What’s going on in Oregon?
Its confusing. There’s protests, a couple of local ranchers are going to jail for arson, and a rancher from Nevada has occupied a building on a bird sanctuary.
Both the Hammonds in Oregon and the Bundys in Nevada have become symbols of the“sagebrush rebellion”, which is a movement that is trying to take control of these public lands away from the federal government.
Both of these families are ranchers, who lease large tracts of land to graze their cattle. Both families have a long record of doing things their own way, of not complying with the requirements the Bureau of Land Management. For example, Bundy hasn’t even paid his leasing fees – and with fines, he owes the taxpayers about 1 million dollars. He lets his cattle graze wherever he wants. The Hammonds used control burns on their lease, without permission or coordination with the Forest Service. This put Forest Service employees in danger.
There are more examples of how these guys can’t follow the rules. Are we supposed to just let them do things their own way, regardless of the consequences to others?
We all need to remember that we are not talking about private property. This is public land, owned by you and me and managed for us by the BLM. The ranchers lease the grazing rights, not the land – the land itself is still public property. Someone has to manage this land, and make decisions about what happens there, and do it in a way that is in the best interest of the owners of the land – which is us, you and me, the people of the United States. We give that job to the BLM.
The BLM has to balance the rancher’s rights to graze with the interests of the nation, and sometimes those things collide. If the rancher is breaking the rules by overgrazing, by accessing sensitive areas at the wrong time, or starting fires when they shouldn’t, he’s not being a good steward of our land. He needs to change his ways or leave.
I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.