By Troy Wilde
Controversial rancher Cliven Bundy, known for a standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over his refusal to pay cattle grazing fees on public lands, is expected in Carson City to support a state takeover of public lands.
Bundy is reported to have had a role in crafting Assembly Bill 408, which seeks state control over lands managed by the federal government in Nevada.
David von Seggern, chairman of the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, is among those who oppose the bill.
“Cliven Bundy is truly a maverick, and I think he probably doesn’t help the effort by putting forth what is essentially his own bill,” says von Seggern. “It has not been crafted by responsible legislators.”
Bundy has said that AB 408, sponsored by Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-Las Vegas), is an effort to stand up for statehood, states’ rights and the Constitution. Bundy maintains he has not yet paid the nearly $1 million the federal government claims he owes for grazing his cattle on public land.
Nevada is among several Western states with factions fighting to gain control of land managed by federal agencies.
Von Seggern says Nevada now has about 3,000 acres of state-managed public lands, after starting with four million acres at statehood.
“It gives us cause to mistrust the state government, as far as how it will handle public land and keep it in the public domain,” he says.
A survey from the Center for American Progress shows the majority of Nevadans, and majority of Americans throughout much of the West, oppose states taking control of federally-managed public lands. One issue opponents raise is states don’t have the budgets necessary to maintain millions of additional acres, and would end up selling off the land.
By Troy Wilde