In a statement released Wednesday, the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association gave extended comments on the controversial cattle gather in southern Nevada involving the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, saying it does not condone actions to break federal laws.
“(NCA) works hard to change regulations detrimental to the sound management of public lands in a lawful manner and supports the concept of multiple uses on federally managed lands and encourages members of the livestock industry to abide by regulations governing federal lands,” the statement reads.
BLM officers rounded-up Bundy’s cattle grazing on public land last week as part of a court order finding the rancher had not paid over 20 years of permit fees. The controversy escalated when armed militia arrived to defend Bundy. The BLM returned the cattle and withdrew from the roundup.
In its statement, the NCA explained its philosophical support for Bundy on issues related to the Endangered Species Act, and its opposition to certain federal laws that dismiss the historical use of public land ranching.
But the association said such laws need to be changed through the avenues of law, and that it does not “condone actions that are outside the law in which citizens take the law into their own hands.”
The statement goes at lengths to explain how federal land regulations, especially rules framed to restrict grazing of livestock in habitat of endangered or threatened species, have infringed on grazing rights and multiple-use principles.
“This is not only devastating to individual ranching families; it is also causing rural communities in the west to whither on the vine. In the west, one in every two acres is owned by the federal government. Therefore, the integrity of the laws protecting productive multiple use is paramount to the communities that exist there.”
The Nevada controversy, the statement said, shows how federal agencies place a higher importance on environmental and wildlife issues than livestock grazing. But the legal remedy, the NCA stated, is to change the laws, not operate outside of the law.
The NCA reaffirmed its commitment to “effective range management through collaboration with resource management agencies and interested parties” to achieve their goals. As to the judge’s decision that Bundy’s cattle be removed from public land, the statement withholds its own judgment, saying it “does not feel it is our place to interfere in the process of adjudication in this matter.”
“We regret that this entire situation was not avoided through more local government involvement and better implementation of federal regulations, laws, and court decisions. While we cannot advocate operating outside the law to solve problems, we also sympathize with Mr. Bundy’s dilemma. With good faith negotiations from both sides, we believe a result can be achieved which recognizes the balance that must be struck between private property rights and resource sustainability.”
Read the entire statement. (PDF, 157 KB)