I would like to start by saying that the current media are being rather slothful in their reporting. It doesn’t take much sleuthing to look up the history and facts that support what is real – and what is media hype or agenda:
The controversy regarding Federal Land ownership has a way of spiking and dying, spiking and dying – and it would appear we are in the midst of a spike. Today it is estimated that 28% of the US, or 640 million acres, is owned by the Federal Government.
While the terminology is subject to legal interpretation there are some clearcut areas. Federal lands are held in trust for mostly ‘preservation’. A GOOD cause indeed! That means conservation and sound land management are the primary factors. While disposal of federal lands is sometimes raised as a budgetary issue, there has been little change in the contiguous states of the western half of the nation where upwards of 61% of any given state may be ‘federally owned’. While it’s easy to understand the National Park Service, given they maintain the land for public enjoyment, there are other not so easy to accept agencies. The most controversial being “The Bureau of Land Management”, or BLM.
The BLM was formed in 1946 and presently holds approximately 247.3 million acres, 99.9% is located in just 11 states. Backlog maintenance of BLM land is estimated to be between .67 and .82 billion dollars. As of FY 2013, the total backlog maintenance for all federal lands was estimated as high as $22.19 billion. The annual BLM government funded budget for 2016 is $1.2 billion. This would indicate that tackling the backlog maintenance is a virtual impossibility given its value is nearly equal to an entire years budget.
In addition to the government funding, the BLM 2016 budget projects it will collect $681 million in other revenue, including $8.7 million in grazing fees. Given they have 18,000 grazing permits (according to their website), that would amount to an average of $483 per permit per year. So if the Bundy’s owed back fees for twenty years, and they were about average, the actual ‘value’ of their fees would amount to $9,660. A far cry from the $1.1 million the BLM and mainstream media outlets decry as blasphemous! One site indicates that the Bundy’s currently have 900 cattle (unverified). According to the BLM – 1 cow and 1 calf = 1 unit at $1.35 – the 2014 fee value. Extrapolating the numbers is an educated guess based on past increases. I don’t want to spend the time as it is not worth the effort.
What made Bundy suddenly decide to stop paying the grazing fees?
Well, in 1993, the Fish and Wildlife extension of the Federal Land Management program determined that the Desert Tortoise was a newly protective species, and it resided on the land that Bundy used for grazing. As a result, Bundy was being told he would have to reduce his cattle size to accommodate this turtle. And he became incensed. As a result, the BLM siphoned off his water use and closed down his access. Most of the ranchers simply folded and left, their rights gone, their land confiscated, and their livelihood lost. Without rights their land had no value. Without value they were destitute.
No one at the BLM has actually produced an invoice that delineates how the $1.1 million is derived – neither to Bundy or to the media. Perhaps because it would be a bit embarrassing to admit that all this energy, all this angst and publicity and punishment and strife is because they really want $10,000. And the rest is gravy. Unfortunately, we don’t know for sure, because the BLM is unwilling to provide the evidence of the fees, but given the simple math of 18,000 to $8.7 million, it is a relatively good educated guess that the range of true debt is about $10,000+.
And Bundy is fighting a principle.
Whether we like the man or not. Whether he is a racial bigot or not, should not be the point! The point is – principle – and Truth.
It should be noted that grazing fees represent a declining revenue for the BLM as more and more ranchers are denied grazing rights. In fact since just 2013, the fees are down nearly 30%! At the same time fees for Drilling, Administrative processing of grazing fees, and onshore oil and gas inspection fees and “other”, their third largest source of public revenue,have all gone from -0- or low numbers to a substantial portion of their total public revenue. In fact just since 2015, the projection increase of these sources alone represent about 18.6% increase. The other two incremental increases in sources include 1) sale of public lands and 2) earnings on investments.
Who have they sold lands to?
According to the government, sales were closed to: GHR Holding LLC, DR Horton, Dariush Hamani, Vision Commercial LLC, Nevada West Partners 5, LLC, Greystone Nevada LLC, Ramak Roohani, American West Development, Khusrow Roohani, Ronald Camacho, and Kimberly LLC. The BLM was asking about $60 million for the properties and settled for $32.6 million. A loss of 46% of ask.
Still, the focus is on Bundy and his $10,000.
And who are these buyers?
Google found NO result for Dariush Hamani – a Nigerian name. GHR Holdings, LLC is a Florida based company with Steven Hall as its officer, Vision Commercial, LLC does not exist on Google, Nevada West Partners 5 LLC has no existence on Google, Greystone Nevada may be connected to Lennar, but this is not verified as little to no information is available, Roohani is an individual who apparently was simply adding to his already vibrant estate, American West Development is a company with a median sized complaint list at the BBB, Ronald Camacho has a number of unidentifiable name possibilities …, and Kimberly, LLC is not per se listed although there is a ‘Kimberly Group, LLC’ which may or may not be affiliated.
So… transparency would be the veil with which the BLM reigns. Information requires research. And while the mainstream would like to report on the top tier of others research – or non-research, when the facts are pushed to paper, it is not always as ‘reported’.
What we do know is that the BLM and EPA have pushed their governance and control beyond the limits of judicial and governmental law. What we do know is that there is a problem of transparency and control. What we do know is that the Federal Government has a history of over-reaching it’s empirical law and its legal tenants. And within this over-reach, we need to be – aware, take heed, and learn all the facts, before condemning and pointing a log of a finger! Amen.