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JD Heyes–A new film featuring scores of interviews with ranchers and longtime residents of Western states documents what many have long viewed as the federal government’s insatiable appetite for land and resources.
In the first of two trailers introducing the documentary, which is titled, “Land Grab: The Conspiracy to Own All of the Natural Resources in the Western U.S.,” James White of Northwest Liberty News said the film is a product of interviews he conducted with landowners and ranchers throughout the West who have dealt with a federal land management bureaucracy that has become increasingly hostile over the past few decades.
The worst abuses and mismanagement of land and resources, however, has occurred in recent years, with ranchers and landowners citing many instances of problematic interactions with the U.S. Department of the Interior and its various agencies.
“When we first came to Nevada, the [U.S.] Forest Service was very cooperative, they wanted us to survive, they wanted us to make the grade,” said Elko, Nevada resident Kent Howard, who is now deceased. “As time went on, the Forest Service turned completely around, and by the time we got out of the cattle business, the Forest Service was doing everything they possibly could to make it hard for you.”
Howard added that one thing most Americans don’t understand about life in the West “is how bad the land management is” on the part of federal agencies. For instance, he said, in the 1950s, 1960s, and into the 1970s, the numbers of deer in the area were staggering. But today they are scarce, at best.
Mike Laughlin, a rancher and former wildlife biologist with more than three decades’ worth of experience in predator control for the Department of Agriculture, said wildlife numbers have fallen off by millions, even as “mismanagement” has led to “an unbelievable fire situation,” even though fire suppression is the Bureau of Land Management’s biggest program.
George Parman, of Eureka, Nev., said cattle numbers throughout the West have also declined substantially over the decades, thanks to the policies and actions of federal management agencies. He added that the federal government now owns 90 percent of the state. (Related: BLM thugs abused the law and used “incredible bias” against Nevada rancher Clive Bundy, warns new report.)
Rancher Kevin Borba, also of Eureka, said that his first ranching operation was “crowded out” by a solar panel company so he and his family moved to the area to start another. He said that in no time at all he began having “trouble with the BLM and the Forest Service.”
“They cut our numbers on the Duckwater site from 415 to 140 head, and tried to give me 1,006 head of sheep — which we’re not in the sheep business,” Borba said. “That battle’s been in courts for two years and is ongoing to this day” — that was two years ago, roughly.
“Since then, we’ve had a battle over horses — overpopulation of horses,” he continued, adding that he tried to get BLM to maintain horse numbers but did not have any success. “The end result is, it cuts our numbers and takes away our livelihood.” He said the added stress is also taking its toll on his family.
“When you’ve got the Forest Service, and the BLM, and Fish and Game all trying to get rid of you, you’ve got a problem,” noted Howard in the second trailer.
Scott Raine, a business owner and a former chairman of the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, said that BLM and other federal land and resource management agencies would hoard data from their own biologists then impose rules and restrictions based on “pseudoscience” that is “largely based upon social interaction” and “opinion.”
Hank Vogler of Ely, Nev., added that the federal land and resource management agencies treat everyone with a “one-size-fits-all” approach that is equal — “equally poor.”