Interior docs: ‘We could be in for a little bit of a siege’

Within days of the 2016 armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell pressed President Obama to prosecute the anti-government activists leading the siege, saying “bringing these people to justice” was critical to the safety of federal land managers.

The comments were included in 2,500 pages of newly released emails E&E News reviewed between top Interior aides and officials during the 2016 incident when Nevada ranchers Ryan and Ammon Bundy led anti-government activists in a 41-day siege of a remote federal site in eastern Oregon.

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WVU Professor’s Book ‘Up In Arms’ Takes a Look At Militia Uprisings | The Intelligencer

“People in the mainstream were like, “What the hell? These people are crazy,’ is the first reaction I get,” Temple said. “That’s just a very dismissive way to look at it. You’re never going to understand someone else’s viewpoints if you don’t ask the question, ‘Why are they doing this?’”

Temple, 49, who also wrote about the opioid crisis with “American Pain” that was released in 2015, offers another unflinching view of the state of the country with “Up In Arms.”

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Judge temporarily halts grazing on federal public land near Burns

A federal judge Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order that bars Hammonds Ranches Inc. from livestock grazing on federal public land near Burns during June.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon ruled from the bench, noting a written order would follow. He also has scheduled another hearing for June 28 to consider a motion by three environmental advocacy groups for a preliminary injunction barring further grazing at the sites.

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BLM Now Hopes Hammond’s Cattle Can Reduce Fire Risk

In a most ironic twist in a western saga that has featured more than a few twists, the Bureau of Land Management hopes cattle from Dwight and Steven Hammond – ranchers the U.S. government prosecuted for starting range fires – can reduce a fire risk on the high desert of eastern Oregon.The Hammond’s long-running dispute with the federal government ended with prison sentences for arson — and later inspired the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation. President Trump pardoned the Hammonds in July of last year.

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Why Trump must veto the federal land grab bill

The ongoing ‘War on the West’ By Stephen Moore– – Sunday, March 3, 201 ANALYSIS/OPINION: President Trumpgave one of his most memorable and impactful speeches two weeks ago when he systematically dismantled the case for socialism. In that speech, he […]

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Learning From The Hammond’s Federal Lands Saga | Agweb.com

Dwight and Steven Hammonds are back on the ranch, after a long and lengthy battle over grazing rights and property management. But even after a pardon and release from prison, the journey back to reinstating their grazing permits has just begun.

Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council talked with host Chip Flory about the saga on AgriTalk during the 2019 Cattle Industry and NCBA Tradeshow.

The Hammonds were back-burning on private property, a normal ranching method to lower wildfire risk and control timber encroachment, when some federal lands caught on fire.

“That’s an important part of this,” Lane said. “It was a normal farming and ranching practice.”

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Southern California deserts need protection, Congress says as it crafts legislation for off-roading, wilderness land – San Bernardino Sun

Republicans and Democrats disagree on a lot of issues, but protecting deserts in Southern California doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Legislation was introduced this month in both chambers of Congress, by members of both major parties, with the goal of protecting 716,000 acres of regional desert, adding a swath nearly as big as Rhode Island to regional land that’s already under protection. New protected zones would include off-highway vehicle recreation areas and wilderness, and an expansion of several National Parks.

The identical bills, sponsored by Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, in the House of Representatives and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, in the Senate, are the result of years of work with the off-roading community, conservationists and local governments. For different reasons, all of those interests want to see the protections in place.

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Grant County gets to keep its ban on the United Nations. But the Oregon county has other ideas, too | NW NN

In 2002, Grant County, Oregon banned the United Nations by citizen initiative. The referendum wasn’t close: 58 percent of voters said to keep the United Nations out of Eastern Oregon. The sponsors asserted the United Nations sought to impose “world taxation,” take away guns and private property and bring about “one world controlled education.”

That same year, Grant County voted to petition Congress for title to all federal lands inside the county. A decade later, county commissioners passed a measure forbidding the U.S. Forest Service from closing roads or trails.

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Investigators Release Report Clearing Zinke Of Wrongdoing Almost A Month After He Left Office | Daily Caller

Federal investigators released a report Thursday finding “no evidence” former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke committed misconduct while rolling back the borders of a national monument in Utah.

The report comes nearly a month after Zinke left office, in part because he was the focus of an unusually high number of federal investigations for someone of his position. Zinke announced he was leaving the Trump administration in mid-December 2018.

