Jay Evensen: Cliven Bundy makes it harder to solve Western land issues

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    May 1, 2014 10:36 p.m.

    The Rule of Law in this country is the Constitution, which means that the Federal Government has no reason to lay claim to this land. This is the STATES land, and the BLM needs to go through the court's of the state, rather then herd up the cattle with their posse of gun slingers. The BLM is also trying to round up over 90,000 acres of land along the red river which lies between Oklahoma, and Texas. most of which is privately owned.
    The question that we need to ask, is why is the BLM so fixated on taking over this land, why are they not doing anything about the Wild Horse population which is on the "BLM's"land in southern Utah. Why is the Federal Government spending millions on cattle that are trespassing, and not on those who are entering this country with out the proper documentation.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 1, 2014 10:39 a.m.

    The 'range war' is also not the central issue (IMO).

    The issue is... who does the land belong to... the people... or the government.

    IMO it belongs to the people. But we asked the government to manage it.


    Bundy should be a big boy and resolve his grazing rights issues. But the BLM folks should not push the people around, kill their cattle, take their cattle, or tazer the people. All of these things were done by the BLM.

    I don't think it was wise to show up armed to a confrontation with the BLM... but I don't know all the details of what that was about.

    But focusing on one person (bundy). One conflict (bundy) One term ("range war")... prevents you from seeing the REAL issue.

    It's more than Bundy. It's more than bundy's problems. It's more than this confrontation. It's more than Nevada. It's more than the BLM.... It's the relationship between the government and the people they serve...

    Bundy is just ONE person. But a LOT of people don't like how our government is treating him... and expressing displeasure in the government-vs-people relationship.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    May 1, 2014 9:39 a.m.

    Bundy made a religious call to tear down federal property and start an armed conflict.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 1, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    2 bits,

    "....Enemies of the cause (local control of the land in our States)... would LIKE to make this about Bundy (not the cause)...."

    Bundy himself gets the blame for that. He put himself at the center by issuing calls for a "range war" (his term, not mine). He apparently thought that evoking images of the Wild West would rally people to his cause. He obviously miscalculated.

  • topofutpatriot Logan, UT
    May 1, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    That the people inhabiting said proposed State do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof; and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes; and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States,

    Section 3 Utah Statehood Enabling Act. Passed by Congress Signed by President 1895 Authorizing the territorial government to call a convention to form a State Constitution.

    The Western States of Illinois, Arkansas, Lousiana, Florida all under majority ownership of federal land banded together and forced the Federal Government to honor this promise at statehood to "Extinguish Title" in the 1830,s

    Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 1, 2014 8:55 a.m.

    Enemies of the cause (local control of the land in our States)... would LIKE to make this about Bundy (not the cause).

    Then IF they can tear down Bundy and destroy HIM... they have destroyed the cause.

    I don't think that should work. It's not about Bundy. He's just the poster child for the cause today. But it's not about HIM...

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 1, 2014 8:06 a.m.


    "....All the lands obtained in the western expansion did not belong to a state when the federal government bought it. States were carved out of those lands - they were not states first...."

    For indisputable proof of that, one need look no further than a political map of the Western United States showing state borders that adhere to lines of longitude and latitude. Settlers and gold prospectors didn't decide on those boundaries. Congress did.

  • UT Brit London, England
    May 1, 2014 2:58 a.m.

    I wonder what Bundy supporters would say if there was a muslim group who rejected the federal government, instituted sharia law and then barricaded themselves in a mosque with firearms pointed at federal agents?

    I am sure Bundy supporters would stand up for that groups desire for freedom from the government...............

  • sayswho Hurricane, UT
    April 30, 2014 11:18 p.m.

    In the 1990s, the grazing rights to the land where Bundy has his cattle was transfered to Clark County Nevada from the BLM. As he has maintained, he should have been paying his grazing fees to Clark County and not the BLM.

    For a state to join the union, it must enter an "enabling act" transfering all non-occupied land to the federal government. In turn, the federal government agrees to transfer that land to private hands. Until a short time ago, a great portion of the eastern United States was in federal hands. Recently, all that federally-controlled land east of Colorado was transfered to private hands, as agreed. Only the lands from Colorado westward are still controlled by the federal government, in spite of our "enabling acts". The U.S. government needs to deal with the west the same way that it has with the east, and transfer to the people the land that was promised in the state enabling acts.

