Protesters Demand Less Federal Intrusion
The problems go back to the 1970's “Sagebrush Rebellion” when states like Nevada demanded greater control over federal land.That effort, though muted, continues today.
Bundy stated he and other militants decided to take over the wildlife refuge property after efforts to push them out and deny their protest.
“This refuge right here is rightfully owned by the people,” he said. “[The Hammonds’] ranch is adjacent to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge… They have refused for nearly 40 years to sell their ranch and there have been very vindictive behaviors because they refused, and there have been intimidations and the list goes on.”
“We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely,” Ammon Bundy said. “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.”
Ammon’s brother, Ryan Bundy, told the Associated Press his group wants to “restore the rights to people so they can use the land and resources” for ranching, logging, mining and recreation.
When asked how long the group will stay, Ammon Bundy stated, “As long as is necessary.”
As backdrop to the their efforts, hundreds of the Bundy family neighbors in Nevada have been pushed out of ranching, a profession and culture the families shared with generations of their ancestors, by the federal government slowly restricting more and more of the usage of federal lands. The Bundy family has held on—but holding on meant ignoring the rule of law, as much as they would argue that the federal government has ignored the rule of law. After years of federal overreach and corruption—especially from federal agencies restricting public lands or effectively taking the value out of privately-held lands to protect tortoises, spotted owls, and ponds a bird might someday land in—many Americans are boiling and looking for an instance to stand against. The Bundy ranch has filled that role for many. Stated concerns over this being a new Waco or Ruby Ridge have come from the family. The federal government clearly views the armed Bundy supporters with concern—as evidenced by reports of government snipers being nearby and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issuing a no-fly zone for three miles surrounding the Bundy ranch.
It is easy to see why Ammon Bundy and his fellow ranchers would be so adamant about supporting the Hammonds, and why the issue of Federal control and overreach will continue to be a vexing and difficult problem to resolve. It is just one more indication that the Federal government is out of control and exercising increasingly unfair and heavy handed tactics to ensure that the public knows who is in charge.