Why the Government Owns So Much Land in the West

Understanding the dispute in Oregon requires a look at American history, and how geography, climate and politics shaped “the frontier.”

Comments: 160

  1. the states agreed, in the Enabling Acts they signed upon gaining statehood, to give up all claims to federal lands within their borders forever. that was put into their state constitutions as well. further, the Supremacy Clause of the federal constitution holds that federal claims to land it owns and controls trump everyone else. the stares have neither the money needed to manage the land, or the mindset, states like Utah want those federal lands simply so they can sell them off to developers for a quick one-time-only hit of cash. Extremely short-sighted. the states dont have the money to manage the lands they do own, let alone the lands the feds own. as for those nutcakes who took over the Malheur WR, they have crossed the line from protest, into sedition. you cannot legally take up arms against the government. The so-called Sagebrush Rebellion needs to be stamped out once and for all. the idea that states can just take lands from the feds falls afoul of both the Enabling Acts the states agreed to, as well as the federal Supremacy Clause.

  2. If the government attempts to "stamp out" minor gatherings of citizen's militia then bravado would actually turn to violence, and a vicious cycle of retribution and more violence would begin.
    I support the government in letting these small gatherings make their point, and then to go home safely.

  3. I agree. Let them stay as long as they want. Let the publicity die down. Cut off their electricity and if possible their communication to the outside. But when they decide to leave, arrest them one by one for trespassing, refusing to obey police officers and various other crimes they have committed.

  4. Given your perspective, a militia group of 100 dressed in hip hop gear, fully armed, and having taken control of the Statue of Liberty would be fully right to make their point and go home safely? Doubtful.

    It's only allowed in these remote areas because it's remote. And lets face it, a bunch of white guys in pickups is more posture than action.

  5. Pardon me if I do injustice to the full article by reacting badly to its inaccurate frame. The "government" does not own land in the American West. The American people own the public lands, and various government agencies manage it on our behalf. The lands don't belong to the government, any more than the Smithsonian does. The lands belong to all Americans, in common.

    Fights between the "government" and "western settlers"? It is not 1850 or 1900. The west is the most urbanized section of the United States. Today, the fights and conflicts regarding public lands are overwhelmingly fights between and among a broad diversity of uses and users, which the managing federal agencies manage well or badly. These will continue. The dreams of some to take public lands away from the public will continue to arise now and then, and the majority of western people will continue instead to debate, argue and test our various uses within the well-established and supported framework of public lands. It belittles the force, meaning and outcomes of the long history of fights and conflicts on western public lands to put them in the quaint frame of "the government vs. western settlers." The Western states are not frozen cartoons from yesteryear. The public lands are now in the west's bloodstream, with real and overwhelmingly positive physical, social and psychic meaning for those of us lucky enough to live here.

  6. We are the government, the government is us. That is Civics 101. Reread Lincolns remarks at Gettysburg. "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." And we fought the Civil War to confirm that.

  7. Outstanding.

  8. Thank you Pat Ford- the public lands managed by our federal public servants are our lands. We do have a say in how these lands are managed,although it does take time and energy to participate in the public process. The entire population of the U.S. and visitors from other countries express their awe and gratitude that we Americans have such an abundance of open space. Our public lands are a unique and precious part ofAmerican natural national heritage. The men who think they personally have a right to use our communal heritage at the expense of the rest of us are deluded,immature boys. A few days ago, I was stewing about how different the framing of the situation and how different might be the response of the federal agencies if it were a bunch of Native Americans and lefties with guns attempting to occupy federal property. I am still appalled that the NY Times continues to give these righteous bullies front page coverage, but I am hopeful that the coverage will inspire more people to add their knowledge of the history of our public lands to the conversation.

  9. This article is remiss it does not give the facts about the government ownership of western lands. Most of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico was bought in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago. Oregon Washington and the more northern land was bought from France with the Louisiana Purchase. They were bought using the public's money. the Indian tribes came under those those purchases, and their right were abrogated as the public had very little like for the natives, going back to the first settlers.

    Nevada and Utah gave up claims to those lands in order to become states.
    Each state received land for schools when it came into the union. Nevada, where the Bundy herd (and their cattle) live, got 2 million acres, of which it now retains only 30,000 acres, or 0.15 percent. The state lands were mostly disposed of by sale.

    Some of the worst abuses were by settlers who simply confiscated land actually owned by others, such a Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. They got away with it because It was now "American Land" and he was a Mexican.

    Also see: http://www.marketplace.org/2016/01/04/world/how-feds-came-own-westd

  10. It is baffling that Utah, with its latest drive to "take back our land" is constantly feeding at the federal trough when it is time to distribute Payment in Lieu of Taxes funds. Should the state be successful, and given the economic study cited in the article stating Utah would need $275M plus, where would these monies come from-the federal trough?

  11. For what it's worth, the land that became Oregon and Washington (and Idaho) was not part of the Louisiana Purchase. It became part of the USA after the Oregon Compromise (with Great Britain) in 1846.

  12. Your geography is very inaccurate. The Louisiana Purchase had nothing to do with what is now Washington and Oregon. It's a complex history, worth getting correct.

  13. The "way of life" that the Bundy family and others are fighting to protect is, to be brutally honest, very little more than welfare. The federal government collects very little in exchange for turning the American west into a vast cattle ranching subsidy. And for what? Beef? It's actually rather absurd.

  14. Beef, an unhealthy food at that.

  15. I don't understand why this is not simply called a fight over entitlement.

    The media is quick to call Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Public Aid as entitlements where as these programs are social safety nets for millions of people.

    In this case, the ranchers feel they are "entitled" to graze their animals on public lands without paying any fees. Why not ask them to apply for Public Aid? If they are willing to do so, then the govt can consider their claim on that basis. They will have to prove that without this assistance from the govt, they would be destitute.

    Talking of this type of assistance from govt, the bounty that large farmers get from govt, the special tax breaks that corporations get, the mortgage deduction that homeowners get, the deduction for education expenses are also entitlements that the middle class and the rich have come to expect.

    Isn't it time we label these items for what they are?

  16. I love your Public Aid analogy. Once they apply for it, they also will have to take the drug tests that Republican lawmakers like so much.

  17. The headline is quite biased in two ways. First, compared to many countries, including Canada, publicly owned land is much higher. The question could be equally posed: why so much private land? Second, "public land" ownership is arguably a better term than "government". There are arguably few things that can help bind Americans together than recognition that they all share in "owning" vast tracts of wilderness, in addition to the productive lands they lease to commercial interests. For these reasons it does not follow that just because some Americans live geographically closer to these lands (i.e. it takes less time for them to drive there), that they should have more influence on how these lands are developed. Americans in New Jersey or Seattle or Atlanta also are part of the public that own these lands, and their voices matter, too.

