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In the Land of Cognitive Dissonance…

Cliven BundyVia the Salt Lake Tribune (Dozens illegally ride ATVs into Utah canyon in lands dispute rally) come more tales of Bundy Ranch inspired law-breaking.

Fed up with federal control over lands their families have used for generations, Blanding residents along with out-of-town supporters on Saturday drove all-terrain vehicles into Recapture Canyon, an area rich in prehistoric sites the Bureau of Land Management closed to motorized use seven years ago.

Because, of course, in the densely populated state of Utah, where else is one going to ride an ATV?

In regards to the cognitive dissonance of the post title:

“We’re not proponents of breaking the law,” Lyman told reporters at the park, an hour before joining dozens of riders on the closed route. “This was a supervisor’s discretionary closure. It’s a county road. We claim it. Just because BLM owns the property, that doesn’t mean they own the right-of-way that exists.”

[...]

“For 130 years people have been using that canyon as a highway,” Lyman said. “To see it become a focal point of conflict is very painful for me.”

Better yet, the individual quoted above is San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, although he claims he is acting in this case not as a government official, but as a private citizen.  I wonder how Mr. Lyman would react if a group of Mexicans showed up to lay claim to the territory?  After all, it belonged to Mexico and Spain well before anyone named “Bundy” roamed the land.  Or, what if Native Americans decided to transgress state law and claim historic rights to various bits of territory in San Juan County?  After all, if this is just a game of long-term claims, I know we can find some folks who can go back well beyond 130 years (especially in the canyon in question, which is the site of Native American dwellings).

Also, it would appear that some of the participants have peculiar notions of natural law:

“It’s not illegal. It’s the people of San Juan County’s land. It’s your god-given right to go down and ride through that canyon and to hell with the media,” shouted an armed militia member.

If one is to take these individuals seriously, then law is not the binding force to human existence, but is rather some combination of might and historical claims.  They seem not to understand that if this fight were to, tragically I would add, boil down to might, they will lose.  Further if we were to apply history to the fight (as noted above), they would also lose.

Another more than problematic claim that I have seen from these events is the following:

Also addressing the rally was Bundy’s son Ryan, who counseled there is no such thing as federal land.

Several points:

  • As I have noted before:  the western United States became the United States because of war with Mexico.  In short:  without federal government action, there would be no Utah.  And, further, if the federal government had not secured that land and engaged in policies to populate it, there would be not Utah.
  • It is rather difficult to have even a passing knowledge of US history and not see that yes, in fact, the US can own land.  To wit:  the Louisiana Purchase, the Gadsden Purchase, and Alaska.
  • If the US government cannot own land, then why does Article IV, Section 3 say the following? “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”
  • If the US government cannot own land, then why does the Fifth Amendment grant it the power of eminent domain

As  a concluding observation, let me note that civil disobedience is not defined as “doing whatever one wants, including picking and choosing which laws to follow.”  Rather, civil disobedience involves confronting laws one find to be unjust and suffering the consequences of the law breaking. So far in these ongoing Bundy-inspired confrontation we have a lot of law breaking without any consequences.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    It really is time to put and end to this anarchy even if there is the risk of a blood bath. Letting it continue will only encourage more crazies.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 3

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Without question these folks need to face consequences.
    This Bundy guy owes us over $1M…pay up or go to jail deadbeat.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3

  3. CSK says:

    Well, that settles it. I’m gonna go build me a cabin in the White Mountains National Forest. I’m pretty sure my forebears were letting their dairy cows graze there 150 years ago. So that makes it mine. Right? Right?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Of course deadbeats like Paul Ryan are sleeping on our property too…I say jail for all of them.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

  5. DrDaveT says:

    Fed up with federal control over lands their families have used for generations[...]

    Translation: “Fed up with the fact that their families have been getting an unending handout from the owner of the land for generations…”

    Consider the analogous ‘argument’ when the handout isn’t land use rights:

    “Welfare mothers, fed up with federal control of money their families have been paid for generations, broke into HHS offices on Thursday and rifled the petty cash drawer…”

    Oh, but I forgot — this is different because Freedom!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  6. Jim Henley says:

    “We’re not proponents of breaking the law,” Lyman told reporters at the park, an hour before joining dozens of riders on the closed route. “We’re practitioners of sophistical excuses for breaking the law.”

    FTFY, Supervisor.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  7. al-Ameda says:

    People like Bundy and his apologists are very dangerous fools.
    @Ron Beasley:

    It really is time to put and end to this anarchy even if there is the risk of a blood bath. Letting it continue will only encourage more crazies.

    Exactly.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Stupid is as stupid does. I suspect that more than one or 2 of these idiots will come to a very ugly, stupid, and wholly unnecessary end. Because that is what they want. Question: Does anyone know if they had women at the front?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    I agree that they’re freeriders who are proclaiming an unworkable and conflicted strategy.

    However, you might want to crank the common law of easements into your thinking about some of the things that they’re doing and claiming.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  10. Scott says:

    I hope there is photographic evidence of law-breaking. This illegal activity needs to be halted and the thugs and vandals brought to justice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dave Schuler: Good point Dave. I may own my 13 acres but certain entities, both gov’t and utilities, have the right of trespass for certain purposes. Some people don’t seem to understand that and it can get ugly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    @DrDaveT: As it turns out Bundy’s family had not even been using it for generations, they didn’t even buy the ranch until 1948.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    BTW, I am opposed to using drones but I might make an exception in this case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  14. Ron Beasley says:

    @Dave Schuler: Not a good analogy Dave. When I still owned my house I had easements up the kazoo, The telephone company, the electric company, the gas company and of course the cable and broadband company that makes it possible for me to be posting here now. Our modern society could not exist without such easements. Not really the same thing as the anarchists like Bundy and his supporters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  15. CSK says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    And his parents came from Arizona to buy it.

    Has Mr. Bundy ever addressed the fact that the 699 (according to the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association) other ranchers in his state pay their grazing fees?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  16. dennis says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    However, you might want to crank the common law of easements into your thinking about some of the things that they’re doing and claiming.

    Dave, that’s perfectly understandable; however, the conservative mind cannot reconcile that with the behavior of today’s conservative cabal. How can conservatives scream and moan about privacy rights, property rights, and less government while infringing on the property rights of the U.S.?

    Sure, there is a commercial benefit to Bundy of grazing his cattle on public land that passes down to consumers of his product (if he is putting out a product on the market); at the same time, he, his supporters, and conservatives in general can not claim the high ground of defenders of personal and property rights while infringing on the property rights of the U.S. government, which is, actually, we the people of the U.S. That’s not even getting into the other personal rights infringement conservatives, through the GOP, engage in against the collective.

    That common right of easement has a bidirectional door of responsibility, and Bundy, specifically, and conservatives in general, are sticking their foot in the doorway to keep it swinging only in their favor.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  17. jomike says:

    Easement — presumably for a right-of-way in this case — is not applicable in the case of Recapture Canyon. The only access was a footpath until 2005 when local residents illegally constructed an ATV trail.

