Two years after the standoff between Cliven Bundy and federal officials, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will finally be making progress on reclaiming the Gold Butte area in Nevada. The federal land, which is near Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch, hasn’t been accessed by BLM officials since the armed standoff between Bundy and his “patriot” supporters and the BLM in 2014.
Fast forward two years. Cliven Bundy and his four sons are now in federal prison. The men, currently held without bail in federal custody, are facing a plethora of charges related to both the 2014 BLM standoff and the more recent Oregon wildlife refuge standoff. In that instance, armed so-called “patriots” took over the Malheur Refuge in Oregon, holding it hostage until their slew of demands were met by the federal government.
Now that Cliven Bundy and his sons are behind bars and awaiting trial due to their actions, the BLM can finally go back into the Gold Butte area of Nevada and do what they set out to do in 2014.
“Due to safety and security concerns, BLM employees have not conducted field work in the Gold Butte area in northeastern Clark County since early 2014. With the support of the local community, BLM officials have determined that the conditions are now right to resume work. BLM archaeologists, law enforcement officers, and local agency leadership have all visited the area over the past month.”
Some of the work the BLM plans to conduct on the disputed federal land now that Cliven Bundy and his children are safely behind bars includes “assessing the damage to cultural heritage sites.” BLM authorities fear that the delicate and irreplaceable cultural heritage sites may have suffered damage due to Cliven Bundy’s illegal grazing activities or due to the 2014 standoff
The 2014 standoff between Cliven Bundy (and his cohorts) and the BLM represented the culmination of decades of strife between anti-government extremists and the BLM. It was triggered when the BLM moved in to round up hundreds of heads of cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy – cattle that were illegally grazing on federal land.
Because of the number of armed supporters Cliven Bundy was able to draw to the area anti-government extremists and armed militia members from across the country, the BLM opted for a non-violent withdrawal rather than to escalate the situation.
Vandalism on a protected red rock formation was noted, as well as the desecration of a large Joshua tree. According to BLM officials, the tree had been illegally cut down for no apparent reason and simply left onsite to wither.
“There was also evidence that cattle have trammeled and overgrazed certain areas.”
When the so-called “patriots,” led by Cliven Bundy’s sons, evacuated the Oregon wildlife refuge, they also reportedly did major damage to those federal lands.
As the Huffington Post reports, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge suffered structural damage, infrastructure damage as illegal roads were built and fences torn down, holes filled with human waste and even potential desecration of Native American artifacts that had been stored there. Officials have estimated the cost of cleaning and repairing the Oregon nature preserve to be at least $2 million.
The reactions to the news that the BLM will be moving in to reassert federal ownership of the disputed federal lands near Cliven Bundy’s ranch have been mixed. At least one person who commented on the Talking Points Memo story expressed concern for BLM agents to access the disputed federal land.
“Watch out for IEDs. Not being snarky here.”
Other folks have taken to social media to share their thoughts.
What do you think? Is it about time the BLM moved in to reclaim the federal property that belongs to all Americans? Was it reckless for the BLM to announce their planned return to the disputed land near the Cliven Bundy Ranch?
[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]