OPINION – Reading the unfolding saga of the Bundy family and the BLM over the last week has given me chance to reflect on the West and its relation to the story of America. The struggle over the control of whom, what and which “business” can be conducted on BLM land has sparked strong emotions on both sides of this argument.
Locally it has been on talk radio almost every day and the story has even been published in the LA Times earlier this week. It goes with saying that this is a hot topic in the American Southwest at this time.
As I have read the comments on the story I’ve been surprised by the number of people who are siding with the BLM and calling the Bundy family every name in the book while giving Federal Bureaucrats a free pass.
I guess Americans have forgotten what the West means.
The West has always represented freedom and the ability of man to go there and be left alone, historically as the United States filled up its cities and people grew tired of rules, regulations and being told by some “official” what they can and can’t do- city dwellers that longed for the freedom our country was founded on left it all behind and headed out West.
One of the things completely left out of this Bundy vs. BLM debate is that it is almost a certainty that had the Bureau of Land Management and its ability to block, regulate, fine or tax a citizen from “trespassing” on their own “public” lands (remember that all BLM land signs say “your public land” on the bottom) existed in the early days of the American West none of the thriving, vibrant cities we currently have would likely exist.
Phoenix? No way, endangered owls, desert foxes, mountain lions and coyotes have to be protected.
Los Angeles? Nope, those LA Brea tar pits (in the middle of downtown L.A) are a culturally sensitive landmark that must be preserved.
Denver? No, as cutting ski resorts in the mountains or mining would have never been “approved” by the BLM.
St. George? Not in a million years would the BLM would have granted a group of exiles permission to displace a few Gila monsters in the red hills and settle on the habitat of a scarce turtle and lizard.
See where this is headed?
Does anyone reading this actually think the West would have been settled had the BLM been there to “manage” the/”our” land?
Ranchers, Cowboys, Pioneer Women, and Homesteaders settled the West and created something amazing in a harsh and hostile land– and they did it without the BLM “administering” every facet of their lives- it’s called the Spirit of the West and the (lost) American ideal of hard work.
Fast forward just 100 years- what happened to that Spirit?
Why do so many feel that the Federal government must give everyone permission to do anything on “YOUR public lands”? – quick question; if they are “our” public lands then why don’t “we” get to decide what happens on them? Why does the D.C beltway policy tell us what to do with “our” Public lands?
Think about it residents of Nevada and Utah – what does the term “your public lands” mean to you?
While you are pondering that, listen closely for the sound of hoof beats, lowing of cattle and a lone Cowboy calling in his dog ………. you may never hear it again if the BLM has its way on “your” public lands.
Submitted by Jason M. Smith
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- BLM: Northeast Clark County cattle trespass website
- BLM: Taylor Grazing Act
- Bundy Ranch blog
- Bundy Ranch blog: Contact information for Clark County and Nevada officials
- Letter to the Editor: Bundy forfeited right to graze cattle; counter opinion, range war
- Range war: BLM, Iron County to work together on feral horse issue – Iron County
- ON Kilter: Bundy’s victim mentality costs him grazing rights
- Range war: County resolves to solve wild horse problem if BLM prioritizes Bundy cattle – Iron County
- Range war: County Commissioners oppose BLM bringing Bundy cattle to Utah – Washington County
- Range war: Rancher stands defiant as BLM moves to impound ‘trespass cattle’
- Perspectives: The Bundys vs the bureaucracy
- ON Kilter: Trespass cattleman not above the law
- BLM, National Park Service close public lands due to trespassing cattle dispute
- ‘Where’s the line?’ Ivory’s crusade to return public lands to the states
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