By Nathan Barton
Things continue to heat up in Clark County, Nevada, as more and more federal agents and Sagebrush Rebellion type folks show up and confront each other in and around Bunkerville, just off I-15 northeast of Las Vegas. The hype continues about a “second” American revolution, a new Ruby Ridge, or even another Waco (are they all waiting for 19 April before they start shooting?), there are claims of tazing and bumper bumping and K-9 attacks, and video of screaming matches.
It has the potential to be both a civil war and a war between the states, as more and more Utahns move to help, and Utah County commissioners warn and respond to threats. Supposedly the rancher and allies are supported by the state government in Carson City and by one of the state’s senators, and more information comes out that the other senator (some guy named Reid) is actually the reason (or one of the reasons) that a 21-year-old fuss has escalated. Reid is apparently both an investor and backer of a big solar farm project in the area, which is supposedly incompatible with the rancher’s “feral” cattle. Some say HE is behind this. I say civil war because apparently both the Clark County Sheriff and at least one of the Commissioners (Tom Collins) are supporting the Feds. Collins is at least partly responsible for the potential war between the states, with his remarks about Utahns (1) being a bunch of “inbred b***ds” and (2) telling them that any Utahns coming to support the rancher (Bundy) “better have funeral plans.”
Collins is (no surprise) a Democrat and apparently liberal/Tranzi, big buddies with the Reid clan and other associates, a “Pelosi-style” hoploclast (against guns for everyone but themselves), a heavy drinker, brawler, product of a dysfunctional family, and a union man (though he had a hard time holding a job until he got into appointed and elected political office), and a scofflaw of the first degree, on various (usually dropped) charges over the years. Reminds me of several of the Unionist (Black Republican) thugs (and a few CSA types) in 1860-1862.
Several people have pointed out that the Bundy family have not exactly been model citizens, and have not obeyed the law, as they have failed to pay grazing fees to the BLM since 1993 (21 years) which now (with interest) amounts to millions of dollars owed to the FedGov. Others point to the various claims that the Bundy cattle have wandered into and eaten people’s gardens, caused a traffic accident by wandering onto a highway, and apparently eaten turtles out of house and home, as evidence of the Bundy evil in resisting government. This argument appears to be bogus. Nevada is an “open-range state” (sometimes called a “fence-out state”) in which the law clearly states that livestock owners are NOT liable for damage caused by their animals to someone else’s property UNLESS there is a legal fence maintained by that other person that will keep livestock out. If you leave a gate open (itself a misdemeanor in Nevada) and a cow comes in and eats your flowers, the owner of the cow does not have to pay you a DIME. If the highway is on open range (the right of way is not fenced) and you hit a cow or horse or even a chicken, YOU (the driver) are liable to the rancher or farmer for the dead or injured animal. He is not responsible for any damage to your car, your body, or your sanity. That is the way MOST western states are, and if easterners and such don’t like it, they don’t have to come out here (and I wish they wouldn’t!). Even people like Glenn Beck’s crew, now located in Texas, do NOT understand the basic facts of Western life: it takes more than 4 acres to support a cow (or cow-calf pair), a “big farm” is not 40 acres, and a rancher is NOT a farmer, even if he has crops. And if you don’t like cowpies on your driveway, build a fence and install a gate AND KEEP IT CLOSED!
The issue regarding grazing fees on “public land” is much thornier. The entire idea of grazing leases, grazing rights, land fees, and the whole array of laws for BLM, USFS, and even NPS lands is the result of 150 years of insane actions and stupid decisions by Congress and Executive agencies (such as BLM and its predecessor US Land Office). These include the 1862 Homestead Act which allowed a person (or family) to claim only 160 acres – plenty for a farm in Ohio or Alabama but insanely small for even a pre-mechanized farm, much less a ranch, in the Western States. And to claim that land, you had to build and live in a house for a certain period of time to “prove up” the claim. So ranchers (some of which actually bought land from local tribes) filed claims and built houses (or at least line cabins) on the most valuable 160 acres (on creeks or around a pond or spring) and grazed on the public range. Over the years, additional family and hired hands could establish and prove up other claims, gradually liberating the land (generally stolen from tribes by the FedGov) to private use. This was fine, but the “conservation movement” (part of the Progressive Movement of Teddy Roosevelt and others) ultimately ended homesteading, as the “commons” (government land) must be preserved and conserved “for future generations” (always the NEXT generation).
More government greed made the decision that the land must also generate revenue to pay for all the various “government services” provided to the users: those ranch owners (mostly families) that had by then raised cattle and horses and sheep on the land for multiple generations. Thus the government meddled with the economy, by imposing additional costs (and requirements) on the ranchers: within a few decades, those fees and requirements have driven thousands of ranchers off the land, while the private lands (the homesteads and later grazing claims, as well as proved up mining claims) have been the major areas of expansion of urban areas. So high land prices and resulting high state/local property taxes are added to the federal burden. The Bundys are one family that has decided to take a stand. A foul-mouthed, irritable, and obnoxious stand, perhaps, but STILL a stand for their liberty and that of their family and neighbors and county and state. Is it any wonder they are hated?
Again, keeping watch.