An open letter to Greta Van Susteran by Gail Tobin
Thank you for your coverage of the situation in Clark County, Nevada. As a public lands rancher myself, I know that there is more to the story than appears. First off, the major issue is that of States’ Rights. Originally, the lands of the western Territories, then termed “waste lands” were to revert to the jurisdiction of the various states as they were formed. This was supposed to happen but did not and as a result, today we have enormous, top heavy bureauracies that really have little to do with what is good for the land.True, there are some in the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management that do care for the land. Unfortunately there are many more that are concerned only about continuing and extending the power of their fiefdoms. In the more than thirty years that I have been involved in public lands ranching, I have seen the relationship with the administrators of public lands (in our case the Forest Service) go from a partnership doing what is best for the resource, to a more adversarial situation. I expect that this is what the Bundy family encountered as well. Basically what Cliven Bundy is standing for is his family’s right to continue ranching. Believe me, someone whose family has been on that land for 140 years or so, cares more and knows more of the land than some bureaucrat in Washington or some starry eyed young graduate with a brand new degree in Range Management. What tipped the situation back in the nineties was the straw horse of the endangered desert tortoise To my knowledge, the tortise fare well indeed, they do not compete with cattle for food or resources. This is simply a canard to draw attention away for the real issue, control. The lands controled by the Federal Government in the West are extremely rich in natural resources, including water. Those that control this wealth and power at the federal level will not return this wealth to those to whom it belongs, the people of the various western states.
Another issue is that most people do not realize that in the desert southwest it takes far more acreage to support one cow/calf unit (the basic unit of range management) than it does east of the Rockies. Also, here we are managing for wildlife, range conservation and our cattle. This means that we run cattle in what to most seem to be huge amounts of acreage. Since we do this on public land, most of which would not produce anything but scenery we are paying to help support the resource. Though our basic grazing fee is small we have the added costs of maintaining the infrastructure and providing water (in droughty years like this) to both our cattle and wildlife. Where we might be watering 46 head of mother cows, we might also be watering elk, deer and antelope in the hundreds. With fuel at almost $4.00 per gallon this is no small expense.
It should also be noted that the situation came to a head just recently. Please note that since Harry Reid’s trip to China in 2011 the move is on to build an even larger solar power facility outside Laughlin Nv. .Also, ENN Energy (China) is going to build a solar panel facility in southern Nevada. Total investment is said to be about 5 billion dollars. Coincidentally, the law firm in which Rory Reid is a partner, just happens to be handling the legal work for this company in the United States. As I understand it, the BLM has to take a certain amount of land out of production to mitigate the effects of a large solar panel array as they are not particularly environmentally friendly to the immediate surrounding area (Look up “Solar Regional Mitigating Plan”). It is my guess that Cliven Bundy became a convenient target due to his stand on states rights. (You might also note, Kornze, now director of the BLM is a former senior aide to Senator Reid.)
The Bundy family should be left alone to do what they have done for generations, care for their cattle and the land. I have learned from observation, if you do not take care of the land, it will not take care of you. And for those that think that desert ranching is a rich man’s game, it is not. You often get up tired and go to bed exhausted, you work most days from dawn to dusk and hope that you have enough daylight to get everything done that you need to (horses don’t come with headlights).
Greta, please don’t let this fall off your radar, this is just another twist on the Biodiversity Treaty, “The Wildlands Project” and Agenda 21. This is a situation that I have following since the effort to initiate “Rangeland Reform” back in the early 90’s. If you wish to learn more about the issues (which eventually will affect all Americans) please read “The War on the West” by William T. Pendley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation. If you think that this is over you are wrong. The moment that the federal government thinks that no one is watching, they will be back to finish what they started.
Thank you for your kind attention,
Gail M. Tobin, Elk Springs Ranch