Case study in grazing rights

Cliven Bundy has been illegally grazing his cattle on federal land and not paying his grazing fees for nearly 20 years.

Around 1993, the BLM started revising grazing permits to provide for the protection of the desert tortoise. Bundy didn't like the change and stopped paying his grazing fees. It was at the moment that he stopped paying his fees that he gave up any legal standing he had to graze on public lands or to seek compensation. In response, the BLM canceled his permit and would no longer grant him grazing permits on BLM land.

About that time, there was a land swap between Nevada and the Federal Government. Nevada offered to buy the grazing allotments to set up a preserve to protect the desert tortoise in exchange for desert tortoise habitat that they could destroy for development. All ranchers who had allotments in the area were offered the chance to sell their allotments and did to the tune of roughly $5 million. Bundy was not given the option of a buyout for his allotment because he had forfeited his rights to it when he stopped paying his fees. Therefore, the permit was sold to Nevada for $375,000.

Bundy now claims the government is taking away his right to make a living. He doesn't recognize the authority of the government to assess those fees because his family has used the land in question since 1880. But when Nevada became a state in 1864, its citizens gave up all claims to unappropriated federal land and codified this in the state's Constitution. Bundy claims that it his right to graze these BLM public lands.

The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 specifically says the issuance of a grazing permit does not confer any right to graze or right to own the land. The federal courts have struck down every challenge Bundy has made.

Bundy claimed that "the United States does not own the public lands in question." The court previously ruled on Nov. 4, 1998, in U.S. v. Bundy, "the public lands in Nevada are the property of the United States because the United States has held title to those public lands since 1848, when Mexico ceded the land to the United States. In sum, in this most recent effort to oppose the United States' legal process, Bundy has produced no valid law or specific facts raising a genuine issue of fact regarding federal ownership or management of public lands in Nevada, or that his cattle have not trespassed on the New Trespass Lands.

Conclusion, in part: It is hereby ordered that the United States' motion for summary judgment is granted.. it is further ordered that defendant Cliven Bundy's motion to dismiss is denied as moot. . It is further ordered that Bundy is permanently enjoined from trespassing on the new trespass lands . that the United States is entitled to protect the new trespass lands against this trespass, and all future trespasses by Bundy . that Bundy shall remove his livestock from the new trespass lands within 45 days of the date hereof, and that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to impound any of Bundy's cattle that remain in trespass after 45 days of the date hereof . that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to impound any of Bundy's cattle for any future trespasses.(Dated July 9, 2013, Lloyd D. George, United States District Judge, Case 2:12-cv-00804-LDG-GWF)

Chip Tuthill lives in Mancos. Websites used: