LETTERS: Government aims to ride out ranchers

To the editor:

Congratulations to Ben Botkin for his enlightening article about the effects of government regulations on Western ranchers (“Trail’s end,” May 11 Review-Journal). The powers that be in Washington obviously want to drive ranchers from land they have grazed on for more than 100 years in some cases.

It is apparent that special interests want that land for other purposes, be it renewable energy, commercial real estate or something else. It is also obvious to me that a rancher cannot thrive if his grazing permit is cut from 415 cattle to 140 cattle in two years.

This is not an overgrazing issue. Industries that rely on renewable resources such as forestry and fishing always regulate themselves. If they didn’t, they’d put themselves out of business.



Don’t ride with Bundy

To the editor:

After reading almost daily coverage in the Review-Journal about the Cliven Bundy fiasco, I offer a view from a different perspective. I, like Mr. Bundy, operate a commercial operation on public lands. I own and operate a big game guide service. I also operate a commercial fishing guide service on Lake Mead.

Each year, I receive several special use permits, most of them from the Bureau of Land Management, but also from the U.S. Forest Service and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Unlike Mr. Bundy, I feel that I am obligated to pay for these permits, as I am operating commercially on public lands and water and feel that paying a reasonable fee to use these resources owned by the American public is fair and should be expected.

I also have a question. We know Mr. Bundy is about $1 million in arrears in his grazing fees, but how much has he made while feeding out of the public trough? It might be interesting to know just how much income he has derived from grazing cattle not only on his allotment, but the other areas he took over, including those within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Mr. Bundy claimed in one article that there would be a shortage of beef if his cows were taken. He said his cattle were worth at least $1,000 each. His herd went from an authorized level of 150 to an estimated 900 since 1993. So how many of these trespass cows has he sold over the years? He must be making a reasonable profit to keep his ranch running and pay for lawyers who unsuccessfully represented his claim of ownership of the federal lands he continues to have trespass cattle on.

There is no question that the federal government is out of control and oversteps its authority. There are many situations where a rightful case of government intrusion can be made and should be addressed. But as I told several Arizona legislators who initially hitched their wagons onto Mr. Bundy’s cause, they need to be careful of the causes they embrace, and select those that have merit. To saddle up with Mr. Bundy — who really needs a publicist to keep him from continuing to put his foot in his mouth every time he speaks — is just not a smart thing to do.