  • Outside-View Federal Way, WA
    April 30, 2014 9:28 p.m.

    However this may end, if the State would ever gain control of these lands I would not want to see them sell this land to ranchers or others who look to own it. In fact, given that B Bundy has paid any legitimate grazing fees for 20 years, I would say that the government chould legally get a court order that would take away any "property" grazing rights that they might have. That is what would to anyone else if they didnt pay their taxes.

    Once again I will say, the BLM should maintain control of these lands but the State Congressional delegation and Governor should have a big say in how the lands are managed. You can do different things in different states if those State want that and it is within reason. Selling the land would not be allowed.

  • Kabul Kabul, Afghanistan
    April 30, 2014 9:16 p.m.

    For those who think the federal government should give up this land in several western states, why do you think the land should revert to state governments? I would suspect that if the argument were that the land should revert to the native tribal nations, there would be far less people interested in taking arms against the federal government. The native americans would seem to have the precedence to receive back the land. After all, they roamed much of it long before states were organized, before the federal government made the Louisiana Purchase, and any European-Americans ever got close to the land.

    I think those pushing to get the land out of the sovereignty of the federal government should consider how far this could go before they push too hard. How many of those 50 lawmakers from nine western statements represented the interests of the original native nations?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 30, 2014 8:48 p.m.

    " If Americans would just read the Constitution, they would realize that the Federal Government cannot "own" land within a State."

    No Mike, it is you that just doesn't understand that your reading and application of that section is being taken out of context, and that over 200 years of court rules say you are wrong. I am not sure by what power you think you have the secret constitutional sauce.... but I hate to inform you..... you still have this wrong.

    That section talks about establishing a capital, and how to acquire land from states when the land is under the states jurisdiction. All the lands obtained in the western expansion did not belong to a state when the federal government bought it. States were carved out of those lands - they were not states first. The states never had preeminence in these matters.

    So, refer precedent here.... there is plenty of it. It is not ambiguous. Your application of that section does not cover the circumstances in dispute here. Never has..... Never will. This is exactly why they make you take a test before you can practice law...... to avoid situations just like this.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    April 30, 2014 8:13 p.m.


    Who says there isn't some common ground for all of us to stand on?

  • Rocket Science Brigham City, UT
    April 30, 2014 8:11 p.m.

    Our Representatives have been working the issue for some time now and are hopeful of meaningful progess. Cliven Bundy is in the wrong and his wrong doing damages the efforts of those who have been working through the system to reach a reasonable solution.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    April 30, 2014 7:55 p.m.

    @mike richards. Are you a constitutional expert? Corporations and banks own this country yet i have never heard you complain that our money supply is owned by private banks. Where does it say in the constitution that banks can print money out of thin air to loan?

    It seems you would rather be ruled by corporations than by a government that is controlled the people.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    April 30, 2014 4:44 p.m.

    @photobeauty -- You are obviously not aware of this, but that evil BLM guy with his badge is probably your neighbor. They actually live and work here in the west, not fly in from DC or New York or whatever scary big "back east" city you are afraid of. They don't deserve to have guns pointed at them by kooks.

  • photobeauty Blanding, UT
    April 30, 2014 4:15 p.m.

    The closer to home law enforcement comes from, the more likely that law enforcement will be responsive to the needs of that home. I would rather have a county sheriff in control of county law enforcement than a BLM employee with a badge and a gun trying to tell me what I can and can not do. The best solution in my opinion is to treat the western states the way the eastern states have been treated and give the land back to the states.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 30, 2014 3:52 p.m.

    I'm sure that the "Federal Government" is laughing itself silly by showing yet again what fools Americans are. If Americans would just read the Constitution, they would realize that the Federal Government cannot "own" land within a State. That doesn't matter to the administration's apologists who think that they "own" something for which they have not paid. When the "Federal Government" can seize two car companies, without paying the owners of those companies (teachers, policemen and all others who help stock in those companies) why would anyone challenge FEDERAL government ownership of State lands, even though the Constitution forbids FEDERAL ownership of any land except as defined in the Constitution?

    Lawlessness didn't start with Bundy. Read the treaties that Washington made with the Indian Nations and then see what happened. If politicians have learned anything, they've learned how to lie about their authority. The Federal Government does not own Nevada. The "public" has no ownership of Nevada. The government does not "own" YOUR property either, no matter what Washington tells you.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 30, 2014 3:38 p.m.