  18. "And we fought the Civil War to confirm that."

    Is that really why we fought the civil war?

  19. regarding Canada, it's apples and oranges.. Why are you making comparisons like that?

  20. Look at it this way. It's "We, the people" who own the land in the west. By virtue of our ownership, we can make sure (to some extent, at least) that pollution and greenhouse gas emission are minimized, species diversity is maintained, and our children and grandchildren can still know what an elk, a wolf, a grizzly or a redwood is. It's a good thing.

  21. Now that you mention it, this might be a good time to re-introduce the grizzly to this particular federal tract. Drop about a dozen of them in the midst of those idiots and let them come to understand what a bear does in the woods.

  22. the author forgets to mention that Congress put certain conditions for a territory to be admitted as a State into the Union. One of those conditions was to accept the Federal government's ownership of much of the land within each state, Nevada is a good example.

  23. When each territory was admitted to the United States, a large amount of federal land was transferred to State ownership, to procide income for the new State's schools. These one-mile-square parcels are known as "school sections," typically there are two in each 36-square miles of surveyed land. On their lands, the States charge higher fees for grazing, and MUCH more for mining, than the charges on federal land. Many State Land Commissioners complain the BLM's giveaways undercut the States' ability to charge fair market rates. The States accepted this apportionment at Statehood. A deeper historian than Ms. Limerick (Parrington) described the mass giveaway of national value in the late 19th Century as "The Great Barbecue."

  24. Nevada was admitted in 1863. Are you saying the Bundy's and their ilk are part of their movement are still carrying on a 150+ year grievance?

  25. Let's be clear about this; ranchers don't want to own this land, they want local governments that they control let them exploit it and have the rest of us pay taxes to pay for the costs. Ranchers don't want to own it and pay taxes on it and be stewards of the land. They want a free lunch paid by the pretense that they are the Icon of American self reliance. There are huge externalities to the business of meat production and BigAg and ranchers are determined that you pay their costs of doing business. Grazing costs and pollution from meat production are the tip of the iceberg, we all pay for the "right" of these "patriots" to foul our food supply. We have not even begun to pay the costs of antibiotic resistant bugs produced by feedlots forcefeeding antibiotics in order to fatten cattle. These "cowboys" are on welfare and threaten the safety of our food supply.

  26. Absolutely. They ought to try their hand at grazing cattle in Virginia where most of the land is private and the rents and/or the property taxes are high. They are the epitome of the "takers" in America.

  27. Federal land is owned by We the People, not "me the people" as the Bundy's and their cohorts seem to think. Armed occupation of federal property is a crime against the United States of America if not treason itself.

    If the Bundy's or anyone else refuse to pay the lease fee for grazing on Public, Federal land they should be evicted just as I would be if I refused to pay my lease fee (rent, maintenance, mortgage payment, whatever).

  28. Why do these low-lives advocate state ownership and administration of federal lands? Because that's where corruption is, that's where dishonest people can exert the most influence.

    Never mind that residents of all 50 states own these lands, not just Nevadans, Oregonians, etc. The thinly veiled attempt at public plundering and dishonest pleas reminds me of the many appeals to putative "state rights."

  29. Then you ought to pay property taxes to the counties in these States.

  30. What services are the Counties in question provide to those lands or their owners (US citizens) or their owners' representative (the Federal Government) ???


  31. These are federally owned lands maintained with federal tax dollars.

  32. Read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. These lands were stolen from Native American tribes, as most of the West was stolen. Now, cattle ranchers rule, and where they go native plants and natural landscapes wither and die under the hooves of animals that were never meant to be there. Cattle ranchers have decimated the West. Ammon Bundy's father Cliven is a notorious over-grazer. Pastures and range lands from California to Montana are riddled with invasive species like cheat grass that burn hotter in fires which only enable more invasives. If the land of the West should go back to anyone it should at least include a collection of Native peoples who once actually lived there and understand the landscape and how to utilize and preserve it. Ammon and his crew are modern bandits, and not the glamorous kind.

  33. We are a representative democracy. Government agencies get their directions from Congress, the Executive branch, and courts. We are not a direct democracy. Our Federal land is managed by laws created by congress, signed by a president. We have courts for disputes. The protesters seem to have no respect for law and courts.

  34. They love to claim they're somehow following the Constitution.

    But none of them appear to have actually read the Constitution, given Article 1 clearly bars the taking up of arms against the lawful government of the United States (which is exactly what they've done).

  35. Gee whiz, administrative costs for the states? No, sorry. I can't speak for the western states, but if the state of Florida were transferred ownership of Federal lands here on Monday, by Tuesday morning there would be a hush-hush sweetheart sale to well-connected friends of the governor for pennies on the dollar. By Wednesday there would be drilling rigs and bulldozers.

    And let's face it, those little pocket copies of the Constitution the extremists wave around are like the magician's sleight of hand, a diversion of attention from the real object of interest: greed.

  36. The most ironic thing is the prevalence of US flags in all of their tv appearances - clearly not appreciating that the system of laws and governance represented by that flag is what they are protesting. It reminds me of the Tea Partiers who talk about the Constitution while waiving the flag of the Confederacy that did so much to repudiate it.

  37. Ranchers have been able to freeload for years. Cattle drink gallons and gallons of water, cause much erosion and pollute streams and other waterways. Ranchers make a huge profit on raising cattle. The land is owned by the government just like any other land that would be owned by private landlords. These occupiers are illegally on government property and have no legal leg to stand on. If they are really interested in this dispute they would use the court systems that are part of our democracy and not threaten like other terrorists that they will use force. Shame on these occupiers.

  38. Excellent point. And ranchers get subsidies like big Agr. business which is not fair to small businesses, new businesses and those without crony connections.

  39. I am waiting for John Stossel to go to these grazing lands and ask his mocking questions to these freeloaders who take-and-take-and-take and still criticize the government and taxpayers who are giving them all these freebies.

    Do you think he has the integrity to do it?

    In any case, while we are waiting how about having a systematic study of who all are benefiting from the current structure of the Federal government (whichever party President) for the last 70 years since the end of WWII. The professors and students at the Economics, Political Science, History and Math/Statistics departments of every college are invited to participate in this study. With the internet we now have the tools for such a massive audit at a very granular level. Please pass on this idea to all college/univ profs you know and get it going. It could lead to more than just understanding how our government affects us, but also in developing better analytical methods, presentation of complex data, better governance and better citizenship.

  40. Reality: grazing of and resource extraction from public lands is welfare.
    Reality: giving the land to the states is giving it to campaign contributors.
    Reality: opening it up for public sale, and it ends up with the super-wealthy.
    Reality: we the people own the land, and it should stay that way. Period.

    Apparently, America's policy against negotiating with terrorists depends on one's last name, inasmuch as it clearly does not hold if your last name is Bundy.

    Undoubtedly, if a group of Americans whose last names were Faisal, Hussein, and Rafsanjani were armed and took over a U.S. government building in Portland, claiming they had done so because an American named Arafat was given a prison sentence for arson, and saying to a reporter they were willing to kill and be killed, they would be called terrorists by the American government and dealt with summarily and accordingly.

    Maybe next summer, instead of camping out, I'll just change my name to Smith N. Wesson and take over a nice, comfortable, National Park Service ranger cabin in the Tetons. Can I get some of you folks to bring me some steaks while I hunker down in the name of your rights?

  41. They are not terrorist.
    They are conducting so far a peaceful protest.
    They have that right as Americans.

  42. An armed peaceful protest. Changes the scenario slightly.

  43. Not sure aboot Canada, but down here in the U.S., you don't have the 'right' to point a gun at other people (including and especially police). You don't have a 'right' to take over and occupy other people's property (including public property). It's not a peaceful protest if they're armed and threatening a violent confrontation with anyone that tries to get them to leave.

  44. Sorry, article doesn't reflect the real truth. see link on some facts on Federal treatment of Ranchers: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/429232/oregon-wildlife-refuge-occu...

    I agree that all BLM lands in the State of Oregon should be turned over to the State. These large tracts of land pay no property taxes to the counties. The State and Locals are much better suited to manage these lands.

  45. And how will we, the owners of all this land, be compensated? Are the states and/or counties prepared to pay billions of dollars for this land?

    Or is this going to be yet more conservative, rural welfare, such as Cliven Bundy has taken advantage of for decades? I mean, how is it any different to have someone cheating by illegally claiming food stamps or welfare, as opposed to Bundy stealing use of Federal land we all own for 20 years without paying the grazing fees required? Isn't he just a rural "welfare queen?"

  46. The National Review article does not support the takeover by the Bundys, nor does it recommend turning over federal lands to state or local governments. It does however criticize the government's appeal in favor of additional prison time for the Hammonds. But as other sources point out, the Hammonds agreed to take a plea in the case; their conviction entailed a mandatory minimum sentence required by the law. The judge in the case erroneously did not give the Hammonds the mandatory minimum sentence and so the government appealed.

    As the Appellate Court stated in their ruling:

    "Although the Hammonds claimed that the fire was designed to burn off invasive species on their property, a teenage relative of theirs testified that Steven had instructed him to drop lit matches on the ground so as to “light up the whole country on fire.” And the teenager did just that."

    See https://popehat.com/2016/01/04/what-happened-in-the-hammond-sentencing-i...

  47. The teen's testimony was deemed untrustworthy and fishy. And yes the Bundy's are outsiders looking for publicity. Seems changing the sentence is not fair justice. Especially if their plea was based on the lower time. In any event, the charge of terrorism for an accidental blaze seems way to extreme. Other stuff going on with the Feds to be so vindictive.

  48. A fact in this is that it is at heart a matter of title law.

    That land belongs in common to the people of the United States. WE are the federal government regardless of what agency is managing it for us.
    The land is owned jointly by every citizen of the nation. Yes, "the federal government" manages it, but we, the people of the U.S., who are the government, elect those that appoint and hire those who administer the public domain for all of us.

    These individuals simply want our land.

    If we're going to hand it over to local control, since we the people hold title to the property, we should have to have a modern version of the Oklahoma Land Rush. Everyone, including wealthy corporations, should have a chance to purchase the property, not just local government.

    Our land is an asset worth a lot of money that can go into our treasury to do other work for us.

    Most local governments probably likely can't successfully manage, let alone bid for, our lands. Wealthy people, living mostly in cities, could. And a lot of individuals and entities would like the opportunity.

    Of course, iff they bought it, they probably would lease it, but not more reasonably than it is now.

    Many of these people are living disadvantaged lives in an increasingly complex world that marginalizes even us in cities. They want to tear down the thicket of laws we all submit to so that they can get at a perceived devil.

    But when the law is gone, where will they hide when other, new devils turn on them?

  49. "These individuals" are Americans just like you and have as much "ownership" of these lands as you claim to. Furthermore, unlike you, they actually have an active need for it.

  50. The legislation to transfer Public Land to the States is a push to privatize. Homesteading created small farmers who fed the nation while making a living. Leases for grazing cattle also fed the nation. Corporate farming/Big Ag changed all that. Today privatization won't benefit individual small farmers and ranchers. A State gets a one time only cash payment from a buyer that financed legoslators and the public (hikers, hunters, campers, and farmers) is fenced out. No private owner would even consider letting ranchers overgraze and damage land for the pitiful rents charged by the government. The Bundys and their like would be out-bid for the land and the last drop of blood squeezed out of them. Their greed and misdirected hostility to the government that subsidizes them demonstrates how easily they can be used as tools to bash the government for the benefit of others.

  51. While I agree with you for the most part, I think characterizing the rents the government charges as "pitiful" slightly undermines your case.

    The Bundys are living a fantasy lifestyle being financially subsidized and ideologically propped up by the collective, ongoing dream state of the American people.

    It is, though, amusing to consider our government having the intelligence required to come up with the irony required to view these people as "pitiful".

    The picture accompanying this article, a steer standing in a lovely western landscape, is, apparently all we need to be moved to think of a fantastical lifestyle in the glorious west- one of individual will surviving in nature with a common man's sense of beauty.
    All the way to the slaughterhouse and the bank and eventually the rest of us, for another loan.

  52. Any failure to protect the public's lands - all of them - from a bunch of persistent domestic terrorists, demanding resolution of disputes in their favor at the barrels of guns - will let these self-centered and greedy groups continue to plot their next extremist actions.

    The Malheur Wildlife Refuge is a critical feeding and resting place for bird migration on this western flyway. It is a national treasure, not something to be even discussed in any seriousness for transfer to private enterprise.

    I understand that the Hammond family does not support the Bundy's claims or actions. This is an act of sedition, and it's time to put a stop to it.

  53. The areas in siege by Ammon, Ryan Bundy, and their "militia," have a long tradition in Mormon religion inclusive of deeply held anti government sentiments. The Federal and local governments have a legal duty to protect this Wildlife reserve commons from those who would privatize it for personal and church profit. The Mormon church hierarchy has a responsibility to step up as well in denouncement of seditious activities by this armed and potentially dangerous group of men.

  54. Just read the fabulous book Under the Banner of Heaven by Jack Krakauer. This will tell you everything you need to know about the Bundy clan.