    In his Feb. 4, 2008, report, McAllister said that the illegal trail caused relatively severe damage to six sites that can never be fully repaired. In carrying out emergency restoration, the BLM already had spent $49,636.50. Total site damage was estimated at $309,539.75, with repair costs judged to be $90,734.27.

    The BLM had to act. The criminal investigation resumed. Volunteers had built the trail in 2005 by cutting trees, moving stones, installing rock cribbing and drainage pipes, and even building a wooden bridge.

    On Jan. 12, 2011, Assistant U.S. Attorney John W. Huber filed misdemeanor charges in U.S. District Court against Kenneth Brown, 67, and Dustin Lee Felstead, 38. Sentencing came 10 days later by federal Magistrate Samuel Alba with defendants receiving probation and a combined $35,000 fine.

    BLM subsequently closed the ATV trail, which didn’t sit well with the local folks, bringing us to today’s uncivil disobedience.

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  18. Tyrell says:

    So I can take a bike ride through Area 51. Should not be a problem, since the government says that it does not exist anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  19. anjin-san says:

    How can conservatives scream and moan about privacy rights, property rights, and less government while infringing on the property rights of the U.S.?

    It’s pretty simple if you have the world view of a not particularly bright 13 year old.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  20. CSK says:

    @Tyrell:

    1. The federal government says Area 51 doesn’t exist.

    2. Cliven Bundy says the federal government doesn’t exist.

    There’s a syllogism lurking within there, but damned if I can find it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  21. Grewgills says:

    @dennis:

    Sure, there is a commercial benefit to Bundy of grazing his cattle on public land that passes down to consumers of his product (if he is putting out a product on the market)

    Something tells me he is not selling his cattle or products for them at below the rate of other Nevada ranchers just because he isn’t paying grazing fees. The benefit is staying in Mr Bundy’s pocket where he feels it belongs.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  22. Tyrell says:

    @CSK: Ok, I’m on it and I will get back to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. Grewgills says:

    @Tyrell:
    The federal government doesn’t say that the place you call area 51 doesn’t exist. There are a fair number of government employees there at this very moment and some pretty tight security around it. What is at issue for some is what is in the buildings, not if they exist.
    I think given the size of the universe and how common we are finding planets potentially capable of hosting life are, that there is quite likely other life out there and at some points intelligent life, though maybe or maybe not at the same time as us. That said, the area 51 conspiracy guesses (I am loathe to call them theories even in the common sense) are pure nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. anjin-san says:

    There is a certain irony in finding out that “I want free stuff” is really one of the cornerstones of modern conservatism.

    Ironic, but not surprising.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 2

  25. Dave Schuler says:

    I can see that I need to expand on my earlier comment about easements. I suspect that the law of easements doesn’t apply to grazing rights but it might well on rights of passage. It’s possible that those claiming such rights might prevail in a court of law.

    However, that’s where they should be making their case—in a court of law. Not the way they are. That’s why I don’t have a great deal of sympathy with them.

    I would advise against considering all of the “protesters’” arguments as crazy. That’s excessive. It’s possible that some of them are right. It might well depend on applicable federal and state laws (in certain cases state laws do apply on federal lands) and I suspect that none of us are sufficiently familiar with applicable law that we can make an authoritative judgment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  26. @Dave Schuler:

    I suspect that the law of easements doesn’t apply to grazing rights but it might well on rights of passage. It’s possible that those claiming such rights might prevail in a court of law.

    However, that’s where they should be making their case—in a court of law. Not the way they are. That’s why I don’t have a great deal of sympathy with them.

    Agreed–but right of passage (which they are not being denied) is not the same thing as “passage by whatever means they want.” I have right of passage on a US highway, but not on a horse or skateboard. (Not the same as easement, but I think my point is clear).

    And yes: it would be nice if they would use legal means to pursue their claims (much of my frustration with them is that they are utterly ignoring the legal).

    I personally do not think that they are crazy, btw.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  27. neal says:

    Sometimes I need to pee, and some lands on the kings carrots. No legal grounds, just in the wind.
    I heard somewhere the law was given by the wind, seems sensible. One could dig down, filter the dirty parts, and see layers of what is called civilized behavior, there are cities and burnt parts.
    The talk shows up later. The thing itself gets blown about, no worries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. dennis says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I would advise against considering all of the “protesters’” arguments as crazy. That’s excessive. It’s possible that some of them are right.

    Right about what, for example, Dave? Even if they have a legitimate argument about Federal overreach, they are severely clouding up that message with their actions. I’m here to tell you, and I think everyone on this thread knows, they got REALLY lucky they didn’t get smoked for pointing guns at Federal officers. I’m serious. It was fortunate someone kept a cool head and deescalated the standoff.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  29. Tyrell says:

    @Grewgills: These are some interesting sites:
    http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-mag-april052009-backstory-story.html#page=1 – enough to send chills !
    http://science.howstuffworks.com/space/aliens-ufos/area-51.htm – a science report
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZGfL2-qOEc – entrances that lead underground – to what? And a building shaped like a pyramid! Why all the round buildings ?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueMQl2Pmass – what happens if you cross the line – by inches. This is scary – surrounded by secret police !

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  30. Grewgills says:

    @Tyrell:
    The government does all manner of secret weapons research that would easily account for the secrecy and everything else seen at that site. Conspiracy explanations about little green or grey men are not needed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  31. Ron Beasley says:

    @Grewgills: Agreed, Although there is probably plenty of weird shit going on at what we call area 51 I don’t really believe that we have ever been visited by aliens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  32. jomike says:

    @Steven L. Taylor

    Agreed–but right of passage (which they are not being denied) is not the same thing as “passage by whatever means they want.”

    …And yes: it would be nice if they would use legal means to pursue their claims (much of my frustration with them is that they are utterly ignoring the legal).

    ^This. Right-of-way isn’t automatic; there has to be a legitimate purpose. Further, BLM and the Park Service have broad authority to restrict or prohibit public access to sensitive areas such as Recapture Canyon in order to preserve ancient Native American dwellings and artifacts.

    And as you point out, any establishment of a right of way must be done through legal channels. If local residents and San Juan County officials believe their case for an ATV trail is stronger than the BLM’s case against it, let them litigate it. Perhaps they will prevail, but in the meantime they’re flouting the law, period. The county officials egging on this lawlessness should be ashamed of themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  33. DrDaveT says:

    @jomike:

    The county officials egging on this lawlessness should be ashamed of themselvesfired, fined, and possibly jailed.

    Fixed that for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  34. Mikey says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I would advise against considering all of the “protesters’” arguments as crazy. That’s excessive. It’s possible that some of them are right. It might well depend on applicable federal and state laws (in certain cases state laws do apply on federal lands) and I suspect that none of us are sufficiently familiar with applicable law that we can make an authoritative judgment.

    I’d wager a fair sum the people running their ATVs through Recapture Canyon aren’t, either. They’re not making any judgment based on applicable law, they’re being petulant four-year-olds who want their toys back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  35. Grewgills says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    That passage easement claim might have some validity if it were not for what @jomike: posted upthread

    The only access was a footpath until 2005 when local residents illegally constructed an ATV trail.

    They are still allowed to walk the path, which was all they could do until 2005. They are not allowed to ride their ATVs through. It is hard enough to try to construct a historical right to use ATVs through the canyon even absent the fact that they weren’t used there until 2005. An argument might be made for riding horses through, but that is not what is being done. This is pure bs from people who feel entitled to use this area for whatever purpose they want because… reasons. It is further undercut by the fact that it is almost certainly true that these same people are upset at other people’s perceived attitude of entitlement. It is the same childish refrain we seem to be hearing more and more; if it’s for me it is my RIGHT, but if it’s for someone I don’t identify with they are moochers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  36. Andy says:

    Steven,

    There is a lot more depth and complexity to this issue than is reflected in your post.

    The issue here is land use policy and the decades-long tension between preservationists and recreational users who try to influence BLM management policy. What’s happening in Recapture Canyon is not anything new and it is certainly not the first ATV “protest ride” to challenge BLM/Federal policy changes. The only reason this one is making the news and the beltway blogosphere is because of the Bundy fiasco, but the two incidents are only tangentially related.

    The issues here are different than Bundy, more complex and there are legitimate arguments on both sides. Everyone except a few zealots agree that Recapture Canyon is federal land managed by the BLM. This protest, therefore, has nothing to do with the Mexican war or who owns the land – it is about BLM land management policies, and those policies are certainly fair game for debates and even “illegal” protests.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  37. ernieyeball says:

    @Ron Beasley: @al-Ameda: It really is time to put and end to this anarchy even if there is the risk of a blood bath. Letting it continue will only encourage more crazies.

    Someone is channeling Gov. Ronald Reagan from the grave:

    A year after “Bloody Thursday”, Reagan responded to questions about campus protest movements saying, “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement.” (1970)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. ernieyeball says:

    @Tyrell: Not sure if you are actually claiming that Outer Space Aliens are being secreted by the US Government at Area 51 (or in your basement maybe? I hear Uncle Sam pays above market rate rental fees for special uses.)
    All I ask of anyone who does make such claims is bring me one, just one, and I will believe!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. An Interested Party says:

    No need for violence…all of these whining people who are so angry at the supposed federal usurpation of their state’s rights should immediately cease collecting benefits coming from the federal government, including Social Security checks, Medicare disbursements, and any other compensation/support they get from Uncle Sugar…then see how long their dedication to supposed state’s rights lasts…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  40. @Andy: Well, without a doubt any issue is more complicated than a given 600 word blog post.

    Still, the connection to the Bundy issue is pretty clear as it is wrapped up in this bizarre notion that the feds cannot own federal land. (And who have no right to even have national parks).

    Further, there are ways to dealing with these issues through legal channels, which is not what they were doing in this case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  41. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Still, the connection to the Bundy issue is pretty clear as it is wrapped up in this bizarre notion that the feds cannot own federal land. (And who have no right to even have national parks).

    Except this ATV issue has nothing to do with the bizarre notion that the feds cannot own federal land. As I said in my comment, the issue here (and this is an issue that goes back decades) is about management of federal lands, not their ownership. The ATV people want the BLM to either establish a right-of-way or return the area to an open access status as existed prior to 2008. They are not arguing that the land somehow belongs to them. Unlike Bundy, there is no contractual relationship – this instance is purely about public land use policy which affects not only the locals, but anyone else who wants to visit Recapture Canyon (or the many other sites where there are similar ongoing disputes).

    Further, there are ways to dealing with these issues through legal channels, which is not what they were doing in this case.

    Well that just tells me you haven’t researched the situation – this specific fight over ATV use goes back almost a decade and the BLM, after the closing the area seven years ago, has yet to decide what rights-of-way will be granted, if any.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  42. @Andy:

    Also addressing the rally was Bundy’s son Ryan, who counseled there is no such thing as federal land.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  43. @Andy:

    Well that just tells me you haven’t researched the situation

    I would be happy to entertain reading recommendations.

    I am still not sure, however, how this event was warranted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. @Andy: You said:

    As I said in my comment, the issue here (and this is an issue that goes back decades) is about management of federal lands, not their ownership.

    From the story:

    “This was a supervisor’s discretionary closure. It’s a county road. We claim it. Just because BLM owns the property, that doesn’t mean they own the right-of-way that exists.”

    Did you read the post?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. anjin-san says:

    @ Andy

    this instance is purely about public land use policy which affects not only the locals, but anyone else who wants to visit Recapture Canyon

    So, they simply want to dictate land use policy for public lands. I see.

    My vote is that ATVs be banned from ANY use on public lands. They are terribly hard on the environment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  46. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    The ATV people want the BLM to either establish a right-of-way or return the area to an open access status as existed prior to 2008.

    The way you phrased that makes it sound like ATVs had been permitted since time immemorial, until suddenly that harmless pleasure was yanked away from The People in 2008.

    Compare my phrasing: “The ATV people wanted the BLM to continue to not enforce the ban on ATVs that had always been in place, but had been de facto absent between the unauthorized construction of an ATV trail in 2005 and subsequent explicit bans in 2008.”

    There are certainly many places in the US where reasonable people can make good arguments that BLM is not managing federal lands either wisely or effectively. This is not one of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  47. Grewgills says:

    @Andy:
    The ATV issue is very much a part of the movement in the mountain West for more local control of federal lands. There is considerable antipathy to outsiders deciding what to do with “their” land. They want local control and local revenue from grazing rights, mineral rights, forestry, and recreational usage and they want it without any of its attendant costs.
    Anyone concerned at all with archaeological sites or sensitive habitats doesn’t want ATVs baha trucks or anything like them anywhere near those sites. Opening what was a hiking trail to ATVs fundamentally changes its character. That the ATV riders feel a sense of entitlement shouldn’t grant it to them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  48. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: That Bundy’s son and other “activists” came to show “support” doesn’t somehow make the issue one of ownership.

    I would be happy to entertain reading recommendations.

    This is a good overview from 2010.

    Here’s an update to that from April.

    And an update from today.

    Google will provide lots of pro and anti- ATV commentary if you want to look further.

    And, just to clarify, the closure is for motorized vehicles only – bicycles, hikers and horses still have access. And the closure didn’t just affect this one trail, but all the trails in this area.

    I am still not sure, however, how this event was warranted.

