Tags: America's Forum | Exclusive Interviews | Cliven Bundy | Barry Weller | Nevada | land | dispute

Arizona Official: Cliven Bundy's Acts Are Legal

By Joe Battaglia   |   Monday, 21 Apr 2014 04:00 PM

The Nevada cattle rancher at the center of a land dispute with the federal government should not have to surrender his property, an Arizona official says, because he has been acting within the boundaries of the law.

Barry Weller, vice chairman of the Apache County Board of Supervisors, told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum" Monday on Newsmax TV that he thinks Cliven Bundy was right in standing up to the Bureau of Land Management, which sought to seize his ranch.

Bundy says his family has homesteaded since 1877 on the land, which the federal government says belongs to the United States. As part of a conservation effort to protect the endangered desert tortoise, the Bureau of Land Management banned cattle grazing on the land in 1989. Bundy continued to graze his cattle and refused to pay fines levied against him, calling the federal policy a land grab.

The case is similar to another in Nevada, in which Wayne Hage won a protracted battle with the federal government by successfully arguing that he had the right to graze his cows within two miles of water sources he developed.

"The Bundys and the Hages are standing on what's called their water rights and their grazing rights," which, Weller said, "were pre-existing in territorial times, long before the government took over and these states became states and these water rights are mentioned, and any federal law or policy act that comes thereafter is always stated, 'subject to pre-existing rights.'

"So, when people say they're not legally doing what they're doing, they are. They are doing what they're supposed to be doing: standing for their rights," Weller said.

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Weller said Sen. Harry Reid's comments on the situation have served no purpose other than "to ratchet up the force of the federal government against the citizens."

He added the government's actions against Bundy amount to a criminal shakedown for payment.

"That was absolutely deadly force," Weller said. "I don't know that it's hitting the news out there, but [the BLM] were killing cattle, they shot his prize bull from a helicopter through the back of the neck and killed him. Several cattle were killed as they rounded them up and pulled them into the BLM pens. It's just a devastation of force."

The only solution to this problem, Weller said, is for the government to follow through on the transfer of public land that was promised to all newly created states at statehood but honored only to the states east of Colorado.

"The people who take the best care of anything are the people who own it and have it close to them," Weller said. "The federal government has no idea what they're doing with these lands from a remote place in Washington, D.C., and they are deteriorating the resources of this country.

"There are trillions and trillions of dollars of natural resources here which do not have to be mined or received in a way that is brutal to the country or to the landscape, but are in a way that will profit and take care of the debt of this country if we open them up to the public and to the states so they can be utilized."

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