court to settle unless you want to cause violence. Wondre if he is related to Ted Bundy?

    • Trouble

      Incorrect. Bundy’s family purchased the grazing rights 150+ years ago. This is the Fed changing the rules to suit themselves (as normal). Bundy is right and the Fed is not.

      • Barry

        Who did he “purchase” these lifetime rights from?
        This land became part of the US as a reult of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed in 1848 ending the Mexican-American war. You should read. Also, check out the Taylor Act passed in the 1930’s and look up Ronald Reagan’s executive order number 12548 establishing grazing fees on federal lands.
        Kill them cows and let’s have a bar-b-que.

  • Bitsko

    Show my where the Constitution authorizes the Fed to own the physical land of any State.

    When you fail, I’ll show you the special exception that was required to create the District of Columbia, and then refer you to the Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

    There is no such thing as “BLM land.”

    • Wilma

      If you are so well versed please explane to me why my people and the buffalo aren’t allowed due to the ranchers not wanting us.

      • Uzijohn

        Because the courts are a fraud, and justice comes from the end of a gun, nobody likes this… but that’s how it is, as an american Indian.

    • Barry

      Constitutional Basis for Federal Land Ownership: The Property Clause
      The U.S. Constitution addresses the relationship of the federal government to lands. The Property Clause, Article IV, § 3, Clause 2, gives Congress authority over the lands, territories, or other property of the United States. It reads:
      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.
      This provision provides broad authority for Congress to govern the lands acquired by the federal government as it sees fit, and to exercise exclusive authority to decide on whether or not to dispose of those lands. The U.S. Supreme Court has described this power as “without limitation,” stating that:
      while Congress can acquire exclusive or partial jurisdiction over lands within a State by the State’s consent or cession, the presence or absence of such jurisdiction has nothing to do with Congress’ powers under the Property Clause. Absent consent or cession a State undoubtedly retains jurisdiction over federal lands within its territory, but Congress equally surely retains the power to enact legislation respecting those lands pursuant to the Property Clause…. And when Congress so acts, the federal legislation necessarily overrides conflicting state laws under the Supremacy Clause.4
      One authoritative commentary noted that:
      No appropriation of public lands may be made for any purpose except by authority of Congress…. Congress may limit the disposition of the public domain to a manner consistent with its views of public policy…. It [the Property Clause] empowers Congress to act as both proprietor and legislature over the public domain; Congress has complete power to make those “needful rules” which in its discretion it determines are necessary. When Congress acts with respect to those lands covered by the [Property] clause, its legislation overrides conflicting state laws. Absent action by Congress, however, states may in some instances exercise some jurisdiction over activities on federal lands.5

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