    I guess it depends. Personally, I don’t think riding ATV’s in the closed area was warranted, but I don’t have any issues with people legally protesting this or pretty much anything else. Then again, there is a long history in the US of “illegal” protests.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  49. Grewgills says:

    @Andy:
    This is

    Part of a broad backlash against federal land management across the West, the ATV protest has attracted out-of-state activists eager to denounce federal authority over public lands. Some came decked in military camouflage and sidearms slung on their thighs. Militiamen approached by The Tribune declined to be interviewed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  50. Andy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The way you phrased that makes it sound like ATVs had been permitted since time immemorial, until suddenly that harmless pleasure was yanked away from The People in 2008.

    Yes, that’s pretty much the way it happened. The BLM, until 2007, designated this area as “open access” which means that motorized vehicles could drive around freely – they weren’t even restricted to designated trails. That changed in 2007. Read the links I posted in response to Steven above if you want a short overview on the history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  51. Andy says:

    @Grewgills: That is what? The fact that there is conflict between locals and the feds over federal land use is hardly new. This issues involved with situation in Blanding are not out of the ordinary at all – the only difference is that it comes on the heals of the Bundy affair and the protest attracted the Bundy’s and their supporters. Oh, and the national media who sees a squirrel….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  52. @Andy:

    Personally, I don’t think riding ATV’s in the closed area was warranted, but I don’t have any issues with people legally protesting this or pretty much anything else

    So, ultimately, I am unsure of your position. If you agree they shouldn’t be riding the ATVs in the closed area, what’s your point?

    I agree that they should be allowed to protest. However, there are ways to protest that do not require riding the ATVs in this area.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  53. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: My point? Originally I responded to what I perceived as your mischaracterization of the situation. Now I’m just responding to comments.

    If you are unsure of my position on anything, all you have to do is ask and I’ll be happy to tell you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  54. Grewgills says:

    @Andy:
    After reading your recommendations I am even less disposed towards the ATV proponents. They have caused more damage than I had thought to the Hopi sites there as a result of allowing motorized use for even the short time that they did.

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  55. Andy says:

    @Grewgills: Technically, they aren’t Hopi sites, but I get your point, which highlights another problem: The BLM doesn’t have a ton of resources to catalog, to give one example, historic sites. For this particular area, the survey of prehistoric Pueblo sites didn’t happen until relatively recently. This is a Canyon that is right next to Blanding, yet much of its ancient history was unknown until just a few years ago. That’s not unusual for this part of the country.

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  56. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Dave Schuler: I think you will find that the Federal government doesn’t grant easements it grants rights of way which are a little different because they are revocable without notice.

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  57. dennis says:

    @Andy:

    As I said in my comment, the issue here (and this is an issue that goes back decades) is about management of federal lands, not their ownership.

    Andy, aren’t you comparing apples to apples? How can the owner of property not have the right to manage that property as it sees fit?

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  58. Buffalo Rude says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    However, you might want to crank the common law of easements into your thinking about some of the things that they’re doing and claiming.

    Perhaps, but mostly no. “Common law of easements” is a vagary regarding real property law anywhere outside of the 13 original states. Prescriptive easements, which is what we’re are kinda talking about here, have many tests to determine their validity; none of which are winning issues for the anti-BLM/Federal gub’mint crowd in this instance.

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  59. ernieyeball says:

    @dennis: How can the owner of property not have the right to manage that property as it sees fit?

    Private property owners in different jurisdictions can be subject to zoning laws that restrict use.
    Can property owned by a government be exempt from regulations that apply to private property owners? I suspect so. There are likely many examples where this occurs. I just can not think of any right now.

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  60. Buffalo Rude says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I can see that I need to expand on my earlier comment about easements. I suspect that the law of easements doesn’t apply to grazing rights but it might well on rights of passage. It’s possible that those claiming such rights might prevail in a court of law.

    However, that’s where they should be making their case—in a court of law. Not the way they are. That’s why I don’t have a great deal of sympathy with them.

    I would advise against considering all of the “protesters’” arguments as crazy. That’s excessive. It’s possible that some of them are right. It might well depend on applicable federal and state laws (in certain cases state laws do apply on federal lands) and I suspect that none of us are sufficiently familiar with applicable law that we can make an authoritative judgment.

    In other words: You’d like to have your conformation-bias (?) validated, but whatevs if actual legislative law and judicial precedent says otherwise. Don’t call them “crazy” even though their arguments have no legal merit. Got it.

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  61. Andy says:

    @dennis: The “owner” of the property is the Federal Government aka, the American people. The BLM doesn’t own the land, it manages the land. It cannot manage the property “as it sees fit” like a private owner since it is subject to a variety of mandates and restrictions imposed by law and regulation. For example, one of the BLM’s mandates is “multi-use.” They can’t simply tell ATV’s (or anyone else) to sod off.

    One of the issues with Recapture Canyon is that it was closed via an “emergency” administrative action. Such actions are supposed to be temporary pending a normal review process. One of the complaints that spawned this protest (and a similar one a couple of years ago) is that this temporary, emergency closure is now in its eighth year and the BLM still hasn’t made a decision.

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  62. @Andy: Just to be clear: I was not claiming that this is the first time that there has been a dispute over ATV use/over federal land use in the area, nor am I claiming that this event is solely a result of the Bundy Ranch confrontation.

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  63. @Andy: Thanks for the links. However, I would say that they reinforce the basic thesis of my post, so I am not sure where the alleged mischaracterization comes in.

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  64. KM says:

    @Andy:

    The “owner” of the property is the Federal Government aka, the American people. The BLM doesn’t own the land, it manages the land. It cannot manage the property “as it sees fit” like a private owner since it is subject to a variety of mandates and restrictions imposed by law and regulation. For example, one of the BLM’s mandates is “multi-use.” They can’t simply tell ATV’s (or anyone else) to sod off.

    Um, yes it can. “Multi-use” =/= “do whatever the F I feel like cuz ‘Murrica!”. The American People are millions strong and thus need a representative to stand for them since nobody’s going to participate in constant voting over crap like this. Since the BLM is a government agency, BLM = Federal Government = We the People via your own statement and logic. The BLM is just the particular facet dealing with this. People other the ATVers have a say and it should be respected – something they clearly don’t care about when they say We the People (Just Us). The BLM is doing its job, whether they like it or not.

    One of the complaints that spawned this protest (and a similar one a couple of years ago) is that this temporary, emergency closure is now in its eighth year and the BLM still hasn’t made a decision.

    The ATV trail is illegal – it is a hiking trail. People on foot versus motorized vehicles. I don’t know if you’ve ever been hiking and had one of the those god-awful things run you off the trail but the two are NOT synonymous. These ATVers are actively stealing the trail from everyone else since you cannot safely share the space at all times. They don’t belong there and are whining because they haven’t gotten the decision they wanted. BLM made their decision – answer is NO.

    No pity for those who flout the law – Conservatives are tough on crime, remember?

