Thursday, April 12, 2012

BLM cattle roundup called off

The decision that this week halted the government-threatened roundup of hundreds of cattle owned by Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy from Gold Butte southwest of Mesquite came from the highest level of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Washington, D.C.
The cattle that for years have been the focus of an intense dispute between Bundy and the BLM were scheduled to be corralled and taken off the land Wednesday by “contract cowboys,” Cattoor Livestock Roundup Inc., Bundy told the Desert Valley Times.
Bundy said he learned weeks ago that his long-standing disagreement with the BLM over the cattle was once again coming to a head after simmering with little or no action for years.
“I had been working with the sheriff (Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie) for about six weeks and I was aware things were changing,” Bundy said.
During a recent personal visit from Gillespie at his ranch, the 65-year-old Bundy said he learned the government intended to enforce this week an impound notice that had been issued July 26, 2011.
Bundy and family members immediately began notifying and contacting various friends, groups and others sensitive to his position about the land and proposed roundup. He also notified the Cattoors, the County Commission and the sheriff that he intended to hold them liable for all of his cattle and equipment.
In the notice, the rancher said there was a “volatile situation currently taking place.
“Cliven Bundy will do whatever it takes to protect his property and rights and liberty and freedoms and those of We the People of Clark County Nevada,” Bundy wrote.
Within 24 hours Bundy said he received a call from Gillespie who informed him the roundup had been cancelled, “it was not going to happen.”
“He told me he’d received a call from Washington, D.C. that said, ‘We’re not going to take Bundy’s livestock tomorrow,’” Bundy said. “He told me to go ahead and get to ranchin’.”
BLM Southern Nevada District Manager Mary Jo Rugwell told the DVT late Thursday that she didn’t know who had contacted Gillespie, but an email she had personally received rescinding the roundup was from BLM Deputy Director Mike Pool.

Rob Mrowka, Nevada conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit environmental group actively involved in Gold Butte, said he believes the cancellation came at least from BLM Director Robert Abbey, “probably higher.”
It matters little today who ordered the cancellation since the disagreement over the land, who is the proper steward and other contentious matters are still ongoing.
“Our goal has always been to get the cattle off the land peacefully, safely,” Rugwell said. “Really, the last thing we wanted to do was an impoundment. An impoundment is a serious matter.
“We have been asking for years that Cliven Bundy remove the cattle himself,” she continued. “I have always hoped Mr. Bundy would do it himself willingly. As it is we will continue to work through the solicitor general’s office put a legal case together to take to federal district court.”
Basically, the Bundy/BLM feud started in the early 1990s, Bundy said, over land he calls the “Bundy Ranch,” property in the Gold Butte area, a vast area of critical environmental concern.
Bundy maintains because Nevada is a sovereign state that has empowered individual counties with authority over land in those counties, Clark County, not the BLM is the real landlord of the property in question.
“The federal government has no jurisdiction over that land,” he said.
Because of this belief in country jurisdiction, Bundy said he refused to sign or pay for a grazing permit to run his cattle on the land in question. His allotment permit, which was located on the massive Bunkerville Allotment, was then cancelled.
After years of litigation and an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court, it was ruled that Bundy and his cattle were trespassing and in violation of federal rulings and he was ordered to remove his cattle from the land.
Additionally, in 1998 Clark County purchased grazing rights to entire Bunkerville Allotment for almost $400,000 from the remaining permitees for the benefit and protection of the desert tortoise. 
The belief is, according to Mrowka, that the cattle eat the forage the desert tortoise, “and other threatened or endangered species,” need to survive.
Nevertheless, Bundy cites “pre-emptive” rights to the forage, water and access, which he says he owns because they were established through use by his forefathers who began running cattle in the area in 1870s.
For now, the argument over the cattle has been put back into the pot to continue simmering.
Bundy, too, is continuing to simmer.
“Cliven Bundy has fought for the rights of the citizens of Mesquite and Virgin Valley for all his life,” Bundy said to the DVT. “I have never put up a no hunting or no trespassing sign on my ranch. I have never complained or harassed anybody for any off road use. I have never hindered any hunter or recreational pleasure use.
“I have always stood up and defended your right to access this land,” he said. “I have fought in many public meetings for your right to commerce. I fought for the City of Mesquite to keep from having to pay mitigation for the desert tortoise and multi species act.
“Now the city has climbed in bed with people like the Friends of Gold Butte and other environmental organizations and they’re the people that have pressed the federal government and brought this problem down on Cliven Bundy today.
“I will do whatever it takes to protect We the People rights on this Clark County land,” he said.


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