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After Finicum funeral, Cliven Bundy encourages more Utah ranchers to tear up grazing permits

First Published      Last Updated Feb 08 2016 02:19 pm

Range dispute » Workshop offers a legal reasoning for the rebellion.

Kanab • Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was killed because the federal government didn't want ranchers to hear his plea, Cliven Bundy said after his Friday funeral.

Finicum had urged ranchers to disavow contracts with the federal government, as Bundy did more than 20 years ago and as Finicum did after participating in a 2014 standoff between Bundy and the BLM in southeastern Nevada.

If they do so, Bundy said, the ranchers' stewardship gives them rights to that land.

"They don't want him to teach that kind of stuff," said Bundy, who showed up unannounced to participate in a memorial ride.

Conservation groups have said the federal government's current arrangement is a good deal for ranchers and warned that if they don't follow regulations, they will lose rights to use that land.

Finicum was fatally shot Jan. 26 after he twice appeared to reach toward where the FBI said it later found a 9mm handgun. Bundy's sons Ammon and Ryan were arrested at the scene after a weekslong armed occupation of an Eastern Oregon wildlife refuge.

Saturday, while Finicum's family laid his body to rest, land-use activists invited ranchers and media who were at Friday's funeral to attend the latest in a series of workshops on the legality of claims like Bundy's.

Kanosh attorney Todd Macfarlane said he also hoped to help outsiders better understand the importance of land use to area ranchers.

"We want to be able to make a living on the land," Macfarlane said. "We don't want our kids to have to go to the Wasatch Front or some urban area to have a lifestyle completely different than we were blessed enough to give them the opportunity to have."

Twenty-five years ago, Macfarlane said, the local area had a vibrant natural resource economy, with sawmills in Panguitch, Escalante and Fredonia, Ariz., and two large ranches and a uranium mine on the Arizona Strip.

All are gone now, he said, and the sentiment he frequently encounters is that the federal government aims to remove people from the land they've worked for generations.

Said Bundy on Friday, while surrounded by supporters near his trailer: "The bureaucrat has gotten so fat and so healthy that he is the one that prospers. He is the one who has life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The rest of us are feeding him."

Texas A&M adjunct professor and Boise forum keynote speaker Angus McIntosh again shared arguments from the 2003 dissertation he completed for his doctorate in range science at New Mexico State University, copies of which some of the 80-odd attendees bought for $20.

McIntosh's curriculum vitae indicates he has never held a full-time faculty position at any university, but he taught two online courses last semester in Texas A&M's College of Agriculture. He also serves as director of natural resources law and policy research with Land And Water USA Foundation, a think tank devoted to property rights.

McIntosh said he once worked for the Forest Service, and that when it occurred to him that public land did not belong to the federal government, a boss with "a glint in his eye" told him that it did once they got the ignorant ranchers to sign a permit.

Bundy said Friday that the ranchers have themselves to blame when they sign a grazing permit.

"We're telling the federal government they have unlimited power," he said.

Several Utah ranchers agreed to disavow their contracts with the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service at a similar workshop held in Cedar City two weeks ago.

There was no indication that any ranchers were immediately prepared to do the same in Kanab on Friday. Calls made later to Macfarlane and McIntosh were not returned as of Saturday afternoon.

Wayne LeBaron attended Saturday's workshop and said he takes issue with the way a grazing allotment he bought near Johnson Canyon has been managed.

He has to do some research, he said, before deciding how to proceed. But he was glad he attended, he said, because he didn't realize that there was legal grounding in what he already felt was morally correct.

"It was very educational."

After speaking, Macfarlane thanked Bert and Kathy Smith, of Ogden outdoor retailer Smith & Edwards, for their continued financial support.

The Tribune's Brian Maffly contributed to this report.


Twitter: @matthew_piper



Listen to audio of Saturday’s meeting

Listen to audio of Saturday’s Western Rangelands Property Rights workshop in Kanab. › bit.ly/1Xbdrtj