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  65. mantis says:

    @Andy:

    For example, one of the BLM’s mandates is “multi-use.” They can’t simply tell ATV’s (or anyone else) to sod off.

    Citation needed.

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  66. dennis says:

    @Andy:

    I understand your point Andy; however, it is without dispute that the lands are public, owned by the U.S. and managed by its properly appointed agents (BLM, USFW, USFS, etc.).

    When I worked the field in Imperial County, CA, I came across a lot of ancient Indian camp sites with broken and whole pottery, old arrowheads, and the like. BLM is tasked with protecting these areas from being wasted by ATV traffic. People can still hike in and see these artifacts, enjoy and marvel at the history. But they are closed off to ATVs riding through and disturbing and destroying these areas that WE ALL can enjoy. That’s proper, legitimate and legal management.

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  67. anjin-san says:

    They can’t simply tell ATV’s (or anyone else) to sod off.

    Please present evidence that the decision to ban ATV’s was arbitrary and without cause.

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  68. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    Yes, that’s pretty much the way it happened. The BLM, until 2007, designated this area as “open access” which means that motorized vehicles could drive around freely – they weren’t even restricted to designated trails.

    I read the 2010 article you linked to. It makes it pretty clear that BLM never had any reason to restrict motorized access because motorized access was not possible until vandals built a road into the site. Once that had happened, BLM both officially closed the area to motorized traffic and began criminal investigations into the vandalism. I cannot find any coherent way to interpret those events as “ATVs had been permitted since time immemorial”.

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  69. Jim Henley says:

    @DrDaveT: The other problem Andy’s passing lightly over with anodyne references to “illegal protests” is that the form of the illegal protest simply is the damage the rule is attempting to prevent. The BLM ruling is “No ATVs to forestall damage to prehistoric sites.” By riding their ATVs “in protest” the vandals aren’t just registering their dissatisfaction; they are causing the harm at issue.

    It would be like my “protesting” a historical landmark designation by demolishing the building.

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  70. @Jim Henley: Exactly. If they wanted a legal protest., how about a march through the canyon with signs?

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  71. Heisenberg says:

    “The BLM doesn’t own the land, it manages the land. It cannot manage the property “as it sees fit” like a private owner since it is subject to a variety of mandates and restrictions imposed by law and regulation. For example, one of the BLM’s mandates is “multi-use.” They can’t simply tell ATV’s (or anyone else) to sod off.”

    Similarly, the Department of Transportation doesn’t own highways, it just manages them. So if I want to drive my tank against the common flow of traffic, they can’t simply tell me to sod off!

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  72. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If they wanted a legal protest., how about a march through the canyon with signs?

    BINGO. Nothing like “doing what we love to do in our leisure time” as an act of civil disobedience. I mean that takes slacktivism to an entirely new level.

    As pointed out before, civil disobedience historically is not particularly “fun” for the people engaging in it (see hunger strikes, self immolation, getting tear gassed, heads cracked and being arrested, or having dogs/fire hoses turned on you).

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  73. jomike says:

    Welp, they made their brave stand: http://bit.ly/1oITLf9

    Ryan Bundy, Cliven’s son, made the drive from the family’s southern Nevada ranch to lend Lyman his moral support, and rev up the crowd in the process.

    Depite (County Commissioner Doug) Lyman’s urging to ride where it was legal to do so, Ryan Bundy rode in a prohibited portion of the land. He said staying where it was legal to ride defeated the purpose of the protest.

    “Doing that accomplishes nothing,” he said. “It basically shows cowardice to the federal government, toward the Bureau of Land Management. If we’re here to make a stand, then for heaven’s sake, let’s make a stand.”

    Cade Lewis also participated in the ride Saturday and opted to go onto illegal land.

    “That’s what we’re here for, is to do the hard things and stand up and do what’s right — and tell the federal government we’ve had enough,” Lewis said.

    Yeah, the hard things, like when the Founding Fathers freed the slaves at Gettysburg! FREEDUMB!

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  74. Jim Henley says:

    @jomike:

    Yeah, the hard things, like when the Founding Fathers freed the slaves at Gettysburg!

    There’s a peculiar sickness – I think of it as American but I doubt it strictly is – that takes particular pity in the travails of those who inflict suffering. Jack Bauer as portrayed on 24 is the classic case: he’s almost like a Christ figure! Except he’s the guy who scourges other people’s wounds with vinegar.

    In Portugal in 1975, unarmed civilians walked up to the armed soldiers of a dictatorship and put flowers in the barrels of their guns. That takes a lot more guts than brandishing weapons at BLM agents whom you already know are tasked with keeping a lid on the tension level. It takes a lot more guts than getting strapped and going for a joyride over a designated hiking trail.

    These people are vainglorious cowards.

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  75. al-Ameda says:

    @Andy:

    The BLM doesn’t own the land, it manages the land. It cannot manage the property “as it sees fit” like a private owner since it is subject to a variety of mandates and restrictions imposed by law and regulation. For example, one of the BLM’s mandates is “multi-use.” They can’t simply tell ATV’s (or anyone else) to sod off.

    Really? Then what prevents someone from utilizing a multi-use vehicle such as a tank to traverse the pathways, trails, and access roads on these federal lands, particularly in the wilderness areas near national parks?

    Are you saying that federal land management regulations must specifically identify those ATVs that are (or are not) allowed to deface wilderness areas owned by the American people?

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  76. Grewgills says:

    @Andy:

    Technically, they aren’t Hopi sites, but I get your point

    They are ancestral sites of the Hopi, Dineh and others. The Hopi and Dineh nations have formally urged their protection.

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  77. grumpy realist says:

    @Dave Schuler: Yes and no. The easement has to be recorded on land transfer titles to be respected. Plus the individuals have to practice the easement in order for it to continue.

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  78. Grewgills says:

    @Jim Henley:
    More like vandalizing that monument, but yes.

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  79. John D'Geek says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And, further, if the federal government had not secured that land and engaged in policies to populate it, there would be not Utah.

    I mostly agree with your post, but I hafta nit here: The land currently known as Utah would be populated with or without the Federal Government. See “Mormon Migration”.

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  80. @John D’Geek: Sure, there would be people living there. There would not, however, be a state of Utah as we understand the term.

    Without the Mexican-American War maybe it would still be part of Mexico. Maybe it would be part of some other, alternate universe republic. Who knows?

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  81. anjin-san says:

    The land currently known as Utah would be populated with or without the Federal Government. See “Mormon Migration

    Sure, let’s play that game. Without the protection of the US government, Utah might have been conquered by some outside power, and some very unpleasant things might have happened to settlers. Things that would make ATVs a moot point.

    A lot of blood and national treasure has been shed to keep our soil safe and secure. Personally, I feel some loyalty is owed to the good old USA for that. I love California, I think it is the greatest place on earth. That being said, my loyalty is to America, not California.

