LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – Supporters of public lands are speaking out against a judge’s decision to release Cliven Bundy, the rancher accused of inciting an armed conflict with federal agents who were trying to remove his cattle from federal lands.
Supporters of Nevada’s public lands said they’re outraged that a judge declared a mistrial and freed rancher Cliven Bundy this week. Bundy was accused of ordering an armed standoff in 2014 with federal agents sent to remove his cattle from federal land after he defaulted on millions of dollars in grazing fees. Two of his sons also beat charges related to the armed seizure of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon that turned violent. Maria-Teresa Liebermann with Battle Born Progress said this only emboldens those who break the law and threaten public lands.
“Twice they have decided to attack our federal public lands, attack the folks that are simply trying to do their job to protect them, and they got off scot free, and it’s not right. They’re domestic terrorists, and they should have been held accountable,” Liebermann said.
The judge said prosecutors unlawfully withheld evidence of snipers and surveillance around the Bundy property. Cliven Bundy, who spent 700 days behind bars and cannot be retried, said he is innocent and thinks the federal government should have no jurisdiction over the land where he grazes his cattle.
The Bundy ranch, about an hour outside Las Vegas, sits on the road that leads visitors to Gold Butte National Monument. Rudy Zamora is with Chispa Nevada, a program of the League of Conservation Voters. He said there was s big drop in visitation during and after the standoff, and worries that once again people won’t feel safe.
“If they were pointing guns at those federal agents back when the takeover happened, what doesn’t guarantee us that they’re not going to do that to everyday folks that are visiting the site,” Zamora said.
Two years ago, the Nevada state Senate approved a nonbinding resolution supporting the transfer of federal public land to the state. Then the Republicans lost their majority and the idea lost traction. Last year, Congressman Mark Amodei backed off of a proposal to transfer more than 7 million acres of federal land to the state.