Monday, April 14, 2014


RePosted from The Wildlife News
Right wing disinformation: 
Bundy’s Land Is NOT Solar Farm for Harry Reid

Photo Credit:
The Reid Gardner coal generation station. 

Copyright Ralph Maughan

Right wing seizes on Bundy trespass to go after Harry Reid-

When a local issue goes national, it is often warped into other political agendas. We see that clearly with Cliven Bundy’s 20 years of public land cattle trespass coming to a head.

A cursory search shows a sudden explosion of articles claiming Nevada’s senior senator, Harry Reid, wants Bundy’s land (all Bundy actually owns is a melon farm) to build a solar plant to enrich himself and his son. Since Reid is the U.S. Senate Majority Leader, the radical right has every incentive to harm him by making this false claim. Such a blatant lie needs to be exposed.

Bundy has been trespassing over 750,000 acres of U.S. public land to the south of Mesquite and Bunkerville, Nevada. Bundy’s actual private property is his melon farm at Bunkerville, which looks like maybe 100 acres on Google Earth.  There is a solar farm. But it is not on the huge swath of land Bundy is trespassing on. The solar facility is actually under construction near the Moapa Indian Reservation about ten miles closer to Las Vegas.

The Wildlife News has been critical of many solar farms in the desert because of the massive destruction of wildlife habitat, but this farm under construction is not one of the dangerous mirror farms like Ivanpah near Primm, Nevada/California. It is a photovoltaic farm and it is being built to allow decommissioning of the Reid Gardner coal generation station nearby. Reid Gardner is one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation. In addition, the new solar plant will also help the tribe which has been badly abused in the past, being left with only a 1000 acre reservation. No, the plant is not on the reservation. See the local newspaper: Reid Helps Moapa Band Break Ground On Solar Project. Moapa Valley Progress. March 26, 2014.

It is amazing that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones would actually publish a map showing the location of the project. Anyone with the least geographic information can see it is not on the land where Bundy has been stealing the public’s grass for a generation.

There is also a solar farm proposal near Laughlin, Nevada, at the very southern tip of the state.  Some of the right wing news outlets also confuses this with the trespass land near Mesquite. Here is an earlier story about the Laughlin project. The Chinese Try to Harness the Nevada Sun.

Regarding this plant, back on April 5, Bloomberg Businessweek tried to work a negative Chinese angle. Now it too has been morphed onto the public land where Bundy has no right to graze and where he has threatened violence if not allowed to continue his illegal activity.

The only thing that has been proposed for the public land where Bundy’s cows continue to trespass is some kind of protective classification like a scenic area, recreation area, national monument.

The right wing media is using the unfortunate ignorance of Nevada geography to make the attack by the armed mob on the BLM into a political point against Senator Reid. Though it is doubtful Bundy knew what would happen, his cause has already been picked up by the Koch Brothers who really do want our public land — all of it. Their Americans for Prosperity front group is trumpeting Bundy’s cause.  The animosity between Senator Reid and the Koch brothers is well known. The Kochs have already spent perhaps 50-million dollars in attack ads trying to win a Republican senate majority this fall.

Some Republicans worry these energy and chemical barons are trying to build a parallel political party.

Together the Kochs have 100-billion dollars to play with, the 5th and 6th richest men on the planet. They can now spend as much as they want on American elections, courtesy of the Supreme Court. They can, and probably will spend more in 2014 than was spent in the entire 2012 campaign. They could fund it many times over.


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48 Responses to right wing disinformation: bundy’s land is not solar farm for harry reid

