Las Vegas Sun

May 4, 2015

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U.S. sues Southern Nevada rancher in grazing dispute

The federal government on Monday filed a trespassing lawsuit against a Southern Nevada rancher who for years has been fighting orders that he remove his cattle from public land.

A lawsuit was filed in federal court in Las Vegas by the U.S. Justice Department, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, against Cliven Bundy of Bunkerville, a town near Mesquite.

The suit seeks a court order blocking Bundy's "unauthorized and unlawful grazing of livestock'' on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.

Despite a court order dating to 1998 requiring Bundy to remove cattle from federal land near Bunkerville, the government contends he has failed to do so and his cattle are now trespassing in a broad territory including the Gold Butte area and lands administered by the Park Service as part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The Overton arm of Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Gold Butte contain "many sensitive and rare plant species that are directly and indirectly affected by unauthorized cattle grazing,'' the lawsuit says. The area also has archeological resources that need to be protected, the government says.

Bundy, however, has maintained he has the right to graze hundreds of head of cattle on range land where his family has been running livestock since 1877.

It's not known when the court will rule on the government's request that the court order that Bundy's cattle be removed from the unauthorized areas.

The suit was filed after the Bureau of Land Management canceled plans to round up and remove the cattle last month because of safety concerns. Those concerns related to Bundy vowing to protect his property rights, The Associated Press reported.

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  1. Author, without telling us Bundy's side, your article reads incomplete. Why does he think he has the right?

  2. The rancher for years has claimed to have forage and access rights to land in the Gold Butte area and to own range improvements there.


  3. Since most of Nevada is owned and controlled by some form of Government, about 85% of it, there needs to be a form of compromise, especially with generational ranching families. Keep in mind, that these pioneering families are the same folks that established the livestock industry here in Nevada, brought diversification, and opened the doors for growth.

    These ranchers have done their level best to get along with the BLM, Dept. of Forestry, Dept. of Defense, and many other governmental agencies over the years. Many have given up lands for the better good of Nevada, as the wonderous Whipple Caves near Lund and Sunnyside, Nevada, or the White River Hot Springs, located over at the Charlie and Lauralee Brown White River Ranch, in the outer reaches of White Pine County near Lund. And there are many more.

    Somewhere down the line, there has to be compromise between ranchers and government. As a rule, these ranchers are good stewards of the land, carefully rotating livestock and crops to prevent damage, and they protect these lands when needs be, when there is a problem with visitors, fires, or stray animals. Few of you would work the long days, 365 days a year, to continue a lifestyle set by their elders, and preserve for children of future generations.

    Not knowing the full story of rancher Bundy versus the Government, leaves me to think that somewhere in this story, the Bundy Ranch fell on hard times, were blind-sided by the governmental wheels of red tape, and they been fighting to keep their ranching since. You know, that every election brings new bureaucrats to go in and make their "mark" within an agency, or cater to politicians. It happens more often than not.

    Here's hoping the Bundy Ranch and the Government can find a solution, meeting in the middle for the good of all concerned.

    Blessings and Peace,

  4. I agree with Star, something should be done to accommodate these ranchers, hard working people who have been on the land for generations. If they will let solar and wind farms be built, transmission lines etc, there is no reason not to work with the locals nearby to use the land as well.
    I would love to see a response from Pres "BO" and Mitt R. on this!

  5. Peter and Star must have missed the explanation from the 2008 article the author linked to:
    "But the Bundys lost the right to graze cattle in the area in the early '90s after they stopped paying grazing permit fees, according to records."

    So the issue here is that Bundy wants to keep grazing his cattle for free on land he doesn't own.