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Should The U.S. Government Be Privatized?
Can The Government Seize Your Land?
Starting in January 2016, an armed group of protestors seized control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. With no sign of the standoff ending, federal authorities and local law enforcement are not taking immediate action to remove the protestors. What is this all about exactly?
There are two main threads to understand. The protestors initially took action in support of local ranchers Dwigh Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond, who were facing a prison sentence for setting fires on lands under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The leaders of the armed group at the Oregon standoff include sons of Cliven Bundy, a rancher who himself was involved in a standoff over grazing rights with federal authorities in Nevada back in 2014.
The Bundy brothers argue that the federal government holds way too much control over land use in the U.S. According to the Big Think, the federal government controls somewhere between 29 and 81 percent of land in the 12 western states. In the late 19th century, after years of encouraging the public to settle and work plots of land in the West, the U.S. government enacted policies to set aside federal land on behalf of the public good.
Overtime, ranchers and farmers began leasing federal land for livestock grazing. This gave way to environmental concerns, which have prompted more government oversight into how such lands are used. Today, the Bureau of Land Management aims to balance grazing, mining, recreation, and conservation. At the same time, the government is looking to generate revenue from such land. Whether or not you agree with such policy is up for debate.
Before Cliven Bundy Stand-Off, A Collision Between Ranchers and Tortoises (newsweek.com)
"When the U.S. government declared the Mojave desert tortoise an endangered species in 1989, it effectively marked the cattle ranchers of Nevada's Clark County for extinction."
Of Ranchers And Rancor: The Roots Of The Armed Occupation In Oregon (npr.org)
"A self-styled militia in eastern Oregon grabbed national headlines Saturday when members broke into the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge."
How the West Is Owned (bigthink.com)
"The rough beauty of the American West seems as far as you can get from the polished corridors of power in Washington DC. Until you look at the title to the land."
The First Sagebrush Rebellion: Forest Reserves and States Rights in Colorado and the West, 1891-1907 (foresthistory.org)
"In Nevada in the summer of 1979 the Sagebrush Rebellion began its long sweep across the American West."