Hold your horses: Nevada standoff reveals bigger fight over federally owned land

FILE - In this April 12, 2014, file photo, the Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle is released by the Bureau of Land Management back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. Armed  backers of embattled rancher Cliven Bundy are still living along a state highway in southern Nevada, almost three weeks after an armed standoff halted U.S.  Bureau of Land Management plans to round up cattle he grazes on public land. The  BLM says Bundy owes $1.1 million in grazing fees and penalties.  (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Bean, File) LOCAL TV OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LAS VEGAS SUN OUTFILE - In this April 12, 2014, file photo, the Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle is released by the Bureau of Land Management back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. Armed backers of embattled rancher Cliven Bundy are still living along a state highway in southern Nevada, almost three weeks after an armed standoff halted U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to round up cattle he grazes on public land. The BLM says Bundy owes $1.1 million in grazing fees and penalties. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Bean, File) LOCAL TV OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LAS VEGAS SUN OUT
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In 1976, Congress touched off the first Sagebrush Rebellion by approving the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which declared that federal land within state borders would remain under federal control until further notice.

Advocates on both sides have been arguing over the legalities ever since. Advocates of federal land insist that the issue is settled, but critics call for Congress to treat Western states the same as other states.

“You don’t change these solemn compacts of statehood as the Supreme Court unanimously said in 2009 by a unilateral policy from Congress,” Mr. Ivory said at the debate.

On Friday, about two dozen members and supporters of the Bundy family filed with the Clark County sheriff criminal complaints against federal agents. Accusations included assault and threats with a deadly weapon, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Mr. Bundy, 68, lost significant public support two weeks ago when he wondered aloud whether black Americans were “better off as slaves” than on public assistance and said black social misery today was “because they never learned how to pick cotton.” He did not accompany his son Ammon Bundy and others in filing the complaints.

“We expect the sheriff to investigate the crimes,” said Ammon Bundy, who was hit with a stun gun during an April 9 clash with BLM agents at the ranch in Bunkerville, Nev., according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

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