  1. avatarCodyCoyote says:
    Ralph- I’m not even sure CLiven Bundy even owns a melon farm. near as I can tell he doesn’t own anything in the way of real property . ( So much for having his ” property rights tramped on by the Gubbamint “. It’s helpful when making such claims to actually have some property to be tramped.)
    Nice snowy day here in Wyoming, so I played ” reporter for a Day ” and searched online for public records of any sort with CLiven Bundy’s name on them Clark Count NV has a very modern , updated public records system online. You can really drill down.
    There are plenty of people named Bundy in Clark County , the bulk of them in or around Bunkerville, the lodestone of this vortex. I presume they are Bundy’s progeny and relatives, since it is said he has 14 grown children . but there is nobody named Cliven …not even in the trusts. As far as having a paper trail for anything at all, this guy’s a ghost.
    I want the major media and the pedigreed journalists with time and resources to do what I did…paint an accurate legal picture of this Cliven Bundy phenom. I think he’s a 2-dimensional cowboy cut out, like you see outside the bars advertising beer. He’s sure no larger than life Neo-Folk Hero or worth writing a 3 chord rockabilly anthem about…
    I think he’s mostly smoke. But even smoke can be unpredictable or dangerous.
    Who do we know that can get the Nevada Brand Inspector or BLM livestock data ? I’ve had my fun for the day
    • avatarRalph Maughan says:
      Wouldn’t it be something if this was an entire house of illusion?
    • avatarNancy says:
      Is it possible Daddy Bundy’s transfered the property/ranch to his children? A smart move given Bundy’s age. Daughter Stetsy admitted some of the “trespassing” were hers:
      “I also know my dad’s cows, because a few of those cows out there are my own personal cows”
      • avatarChris says:
        Funny side note that I have not seen mentioned…. at least some of those non-Cliven, but still Bundy cows use an unregistered brand!…. Cliven’s brand turned sideways.
      • avatarFiona says:
        Good lord! They haven’t euthanized “cows” by which I take it you mean “cattle.” Everybody calm down. The main issue for tomorrow is that a bunch of fake frontiersmen with real guns just seized possession and control of open range belonging to you and me–and have such a h*** on from it that they are getting hysterical about grabbing some more tomorrow. Time is not a big deal on the range (as witness the fact that it has taken us 15 years to execute the eviction order) and unless one of the gun nuts loses control, no cattle or people will be killed tomorrow, either.
        • avatarFiona says:
          And for future reference, city friends, cattle are not “euthanized.” They are butchered, and will meet you later in the week at McDonald’s.
          • avatarMark L says:
            Hopefully MickyDees won’t take life long feral cattle for their burgers, but who knows?
            I did have the thought of suggesting to Bundy he sell the cattle as ‘freedom cows’ or some other corny name to the highest bidder.
            • avatarIda Lupines says:
              You people aren’t the most diplomatic tools in the shed, are you. No wonder nothing gets done.
              • avatarMark L says:
                Guess you don’t like my ‘freedom cows’ idea, huh? I could see some ‘Oath people’ paying thousands for them….might pay his bills too, ya know?
                (yes, I’m kidding Ida.)
              • avatarIda Lupines says:
                Sorry. :)
    • avatarChris says:
      Someone in the Bundy family does own a melon farm and normal size “ranch” style house as I have driven past it many, many times.,-114.237174&spn=0.00989,0.021136&t=h&z=16
    • avatarFiona says:
      Thanks, Cody. I love when people do research! :-))
    • avatarFiona says:
      Dry range like this is not very productive, and takes several acres to produce each head of the stringy range cattle (btw, the steer in the picture going around is not from this herd, in a million years). Anyway, the point is that western “ranches” consist primarily of federal lands leased to ranchers for, until quite recently, $1 per year per acre. So if you hear that somebody has a 10,000-acre ranch, he has a house and barn and some sheds and a vegetable garden, and a humongous land-lease.
  2. avatarHoward Thiname says:
    Bundy owns just short of a quarter-section, about 150 acres. I was hoping this would be a good article about how Bundy was in the wrong, but, instead, it’s all over the place – yelling at the Kochs, claiming Bundy is “trespassing” when the lands are clearly “public.” It doesn’t mention that Bundy has cases pending in court and that the Tenth Amendment prohibits the BLM from having policing powers.
    I’ve been looking for good info – but this piece seems to help Bundy’s case more than it hurts it.
    • avatarcobackcountry says:
      I don’t think that is true. The cows are not on state land, they are on federal land. The BLM being a federal branch can enforce federal laws on federal lands. I could be wrong, and am interest din hearing more?
      • avatarRalph Maughan says:
        Nevada is one of the few states that has no system of state lands to support the public schools. All the public land states got a generous grant of state lands at statehood to provide for the schools. The are often called “the state school lands.”
        I think all of the the Western states still have them except Nevada. I don’t know when Nevada sold them, but it seems short sighted. Now some Nevada politicians want American public lands because they were probably short-sighted and greedy.
        • avatarcobackcountry says:
          You wouldn’t guess it by their lack of support for actions to better American lands.
        • avatarFiona says:
          AZ has put its public lands on the auction bloc, and is in the process of selling off or trying to sell off state parks and monuments. Probably not the only state doing so.
      • avatarFiona says:
        Not sure what police power, or enforcement power, BLM has that it can execute. It certainly can enforce through court orders, but it might well use enforcement powers of a law enforcement agency. Same thing, in the end.
  3. avatarRalph Maughan says:
    Reading more about the Reid Gardner coal plant, it seems that it was truly a blight to the Indian Reservation — sometimes horrible air quality. A search shows many articles about it.
  4. avatarGreta says:
    I don’t mean to imply that the right-wing got it right- not at all. But the cached BLM webpage ( “Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle.” This suggests to me that there may have been pressure to get the trespass cows off to offset the solar development, not a direct siting on Gold Butte.
    Now, don’t get me wrong: Bundy has no business claiming anything about “his” land and “his” rights. But there might be some small spot of truth (however twisted it ended up) in the motivation for the feds to act now.
    Does anyone have any info or insight on that?
    • avatarRalph Maughan says:
      Mr. Bundy had been in trespass and had lost in the Nevada federal district court and the U. S. Court of appeals before there was any solar power development or mitigation plans. Having spent considerable time in the area myself, I think it would be great as a mitigation area — replace the illegal cattle with wildlife and protect the joshua tree forest from cattle plus have some dispersed recreation development. This is beautiful country except to those who dislike desert mountains and canyons. I think the federal government (BLM) finally acted because Bundy’s two decades of successful obstruction, and ignored orders from the courts, had to end sometime or the BLM would lose its credibility with other ranchers; so would the courts.
      • avatarGreta says:
        Maybe so, Ralph. I just never trust that BLM is acting in solely in good faith.
        • avatarIda Lupines says:
          Me neither! Does this man’s continued use over this long period of time give him any special rights, like adverse possession or a prescriptive easement?
          • avatarLouise Kane says:
            Ida I posted a link to a reasonable overview of adverse possession. In general its difficult to establish adverse possession of public lands as the public has use of the lands and one of the tenants of adverse possession is that the use of the land by the claimant must be exclusive. But even if that were not the case, another requirement of adverse possession is that the claimant must have been in continuous possession of the land for the duration of the statutory requirement. The commencement of a lawsuit would interrupt that continuity.
            • avatarMAD says:
              As a general rule under legal maxims & principles, and property law, an individual cannot obtain public lands held in trust through adverse possession.
    • avatarKen Cole says:
      I found a better site for the web cache of the BLM web page on the impacts of Bundy’s illegal grazing:
      • avatarRalph Maughan says:
        Thanks. This is a great link. It is the BLM link that was taken down for some reason, and everyone has been referring to it because they say it proves their points. Now I see where the idea comes from that Bundy was blocking solar with his cows.
        Here is the relevant text: “Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle.”
        This means that interest groups, such as conservation organizations, fear that off-site mitigation for the damage done by solar development will be ruined by the unsupervised trespassing cattle. An example would be the cows eating planting for tortoise, pronghorn, etc. or spring watering developments for birds and wild animals.
      • avatarGreta says:
        Thanks Ken. Didn’t realize the link was bad. But that’s the same page I was quoting from above, and I think it does lend credence to the idea that there is some tie in with solar. Not the tie-in that the right-wing is alleging, but tortoise mitigation for offsite solar.
    • avatarFiona says:
      Or–and I don’t know–it may simply be counterproductive to have cattle mucking around the equipment and vehicles and whatever comprises the solar energy project. After all, it’s our land; it’s our energy project; and we did give this guy 15 years’ warning (and will, no doubt, give him a pass on most or all of the fine he knowingly accrued). Sometimes a thing happens and is not a sinister government plot.
      • avatarIda Lupines says:
        It isn’t my solar project; whatever infinitesimal portion is mine I’m happy to forfeit. :) I don’t even eat beef, and yet this all seems unsettling to me. I don’t support land-devouring utility-scale solar or wind.
        I do support small farms and ranches, there is nothing more rewarding than something growing and bearing fruit, it’s quite emotional. I hate to see everything go the cold industrial route. Thanks for all the input re land titles – I was curious as to why this all has gone on for so long and if this neglect gave Mr. Bundy any form of title or ownership.
  5. avatardon says:
    Some my not be aware that Sen. Reid and a NV congressman have introduced bills to establish Gold Butte as a NCA and to designate existing roadless areas as Wilderness. I’ve wondered if there might be a relationship between BLM’s move to finally eradicate the pests and the effort underway to protect Gold Butte. Just a hunch.
    Congressman Horsford’s bill mirrors Senator Reid’s Gold Butte National Conservation Area Act with protections for Gold Butte. It will designate a nearly 350,000-acre National Conservation Area (NCA) with 129,500 acres of wilderness on public lands just south of Mesquite. In addition, 92,000 acres of lands currently being managed as wilderness within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area will be formally designated.”
