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What really happened on the Bundy ranch?

Public land closed to everyone but the goverment
Public land closed to everyone but the goverment
Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

Do we as American citizens really know what transpired on the Bundy ranch? For those that rely on headline news the dispute is about Cliven Bundy refusing to pay to graze his cattle on federal land. The government claims those fees are in excess of one million dollars. Bundy admits not paying but claims fees are around $300,000. Those that investigate further will find the claim by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that the land in question is a critical habitat to the desert tortoise.

Like an onion the further you look the more layers peel away and other reasons come to light. There have been claims that the BLM has sold the rights to the land for fracking. There are also implications Harry Reid and his family will profit by using the land for a federally financed Chinese solar farm. Like all good westerns involving cattle water rights are also up for grabs.

So what really is happening in appropriately named Bunkerville? Why did the BLM send over two hundred heavily armed agents, institute“free speech” zone miles away, and then proceed to issue a “no fly zone” over the entire area? Why hasn’t Cliven just paid to use the federally owned land? What about those turtles? Is the Bundy ranch critical to their survival?

This dispute goes back much further and wider than the last week or so. All the way back to 1993 when the endangered species act added the desert tortoise, Cliven Bundy was presented with a permit to sign that reduced the amount of cattle by 750 head to only allow 250 cattle on the federal land.(If you like your cattle you can keep your cattle) The reason for the reduction was the desert tortoise. Faced with either losing his livelihood or grazing without a permit Mr. Bundy chose the latter.

Before you assign Cliven to the crazy bin like Ted Bundy or Al Bundy ask yourselves if Ben Colvin, Jack Vogts, Cliff Gardner, Wally Clump and Wayne Hage are also out of line. Each one of these ranchers was faced with the same choice and went the same route.

But what about the damn turtle? If its habitat is so important why did they shift the habitat for Reid donor Harvey Whittlemore so he could build a golf course? If facing possible extinction without the land Cliven Bundy waters and uses for grazing why euthanize 700 turtles formally in BLM’s care? (Turtle kill) Would they be better off under solar panels, or around mining and fracking derricks?

Just for the sake of argument let us suppose BLM did not sell mining rights on other lands and that Reid & company have profited enough from solar. What is the intent of driving Bundy out of business at the same time beef prices are at the highest they have been since 1987. Their mission statement is “To manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield”. How does driving off the last rancher in Clark County square with this? (Link) Does closing off the area to the public preserve it but to what end? Will it be only the privileged can enter, or those by politically connected tour groups? We could ask Obama appointee and former aide to Harry Reid, BLM director Neil Kornze why but he has climbed in his shell for now.

When the BLM arrived to steal Bundy’s cattle and drive him out of business they came with the military tactic of overwhelming force. When met with the same they retreated. This is not the same as a win for the forces of freedom. It is known as a tactical retreat, they will return. They might have moved as slow as the turtle they are claiming to save but they have been plodding along for twenty years destroying ranches in Texas what’s a few more years?

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