    “....the feds have put the interests of the environmentalists ahead of every other interest...."

    That’s as it must be. Commercial interests fluctuate over comparatively short periods. But environment is the consideration for sustaining the future. Government alone can’t do it. But it will take Government leadership to pull it all together.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 30, 2014 3:37 p.m.

    Bundy... the personality... does make it hard. But it's our bickering about Bundy's personality that REALLY makes it hard. But his personality or views on minorities is not what this is about.

    HE... is not the cause. We need to remember that and not mush them together. And think we can end the cause by tearing down the man....

    These land issues were around WAY before Bundy got thrown in the spotlight. They will be around long after he's gone...

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    April 30, 2014 3:30 p.m.


    * we give away billions in foreign aid
    * about half our people receive government handouts
    * we pay hundreds of millions per year for needless expenses for political leaders
    * we give billions of dollars worth of military weapons to other countries. some pays, and others don't.

    Don't we have other fish to fry than Cliven Bundy.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    April 30, 2014 2:21 p.m.

    "so they could be sold to the Chinese for a heavily subsidized solar power system?"

    The Chinese solar plant is planned for a location over 100 miles away from the disputed lands being grazed on...

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 30, 2014 2:10 p.m.

    @ JoeCapitalist2, except that health insurance is actually less of a disaster now than before the ACA.

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    April 30, 2014 2:07 p.m.

    The Real Maverik: "Public lands can and should remain in control of the Feds, period. No compromise! Never! I just don't trust folks like John Swallow or Becky Lockhart." Maybe you'd like them more in control of Harry Reid and his son, so they could be sold to the Chinese for a heavily subsidized solar power system?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 30, 2014 1:59 p.m.

    I will be the last one to defend Bundy... but I would say perhaps it is not always greed... that term gets thrown around a lot, on both sides and is not an accurate representation. I would say in their minds - who ever "their" is - it is all about fairness. They feel what they are dealing with is not a level playing field.

    In Bundy's case, if his family used the land for free for some period of time, he doesn't see why he shouldn't be able to do likewise. He does not weigh in that conditions have changed for everyone, and most all have had to adapt, adjust, or change. He doesn't see why things should change... and it is not fair that he is being asked to play by a new set of rules.

    At least that is the tact I would start with if I were negotiating with or representing him. I am not saying he is right.... nor am I willing to say he is just being greedy. Fairness is a huge issue for many out there - rich, poor, white - otherwise....

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    April 30, 2014 1:35 p.m.

    airnaut: "I prefer having the Feds in control of our lands."

    That is only because the feds have put the interests of the environmentalists ahead of every other interest. I wonder if you would change your tune in a New York minute of the general consenses of federal bureaucrats was to open up all lands to oil exploration and extraction.

    Utah has an awful lot of public lands. Some of that should be permanently preserved from any development. Other parts should be accessible to responsible recreation and ranching. But the current federal goals of locking up every bit of public land so no one can use it for anything but taking pictures is a complete waste.

    Like giving the feds control over our health insurance, fed control over anything can lead to disaster.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    April 30, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    Finally, it is good to see the DN move away from any defense of Bundy and his disregard for the rule of law. I can understand states wanting control over public lands, but question that Evensen's call for "balance" would actually happen. The cost of maintaining and protecting public lands is so high, that states, like Utah, would have to open up development or sell some land to even afford preserving what is left.

  • deserthound Salt Lake City, UT
    April 30, 2014 12:40 p.m.

    Two comments, Jay: First, any hint of lending credibility to a bunch of trigger-happy, AK-47 toting so-called patriots, regardless of Bundy's racist comments, does nothing for your credibility. These folks were there to defend at all costs an established lawbreaker, including seeing their wives killed. I'm not sure we could find a better example of "crazy."

    Second, any constructive conversation regarding the state taking control of 30 million acres of federal lands should be centered around the question, "How will the state pay for it?" Once it is acknowledged how much it actually costs to administer and manage those lands, even if the state can do it for half, the conversation will start to transition away from ideology to pragmatism. Of course, that's area that Ken Ivory avoids because it causes him to start to be honest.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    April 30, 2014 12:39 p.m.

    Where are the typical repub posters on this one?

    Have even they abandoned Saint Clive? But things were finally starting to get interesting!

    Haha, in my opinion Clive wants to act like a traitor and terrorist. Grant him his sizes and treat him as one.

