Author: Thomas Mitchell

Ranchers need to strike while the iron is hot

“But do not be angry, my lord, that I make merry in this way; very often I have heard a truth told in jest.” — Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, 1390 AUSTIN — In late April in an old Methodist Church, ranchers and public officials huddled to discuss what could be done to counter the ever tightening restrictions on grazing on federal public lands. “I just want to have a little bit of fun real quick, as I sit here in this building and look at everybody,” Dave Stix Jr., chairman of the state Department of Agriculture, commented, “I just want...

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Eureka rancher may be next on BLM’s arbitrary list

While Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy was grabbing national headlines with an armed confrontation with agents from the Bureau of Land Management, dozens of other ranchers across Nevada have been quietly wrestling with decisions by BLM agents that are jeopardizing their very livelihoods. The BLM has been demanding reductions in the number of cattle allowed to graze on public range land, often using rationale that seem arbitrary, capricious and arguably without sound scientific support. Eureka area rancher Kevin Borba, for example, said he called the Ely and Battle Mountain offices of the BLM to make sure what his allotments would...

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Bundy cattle roundup halted, but debate rages on

Officials of the Bureau of Land Management insist Bunkerville cattle rancher Cliven Bundy “owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million” in unpaid grazing fees for the past two decades. That was why they closed off 600,000 acres of federal public land and started confiscating Bundy’s cattle. But when armed protesters showed up this past weekend, the Director of the BLM Neil Kornze — a former aide to Sen. Harry Reid and a former Elko resident who was named to head up the agency this past week — abruptly called a halt to the roundup. “Based on information...

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Officials confident fracking won’t contaminate lands

Recently the Nevada Division of Minerals held a series of public hearings across the state to obtain comments on its new rules regulating hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, used in oil and natural gas wells. At the hearings Division of Minerals Administrator Rich Perry explained how Nevada’s 20-page revised rules will require groundwater testing before and after drilling, pressure testing of equipment, notifications to landowners before fracking begins and abiding by strict engineering standards. Public comments ranged from the rationally cautious to the histrionic. “We trusted the Bureau of Land Management to protect and preserve our public land so...

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Euthanasia needs to be an option for wild horses

Our government masters too often seem downright schizophrenic. Take the raging debates over what to do about two species — sage grouse and wild horses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hell bent to list the chicken-sized bird under the Endangered Species Act because they fear the population could become extinct. Such a listing would hurt farmers, ranchers, miners, recreation and oil and gas exploration on public and private land. Yet, the birds are legally hunted in Nevada and other states. One study estimates there are 535,000 sage grouse ranging across 11 Western states, yet between 2001 and...

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