  55. Here's an idea: GIVE THE LAND BACK TO THE NATIVE AMERICANS. Problem solved... You're welcome...

  56. All Americans share ownership and use of federal land. As one of the 320-odd million landowners, I demand that the radical anti-American crazies holding my land hostage get the h__ off of it so the rest of us can enjoy it.

  57. In short, the protestors are welfare queens with cowboy hats. They think they should get free access to public land for their own personal gain, and they think it makes complete sense to perform an armed takeover of these public lands to make their point.

    They can't afford to buy the land. They object to below-market grazing fees. They even damage public property by starting fires. All of us own the land, not just these hooligans, who by action forfeit their rights.

  58. THANK YOU for this well-written, concise lesson. I figured the government owned West land because there's not much out there, but it's great to see while driving across the areas. One of my favorite privileges (freedoms) is seeing America by car.

  59. The BLM (jokingly called Beef, Logging, and Mining) is virtually giving away the American people's land through low-cost grazing and mining permits. Overgrazing and strip mining destroy the beauty of the wilderness and drive out native species. The Bureau should allow less commercial activity on land set aside for preservation, not more.

  60. Our hardy pioneers carved a new nation out of the American Indian.

  61. For conservatives the term 'freedom' is the freedom to exploit people and natural resources without consequence. Do not give our public lands away.

  62. All well and good, but nobody has the right to make their own rules in a country ruled by law. No one elected the Bundy's to the congressional, the judicial or the executive branch. They have not prevailed in the courts. They don't own the land. It's not theirs to say what can and cannot be done with it. As an American citizen who grew up in the West, I support the idea of managed land use.

  63. Interesting history. DOD is notably not included in your list, though in some western states I believe they hold more land than some of the listed agencies like Fish and Wildlife or NPS. In the same vein as wondering what the government's response might be if these were not white ranchers, I wonder how long Bundy's little stunt would last if he choose to set up camp at Vandenberg Air Force Base, similar in size to Malheur WIldlife Refuge (100k acres vs 187k acres).

  64. Maybe Marco Rubio is right. Land redistribution! It worked in Latin America, right?

  65. The galling thing about the Gift Shop Gang holed up in Oregon is that the main characters have been on Rancher Welfare for a couple of generations. Ammond Bundy is some guy on a messianic trip who needs some of that "mental health care" the GOP is always talking about AFTER people get hurt.

    Where do they think the original family land grants came from?? The Native Americans weren't handing out land- it came from the Federal Government. To have these entitled guys griping about what is now essentially a rip off for the US taxpayer with their grazing the native grasses to nothing and treating public land as their own private feedlots, poaching, setting fires, and then to cap it off, taking the profit home themselves and complaining about it. Well, it is time for a Re-Do on this whole idea.

  66. The grazing land probably should be sold to the highest bidder. I'd chip in to help the Nature Conservancy buy some tracts, and some would probably go to billionaires as hobby ranches, but I suspect most would go to Wall Street investment companies which would then rent it back to the ranchers who now use it - but at many times the rate they now pay.

  67. Look. This is stupid. Just sell the land to the people who want to graze their cattle/sheep/bison on it and be done with it. Also, it's really the height of hypocrisy for these welfare cheats to claim that the government which has given their family a handout for generations is somehow "tyrannical". This land belongs to the people of the United States - DUH.

  68. That's why it is in the hands of the federal government. Sell the land to these cheats and it isn't our anymore, it's theirs and you know how that ends.

  69. Dear Federal Government: Don't do it. Do not sell the land to the states. The states will not foot the bill for this -they will sell the land at dirt cheap prices to banks, hedge funds, corporations, and wealthy individuals who will gouge the Amcit -- if they sell the land ever at all. The state governments are corrupted and in the pockets of elite and lobbyists. Instead, keep the land for all of us

  70. If the red-state heartland is all about rugged individualism, self-sufficiency, guts & god, then what's with the socialist entitlement to exploit our 'commons'?

    Rustlers with rifles are just gangsters.

  71. Good article, though history is necessary compressed. For instance, in light of American's politics, it's hard not to note the Bundy's of the world protest immigrants on the one hand, while prospering on land taken from Mexico as a result of the U.S.-Mexico War.

    The article also says the US Government transferred public lands "largely" via homesteading and "land grants." Not entirely accurate (or at least clear). Direct sales were the largest means by which land when from public to private hands in the 1800s — it also was one of the biggest sources of public revenue for decades, financing America's early years. And the land grants of course included both the Railroad Grants but, less famously, Military Grants to compensate veterans. Much of the farmland in Iowa, for example, was awarded to veterans of wars, from the War of 1812 to the U.S.-Mexico War. Abraham Lincoln himself received two tracts in Iowa for his military service in the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk War.

    In short, public lands — Native American Lands, the Louisiana Purchase, the spoils of the U.S.-Mexico War, the Oregon Territory — were an essential source of revenue of the Federal Government for decades. No wonder it was so easy to balance the budget back then.

  72. Sounds like the Bundys just want a hand-out from the Federal Government...

  73. The writer takes the bait and falls into the trap of framing the argument in the same way as the Bundys et al have: the people against the Feds and Big Government, but the Federal government as the Bogeyman is actually a straw man that they've set up to knock down, since the federal government simply manages the land and its usage for all. As has been pointed out, the feds should be regarded as stewards of a publicly owned and shared resource. The takeover has successfully masked the fact that they're taking away the land from you and me to use for their own personal gain.

  74. The government should start taking the land back.

  75. Cattle grazing on public lands. An excellent reason to eat less meat.

  76. A couple years ago my wife and I visited the American West for the first time. We learned that the legendary "wild" Snake River is controlled by a BLM dam at Jackson Lake. It was immediately obvious that life in the arid West was not possible without huge government projects to provide water and power. All these "rugged individualist" had their land given to them by the government and could not survive there without government help. They are a bunch of welfare recipients with cowboy hats.

  77. Trump is so tough, he'd send in the Blackhawks just like Sadaam and put an end to this! If that didn't work, then he'd build a wall around them and send in Seal Team 7. Then he'd build a casino and a golf course on it. That's called greatness! In fact, his memory is so great, he can even remember the Sagebrush Rebellion and he'd put this one down just like that one.