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  82. Andy says:

    Ok, a lot of comments while I was at work, a few responses:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    However, I would say that they reinforce the basic thesis of my post,

    It seems to me the bulk of your post was about claiming territory. You gave the example of a group of Mexicans or Indians coming up to “lay claim” to the land. The last third of the post is another lesson on how the land was acquired and the concepts behind government land ownership. While all that is interesting in its own right, it does not have anything to do with the dispute here which has nothing to do with land ownership or the right of the federal government to manage its property. The post gave the impression that this is another Bundy case, where a group of ignorant locals make dissonant claims on land they don’t own. Judging from the comments to the post, it seems I’m not the only one who interpreted the post that way.

    @mantis:

    Citation needed.

    Multi-use is written into federal law and begins with the 1976 FLPMA which created the BLM. “Recreation” is one specific use. Other US law (title 43) further defines that and there is a section on motorized vehicles.

    @dennis:

    I understand your point Andy; however, it is without dispute that the lands are public, owned by the U.S. and managed by its properly appointed agents (BLM, USFW, USFS, etc.).

    Well, yes, that’s what I’ve been saying all along.

    @anjin-san:

    Please present evidence that the decision to ban ATV’s was arbitrary and without cause.

    I never said it was arbitrary and without cause.

    @DrDaveT:

    I read the 2010 article you linked to. It makes it pretty clear that BLM never had any reason to restrict motorized access because motorized access was not possible until vandals built a road into the site.

    Not sure where you are getting that. First, the restricted area covers more than just the canyon. Second, BLM doesn’t use the difficulty of reaching an area as a criteria for determining what category of access it should receive.

    @Jim Henley:

    The other problem Andy’s passing lightly over with anodyne references to “illegal protests” is that the form of the illegal protest simply is the damage the rule is attempting to prevent.

    Anodyne? That’s a complement here at OTB….

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Exactly. If they wanted a legal protest., how about a march through the canyon with signs?

    Funny you should mention that, there were dueling protest hikes there three years ago.

    @al-Ameda:

    Really? Then what prevents someone from utilizing a multi-use vehicle such as a tank to traverse the pathways, trails, and access roads on these federal lands, particularly in the wilderness areas near national parks?

    Because federal law defines what is legally an ATV.

    Are you saying that federal land management regulations must specifically identify those ATVs that are (or are not) allowed to deface wilderness areas owned by the American people?

    No, that’s not how it works.

    Ok, a quick primer and explanation of the current situation is in order:

    There are three categories for ATV access – open, limited and closed. These are regulatory categories written into the law. Open means you can drive anywhere, but there are still various restrictions (one is protecting ancient ruins). Limited generally means use is restricted to identified trails or areas (this is the most common category for ATV use). Closed means ATV access is completely restricted.

    Changing the category of access or altering the details requires a bureaucratic process that includes a public comment period and, typically, various studies before the BLM can make a determination. The exception is that areas may be close for temporary “emergency” reasons which are generally only supposed to last 2 years until the complete process can determine the final status for an area.

    In 2007, Recpature Canyon area was closed for emergency reasons – specifically the threat to archaeological sites caused by the illegal trail improvement. However, it wasn’t just the trail that was restricted – other areas were also in the closure area which extended to the private land on either side of the canyon. As a result of the closure, San Juan Country applied for a right-of-way under title V of the FLPMA immediately after the closure.

    Seven years later it is still under a “temporary” closure due to various delays I won’t belabor here. The county title V application has gone nowhere and the BLM has not determined the final status of the area (ie. if it will return to open access, change to limited access, or closed access).

    The protest “ride” was specifically to protest the BLM delays both in processing the right-of-way application as well as determining the final status.

    Now, people can disagree as to what can or should happen with the canyon (I would personally prefer to see the right of way denied and the canyon designated a limited access area), but seven years and counting is a long time. It’s not unreasonable for people to be frustrated with the delays and it’s not fair or accurate to portray their concerns as Bundy-like anti-government zealotry.

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  83. Andy says:

    Figured that would happen, I have a comment in moderation.

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  84. mantis says:

    @Andy:

    From what you describe it sounds like some people have a legitimate grievance against a perhaps unduly slow-moving bureaucracy, though I’d be interested to learn the reasons behind the delays. Too bad it was hijacked by the folks who are fighting not the gears of bureaucracy, but the very existence of government. There are a lot of those these days. That’s who Steven is addressing, I believe.

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  85. @Andy:

    it’s not fair or accurate to portray their concerns as Bundy-like anti-government zealotry.

    Except, of course, where the event featured actual Bundy-like anti-government zealotry, partially served up by one of the Bundys.

    Minor detail that, yes?

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  86. (I would be willing to wager that the review is slow because the BLM is understaffed–but, of course, increasing its staff would cost money, and an increase in the size of government. On a related note, I heard a story this morning the BLM is unable to attend to its inspection of oil pipelines and such because of insufficient staffing).

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  87. anjin-san says:

    @ Andy

    I never said it was arbitrary and without cause.

    Words mean things, here are some of yours:

    They can’t simply tell ATV’s (or anyone else) to sod off.

    You can look it up -

    Sod Off
    Screw off, get lost, go away, shut up, stop bothering/talking to me

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Sod%20Off

    So are you a garden variety conservative commentator? You know, make crap up, get called on it, walk it back – lather, rinse, repeat.

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  88. Grewgills says:

    @anjin-san:

    So are you a garden variety conservative commentator? You know, make crap up, get called on it, walk it back – lather, rinse, repeat.

    He has been substantive in his comments, provided links, and has been reasonable. We disagree on some fine points. Fleshing those out is the point of the comments section. Singling out a colloquialism as a rebuttal and tacking on ad hominem doesn’t add much to the conversation.

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  89. Matt Bernius says:

    @Grewgills:

    Seconded. While I don’t agree with @Andy here, he’s always been courteous in our interactions and brings grounded arguments. And I always welcome his participation.

    Seriously folks, you cannot, in one breath say “I want more thoughtful conservatives leaning folks to post here,” and in the next moment, go into full-on picky attack mode when one of them does.

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  90. Andy says:

    @mantis: I agree. Some the delay is legitimate (ie. it took time to catalog the area ruins – something that hadn’t been done before. Some is because the federal bureaucracy is the way it is (ie. sloooow). Some is because of various legal challenges by interested parties (always a factor in these disputes).

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yes, it is a minor detail. The Bundy’s can certainly generate page views for news organizations and blogs, but they are an immaterial side show in this particular case and focusing on them does little but obscure actual issues. But YMMV.

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yes, the BLM is probably understaffed and under funded. The entire interior department is. Sadly, few Americans really care about land management except for the National Parks. Judging from this comment thread, few understand the basics of federal land management.

    @anjin-san:

    So are you a garden variety conservative commentator? You know, make crap up, get called on it, walk it back – lather, rinse, repeat.

    You misinterpreted my comment. Let me explain it to you:

    My comment was a reply to Dennis, who asked, referring to government ownership:

    ” Andy, aren’t you comparing apples to apples? How can the owner of property not have the right to manage that property as it sees fit?”

    My reply, in part: The BLM…

    …cannot manage the property “as it sees fit” like a private owner since it is subject to a variety of mandates and restrictions imposed by law and regulation. For example, one of the BLM’s mandates is “multi-use.” They can’t simply tell ATV’s (or anyone else) to sod off.

    It’s pretty clear I was talking about BLM management in general and not referring to this specific instance – especially since I put the “anyone else” in there as well. As I pointed out, Multi-use is law. ATV and many other uses is legal. Thus, BLM cannot simply decide to ban ATV’s without justification. Some people in this thread seem to believe that the government can act arbitrarily and they are wrong – the BLM can’t tell ATV’s to “Sod off” because the BLM is legally required to pursue its multi-use mandate.

    In short I was quite obviously not talking about the BLM actions in this specific case which I said were “emergency” actions. So your accusation that I said the ban was “arbitrary and without cause” is completely without merit and is contrary to everything I’ve written in this thread.

    As for the portion of your latest comment I quoted, I won’t bother to defend myself from douchy accusations about “making shit up” and your irrelevant belief that I’m a “conservative commenter” deserves no response.

    Stick a fork in it, I think this thread is done.

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  91. Matt Bernius says:

    And that, is how you substantively respond to critique — with grace and without playing “I have to win and show how smart I am and how dumb all of you are.”

    Thanks, as always, @Andy for your contributions to OTB.

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  92. Grewgills says:

    @Andy:
    It was entirely predictable what would happen on this protest ride. Setting loose dozens of idiots, even if dozens of rational people with a legitimate grievance ride with them is stupid and likely damaged a priceless historical site. If you don’t want your movement (and I’m not saying it is yours) tarred by idiots and vandals, don’t set them loose to be idiots and vandalize sh!t.
    I understand what you are getting at, that there is a legitimate underlying issue that has taken too long to be addressed, but that doesn’t excuse their behavior or the behavior they facilitated. They also lose sympathy points because judging from their representatives they supporting cutting government. like BLM, so it is their preferred policy that is biting them in the a$$.

    Second, BLM doesn’t use the difficulty of reaching an area as a criteria for determining what category of access it should receive.

    Surely you can see that given the inaccessibility of the canyon, the BLM didn’t feel it necessary to carve out a distinction there. The people that came in and built the illegal road through several historical sites, banking the turns for fast riding brought this about. Their feeling of entitlement and complete disregard for the historical sites and the law brought this about. They are the ones that the locals who used the land responsibly should be angry with, of course they are not. The vandals destroying native people’s history are the ones they are treating as heroes and the people acting on behalf of the Hopi and the Dineh are the villains. It’s cowboys and indians all over again and I think we know how that usually turns out. Let’s hope the script is different this time.

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  93. Andy says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    While I don’t agree with @Andy here, he’s always been courteous in our interactions and brings grounded arguments. And I always welcome his participation.

    Well, thanks to you and Gregwills – I appreciate those two comments a lot.

    I’m curious about where we disagree. In this thread I’ve been a little careful to not make my own view plain, preferring to try to explain how the system works instead.

    FWIW, I’m actually in the anti-ATV crowd. I’ve spent a good portion of my life hiking and backpacking in the four-corners area and I don’t particularly like sharing trails with ATVs or, especially, horses. However, I also realize that everyone isn’t like me and I’m not one to try to dictate my views onto others. ATV riders deserve their space and deserve to advocate for their chosen form of recreation. That’s what makes the BLM multi-use policy so great- they are obligated to consider and provide for everyone’s interests, not just mine.

    In this particular case, as I think I mentioned, I think the BLM should deny the county right-of-way request and put forward a plan for limited ATV access in the Recapture area that limits ATV’s to designated trails that don’t impact the cultural history. And they should move quickly because this case has gone on too long.

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  94. Matt Bernius says:

    @Andy:

    I’m curious about where we disagree.

    From everything I’ve seen, the ATV folks never had a case. And further, they undertook, IMHO a deplorable act of supposed “civil disobedience” that amounted to “we’re going to party and do further damage to the site while the authorities do absolutely nothing.”

    Under those circumstances, I have a really hard time with any pro-defense being mounted — even as an intellectual exercise.

    I’m sure there are over-reaches by BLM. But none of the facts suggest that this particular instance is a case of one.

    TL:DR – @Grewgills, as usual, put it better (see above).

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  95. Andy says:

    @Grewgills: Well, I pretty much agree with most of that. I think those who rode in the closed areas made a mistake and hurt their cause. I don’t think there will be any legal action taken against them because such action is historically pretty rare for “protests.”

    I’ve also dealt a lot with the locals – living there, they obviously have a different perspective. With Anasazi and Pueblo ruins all over the place, they don’t think messing up a couple of sites out of thousands is a big deal. Note I’m not agreeing with them, just relaying their POV.

    There are some bad characters too. In 2009 there was a huge bust of people for looting and selling artifacts – about a dozen people from Blanding and many others from Bluff and other area communities. That’s a pretty sore subject locally, one I wouldn’t bring up while visiting. Sadly, a couple of those who were arrested and accused ended up killing themselves which caused a lot of anger and resentment.

    Anyway, all inside baseball stuff. I’m off to bed.

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  96. Grewgills says:

    @Andy:

    I’m curious about where we disagree.

    I don’t disagree with you on points of substance, just over the amount of sympathy due to the protest riders and their supporters.

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  97. Grewgills says:

    @Andy:
    That has been pretty much my experience with a lot of rural folk in the Southwest and Mountain West. That it’s not their history makes it easier to be dismissive of its importance. Can you imagine the reaction if Dineh or Utes decided to ATV through the local veterans cemetery?
    On an individual level I have found them hospitable and kind, but talking politics is generally energetic at best. In that respect it isn’t unlike visiting family in the Southeast.

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  98. anjin-san says:

    @ Andy

    I do a lot of writing in my work, I will just say that I don’t think you are being as clear as you think you are. Keep in mind that a lot of people are multitasking as they read and comment, and that different people will read the exact same thing and have a different takeaway (one of the reason we have focus groups)

    Saying

    They can’t simply tell ATV’s (or anyone else) to sod off.

    strikes me as a bogus tactic. It implies that the BLM is simply telling people to go f**k themselves when they feel like it. “Sod off” is a buzzword, designed to paint a picture. Using it at least raises the suspicion that you are trying to mischaracterize the BLMs actions.

    As I pointed out, Multi-use is law. ATV and many other uses is legal. Thus, BLM cannot simply decide to ban ATV’s without justification.

    Multi-use may be the law, but it does not necessarily follow that that means every possible use is allowed in every circumstance. And, as it has been pointed out, there are ample reasons to block ATV use in this area – ” without justification” seems like another mischaracterization of what has taken place. Is their any evidence that the BLM has overreached here? The BLM is a large organization, I have no doubt that they sometimes overreach, but we are talking about a specific case here.

