Chris Udall: Feds Impinge on Western Land Rights

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 04:18 PM

By Aaron Stern

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Conflicts between Western land owners and federal authorities like the one that ended last weekend between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management will continue to be a problem if the government continues to impinge on the land rights of ranchers and farmers, says Chris Udall, executive director of the Agri-Business Council of Arizona.

Land owners in Western states must navigate patchwork maps dominated by federally owned land, and ranchers have to pay the government rights to allow their livestock to graze on those lands, Udall told John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.

But the regulations involving how those lands can be used, and the money paid to graze on lands that often used to be family-owned – as in Bundy's case – have created deep-seated tensions, said Udall, who was a member of Hayworth's congressional staff.

"A rancher can't survive ranching out West without federal land," Udall said Monday.

Story continues below video.



"You wouldn't find a single rancher out West that would like, they would probably love to have a private, a ranch that's entirely private property," Udall said. "But that just isn't the case."

The federal government owns 52 percent of the land in Western states, according to data from the Congressional Research Service and reported in October by the Washington Post.

That includes 81 percent of the land in Nevada, according to figures from a 2012 report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.

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