    After a week camping/hiking in Mormon Mountain Wilderness I decided to drop down to Mesquite to get a room – while also catching up on the news, including that on Mr. Bundy. Out of curiosity I drove to the Virgin River just to get sight of what remains of the protesters. A few laggards still remain, a few caring sidearms. With Gold Butte now open to the public, I intend to explore the area for a few days.
    • avatarRalph Maughan says:
      Thank you much, Don. It’s the potential for really improving this public land that interests me more than Bundy and his cows. Exploring the area is how I found out about Bundy. The Wildlife News is interested in wildlife on the land, not bands of scraggy cattle on marginal range. With the militas gone, now is the time to explore the area before it gets too hot. I was there two years ago and it got up to 105 in Mesquite.
      If we are to save our American public lands, people have to experience them.
  6. avatarChris Clarke says:
    Always enjoy reading your work, Ralph. A couple of buckets o’ nuance to add:
    - Greta is correct in that the Gold Butte area has been mentioned as a possible source of mitigation land for the Dry Lake SEZ, which itself is not wholly dissimilar to the use of the land as mitigation through grazing permit retirement by the Clark County Multiple Species HCP. It’s hardly surprising that some of the tinfoil hats would seize on that as proof of something dimly understood but obviously nefarious.
    – It’s obviously correct that the Moapa Reservation and the Bunkerville allotment are two different places, and I wholeheartedly agree that the Moapa Paiute desperately need alternatives to the coal plant. But the solar project on that rez has apparently been every bit as devastating for the desert tortoise as has Ivanpah, and green groups haven’t said squat about it. I write more about that here.
    – Despite the disturbing and indeed frightening misrepresentations of truth by the wingnuts, the BLM has contributed to this situation immeasurably not only by failing to evict Bundy’s cattle from public land 15 years ago but by devoting almost their entire resources in Nevada and California over the last five years to paving the desert while clamping down on public comment, input and access. If Bundy’s militia supporters had even an ounce of ethics and smarts, they could easily have made a compelling soundbite argument saying that BLM Nevada evicts Bundy with one hand to protect tortoises and approves Silver State South and Stateline Solar with the other, thus dooming at least 1,000 juvenile tortoises to a grisly death. That the rightwingers didn’t happen on that argument shows a certain lack of intellectual curiosity, because it’s sitting right there.
    Something like this was inevitable given the house of cards that is stakeholder-based destruction-excused-by-mitigation. Who knew the principals would come up with such stupid arguments when there are more persuasive ones close at hand?
    Which isn’t by any means to say Bundy’s cattle aren’t doing immense damage to an crucial landscape, or that they don’t need to be removed. I’m just saying that the BLM has made itself vulnerable to criticisms of hypocrisy and agenda-driven dealing by engaging in, well, hypocrisy and agenda-driven dealing.
  7. avatarSheri says:
    re: Nevada not having state school lands, I have read that the Nevada Constitution records a condition of statehood which was that the state would not claim the federal land (it was federal land at the point the US acquired it from Mexico in 1848). Perhaps that was agreed to because so much was desert and not considered desirable or productive to support the state?
    • avatarRalph Maughan says:
      This quote is from the Nevada state constitution. “Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States; ……..” [boldface mine]
      I know that Idaho, Utah, and I think, the other Western States have similar provisions in their state constitutions.
  8. avatarLM says:
    Here’s another link from RW media re: WY land grab if anybody has time to throw this one around.
    • avatarRalph Maughan says:
      Wow, what a crazy ass bunch of John Birchers! Agenda 21 and the UN. Info on it if folks haven’t heard about it. By the way, belief in things like this is what makes people take up arms.
      From the URL above: “Here are some things that real live American human beings actually believe about a boring UN document called Agenda 21:
        that it is a covert socialist plot to rob America of its freedom
        that it will result in the establishment of an Orwellian one-world government
        that it will do so under the auspices of encouraging “sustainability”
        that “sustainability” should always be placed in scare quotes
        that it will slowly allow the United Nations to exert control over American society
      These are perhaps some of the most hilarious ideas ever conceived about a two-decades old, entirely non-binding framework that was adopted to little fanfare and signed by a Republican president. Nonetheless, a growing number of Tea Party-minded conservatives are claiming that Agenda 21 is a bone fide assault on American liberty. The rumblings have been gathering steam for over a year now, coaxed on by leadership on the far right. Hey-o, Glenn Beck.”
      • avatarLM says:
        It’s definitely entertaining and a little scary, but interesting to try to navigate in that perspective & get to know the enemy, discover the real agenda, and strategize.
        So, what’s the real story behind the boundary dispute issue ?
  9. avatarLM says:
    A bit off topic but still about the Desert:
    The Ellen Meloy 2014 Desert Writers Award
  10. avatarSheri says:
    Here’s a nice legal article summarizing federal land ownership and disposition since the Constitution was written. . .
    • avatarRalph Maughan says:
      This is a very good link. If more Americans knew these basics, our disputes would be more rational and would not be so difficult to settle.

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