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Like their cattle on BLM land, family of ranchers stands firm

Don’t let the 1,000-pound weight difference fool you — burrowing desert tortoises and plodding cattle are both big grazers.

They both eat tender new shoots of wildflowers and grasses.

That’s why tortoise advocates say keeping cattle out of officially designated critical tortoise habitat, including parts of the proposed Gold Butte Butte, city, United States
Butte (byt), city (1990 pop. 33,336), seat of Silver Bow co., SW Mont.; inc. 1879. It is a trade, ranching, and industrial center.
 National Conservation Area, is so important.

Try telling that to the Bundy family, organic-melon farmers and cattle ranchers who have been grazing herds on federal land in the area since the late 1800s. The Bundys, led by family patriarch Cliven Bundy, have been back and forth — and in and out of court — with the Bureau of Land Management over their cattle for a decade and a half, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 records obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Center for Biological Diversity The Center for Biological Diversity combines conservation biology with litigation, policy advocacy, and an innovative strategic vision to secure a future for animals and plants hovering on the brink of extinction, for the wilderness they need to survive, and by extension for the .

Bundy admits he has cattle roaming free on federal land. But he claims to have forage and access rights to land in the Gold Butte area and to own range improvements there.

According to BLM BLM n abbr (US) (= Bureau of Land Management) → les domaines  records that were part of the request, however, all

of Bundy’s rights have been terminated.

The Bundy family is one of a handful of Nevada ranching families whose cattle might still trespass on trespass on or upon

Formal to take unfair advantage of (someone's friendship, patience, etc.): I won't trespass upon your hospitality any longer 
 federal land. They’re throwbacks to the Sagebrush sagebrush, name for several species of Artemisia, deciduous shrubs of the family Asteraceae (aster family), particularly abundant in arid regions of W North America. The common sagebrush (A.  Rebellion, whose members wanted state and local governments to take control of federal lands in several Western states.

“These cases, some of them, have been going on for decades,” said JoLynn Worley, BLM spokeswoman. Although most of the cases have been resolved over time, she said, Bundy’s has not.

As Rob Mrowka, public lands conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, sees it, the law is clear and the cattle should have been cleared out of Gold Butte long ago. Because they compete with tortoises for food in an unforgiving desert, “the tortoises are being put at risk when the law .. says they


The cattle aren’t just a problem for the tortoises, though. They’re also setting back efforts to restore and replant re·plant
To reattach an organ, limb, or other body part surgically to the original site.

An organ, limb, or body part that has been replanted.
 areas of Gold Butte scorched scorch  
v. scorched, scorch·ing, scorch·es
1. To burn superficially so as to discolor or damage the texture of. See Synonyms at burn1.

 by 2005 wildfires, said Angie Lara, the BLM’s Las Vegas Las Vegas (läs vā`gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States.  Field Office manager. The cows trample and feed on the tender young plants the BLM has planted in the fire-ravaged areas.

That, in turn, sets the area up for future wildfires, by priming the ground for highly flammable, nonnative grasses, BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon said.

“The concern is that as native plants are reestablishing themselves, the soil is especially delicate,” she said. “The crust is rebroken and it offers an opportunity for invasive species
See also: Introduced species

Invasive species is a phrase with many definitions. The first definition expresses the phrase in terms of non-indigenous species (e.g.
 to come back in.”

Nevada ranchers hold about 700 legal livestock grazing permits with the BLM in the state.

But the Bundys lost the right to graze cattle in the area in the early ’90s after they stopped paying grazing permit fees, according to records. About the same time, Clark County bought up the rest of the grazing rights in the area to create a safe home for tortoises. Since then, however, the BLM has documented cattle there bearing the Bundy brand on numerous occasions.

Many of the cattle grazing today have no brands, which makes it impossible to prove they’re Bundy cattle, according to the BLM.

Officials might just want to ask Bundy, however. He told the Sun about two dozen of his cattle are roaming free in the adjacent Lake Mead National Recreation Area Lake Mead National Recreation Area: see National Parks and Monuments (table). , where they are also prohibited from grazing.

But no matter who owns the cattle tramping around Gold Butte or how they got there, they need to be removed, various federal agencies and conservation groups agree.

But the BLM’s Las Vegas Field Office manager said it isn’t as simple as just rounding up the cattle and auctioning them off. The BLM is working with several state and federal agencies, including the National Park Service, which oversees the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, to figure out how to get cattle out of tortoise territory.

Bundy said that if the BLM attempts to remove the cattle he will contact the sheriff, and we could have an old-fashioned range war stand-off on our hands.

Phoebe Sweet can be reached at 259-4127 or at
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Author:Phoebe Sweet
Publication:Las Vegas Sun
Date:Nov 12, 2008
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