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Oregon Armed Seizure of Federal Land Has Nevada Roots

The Oregon standoff protesters' ideas about federal land ownership are well-known in Nevada. And the leaders have deep ties to the Silver State. (Castlelass/morguefile)
January 7. 2016
The Oregon standoff protesters' ideas about federal land ownership are well-known in Nevada. And the leaders have deep ties to the Silver State. (Castlelass/morguefile)

LAS VEGAS – Nevada critics of the armed seizure of a federal facility in Oregon are speaking out – since the protest leaders have deep ties to the Silver State.

The leaders of the armed group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge – demanding the federal government hand over the land – are Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of Cliven Bundy, a Bunkerville rancher who refused to pay a $1 million in grazing fees in 2014, and called on militia groups to confront BLM officers sent to remove Bundy's cattle from federal land.

Former U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, who represented that district, says the government shouldn't let the Bundys get away with breaking the law.

"It's well past time that Cliven Bundy and his sons and anyone else associated with him is arrested,” Horsford states. “They are, in my view, domestic terrorists. The definition of terrorism is using force and intimidation for political purposes, and that's exactly what they did, and what they're doing now in Oregon."

Calls for a transfer of federal land to state control have garnered some support among state lawmakers in Nevada, where 81 percent of the land is held by federal agencies.

In 2015 the state Senate passed a resolution to transfer 7.3 million acres, but the U.S. Interior Secretary rejected the idea.

A similar bill failed in the state Assembly.

Annette Magnus, executive director of the advocacy group Battle Born Progress, says the land transfer proposals are unconstitutional, and she fears the Bundys' aggressive tactics could breed violence.

"What's next, because some of their supporters in Nevada came into Las Vegas and shot two police officers and a person in Walmart,” she states. “And so we don't want violence. We don't want to see this kind of radicalized rhetoric out there."

Retired Las Vegas police officer Stan Olsen says the Bundys should be arrested, but worries it could get ugly, especially if authorities go to Cliven Bundy's ranch.

"He doesn't pay his fines, he overgrazes, and he hasn't been arrested,” Olsen states. “Of course if he hasn't left his property it'd be tough for the federal government to go in there and get him without a big standoff and possibly some injuries. Nobody wants to see that."

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV