The Nevada cattle rancher at the center of a land dispute with the federal government should not have to surrender his property because he has been acting within the boundaries of the law, an Arizona official says.
Barry Weller, vice chairman of the Apache County Board of Supervisors, told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on “America’s Forum” 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 quite 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 2 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 Monday.