Nevada ranch standoff becomes showdown over states’ rights *UPDATE*

Nevada ranch standoff becomes showdown over states’ rights *UPDATE*

The developing situation in Nevada is still an ongoing matter between ranch owner Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The dispute began over twenty years ago when the Bundy family was ordered by BLM to remove their grazing cattle from state land which the BLM had designated as a protected area for the desert tortoise. The irony in that designation is that the federal government is so overrun with desert tortoises that it’s begun euthanizing them.

The Bundys ignored the request at that time and finally, in 1998, lost a court battle which set the present day showdown in motion. Citing their family’s use of the land since 1877, the Bundy’s made no effort to follow the court ruling which stated their cattle must be removed from the land.

Cliven Bundy appeared on Hannity a couple days. A video of his interview will give you a little more perspective.

The issue came to a head this past week when the BLM entered disputed land with armed agents, snipers, and helicopters to begin rounding up Bundy’s cattle and remove them from the land. During the roundup, the BLM set up two fenced-in areas around the perimeter with signs labeling them “First Amendment Zones.” Unsurprisingly, this type of behavior is what helped fuel the anger toward the BLM and federal authority since the entire country is a “First Amendment Zone” according to the Constitution. After criticism from Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, the BLM eventually dismantled the protest areas.

A federal judge in Las Vegas first ordered Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy to remove his trespassing cattle in 1998, according to reports from the Associated Press. Similar orders were issued in July 2013, and again in October.

Saturday, the BLM began taking some of the 908 cattle from Bundy. The BLM says Bundy’s cattle have been trespassing on U.S. land without required grazing permits for over 25 years. However, Bundy said he doesn’t recognize federal authority on land that he says belongs to the state of Nevada.

Since the BLM began the cattle roundup, the Bundys have seen an outpouring of support from around the country culminating in a weekend rally protesting federal overreach. Clearly, a lot of people are viewing this as an outlet against the growing federal leviathan. Cliven Bundy has said he welcomes the support but is asking that supporters leave their weapons at home and simply rally in solidarity with the family.

However, the tactics and heavy-handedness of the BLM are clearly a breach of the legal and ethical boundaries in this case considering that the main offenders are cows, which have been grazing the same land for over one hundred years. Now there are reports that cell phone towers are being disabled in the area and the BLM has shown no sign of backing down, nor have the Bundys and supporters of personal liberty and property rights.

UPDATE: Well, that was quicker than I thought. Reports now indicate that the BLM is backing down and will cease confiscation of Cliven Bundy’s cattle. According to the Clarke County Sheriff, the land will remain free for public use and the BLM will no longer pursue the court ordered removal of the Bundy cattle herd.

“Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” BLM Director Neil Kornze said.

“We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner,” he said.

This story is still breaking so the exact details of the withdrawal are largely unknown at this time. Where did the order to stand down originate from? That’s a question I’d love find an answer for. Should we be looking in the direction of Harry Reid?



Nate is founder of the blog He is a software developer by day.


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