The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 17 No. 6 • July 2014


A TRUE STORY — DURK’S PARTICIPATION IN THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT AND TWO RANCHER FRIENDS FOR GRAZING RIGHTS

PLUS:

Why the BLM Wouldn’t Let Cliven Bundy Pay His Grazing Fee

The Ugly Truth About the Grazing Rights Contract Required By the Bureau of Land Management

This is a true story. The names of the two ranchers discussed in the first part that follows, personal friends of ours (one is, however, deceased), are not given here.

As is typically the case in the West, the two ranchers had been grazing cattle on federal lands as successors to prior owners of grazing rights and water since long before there was a Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The grazing permits that became a requirement for ranchers to continue grazing lands that had been privately grazed for long before the existence of federal land management agencies started out simple. Those who had been grazing the lands previously, who held stockwater rights under state law had priority in terms of being able to continue using the lands. It was a prior right recognized in the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934.

Over the years, the BLM unilaterally changed the conditions that ranchers had to meet in order to have grazing rights in lands claimed by the federal government (“federal lands”).

Durk’s two rancher friends had seen additions to the grazing rights contracts that the BLM asked them to sign, and didn’t understand what this new stuff meant. They, therefore, asked Durk to accompany them to meetings with BLM representatives to advise them during their contract negotiations.

Durk had expected that the disagreements would be over the number of cattle that the ranchers would be allowed to run. That was NOT the case.

One of the new provisions required that the rancher “maintain satisfactory conditions of riparian areas.” Yet, the contract had no definition of “satisfactory” or of “riparian.” Durk told his two rancher friends that they had to get the BLM to put definitions of these terms into the contract or at least put in a reference to where these terms are defined in BLM regulations. Otherwise, they (the ranchers) could be found to be in violation of the contract at any time. A key feature of a contract is that, as a meeting of minds, each party to a contract has to understand what is being said in the same way. There can be no valid contract where terms are left undefined and, hence, the party expected to comply with a provision with undefined terms doesn’t know what is expected of him and is at the mercy of the party controlling the interpretation of key terms.

When the two ranchers requested that definitions for these terms be put into the grazing rights contract, the BLM refused. Durk was there and personally heard the BLM negotiator say (this is a paraphrase): “No. We like to keep things flexible.”

One of the ranchers suggested that he could run a fence around the green areas (the water sources), with a pipe delivering the water to an outside water tank. In this way, the cattle couldn’t even approach the water source and, hence, there could be no question of the riparian areas being maintained in a satisfactory condition. The BLM guy responded that they could do that but they would have to get a permit from the BLM to do that and, to get the permit from the BLM, they would have to deed 1/2 of their water rights to the BLM. “That’s our policy,” the BLM guy said (and this is a quote, not a paraphrase). And even if the ranchers actually put in the fence to “maintain a satisfactory condition” to the riparian area around the water source, there would still be no definitions in the contract for what was meant by “satisfactory condition” or “riparian.” Durk told the two ranchers that if they signed the contract the BLM could find them in violation at any time.

Soon Afterward …

One of the ranchers received a notice from the BLM that they intended to seize all his cattle that were grazing on the “federal lands.” He went out of business. The other rancher (who is still alive) had his cattle stolen by the BLM, which simply removed them and sold them to a crony for far less than market value without having a court order for their removal and sale. Simple cattle rustling, folks, a hangable offense in the old West. Yes, the rancher did try to sue the agency for commpensation, but he lost in the courts. Unfortunately, the courts generally ASSUME that a regulatory agency is in the right—keep in mind that the BLM controls the administrative record—and the magistrate Judges (BLM employees) know very little if anything about the legal issues involved, once again assuming that the BLM doesn’t claim authority it doesn’t have.

The State of Nevada Was Not Amused

As a result of these and similar BLM actions, the Nevada legislature passed a law, which the governor signed, that required that the state branding inspector could not approve transfer of cattle to the BLM except under a court order.

The State of Nevada legislature also passed legislation, signed by the governor, which prohibited the transfer of water rights to the BLM. This action by the State is legal under the federal law called the McCarran Amendment (43 U.S.C. 666 (1952)), under which non-interstate water in the West is regulated by the States, with the federal government having waived its sovereign immunity and supremacy and having waived any claim that State water law doesn’t apply to the federal government.

Cliven Bundy Has a Problem With His Grazing Permit Contract with the BLM

Not so surprisingly, then, rancher Cliven Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees to the BLM (though he offered to pay them to Clark County, Nevada) because of BLM-added changes in his grazing contract, like what happened to the two ranchers described above. The claim that Bundy owes the BLM over $1,000,000 for unpaid grazing fees makes it sound as though Bundy is in the wrong—but doesn’t tell you that the “contract” the BLM expected him to sign was no contract at all because, as explained above, you could never know what you were expected to do. Bundy wouldn’t sign it. Note that the BLM will NOT cash your check—e.g., you cannot pay your grazing fees—unless you have signed this so-called “contract.”

A Personal Friend Was At the Bundy Ranch During the Federal Invasion

A very close friend of ours (another rancher) was at the Bundy Ranch during the entire recent incident. He was shocked at the extent of the armaments the federal agents had at their disposal, which included machine guns. (YOU NEED TO KNOW that, a few years ago, the BLM requested law enforcement authority from the State of Nevada, permission they had to have in order to be able to enforce laws in the State of Nevada—but the State refused to give it to them. This is a fact. The law enforcement officer impersonation by BLM agents and their pointing guns at people at the Bundy Ranch was entirely unlawful. We hope to see this become the basis for a lawsuit against the BLM.)

Our friend witnessed the damage done by a large backhoe brought in by the feds to destroy Bundy’s “unpermitted” water tanks and water pipelines. The court order the feds had authorized them to seize “trespass cattle”—but gave them NO authority to damage water tanks and pipelines. So much for the rule of law.

Bundy Did Not Make Racist Statements

While we are giving you the perspective of witnesses to some of the issues involved in the clashes between ranchers and the BLM, we might as well straighten out any idea you may have that Cliven Bundy made racist remarks.

The ongoing claims in the media that Cliven Bundy is a racist because of allegedly racist statements he made is based entirely upon a campaign by the The New York Times to misrepresent what Bundy actually said. The Times took actual statements of Bundy’s (we have seen the taped interview with Bundy) and edited them to make it appear that Bundy had made racist remarks. Despite the fact that these allegations were the result of shamelessly selective editing by The New York Times, and that corrective information has now become available, media (even including The Wall Street Journal, to their shame) with lazy reporters who do not bother to check the accuracy of material when they quote from supposedly authoritative media such as The New York Times, continue to claim that Bundy is a racist. We are here to tell you that Mr. Bundy is NOT a racist and that if you rely on The New York Times (and even The Wall Street Journal), you had better not assume that they (a) don’t disseminate false and misleading information and/or (b) check the accuracy of their sources.

Why Have We Reported This in Our “Life Extension Newsletter”?

First, as regular readers are aware, this isn’t a newsletter JUST about life extension. Second, we have firsthand information to offer in an issue of considerable public confusion and of some importance. We hope to help keep the discussion focused on the facts, not somebody’s contrived version of events.

The federal government is a major threat to our life expectancies and its usurpations go far beyond the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sincerely,

Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw

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