    Public lands can and should remain in control of the Feds, period. No compromise! Never! I just don't trust folks like John Swallow or Becky Lockhart.

  • riverofsun St.George, Utah
    April 30, 2014 12:15 p.m.

    Has anyone else wondered what got ol' Clive on such a rant about society?
    Before opening his mouth, shouldn't he have consulted with those in the know about his lawlessness?
    Perhaps hired a slick city lawyer/spokesperson?
    Such a Ruby Ridge type deja vu feeling in Mesquite, Nevada.
    Did he know all along that he done wrong?
    Has SNL done a spoof on this one yet?

  • Ranch Here, UT
    April 30, 2014 12:02 p.m.


    I'm shocked! Shocked I tell you. You actually said something I can agree with you on.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    April 30, 2014 11:46 a.m.

    I'd really rather the state of Utah NOT have ownership/guardianship of the federal lands.

    Utah's elite just want to use and abuse the land.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    April 30, 2014 11:21 a.m.

    Excellent article.

    This is exactly what I was thinking when I saw this guy on TV. This is the last person in the world ranchers need as their spokesperson about federal lands issues. The problems go back to the nineteenth century and never seemed to get solved no matter who is in the White House or who controls Congress. Yet the problems are solvable. I doubt any progress is ever going to be made however, when the spokesperson of ranchers is advocating a return to slavery and secession from the Union.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 30, 2014 11:01 a.m.

    Once Federal lands became the property of a state, whether by purchase or transfer, there is no legal guarantee they will remain public lands. Nor is it clear in all cases how transfer will affect the administering and enforcement of national land use policies.

    States may be chomping at the bit to acquire the lands and private interests may already be making plans. But until a persuasive case is made for what best serves the greater common good, the Federal Government has a duty as public trustee to not let control of public lands slip away.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 30, 2014 10:59 a.m.

    Did you see the article comparing the grazing case with the XL Pipeline situation? "But many of the pundits and talking heads who rallied behind Bundy (at least before his racist outburst) are also advocating the Keystone XL pipeline -- despite the ranchers and farmers up in arms about pipeline owner TransCanada Corp. trying to force its way onto their land....Crawford said she's worried about the pipeline's effect on cultural and environmental aspects of the land. But mostly she said she's mad that TransCanada could essentially take her land without her permission. She is trying to get the Texas Supreme Court to hear her case, arguing that the company should not have had the ability to claim eminent domain in the first place....'A foreign corporation building a for-profit pipeline doesn't meet the standards for eminent domain,' Crawford said."

    I guess consistency doesn't matter.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    April 30, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    Mr Evensen, you write that "The state would have to balance the needs of extraction companies, environmentalists, recreationists and local residents just as the feds do now". I appreciate your point of view on that important aspect of this issue. As a citizen of the west, I am concerned whether the state could or would do as good a job balancing the needs of these competing interests for these vast lands as the BLM has done? Might there be a tempation for the state to sell off much of the good land that is currently used by the public for recreation and renewal to corporations and private parties who would then restrict access to the land?

    For those who enjoy having reasonable access to public lands as we have had for generations, where will we go when that land is no longer public? Once that land is placed into private hands, access to it will be gone forever to common every day people who aren't wealthy enough to buy it all up for themselves only!

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 30, 2014 8:41 a.m.

    Bundy was born in AZ, his wife's family owned the maximum homestead ranch 160 acres near Mesquite
    Nevada charges $12 a head of cattle on State lands while the Feds charge a dollar.
    Anger derived from ignorance and backed with firearms isn't patriotic it's borderline, if not right out, insurrection.

    He's a fraud, and now a tool for others who would steal their children's inheritance.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    April 30, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    There is no way that Utah could afford to maintain all of the BLM land in the state.

    If Utah was suddenly in possession of all of our federal lands, it would cherry pick the choice locations and sell them to private corporations. You could immediately kiss public access to these lands good bye. (Sure you can go on Washington State privately owned timber land, but you better get a permit from Weyerhaeuser first.) The less valuable lands would fall into ruin and we would beg the federal government to take back these blighted areas.

    Thank heaven the feds own most of Utah!

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 30, 2014 8:11 a.m.

    There is so much empty rhetoric on this issue. First, Jim Hansen may have introduced a bill, but only to appease Utah special interests to exploit the land. He knew the bill would go nowhere, even in a Republican Administration. Second, what would Utah do with the lands? Sell them? More mining or other exclusive rights to corporations, removing those lands from public use? I've yet to see a plan where the interests of the general public are addressed. It's always about commercial exploitation by special interests. We the people are ignored, but are instead used and manipulated to support those special interests. And finally, for now, most of those hated BLM folks are Westerners, many Utahns, and many Mormons. It is easy to paint them as detached and whatever, but they are not. In the last 60 years, the only time the Secretary of the Interior was from a non-Western state was under Nixon and Reagan. And I guarantee that if the GOP can pull it together in 2016 and elect one of their own to the White House, this issue will pretty much die down. It's all partisan politics meant to serve special interests.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    April 30, 2014 7:56 a.m.

    The State controls Beck Street, Kennecott, the refineries, the radioactive dump by Energy Solutions, and the billboards along the Freeways.

    The Feds control the National Parks.

    I prefer having the Feds in control of our lands.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    April 30, 2014 7:55 a.m.

    It all comes down to greed.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    April 30, 2014 7:48 a.m.

    Unstated are those who believe the land belongs to *them*, not to feds, not to the states, counties, or any other form of oppressive, tyrannical government.

    These crackpots serve a useful purpose - they make the state proposal for mass giveaways in their favor look like a compromise position.

    Here's a position the rest of America might be able to support: take all the federally owned land that isn't a National Park, Wilderness, National Forest or Monument, price it so that the national debt would be paid off in full, and charge that amount to the states, totaling $17 Trillion.

    I know real conservatives don't believe in giveaways, and they are for eliminating the federal debt.

    I can't see why they wouldn't support this proposal. If the states aren't just looking for the biggest handout in the history of welfare, they'll seriously consider this proposal.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    April 30, 2014 7:28 a.m.

    Clive Bundy is representative of the personalities involved in the use of our public lands. That includes politicans, environmentalist, ranchers, and mineral extraction users. A lot of stubborn people backed by money and power. This is an issue of control, plain and simple. Overwhelming polls show that Americans want to keep this land public with no drastic changes to it's current use. Our Utah politicans are trying to go against the public tide with the support of extraction users, ranchers and local constituents.

  • Gandalf Salt Lake City, UT
    April 30, 2014 6:36 a.m.

    It's been a long time since I agreed with much of what Jay says. But he makes a lot of sense here. Unfortunately, the GOP that controls all levels of Utah state government has far too many ideologues and self interested individuals who I fear would not hesitate to sell short the long term environmental and recreational interests in preserving public space in favor of short term extractive and other uses for immediate financial gain. On the whole, I trust the Feds on the public lands issue more than I trust Utah's self interested power brokers.

  • Red Smith American Fork, UT
    April 30, 2014 6:33 a.m.

    Where is the outcry against BLM's Putin actions?

    When the politicians controlling the Government withheld the land promised to Western States for joining the Union, that dishonest act created friction between justice and greed and endless disputes.

    Cliven Bundy is no racist - clearly does not have a lawyer's clever tongue to express his view that family life in poverty is better than a broken family caused by government handouts.

    BLM seized Shoshone former Chief Raymond Yowell's 132 cows and is garnishing 15% of
    his $1,150 Social Security checks. Chief Raymond Yowell has a jaded view of white man's government. Luckily, he used the word white, or he'd be classified as a racist and lynched by the media.

    "In his opinion of United States v. Estate of Hage, U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones reveals that after late Nevada rancher E. Wayne Hage indicated on his 1993 grazing permit renewal that by signing the permit, he was not surrendering his family’s long-standing water and forage rights on the land, the BLM not only rejected the permit but also conspired for decades to both deny his family’s property rights and to destroy their cattle business."

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 30, 2014 6:29 a.m.

    The “Conservative” rancher, Clive Bundy, and his friends in Nevada are “ordinary looking people” according to the article.

    The people with drawn weapons, itchy fingers, a seething hatred for Federal authority, and an intent to intimidate Federal Employees, are regarded by the author as “ordinary looking people.”

    I suppose that depends on what you’re used to seeing and accepting. To me, they are not “ordinary looking people.”

    Is it reasonable for individuals and states to DEMAND land from the Federal Government. The answer is NO.

    “We the People of the United States” own that Federal Land. And “We the People” do NOT negotiate or compromise with Terrorists.

    Get used to it.

    BTW, “Conservative Patriot” is a metonymy too. It means "potential domestic terrorist."

    Why? . . . Because facts are facts.