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NOMINATIONS: Meet the long-shot contender to lead Interior — Tuesday, January 29, 2019 — www.eenews.net

The Mountain States Legal Foundation claims two former Interior secretaries among its alumni, and conservative activists are pushing to add a third individual to that group: former foundation President William Perry Pendley.

Pendley, who had helmed the conservative law firm since 1989, left his post late last year without fanfare.

“BTW, no longer with @MSLF but NEVER retired; busy as ever!” Pendley posted to his Twitter account on Dec. 9, referring to the foundation.

But a few days later, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced his resignation from the Trump administration, and Pendley’s name became among those floated to replace the former Montana lawmaker.

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Grazing Permits Restored for Hammond Family | Drovers

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has restored grazing permits for the Hammond family from Oregon after losing the right to graze following federal charges that were later pardoned.

The announcement was made on Jan. 28 that Hammond Ranches would be able to graze their BLM allotments again. The BLM had stripped the right to graze after Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted of felony arson in 2012. They were sentenced to five years imprisonment under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

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Western federal lands policy open to challenge, attorney says

Federal ownership of vast acreage across the West is vulnerable to a constitutional challenge by affected state governments, according to a public lands attorney.

While court rulings until now have supported the federal government’s control over Western public lands, attorney George Wentz said those cases predate the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, which made federal ownership permanent.

An argument could be made that federal ownership of major swaths of 12 Western states effectively deprives them of the same sovereignty as the remaining 38 states, he said.

“Why are we inferior because we chose to live in the West?” Wentz asked growers at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in New Orleans on Jan. 13.

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#APNewsBreak: New pen may allow sale of horses for slaughter

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has built a new corral for wild horses in Northern California, which could allow it to bypass federal restrictions and sell the animals for slaughter.

The agency acknowledged in court filings in a potentially precedent-setting legal battle that it built the pen for mustangs gathered in the fall on national forest land along the California-Nevada border because of restrictions on such sales at other federal holding facilities.

The agency denies claims by horse advocates it has made up its mind to sell the more than 250 horses for slaughter. But it also says it may have no choice because of the high cost of housing the animals and continued ecological impacts it claims overpopulated herds are having on federal rangeland.

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Lawyer asks government if it will continue ‘gross injustice’ against Bundys

The federal government is preparing to appeal the dismissal of charges against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons, and supporters for the 2014 armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents

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Ranchers reveling in Trump’s proposed rollback of water regulations | Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Trump administration’s proposed rollback of an Obama-era rule defining what waterways fall under federal jurisdiction was hailed by ranchers and private property advocates and blasted by environmental groups.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers released proposed revisions to the 2015 rule that was challenged by 21 states, including Utah.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said Obama’s rule required “drastic” action by farmers and ranchers across the country, spawning a nationwide campaign called “Ditch the Rule.”

At the press event announcing the proposed revisions, Duvall said all presidents of the federation’s 50 chapters were in the room as a show of support.

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Former fossil fuels lobbyist to head interior department as Zinke exits

David Bernhardt’s new job means top two US environmental agencies will be helmed by people once paid by industry.

Ryan Zinke’s exit as interior secretary elevates a former lobbyist to the job, meaning the top two US environmental agencies will now be run by people previously paid by industry.

The deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, will take over at least temporarily when Zinke steps down at the end of the year. He also could be in the running to head the department permanently. And at the Environmental Protection Agency, the acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, who was a coal lobbyist, will be nominated to keep the post.

Bernhardt was a fossil fuels and water industry lobbyist at the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck before he joined the Trump administration. He was previously the chief lawyer at the interior department under the George W Bush administration .

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Federal land acquisition in Nevada’s Pine Nut mountains intended to protect critical habit and public access | Nevada Capital News

Carson City – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved the Bently Land Acquisition Project of nearly 15,000 acres of environmentally important lands owned by Bently Family Limited Partnership.  The roughly 50 disparate parcels are in-holding lands in the BLM managed Pine Nut Mountains of Douglas, Carson, and Lyon Counties.  The properties are located within a central 20-mile section of the Pine Nut Mountains, which run north-south for some 40 miles.  To learn more about this pending land transfer, we spoke with Victoria Wilkins, acting field manager for the Sierra Front Field Office of the BLM in Carson City …

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Jon Raby Named Director of BLM’s Nevada State Office | KRNV

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced that Jon Raby, a veteran BLM land manager and leader, has been named State Director in Nevada.

Raby will report to the BLM Nevada State Office in Reno in early January 2019.

Raby, who is currently serving as the Acting Montana/Dakotas State Director will lead the management of 48 million acres of public land in Nevada and 59 million acres of Federal mineral resources.