  78. I'd like to see them try this stunt back east.

  79. Do you think if you started a fire in your backyard, and it burnt the fence and a small bush of your neighbors you'd get five year prison sentence. Well all this hupla in Eastern Oregon is over what was done by the Feds to the Hammonds. A rancher that started a protective fire on his land to protect livestock and it spilled over onto BLM land. The result was ONE acre was burnt. One out of 100,00 acres. My my what a huge loss for the BLM. One acre must of been worth $4. The BLM burns thousands of acres every year in Oregon to protect the overall land. They call them back fires, done to help stem a larger fire loss. Do you nerds kind smell something here. The BLM wants the Hammond Ranch to fail so they can add it to their Refuge. Starting to smell something now. Finally, the real injustice was the Hammonds received a ten month sentence which they served. But the Fed came back and said the Trial Judge err'd and these guys should of been charge with terrorism where a mandatory sentence is five years. Nothing like our good old Federal Government using the most extreme interpretation to extract maximum punishment with the clear goal to destroy the Hammonds. Yep, we see corruption at it's finest.

  80. So the militant ranchers are angry that they aren't getting enough free stuff?

  81. Yeah! Go Mr. Bundy!

    Why, I've had my eye on a certain geyser out that way, where I might be able to rustle up a few bucks by capping it and running my steam turbine faithfully every, say, 92 minutes or so.

    Why should the government prevent me from collecting free steam for my own productive free enterprise? It's my right. Right?

    Let's round us up a posse, run those camera-clicking potential illegal immigrants outta there, and makes us some money!

    Who's with me?

  82. I'm afraid satire and sarcasm are lost on some people.

  83. Why do the map and chart omit another significant federal agency that administers a great deal of land: the Department of Defense? In Southern California, Camp Pendleton interrupts the suburban sprawl that would otherwise connect San Diego to Los Ángeles.

  84. Can we please stop calling these people "antigovernment protesters"? An armed takeover of a federal building by an extremist group stating they are prepared to die does sound like terrorism.

  85. How is it that an armed takeover of a federal building is not treason?

  86. Hey people east of the Mississippi River - a westerner here.
    In spite of what the 'occupiers' think and say, many of us in the west DO enjoy having lots of public land. We are quite happy that all of you help us pay for fighting forest fires, protecting critters, keeping our water clean, etc. Please come out and enjoy it responsibly some time. Seriously! We all get to use it and enjoy it and it feeds our souls. You should share it with us. Just a few reminders: only you can prevent forest fires, and, leave it cleaner than you found it.

    And, FYI, if you ever chance to drive through the Harney Basin, or go to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, it is a lovely, rugged, windswept, high-desert, sparsely populated, and astonishingly beautiful. The local economies will get a boost from your tourist dollar. Just don't get a flat tire. Your AAA probably won't cover a tire change and you could wait quite a while before seeing anyone else.

  87. In 1877, my family settled in California. Never have we claimed benefits from land we did not own. These upstarts think they can just feed at the public trouch and are just looking for a handout.

  88. Not a fan of the Bundys.

  89. If these "ranchers" are really owners of working ranches, then who is "minding the store" while they are off occupying publically owned property. Sounds like a bunch of unemployed low lifes in Stetson hats trying to have their 15 minutes of fame.

  90. Why are the called ranchers and not terrorists?

  91. I'm sure if much of this land was in private hands, these ranchers would have even less access to it or would have to pay far more for that access.

  92. Do some research dude. Much of this land in Malhuer County was in private hands. The Pete French Ranch was huge, but much of it bought up for the Wildlife Refuge area. Many Ranches, through tactics of the BLM controlling grazing and water have caused these ranches to fail, only to be bought at auction for a penny on the dollar. And guess by who. Better believe there's plenty of corruption in these Federal agencies.

  93. Something we all need to remember is that government land is paid for by U.S. taxpayers and therefore, in a sense it belongs to all of us.

  94. If these renegades aren't careful, the government is liable to make them an offer they can't refuse.

  95. "As the United States expanded across the continent, it did so by purchasing or taking the land that became new states. (Among the groups it took land from were Native Americans.)" Is "taking" a euphemism for acquiring through unprovoked war? 1848. When we "took" the land from Mexico? And Mexicans. What is now California, Arizona, NM, Nevada, Utah and parts of Wyoming and Colorado.

  96. Has Ammon Bundy repaid his $350,000 SBA loan from 2010? Nope.

  97. The land is not owned by the government no matter what law they pass or by the people in the USA as they did nothing to acquire this land and they do not use it
    This land is therefore ownerless and by common law can be used by anyone.
    The Bundy's are not claiming that they have sole use of this land or that they own it.
    I believe they are right.

  98. Common law would support the sovereign's claim to land until it was assigned/transferred. Its intellectually lazy to claim no one owns the land and then suggest common law principles to distribute it.

  99. Any part of property that is not being used is free land? Believing that Bundy is right does not have any legal meaning.

  100. I guess i can set up my manufacturing plant anywhere on that land that i want. Maybe i'll put in a garbage dump. If my garbage dump is next to your hunting lodge, it's okay. After all I'm just using our ownerless land and it can be used by anybody, including me.

  101. The Bundy's are simply wishing to turn back the clock to grab land, and privately hold the one thing that they aren't making any more of - real estate. There's no nobility or bigger issue here, and it The Times does a disservice to her readers by presenting the Bundy's "plight" (rock bottom grazing fees for ranchers, and impossibly cheap mineral extraction and logging contracts on federally managed lands for public use) as legitimate or part of a larger "struggle" for private rights. I've spent my career working for federal land management agencies, and can say definitively the Bundy's and their ilk never had it so good.

  102. These people are loons. The government is playing it correctly. Leaving them to freeze their butts off in the middle of nowhere until most of them get fed up and go home. In a couple of weeks the media will lose interest.

  103. Loons indeed. The same loons that vote for lunatics like Trump and Cruz.

  104. I agree but once broken up the members of these gangs should be arrested and tried for the thier illegal occupation by armed force of a federal park.

  105. What would happen out there if the land was transferred from Federal control to the States? You've got 3 very politically schizophrenic states (California, Oregon and Washington) but the growing progressive majorities are on the coasts and the inland areas are more rightwing. They're not likely to change the management process much; if anything they'll make it more restrictive and raise the grazing fees. State's the would sell this land, who would they sell it too? Small ranchers aren't likely to be able to afford it or pay the taxes on it so it'll likely go to big Ag and they'll rent it back - at market rates.

    These guys seem to be dreaming of West that never existed except in a screenwriter's imagination. This is simply based on "belief"; facts are irrelevant. There was an earlier commenter that said that "Common Law" trumps statutory law. It the U.S. at least that is utter nonsense. However, for these folk the "belief" in that idea is where it gets its validity from. These fantasies help spawn things like the Sovereign Citizen' movement and idiocies like Oath Keepers or 3 Percenters.

    What is truly galling is that they fly the flag, swear oaths the Constitution, shout out their "patriotism" and not a single one them believes in this Country not one. If they did, this nonsense wouldn't be happening - especially the guns part. Our history lesson here should go back to the Whiskey Rebellion and how George Washington ended that bit of nonsense in very short order.