    You are being thoughtful here, even if I disagree with some of your comments and tactics, so I apologize if I have been unfair.

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  99. anjin-san says:

    A few notes on the BLM’s mandate:

    The BLM’s Mission is: ‘To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.’

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureau_of_Land_Management

    ATVs are terribly damaging to the land and to the enjoyment of said land by both current and future generations. Seen in this light, any argument that the BLM’s barring ATV use is “arbitrary” seems tenuous at best. In fact, such a ban seems consistent with their mission, which is, after all, regulating the use of these public lands.

    In managing for multiple use, the BLM does not need to accommodate every use on every parcel of land.

    http://rlch.org/content/federal-land-policy-and-management-act

    I am not seeing how, by any stretch of the imagination, that “multi-use mandate” means that an agency charged with protecting public lands both today and for the future means that they are required to let a subset of the public run highly destructive ATVs on the land. It’s pretty much a nonsense argument.

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  100. anjin-san says:

    ATV riders deserve their space

    On public lands? Given the nature of ATV’s, that is highly debatable. I spend some time with race car drivers. They (or a sponsor/fans) pays for track time so that they can race & practice. Getting racing into a private, controlled environment was a big driver behind the development of race tracks as we know them now.

    Given the damage to the environment that ATVs do, I see no reason why the public should have to underwrite their hobby. You want to ride an ATV? Fine. Get together with some like minded folks, buy some land, and have at it. As a taxpayer, I don’t want to pay for cleaning up your mess.

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  101. @Andy:

    I’m curious about where we disagree.

    For my part, the disagreement was based in the notion that my post was a mischaracterization of the story. I still don’t see how that is the case (the only thing I can think of is that I picked the wrong photo to go along with content, as it is true that Cliven Bundy was not involved–I will plead a bit a laziness in that regard, but was never intending to suggest that he was personally part of the story).

    Also, you seem more sympathetic to these particular protesters than seems warranted (although I acknowledge that you are not, ultimately in the pro-ATV camp).

    I appreciate the broader perspective on the situation, but was never intending on suggesting that this was the first time there was a conflict over ATVs on public land.

    My main point was that I saw the events in questions to be illegal, even while the protesters themselves were claiming otherwise (hence the title of the post).

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  102. Jim Henley says:

    @Andy:

    I’ve also dealt a lot with the locals – living there, they obviously have a different perspective. With Anasazi and Pueblo ruins all over the place, they don’t think messing up a couple of sites out of thousands is a big deal. Note I’m not agreeing with them, just relaying their POV.

    Andy: The “locals” include descendants of the Anasazi and Pueblo, plus refugees* who feel strong cultural kinship with them because of the political history. When you’ve used the term “locals” in this thread, it has not included those people. Why? They count.

    *By “refugees” I mean to recognize that the course of western settlement and its concomitant ethnic cleansing means there are probably tribal communities in the area who don’t descend directly from the Anasazi and Pueblo, were once perhaps even antagonists of the Anasazi and Pueblo. (Or were pushed there from parts East in the 19th Century.) But because of the course of western settlement and its concomitant ethnic cleansing they, today, feel solidarity with the Anasazi and Pueblo regardless.

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  103. KM says:

    @Andy:

    ATV riders deserve their space and deserve to advocate for their chosen form of recreation.

    I must disagree that they deserve anything. Perhaps a poor choice of words but it really captures the essence of this: someone feels entitled to do something just because they’re them and is whining when people point out they have no inherent right to do that. I fence and am quite passionate about it – what happens if I feel I should be able to break out my epee and have a match whenever and wherever I please? Where’s my deserved advocate for wiring up some public land nearby, setting up a salle d’arms out in the open for free and holding duels on the courthouse lawn? Why is no one stepping up to protect my historic right to challenge someone to a swordfight as my chosen form of recreation wherever I damn well please? My Academy deserves public space just as much as ATVs do – after all, I’m a taxpayer and that’s my land too!

    These people have nothing. No right, no authority, no facts, no historical basis for their claim. They just want and consequences be damned. This is what the Entitlement Generation looks like, Conservative Style. The Ugly American stereotype, EagleLander Type II.
    They deserve nothing but decided to take it anyways.

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  104. jomike says:

    @anjin-san:

    Multi-use may be the law, but it does not necessarily follow that that means every possible use is allowed in every circumstance.

    Many people seem to interpret the phrase “multiple use mandate” to mean access is to be permitted by default, and any limitations or restrictions must have specific statutory or regulatory justification. But that’s not what it means at all. Here is how “multiple use” is defined by the relevant statute, The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976:

    (c) The term “multiple use” means the manage­ment of the public lands and their various resource values so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people; making the most judicious use of the land for some or all of these resources or related services over areas large enough to provide sufficient latitude for periodic adjustments in use to conform to changing needs and conditions; the use of some land for less than all of the resources; a combination of balanced and diverse resource uses that takes into account the long-term needs of future generations for renewable and non-renewable resources, including, but not limited to, recreation, range, timber, minerals, watershed, wildlife and fish, and natural scenic, scientific and historical values; and harmonious and coordinated management of the various resources without per­manent impairment of the productivity of the land and the quality of the environment with considera­tion being given to the relative values of the resources and not necessarily to the combination of uses that will give the greatest economic return or the greatest unit output.

    Bold added. Balance, restraint, “judicious use,” “harmonious and coordinated” — Congress clearly intended BLM to exercise considerable discretion in the administration of public lands, and the courts generally have upheld that. Apologies for the lengthy quote, but I thought it necessary since it goes to the heart of this discussion and the dispute out in Utah.

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  105. Jim Henley says:

    @Andy:

    The protest “ride” was specifically to protest the BLM delays both in processing the right-of-way application as well as determining the final status.

    Andy, is it your belief that if the BLM ends the delay by issuing a final, permanent ruling against ATV use that the protesters will say, “Ah! Finally got that straightened out! Time to get on with our lives.” and accept the ruling? No more protests? No more armed rides? And if you do believe this, what is your basis for that?

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  106. Jim Henley says:

    As far as “multi-use,” keep in mind that the specific trail in question was not even suitable for ATVs until the scofflaws illegally tore it up and remade it. If I build a hovercraft/houseboat combo and want to float it along the trail, but I have to dynamite a few defiles to make room for my vessel, this is cool, mang?

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  107. jomike says:

    @Jim Henley:

    If I build a hovercraft/houseboat combo and want to float it along the trail, but I have to dynamite a few defiles to make room for my vessel, this is cool, mang?

    No need for dynamite. Me and the homies in the Recreational Bulldozer Club got it covered.

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  108. Jim Henley says:

    @jomike: I like explosions.

    (Are explosions covered under “multi-use”?)

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