Why Clive Bundy Isn’t Wrong

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There have been a lot of peo­ple crit­i­ciz­ing Clive Bundy because he did not pay his graz­ing fees for 20 years. The pub­lic is also prob­a­bly won­der­ing why so many oth­er cow­boys are sup­port­ing Mr. Bundy even though they paid their fees and Clive did not.

What you peo­ple prob­a­bly do not real­ize is that on every rancher’s graz­ing per­mit it says the fol­low­ing: “You are autho­rized to make graz­ing use of the lands, under the juris­dic­tion of the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment and cov­ered by this graz­ing per­mit, upon your accep­tance of the terms and con­di­tions of this graz­ing per­mit and pay­ment of graz­ing fees when due.”

The “manda­to­ry” terms and con­di­tions go on to list the allot­ment, the num­ber and kind of live­stock to be grazed, when the per­mit begins and ends, the num­ber of active or sus­pend­ed AUMs (ani­mal units per month), etc. The terms and con­di­tions also list spe­cif­ic require­ments such as where salt or min­er­al sup­ple­ments can be locat­ed, max­i­mum allow­able use of for­age lev­els (40% of annu­al growth), etc., and include a lot more strin­gent poli­cies that must be adhered to.

Every ranch­er must sign this “con­tract” agree­ing to abide by the TERMS AND CONDITIONS before he or she can make payment.

In the ear­ly 90s, the BLM went on a fren­zy and dras­ti­cal­ly cut almost every rancher’s per­mit because of this desert tor­toise issue, even though all of us ranch­ers knew that cow and desert tor­toise had co-exist­ed for a hun­dred+ years. As an exam­ple, a fam­i­ly friend had his per­mit cut by 90%. For those of you who are non ranch­ers, that would be equat­ed to get­ting your pay­check cut 90%.

In 1976 there were approx­i­mate­ly 52 ranch­ing per­mit­tees in this area of Neva­da. Present­ly, there are 3. Most of these peo­ple lost their liveli­hoods because of the actions of the BLM.

Clive Bundy was one of these peo­ple who received extreme­ly unfair and unrea­son­able TERMS AND CONDITIONS. Keep in mind that Mr. Bundy was required to sign this con­tract before he was allowed to pay. Had Clive signed on the dot­ted line, he would have, in essence, signed his very liveli­hood away. And so Mr. Bundy took a stand, not only for him­self, but for all of us. He refused to be destroyed by a tyran­ni­cal fed­er­al enti­ty and to have his Amer­i­can lib­er­ties and free­doms tak­en away.

Also keep in mind that all ranch­ers finan­cial­ly paid dear­ly for the for­age rights those per­mits allow — - not rights to the land, but rights to use the for­age that grows on that land.

Many of these AUMs [ani­mal unit months] are water based, mean­ing that the ranch­er also has a vest­ed right (state owned, not fed­er­al) to the waters that adjoin the lands and allow the live­stock to drink. These water rights were also pur­chased at a great price. If a ranch­er can­not show ben­e­fi­cial use of the water (he must have the appro­pri­ate num­ber of live­stock that drinks and uses that water), then he los­es that water right. Usu­al­ly water rights and for­age rights go hand in hand.

Con­trary to what the BLM is telling you, they NEVER com­pen­sate a ranch­er for the AUMs they take away. Most times, they tell ranch­ers that their AUMs are “sus­pend­ed,” but not removed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, my fam­i­ly has thou­sands of “sus­pend­ed” AUMs that will prob­a­bly nev­er be returned.

And so, even though these ranch­ers through­out the course of a hun­dred years invest­ed thou­sands (and per­haps mil­lions) of dol­lars and sac­ri­ficed along the way to obtain these rights through pur­chase from oth­ers, at a whim the gov­ern­ment can take every­thing away with the stroke of a pen. This is the very thing that Clive Bundy sin­gle-hand­ed­ly took a stand against.

Thank you, Clive, from a ranch­er who con­sid­ers you a hero.