  106. Basically, most of the states in question don't want to take over the land. It's a significant administrative cost addition to budgets that are already strained.

    Having lived and worked in some of these areas in the west, there is a whole lot of wide open spaces that have little "commercial" value, even for grazing and it takes a LOT of land to support a single cow and calf. For many small ranching and farming operations have it tough except in some good years, just competing against the big companies, much less against conditions.

  107. Good summary!

    Behind most overly-romanticized notions like a home on the range where wildlife and cattle live in harmony and the Indians keep to themselves somewhere else, is brutal reality.

    Driving most native wildlife and people to near extinction aside, the basic economics of why no one wants to take over financial and legal responsibility of these huge tracts of land is why that home on the range can only be provided by the collective strength of the federal government.

    All Americans, along with the local law-abiding ranchers, pitch in to preserve something resembling the fabled home on the range. Armed rebels like the Bundys want to destroy that as well instead of thanking the rest of us.

  108. This article uses a common and seriously incorrect wording. The federal government does not own land, any land. I own it. I am Joe average citizen, and I own all of this land. Professional administrators, under the direction of laws passed by the national legislators which I elect in free and fair elections, manage this land. Neither the President nor the Congress nor the administrators own the land; we citizens do. The land contested by Clive Bundy and others in the West belongs to everyone, and not just the people who live next door to it or graze their livestock on it.
    Using the phrase "federally owned land" seriously distorts the news to imply, as the protesters believe, that a distant and alien Them in Washington, D.C., are hostile and unresponsive absentee landowners.

  109. Yes, ever since Reagan, government is a nasty word especially federal government. When in fact, government/federal is we the people. Government is we the people and we the people call the shots or we used to call the shot and we still do but enough voters in enough states have voted in people who will sell off our rights to the highest bidders and boy are there plenty of the rich people buying off the politicians that are suppose to be representing all of us not just the 1% who have unequally been getting a bigger portion of the economic pie. We the people are the government and people need to get that thru their thick heads.

  110. Okay, in that case, the Bundy group does not have my permission to use the land they are holding. I should go after them for tresspassing on our land.

  111. This public land belongs to the average New Yorker to the same degree as it belongs to the average person from Oregon. Funny how this kind of expropriation works: let the New Yorkers keep their fair share of the public debts, but not of the public assets.

  112. The Times is attempting to make rational sense concerning why these people are angry, but it's impossible because these ranchers are not rational themselves! These ranchers ought to be grateful for the federal government and the extremely cheap rents it charges. They should be grateful for the giant subsidies the taxpayers give ranchers every year. Go to Environmental Working Group.com to see how much individual landowners have received each year. The subsidies to cattle ranchers are outrageous in that beef production adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than do all cars! Beef is about the most destructive food ever devised.

  113. Exactly! These people want to "own" our (the taxpayers) land and constantly demonize the government. We're already subsidizing their use of the land (grazing, etc.) of which they do not acknowledge. Generally these are the same people that complain about government "handouts" such as WIC and Food Stamps but at the same time are using this taxpayer asset to their financial advantage without acknowledging it is identical to the other government allotments. Do we think that there would be such a generally neutral view of this occupation if Native Americans (who have a greater "right"to these properties) were the occupiers?

  114. The Federal government should retain control of Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and National Park Service Lands. Most BLM administered land should be made available for sale to individuals as long as the new owners intend to reside on the land- not exploit it for minerals or water.

    Following the disposal of excess land, the agencies should be combined into one agency to eliminate redundancy. One agency to manage all non-DoD government land.

    Next, we should repeal the Mining law that has been widely abused by foreign companies using the dirtiest methods available to mine formerly public lands essentially for free. I speak of acid leaching- destroying the land and then abandoning the mess left behind.

    Under no circumstances should the protected lands be turned over to states. States like Utah come to mind that would pave the Grand Canyon if given the chance or the promise of an energy industry job.

    In the end, what are called government lands are actually the people's land held in trust by our government. When people abuse them by grazing, clear cutting or mineral extraction on them they are stealing from us all.

  115. What? Have you been to the Grand Canyon lately? The South rim has been paved over.

    I'm sure you know that the Grand Canyon is in Arizona. Utah is the home of Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and many other government owned lands. It's an amazing place, beautiful beyond imagination, and well worth government protection. It's yours, by the way. Everyone should take the opportunity to visit all our national treasures. You'll quickly line up on the side of the government if you do.

  116. Tiny point, when calculating the national debt of the federal government, the fact that it owns an asset (50% of the land in the West) should not be ignored.

  117. Utah is often seen as the poster child for the federal lands debate. Yet, like most things controversial, the State eventually backs down to economic reality. The State brings in an enormous amount of tax revenue with little effort based solely on federal land ownership. Most of this revenue is eventually returned to county governments based on a "you made it, you keep it" allocation system.

    For Instance, you don't hear many people in northern Utah complaining about federal lands. Of course, their federal property is mostly occupied by Hill National Air Force Base. Not generally a tourist destination but certainly advantageous to the local economy. Surround that with ski resorts, a marina, a bird refuge, unique camping, an international airport, and the front-runner train system: what's there to complain about?

    Contrast that with multi-generational ranching families that made a fortune off public lands and are now complaining about an unfair shake. Not a winning argument.

  118. The Federal Lands belong to every homeless kid in New York and all us millionaires in San Francisio. Bundy never served in Viet Nam. Why would he have first dibs on our land.

  119. worst air quality in the US comes to mind.

  120. When I read a narrative like this I notice how I as a Tax Paying Easterner am not even a small part of the antagonism of wealthy ranchers and Federal Administrators.

    I certainly resent seeing my resources, western grass, sold at discount to maintain the intergenerational wealth that their lobbyists have ensured will grow mostly unburdened by bothersome taxes.

    In a way we have constructed a fairyland for those rugged individualists to utilize the benefits of a central government with out any responsibility to any government body or to we tax payers who mostly subsidize their wealth and lifestyle.

    Nice work if you are born into it.

  121. This land is now held in trust for all American citizens and under no circumstances should control be given to state governments, or individuals where local special interests may be allowed to degrade this valuable irreplaceable resource. Keep those "Takers" away from my government managed assets.

  122. Thank God the government did not disperse the western lands. If they had, there would be almost no open country left. If it's given to state control the western states will not have the money to administer it, and you'll see it vanish into private hands. In the west we all know what that means - Montana used to have an assumption that if land was not posted it was accessible to the public. When citizens passed a ban on "elk farms" (used for unethical hunts by out of state wealthy banker types ) the Cattleman's association pushed back, they saw elk as "livestock" and their inalienable right to not be regulated was impinged - they did not win until the next legislative session when they used their Republican "my way or the highway" approach to make all lands in Montana "Posted" - as in "no trespassing" unless indicated otherwise. The whole state, all private lands, now is under a no trespassing assumption while before it was open to public use unless posted. Give Federal land to the states and pretty soon it will go to the hands of muti-millionaires and ranching families and all of it will be inaccessible.

  123. I dread the thought of other wildlife refuges being targeted by these lawless people. Though the ways the federal government acquired these lands may to some seem sketchy--maybe First Nations people should have the most rights to it--the fact remains that aside from BLM and National Forest lands, wildlife refuges are opportunities for other living things to occupy them relatively unharmed. Wildlife protection in all of North America is at increasing risk.

    In the Alberta tar sands region, migrating birds and other wildlife have depended on the many ponds and wetlands that dot the fragile taiga that has been destroyed by tar sands extraction--reduced to tailing ponds in an area the size of Florida, untold numbers of animals have been poisoned and killed. A huge wildlife refuge near my former home in Klamath Falls Oregon has for many decades been opposed by ranchers and these days their environmental demands have become dangerously ascendant.

    Those who speak out for wildlife protection have been all but muzzled and it's the Bundys who steal the headlines. Maybe national parks will be the next targets. Our land laws, however flawed some of them may be, must be respected--dialogue, not confrontation, must be demanded.

  124. Outrageous! The Federal Government helps to preserve the land, leases it out cheaply to those who need it, and overall tries to work with state governments and private interests to find the best use of the land for all involved. And what do they get? Occupied lands, anti-gov't militias, and overall anti-gov't rhetoric.

    Let's be clear, if these people were African Americans trying to get their 40 acres and a mule, or native americans trying to reclaim lands stolen from the federal government, they would have been surrounded by every form of police force (federal, state, and local) and smoked out one way or the other.

    Each one of these militia thugs should be arrested for their actions. I want all the right wingers who scream "Respect the rule of Law!" when demanding the deportation of immigrant families to focus their energy on these militia thugs.

  125. It's interesting to read the anger at the protesters who live and work this land, and the slavish regard for rent seeking Federal Bureaucrats. My guess is that it indicates a certain lifestyle, where office drones and people who stair into screens all day long secretly resent the idea that anyone might be freer and more self-sufficient than they. It's like a bunch of loyal subjects ranting about dissenters who dare to challenge their king.

    But if the people who are so angry with these ranchers really want to escalate things, how do they think things will end? Who serves in the military, in the police? And who actually carries the guns in the Federal agencies that carry out Obama's directives? Who grows our food and grazes and slaughters our livestock? Sure, urban progressives are good at posting email, but what happens when the people who drill for oil, engineer the plants, and direct energy decide they'd rather side with the ranchers?

  126. Basically, this is the usual conservative blather.

    Freedom, but no acknowledgement of responsibility.
    Rights, but no mention of duty or obligations.
    Tyranny without a clue as to what real tyranny would do to such "protesters".
    Ignorance, or the attempted rewrite, of history.

    These "protesters", and those like them, are simply spoiled, ill read and ill tutored...

  127. One thing that is not mentioned is that this a National Wildlife Refuge established by Teddy Roosevelt that is being illegally occupied. It is a major stopping point for many migratory birds. Its not just about ranchers and cows and guns. Its about wildlife and conservation. Today apparently these criminals posted a photo of a coyote they shot slinging on a truck. Good old white boys, you betcha!

  128. So these "patriotic Americans", the ranchers, miners, and loggers, want to take land which the rest of us have been paying for over the decades. Once they have it, the rest of us will be locked out.

    And of course, they want it for nothing.

  129. The issue isn't with Bundy of Nevada, but the Hammonds of Eastern Oregon . Bundy is just an outsider looking for publicity. What the BLM has done to Hammond's and other Ranchers in causing problems where many of these ranches failed, only to be bought up by the BLM is a travesty. And by the way, Hammond's offense was starting a fire on "his" land to protect livestock resulted in ONE acre of BLM land being burnt. That's what he got five years for. Wow, what justice.

  130. Why hasn't the federal government confiscated all of the Bundy land and cattle? If a cop can snag all your cash when he stops you for speeding under "civil forfeiture" because he 'suspects' you might be engaged in criminal activity, why do these CLEARLY criminal actions not merit the same? How is Bundy still selling cattle, getting access to his bank account, paying bills, making phone calls, let alone buying more guns? If this isn't the definition of an actual aparteid social system, tell me what is?

  131. This is TREASON.
    LOCK 'em up and throw away the key

  132. I thought TANF benifits only came in the form of a check. If I'd known known I could get thousands of acres of free land I'd quit my job and move west. These "ramchers" are the real "takers".

  133. European cattle don't belong in this ecosystem. Bison and other ungulates are indigenous there. And not an inch of that land would ever have been available to Caucasians had it not been for the federally-funded US Army's methodical eradication of the indigenous peoples who had already inhabited it for a thousand years or more.

  134. I'd rather the fed gov keep the land. No need to become like Mexico where a few families control most of the usable farm and grazing land. If it is distributed to the states, that's just more potential corrupt administrations to look at. These occupiers are like most law breakers...they want the world to change for them, while taking from the rest of us.

  135. White privilege terrorists cannot be tolerated if we are to function as a nation of laws.

  136. The accompanying map could be suplemented with one showing how much federal land is being leased for ranching. When I see a map of the huge tracts of BLM land, it gives the impression that it is just empty and unused. How juch of that land is actually being utilized?

  137. I got it. Kids occupying a park in Manhattan without guns get pepper-sprayed by New York's finest thugs. Right-wing evangelical gun toting thugs get away scot-free.

  138. The media should stop covering this rebellion; we have heard their complaint and it isn't worth repeating. Can they survive without the government's clean water provisions, forest rangers, etc?

  139. Folks like Cliven Bundy are welfare queens.

    They trace their roots back to homesteaders that were given land for for free. They are given free food for their cattle that they turn into private profit. I, for one, am tired of subsidizing their existence.

  140. Well that's fine, but I am from Australia and I am amazed the US media has not picked up on the huge mineral deposits said to be at 'Gold Butte' Nevada and Oregon. Geophysical reports state that there are deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium to name but a few sought after precious commodities. Maybe this revelation lies at the root of all the ranchers' problems?

  141. Even the NYT's seems to acknowledge that the Federal Government should give this land back to the states where local county authority should have more governance.

    BTW, acknowledging this in no way vindicates the armed takeover. These people need to be prosecuted. Still, after the first dispute in 2014, this issue of land ownership and management should have been reformed immediately. This is going to continue time and again, until reform is completed.

