Nevada Rancher: “I did not graze my cattle on United States property”
Over the weekend, the ongoing conflict between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a federal agency that administers public land, came to a seeming conclusion when the BLM stood down and released Bundy’s cattle over safety concerns for their people on the ground. Some fringe media sites had been promoting the conflict as the possible beginning of a second American Revolution or the start of the “American Spring”. Glenn, however, has refused to do more than report the facts as he understood them until he could speak with Bundy. He did, however, author a letter denouncing any supporters of Bundy who were calling for armed conflict and violence, imploring people to follow the example of Martin Luther King and Gandhi and protest peacefully.
This morning on radio, Glenn spoke with Bundy about the escalating conflict and why Bundy has refused to pay grazing fees associated with his use of the public land.
“The story of Cliven Bundy, and his ranch in Nevada, is one that I think is captivating many Americans. And it may indeed go down in American history as more than just a quick footnote. I hope that it would go down in history as a positive footnote. But it is one of those situations where we could face another Waco or another really bad situation, a Ruby Ridge,” Glenn said.
During the interview, Glenn tried to understand Bundy’s perspective on the dispute. Was this conflict over ranching and grazing fees? Or was it over an issue of state sovereignty or disarming the BLM?
Glenn said, “I have people that graze on my land. And there is national land behind my ranch as well. And I know if anybody runs cattle on that, they also have to pay for grazing fees. Grazing fees are normal. And you stopped paying them. Your daughter said you did pay them for a while and then you stopped paying them. There are some people that would say that you are, if I may quote, a ‘welfare rancher’ because you’re not paying the fees that other ranchers do have to pay.”
“Let’s make sure we get this straight. I would pay my grazing fees to the proper government and I did try to pay my grazing fees to the proper government. I do not have a contract with the United States because I will not sign that contract with the United States,” Bundy explained. “I have no contract. I did not graze my cattle on the United States property. And I would pay my grazing fees to the proper government.”
Glenn asked him to clarify since in the Nevada State Constitution that land Bundy’s cattle are grazing on was given over to the federal government.
Below is a transcript of Bundy’s explanation:
Essentially, Bundy is saying this conflict isn’t inherently about grazing fees or water rights, but that he ultimately does not recognize the lands to be federal and the United States government or the BLM do not have jurisdiction on the land.CLIVEN: Let’s talk about the — Glenn, I really want to talk about that because that’s very important. You’re talking about the Enabling Act of the people of the territory of the state of Nevada. And remember, in the — section of the Constitution, we’re talking about territories of Nevada. Let me see if I can get that straight. What it says, it says the United States Congress will have power to dispose of all rules and regulations within the territory. Now, let’s think what we’re doing. We’re talking about the territory of Nevada. People of the territory of Nevada. As they — they do not have the Constitution. They’re within the territory and Congress had an unlimited power to make all the rules and regulations. Okay. The people of the territory petitioned the United States Congress to make this a state. And they have a clouded title. So in order to clear their title, they give up their public domain — forever. It sounds terrible. Forever? But let me tell what you they had to do. They had to give it up forever so Congress would have a clear title.And what did Congress do? It made a state of Nevada. Which [indiscernible] a lot of them — quote Ed Presley here. Here’s what Ed Presley said. It doesn’t matter what happened before statehood. What matters is what has happened at the moment of statehood. Now, if you think about that in the second. At the moment of statehood. What happened? At the moment of statehood the people of the territory become people of the United States with the Constitution with equal footing to the original 13 states. They had boundaries around them, a state line. And that boundary was divided into 17 subdivisions, which were county. I live in one of those counties: Clark County, Nevada. And in that county, Clark County, Nevada, we elect our county commissioners, which is the closest to we the peoplend we elect the county sheriff and we pay him to do what? Protect our life, liberty and property.I’m a citizen of that county. I abide by all the state laws.
“So I think this is very clarifying to people,” Glenn said.
“It’s not BLM land. It’s Nevada land,” Bundy said.
“That is a different point of view than everybody else that is a rancher that I know,” Glenn said.
Based on the conversation on the radio show, Bundy’s fundamental issue isn’t with an out of control government taking control of his personal land, but that he disagrees with how that land became federal land when Nevada was founded in 1864.
Cliven did say that while he believes that Nevada is a sovereign state within the United States, he does not identify with the sovereign states movement.