Nevada Senator, Governor Join Critics of Bundy Ranch Roundup
Wednesday, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) joined Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval in criticizing the federal government’s handling of the Bundy cattle dispute, arguing that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was “overreaching” while Sandoval blasted the department for creating “an atmosphere of intimidation” by the extreme manner in which it was seizing Bundy’s private property.
Federal agencies now manage or control more than 80 percent of Nevada, which has led to numerous disputes with ranchers who have challenged federal land ownership. For over 20 years, Rancher Cliven Bundy has been disputing grazing rights with state and federal agencies over 250 square miles of federal reserve land in a remote Nevadan location 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
Bundy and his family had been using the area as grazing land for decades, when in 1993 federal land managers expressed concern for federally-protected tortoises, capping Bundy’s herd number at 150. Eventually, federal officials revoked Bundy’s grazing rights altogether. However, Bundy has ignored land managers’ restrictions, claiming preemptive grazing rights and refusing to remove them and pay what the agency claims is $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees.
The dispute finally came to a head when the BLM ordered the confiscation of Bundy’s cattle, which has involved moving in a reported 200 armed agents, bringing in hired ranchers to roundup the cattle, and shutting down a 1,200 square-mile area through May 12. After an argument over protestors’ rights to film the cattle being confiscated, federal agents also marked off a “First Amendment Area” beyond which they said no protestors could operate without potential consequences. (Video above was posted on YouTube by a protestor.)
The federal agency’s action, particularly the “First Amendment Zone,” forced the Nevada Republican governor into the fray Tuesday, who made a formal statement blasting the BLMfor “trampl[ing] upon Nevadans fundamental rights”:
Due to the roundup by the BLM, my office has received numerous complaints of BLM misconduct, road closures and other disturbances. I have recently met with state legislators, county officials and concerned citizens to listen to their concerns. I have expressed those concerns directly to the BLM.
Most disturbing to me is the BLM’s establishment of a “First Amendment Area” that tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution. To that end, I have advised the BLM that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the “First Amendment Area” should be dismantled immediately. No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans. The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.
Wednesday, Senator Heller weighed in on the issue, stating that after hearing from locals and the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association about the massive land closure—which covers an area half the size of Delaware—he had become “extremely concerned about the size of this closure and disruptions with access to roads, water and electrical infrastructure.” Heller told the new BLM chief, Neil Kornze (former advisor to Harry Reid), that the “overreaching” agency was penalizing law-abiding Nevadans.
Meanwhile, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) defended the BLM’s actions, arguing that the agency was simply enforcing court orders to remove the animals from federal land.
BLM and Park Services deem their drastic tactics necessary due to the threatening nature of some of Bundy’s comments. At one point Bundy called the dispute a “range war” and promised to “do whatever it takes” to protect his private property.
Federal agents have seized more than 200 of Bundy’s 900 cattle so far.
This is a copy of the full article provided by the Conservatives at Truth Revolt
***WARNING VIDEO CONTAINS OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE***