A letter to Mr. Cliven Bundy, the BLM
May 16, 2014
Dear Mr. Cliven Bundy,
You are a fellow cattle rancher in Southern Nevada doing something I don't like giving more press to, but if silence is assent, you force me to say something.
You are the bad guy in your story. You admit owing over $300,000 in arrears in public grazing fees. You say you do not have to answer to the federal government or pay your fees because your family homesteaded in Nevada in 1877. Over a decade after Nevada became a state in 1864 with its own constitution supporting the rights of the United States of America.
You claim you are fighting for State's rights over Federal rights. Yet you have not paid your fees even to the State of Nevada.
I raise cattle too. I use to raise a lot of them. All the ground my cattle ran on was private land. I had to pay rent on the leased land. And pay property taxes on land I owned. You run cattle on public land. You owe money for the use of that land, but refuse to pay it because you do not agree with the "policies" in place for using this land. Through the courts for over 20 years you have lost the permit to graze your livestock on public lands.
You are not defending private land. You are in competition with private-landowning cattlemen, like myself. How can you not pay grazing fees and not expect repercussions? I can have my land confiscated if I do not pay my property taxes. There are regulations on what I can or can not do with my land. Some regulations I don't agree with. My husband's family homesteaded in Nevada in 1872. We get no pass on regulations, fees, or taxes owed.
Peaceful civil disobedience can be a good thing. But Mr. Bundy, you are embarrassing me as a rancher.
An honest man pays his share. I and my neighbors are owed the fees you are not paying. Fees that go into the trust of the United States government through the Department of Wildlife or Bureau of Land Management. Agencies meant to keep public land viable and safe for me, and you, and the rest of the citizens of this country.
You can muse ignorantly all you want on other people's livelihoods, economic choices and political bents. But you are a moocher. You are not entitled to public land and I say enough. If you are a man of honor, integrity and all the things you claim that make a great American, pay your fees. I have schools to build, roads to repair, bridges to improve, sports arenas, I don't want, to build, and wars to pay off. All of these are part of a social contract I have with this nation I live in. Weather I agree with all its politics or not.
Taxpaying, cattle-raising, northern neighbor, Marie
Dear Bureau of Land Management and Department of Wildlife,
Which one of you thought to bring assault rifles to Mr. Bundy's cattle round-up?
Thank goodness calm heads prevailed before blood was spilled. You have gotten way too power-hungry. You need to very closely re-examine your role in managing public lands.
Concerned Recreational Public Land user, Marie
Marie Johnson is a Carson Valley rancher