Southern Utah News Articles
Feds give up on cattle roundup
On Saturday, April 12, the BLM said it will stop the roundup of cattle owned by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. By Saturday afternoon, the BLM had released all 400 head of cattle it had rounded up in the previous week.
ABC News reported that: “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.”
Tensions were high in Bunkerville, Nevada, earlier in the week. At issue was the conflict between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management. Long time rancher Bundy hasn’t paid grazing rights fees since 1993.
For his years of non-payment, Bundy’s 900 plus head of cattle roaming over vast acres of public land were being rounded up by the BLM to pay for the approximately $1 million he owes in fees and fines to the federal government.
Supporters of the Bundy family established a rally area on private property along State Route 170 near the Virgin River.
Signs at the rally were succinct: “Kick the feds out-I stick with Bundy,” “Country folk will survive,” “Mommas don’t let your babies grow up to be BLM,” and, “Has the West been won, or has the fight just begun?”
The BLM/Bundy issue has evolved into something more than arguments about grazing permits.
An unfortunate clash on April 9 between two members of Cliven Bundy’s family and the BLM heated everything up. One incident involved protesters confronting BLM vehicles, one of which was a dump truck. Cliven’s son, Ammon Bundy, 38, said they wanted to see what was in the dump truck, since it was calving season. (It was later reported to be Bundy’s irrigation equipment.) During the altercation, Ammon was tasered three times by BLM officials, after he allegedly kicked a German shepherd dog leashed by one of the BLM officers.
The second incident involved Cliven Bundy’s sister, Margaret Houston, 57. She was at the aforementioned skirmish and a BLM officer allegedly picked her up from behind and threw her to the ground.
Pictures of the two incidents were displayed April 11 at the rally area.
In addition, the BLM had set up two “First Amendment areas.” These were marked off areas where those who wanted to complain or protest could. That didn’t sit well with those supporting Bundy’s grazing issue; a whole host of local and national media; as well as Tea Party and Libertarians, and current and campaigning politicians. The area was quietly dismantled on April 10.
The weekend brought supporters to Bunkerville for a variety of issues. Cliven Bundy was being interviewed at a different location by Sean Hanity, one news helicopter and two news vans were among the 50 plus in attendance at 2 p.m.
Theo Christensen, Beaver Dam, Arizona, was sitting along the road in protest to support the Bundy’s issue. “If we don’t stand up and fight for freedom, nobody else will. I’m fighting for my children.”
“I’m here from Ogden, Utah, to make a statement to the government,” said Neal Hughes. “I want to help save the Bundy’s livelihood. It’s ‘we the people’ who own this land!”
“I don’t like the First Amendment zones,” said Eric Christensen, adding that citizen rights have been trampled since 9/11. “We need to have the right to publicly protest. People are going to get arrested for that here? Really?”
“It’s all about the power. The government wants the water,” said Lynnae Talbot Pena, Springville, Utah. “This is where I was raised. We should be able to keep what is ours. It’s not about the money, it’s about the power.”
“I’m here because it isn’t right what the government is doing here,” said John McLaughlin, Las Vegas. “We’re getting run and over-run by too much federal government!”
Apparently after telling the Bundy family that a deal had been reached Saturday after federal agents were forced to retreat, the BLM reversed itself on Monday and told reporters that they planned to go after Bundy “administratively and judicially.”
“The door isn’t closed. We’ll figure out how to move forward with this,” BLM spokesman Craig Leff said. “The BLM and National Park Service did not cut any deal and negotiate anything, there was no deal made.”