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Report: FBI suggested waiving fees for Cliven Bundy before ranch standoff, did not consider him a threat – The Washington Post

Three years before the impoundment of Cliven Bundy’s cattle turned into an armed confrontation between anti-government groups and federal agents, the FBI made an assessment that the Nevada rancher personally was unlikely to be violent in the event of conflict. The agency suggested a novel solution to Bundy’s 20 years of unpaid bills, one designed to put the dispute to rest: drop the fines he owed altogether.

The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, based in Quantico, Va., determined in 2011 that the rancher was unlikely to comply with federal court orders to move his 900 animals off federal land, where they had been illegally grazing, because “he only has enough land to handle less than 100 head of cattle.” Though the Bureau of Land Management was concerned that allowing Bundy to avoid paying federal grazing fees and fines could lead to violence, the FBI thought otherwise.

“BLM may wish to consider waiving the existing fines, as a gesture of willingness to participate in discussions geared toward negotiations,” the FBI wrote in the classified analysis, obtained by The Washington Post. The unit concluded that any alternatives the government could offer Bundy might reduce the rancher’s stress and “in turn, reduce the risk of a violent act.”

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Investigation: Zinke did not redraw Grand Staircase boundary to benefit former Utah lawmaker Mike Noel – St George News

wrongdoing following a complaint that he redrew the boundaries of a national monument in Utah to benefit a former state lawmaker and political ally.

The Interior Department’s office of inspector general says it found no evidence that Zinke gave former state Rep. Mike Noel preferential treatment in shrinking the boundaries of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

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Grazing is ‘indispensable’ to America. Or, it’s a ‘cancer,’ westerners tell Congress

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little told a congressional committee Thursday that livestock grazing on Western public lands provides a host of benefits to American taxpayers.

Chief among those, he said, is the rapid initial attack ranchers make on burgeoning wildfires, which helps keep them to a manageable size.

“That saves you (the federal government) an enormous amount of money,” Little told the House Natural Resource Committee’s federal lands subcommittee, which held a 90-minute hearing on “the essential role of livestock grazing on federal lands and its importance to rural America.”

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Editorial: BLM should fight wild horse suit this time, by Thomas Mitchell

The usual suspects are at it again, filing a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia demanding the court halt a plan by the Bureau of Land Management to remove all the feral horses in a 40-mile radius around Caliente.

The American Wild Horse Campaign, Western Watershed Project, The Cloud Foundation and a Beatty outdoor enthusiast are suing the BLM, saying it failed to adequately document and support its roundup decision, though what would ever be adequate for them is difficult to say.

Some of the same plaintiffs brought a similar lawsuit in 2011 over a planned removal of wild horses from Jakes Wash west of Ely, but the suit was mooted when the BLM backed down rather fight the matter.

In 2009 there were only 270 wild horses in the 900,000-acre Caliente area, but a year ago there were more than 1,700, a number the BLM deems unsustainable.

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In his first wide-ranging interview, Dwight Hammond Jr, shares his thoughts

BURNS — Three-and-a-half hours after pardoned Oregon rancher Dwight Hammond Jr. arrived home, he gathered with his wife and sons around his dining room’s large circular table and got back to business.

They hooked him into a live feed of an auction in Nevada where Hammond Ranch Inc.’s 155 calves were on the block.

Hammond could have called in to participate in the annual sale but he held back, not wanting to jerk the reins from his daughter-in-law and others who have run the family’s cattle ranch while he and his son Steven served arson sentences in federal prison.

“We’ve had to trust them. No use to question their judgment now,” the 76-year-old said later, sitting in his living room, back in his trademark Wrangler jeans, brown cowboy boots and a blue button-down shirt that matched his eyes.

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According to Senator Mike Lee, Shooting of Unarmed Nurse Proves BLM Law Enforcement Must Go

Senator Lee is spearheading efforts in Congress to abolish increasingly militaristic and trigger-happy federal law enforcement offices. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Office of Law Enforcement Services (OLES) is particularly odious, and many believe, has blood on its hands. From the tragic and absurd waste of life and resources Operation Cerberus Action in Utah to the Bundy Ranch raid, to shooting last week of an unarmed couple off-roading in California, BLM law enforcement is beginning to look like a frightening combination of Stasi and the Keystone Kops. That’s not mere hyperbole. Because federal OLES agents enjoy the protections of civil service status, not to mention large, insular bureaucracies to shield them from accountability, there is a seething culture within these organizations of corruption and lawlessness.

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