Two months have gone by in a blur since the Bundy Militant Seizure of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge was taken under the cover of cowboy hats. Public lands ranchers have always been at the front of western land grab efforts, as Bernard DeVoto described.
Malheur brought unsavory players engaged in a medusa-headed effort to seize control of public lands into full public view. Proliferating militias, “constitutional sheriffs,” and various crackpot lecturers were suddenly out in public view, all on board with the land privatization agenda.
WLD’s Natalie Ertz and Kate Fite traveled to Malheur to join a Protest opposing the Bundy Seizure. We hiked on the Refuge, where Militants “on patrol” attempted to intimidate us. We met up with the Center for Biological Diversity folks who had been at Malheur for many days, and several other Boise people who came out for the event. (3rd video)
We had the privilege to speak with leaders of the Burns-Paiute Tribe. We witnessed a surreal Militant ceremony where New Mexico rancher Adrian Sewell renounced his grazing permit. At the end of this, Pete Santilli tried to incite an armed crowd against an environmentalist by claiming he was an FBI agent.
Just as we returned home, we learned of a Land Seizure Conference in Boise only a few days away – “Storm Over Rangelands”, with Kanosh Utah attorney Todd MacFarlane, a member of the militia-like Harney County Committee of Safety, and others.
We worked to organize a Protest march, and documented the
conference, which preached there is no such thing as public land – grazing on BLM land establishes a “right” for the cattlemen, so the land is no longer public.
Members of the Bundy Cowliphate have now been arrested. But the Land Seizure movement remains in high gear. The fight to protect public lands is now more important than ever. At least three Bills have been introduced in the Congress to give states control of federal lands.
There are myriad other efforts chipping away at public lands and public lands protections in Congress and state Legislatures across the West.
This is a very important time in the fight to protect wild lands and wildlife in the west. Please support our frontline efforts to protect public lands.