  142. Unlike the people occupying the Malheur nature reserve, I am a native Oregonian. I have spent my life working, camping, hunting and fishing on public land in Oregon. The US government doesn't always get it right, but I am convinced the land is better managed, and more accessible to average people, being managed by the US Government rather than privately or through local government. I hate to think what the forests and range land in Oregon would look like if left to people like the Bundys. I agree with an earlier post that this is nothing more than a cynical land grab.

    These idiots are not Oregonians, do not represent Oregonians, and are not supported by the vast majority of Oregonians. Why don't they go home and leave us in peace?

  143. An informative and balanced story about the matter. The historical background of the matter was very interesting. Good job writers!

  144. This is a very shallow treatment of the issues. Too shallow for what subscribers expect from the NY Times. The Washington Post had a much more rigorous report on the underlying issues regarding land use in the west. It is not all about who owns what land. The heart of the matter is a clash over effective management of these lands; the increasing amount of regulation that has contributed to the decline of entire industries; and the battle over use of these lands between rural ranchers and recreational users from urban cities who view federal wilderness as a weekend entertainment park.

  145. Do these ranchers just want to live in a free for all society?
    If the government owns the land, it should mean that we all own it.
    Actually, no one owns anything really. We are each of us, temporary stewards- something worth keeping in mind for a sane perspective.

  146. When you discuss government ownership of land, it is important to note that the 'government' in this case is the public, as in you and I. This property is owned by the American people and overseen by our government. When the ranchers state that they want the land back, it is not from the government, but from all of us.

  147. Between the Bundys and the Hammonds, this is the perfect catalyst for an obvious, long-over due reform: *no* more grazing on public lands. Period. If you don't own enough land yourself to support a livestock operation, then find another job!! Or move to the big city, and collect your welfare at the counter with the rest of them...

  148. If I understand this controversy correctly the ranchers are really upset because they have to pay to use the land that they don't own and cannot afford to buy. In other words they want free stuff from the government. This is an interesting philosophy from a supposedly conservative group.

  149. There's a reason all that land out west is in public ownership: it's uninhabitable! Have you ever driven across Nevada or Utah? It's desolate out there!!

    At the same time, I'm thankful for the public ownership of the National Parks and other public lands that our tax dollars maintain. Many of our country's national treasures are in this part of the country. Of course the Grand Canyon in Arizona comes to mind, but Bryce Canyon and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah are breathtaking. My personal favorite is New Mexico and the national monuments peppered throughout the state, many of them old Anasazi ruins.

  150. Bull! Sheer Bull! These guys are getting by on the cheap and they have been for generations. At the national expense. That's us folks. I've been out there. These guys couldn't care less abut the land. With a few notable exceptions, most of them have degraded their leases by over grazing and degrading the land in general.

  151. While the folks in Oregon are obviously wackos, it is important for people living in major urban areas to understand the significance of land-- forests, fields, sky, and animals-- to people living in the American West. What is needed is sane policies regarding land use, not a wholesale denigration of people who live in the rural West. You wouldn't want Montanans telling you how to run NYC and suggesting how to design subways!

  152. These hypocrites carry a copy of and quote the Constitution, and claim the federal government has taken unconstitutional control of the land. Say who?

    Article III of the SAME Constitution says, "The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court . . . (whose) power shall extend to all Cases. . . "

    If SCOTUS says BLM's policies are Constitutional, they are Constitutional by Constitutional definition.

    Article III also says "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them. . . " Is an armed uprising against the US government "levying War", or merely domestic terrorism? I wonder what SCOTUS would say.

  153. Good information, thank you. But as a side point, I think both the terms 'militia' and 'terrorists' are not appropriate for these people. Putting aside some common derisive descriptives, I would call them simply 'gangs' . Like the gangs in Fresno and the Central Valley, these men are just criminals.

  154. Since 1776, Congress has disposed of over 1,000 million acres of land through public and private sales, mineral entries, homestead grants, grants to states for schools and other purposes, grants to railroads, veterans, and private land claims- more than 70% of the original public domain. The last big attempt to dispose of public lands was in the 1960s-70s, following the Public Land Law Review – the recommendations to dispose and/or commodify public land did not fly with Congress and the public.
    Much of what remains in the West has been called ‘the lands that nobody wanted’; most of that is under BLM management. Bundy et al. would not buy the land even if they could; it’s less expensive to lease it (even if they had actually paid their grazing fees). States make a lot of noise about getting federal land, but I think they don’t really want it either; little or no money and people to manage it, even with resource development (timber, minerals).
    I've lived in the western U.S. all my life, in cities and rural areas. I like that my public lands are managed by the feds.

  155. I say let's have a siege! Surround them, cut off their services and just wait. The standoff won't be a lot of fun without heat, water, electricity and food. The bathroom will get really smelly, and a person can't last long without water....

    Don't they have better things to do and ranches to run? You know, those ranches that use Federal grazing land that they haven't paid the rent for.

  156. Faced with this story and the pictures and histories of these "occupiers" who, lets face it, are only still standing because of their skin color and "heritage," I am mainly thinking about the fact that I eat maybe one half a pound of beef every other month and maybe half a pound of lamb a year, if that.

    And I know all about rennet and how cheese is made, thank you.

    These people are essentially like all potential terrorists: ignorant, lumbering, lazy
    cowards and, at their roots, deeply fearful. They do not want the sadness honest people might feel for them because they cannot bear facing their own.

    In an overpopulated world these are among the people who are basically useles extras.

  157. These white men with guns who have taken over OUR building should be arrested for taking over OUR building.
    They forget that the federal government is an entity that represents and upholds the laws for all Americans, There are laws each person does not like. I do not like some of the federal laws in our country, But I understand that my disagreement with the government does not entitle me to take over a building with a bunch of guys with guns. I know I would go to jail for that. Which is exactly where this group deserves to go.
    Acqueissing to his demands will only feed the fire of white terrorists with a strong sense of entitlement.

  158. "Wounded Knee" has nothing to do with Cliven, Ammon, or Ryan Bundy's revisionist self-aggrandizing constitutional selfishness. There is a sub current of white entitlement, stemming from wolves repopulating the West, to Hispanics 'encroaching' on lands that were theirs, originally, and, finally, nativism. Aka Xenophobism borne by the manifest destiny of those ranchers taking lands 'owned' (stewarded) by native americans.

    Men like Edwin Wynkoop stood against these tragedies, even at Wounded Knee. He saw them coming 3 to 4 generations ago. His courage was discounted by cowards like Chivington, who wanted to destroy the West with guns, cattle, and cowmen.

    But do not confuse Wounded Knee with a narrative of how the West was lost to men like Cliven or Ammon Bundy. It was a narrative of how the West was lost to racist, militaristic idiots who suppressed minorities like the Navajo into surrender.