Hundreds converged on Bunkersville, NV on Saturday, April 12, 2014 to bear witness to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seizure of rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle. After more than two decades in court, on April 5, 2014, the BLM and armed officers from other federal agencies began rounding up the Bundy cattle by helicopter, impounding them for sale at auction.
In a principled stance against the overreach of a federal agency that mismanages the lands under its control, Mr. Bundy ceased paying federal grazing fees in 1993. In an conversation Saturday morning with Fox News’s Don Massey that was livestreamed by Patti Beers (@PMBeers), Cliven Bundy’s sister Susan recounted the events that preceded her brother’s decision to “fire the BLM.”
First, BLM reduced access routes from Las Vegas to recreation in Gold Butte. The Back Country Byway program restricted vehicle traffic solely to routes designated by the BLM. According to Susan Bundy, “We have access roads to the cattle and to the water, they want them shut off!” The community at large was able to use the roads maintained by Cliven Bundy for recreation prior to the BLM’s mandate to close the land.
“When it got to the point that they said, ‘OK, you have to take your cattle off the range in the Spring, because that’s when the turtle come out of their hole.’ Well, that’s that only time we have halfway decent feed here, and that’s when the mamas are feeding their newborn calves,” explained Susan Bundy. “[The cows] don’t do anything with the turtles! The turtles are safer with them. They take them to where the waters are.”
Don Massey responded, “We’ve had a hundred years with cattle and turtle, so why all of a sudden is this happening?”
Addressing public misconceptions about the wealth of the family in relation to the size of the grazing acreage, Susan said, “You probably come from somewhere where you think cows graze on grass. Well, these cattle had to adapt to the feed that we have. They eat the brush … the tops of them … going around grooming them. It takes bigger acreage to … even sustain these cows because the foliage is far and few.”
According to Susan, her brother Cliven Bundy “does not have a problem paying grazing fees if he can pay them to the state of Nevada. He has sent money to the state of Nevada, but they don’t know exactly what to do with it, and then they quit accepting it.”
Describing the damage to the range, Susan revealed, “They have ripped all the water [piping] out … miles of piping. The cattle can’t get water.” The family saw water troughs and piping being hauled out in a dumptruck. Susan described years of range improvement work destroyed by the BLM. “My brothers put a lot of money into bringing the waters down into the desert from the springs in the mountain. We haven’t gone up to see the damage.”
According to Cliven Bundy’s daughter, Shiree Bundy Cox, her great grandfather bought the rights to the Bunkerville allotment in 1887. The Bundy family has passed grazing rights through two generations; the latest transfer to Cliven Bundy took place in 1972. Over the last century, these men “built water [lines], fences and roads to ensure the survival of their cattle, all with their own money, not with tax dollars,” according to Shiree Bundy Cox.
“[The] herd has been part of that range for over a hundred years, long before the BLM even existed. Now the Feds think they can just come in and remove them and sell them without a legal brand inspection or without my dad's signature on it. They think they can take them over two borders, which is illegal, ask any trucker. Then they plan to take them to the Richfield Auction and sell them. All with our tax money. They have paid off the contract cowboys and the auction owner as well as the Nevada brand inspector with our tax dollars. See how slick they are?
Fifty other ranchers in the area have already been bought out or ruined by the bureaucratic oversight of the BLM. In response to the BLM impoud action, armed militias traveled to the Bundy Ranch to support Cliven Bundy in his last stand against a tyrannical federal government. Livestreamer @PMBeers estimated she saw 500-700 men and women in the area on Satuday. Other news media reported crowds of 1,000 at the height of the protest.
View @PMBeers’s video from #BundyRanch: http://youtu.be/9a4Y__S7RZw