Earlier this week, TheBlaze reported armed federal agents had been deployed to northeast Clark County, Nevada after a decades-long standoff between a local cattle rancher, Cliven Bundy, and the United States government. Bundy, who has likened the situation to historical confrontations like Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas, is the last remaining rancher in the southern Nevada county. He currently stands in defiance of a 2013 court order demanding he remove his cattle from public land managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.
As the BLM and National Park Service agents moved into the area last week to remove the cattle, they simultaneously closed the Gold Butte area to the public – instead instituting “First Amendment zones” for protesters to gather. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said he was “disturbed” by the First Amendment zone because it “tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution.”
In Wednesday’s morning meeting with his producers, Glenn explained why he feared this case was yet another example of the federal government waging a war against ranchers and farmers in. But as more details have emerged, it is harder to decipher who is right and who is wrong.
As it turns out, Bundy does not own the land, which is near his 150-acre ranch, and has not paid grazing fees since 1993. Bundy says he does not recognize the federal government’s claim to the property but believes he is entitled to use the land for grazing because his family has done exactly that for decades – even before the BLM was formed.
The government’s move to assert itself in the Gold Butte area shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the fact that it’s a move years in the making. In fact, the tense relationship between Bundy and federal government dates back to well before the 2013 court order.
The fight began when Bundy stopped paying the Bureau of Land Management’s grazing fees in 1993, arguing in court filings that he had no obligation to pay the agency because his Mormon ancestors had worked the land decades before the agency was formed.
Bundy claims he owes roughly $300,000 in back fees, but the federal government says it’s more than that.
The land was finally declared off-limits for cattle in 1998 and became a designated habitat for the federally protected desert tortoise. That same year, a judge ordered Bundy to remove his cattle. He refused to comply.
The situation escalated on Wednesday when protesters confronted the federal agents. Bundy’s son was hit with a stun gun during the incident, and his daughter was pushed to the ground. Another woman claims federal officials struck her with their vehicle.
Pat and Stu filled in for Glenn on radio this morning and sought to make sense of it all. As the situation has evolved this week, both Pat and Stu have found themselves with mixed feelings. While it initially seemed as though this was yet another example of the “out of control” government running amuck, there are also obvious issues with Bundy refusing to pay the grazing fees all these years and defying federal law.