Correction: Nevada Ranchers-Grazing Dispute story

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2015 8:28 PM

BATTLE MOUNTAIN, Nev. (AP) — In a story June 5 about federal drought-restrictions on livestock grazing in Nevada, The Associated Press reported erroneously the amount of privately-owned land in the North Buffalo allotment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, approximately 45 percent of the grazing allotment is privately owned, not a majority of the land.

A corrected version of the story is below:

US won't enforce Nevada grazing restrictions in new dispute

US won't enforce drought grazing restrictions in Nevada; avoiding confrontation with ranchers

BATTLE MOUNTAIN, Nev. (AP) — Federal land managers say they won't immediately enforce drought-related grazing restrictions in northern Nevada so as to avoid confrontation with ranchers openly defying the order.

Conservationists say it's another example of the government caving in to scofflaw ranchers like Cliven Bundy, who continues to graze his cattle illegally in southern Nevada after the Bureau of Land Management backed down from an armed standoff last year.

Ranchers Dan and Eddyann Filippini have been notified they are violating the closure ordered in 2013 in an area covering more than 150 square miles near Battle Mountain about 200 miles northeast of Reno, Bureau of Land Management spokesman Rudy Evenson said Thursday.

But he said BLM acting-state director John Ruhs told them the agency won't try to stop them while they continue negotiating a compromise. "We're not going to come out there and have a big confrontation," Evenson told the Elko Daily Free Press (http://tinyurl.com/pgr27ju).

The Filippinis announced earlier this week on their Facebook page, "Stand with Battle Mountain," that they intended to turn cattle out on the 100,000-acre North Buffalo allotment with a checkerboard ownership pattern, where approximately 45 percent of the land belongs to the ranchers and 55 percent is publicly owned, according to the BLM. There are no fences to keep the animals off U.S. land where grazing currently is prohibited.

"Rancher takes a stand!" they wrote. "Since May, 2013 our cattle have been trucked to alternative pastures because of the allotment closures by the Battle Mountain BLM. They have been eating hay since September 2014. The cattle are tapped out."

Elko County Commissioners Demar Dahl and Rex Steninger, and former state Assemblyman John Carpenter, offered their support in releasing the first bunch of cattle on Tuesday.

"It's not a resource issue because there's plenty of grass," Carpenter said. "There's all kinds of grass there."

Ken Cole, Idaho director for the Western Watersheds Project, said the Bureau of Land Management's action is unbelievable but not surprising given that Bundy's cows "are still trashing desert tortoise habitat over a year after armed militias defied government closures."

Hundreds of armed supporters joined Bundy in April 2013 to stop a roundup of his cattle near Bunkerville about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The Bureau of Land Management says he owes more than $1 million in grazing fees over more than 20 years. Bundy argues the federal government has no authority there.

The bureau backed off, and Bundy and his supporters declared victory. But agency officials say they still are pursuing an administrative and legal resolution of the dispute.

"The BLM is enabling this kind of behavior by coddling Nevada ranchers who are surely emboldened by the lack of law enforcement within the agency and the lack of a commitment on behalf of our government to protect the public trust," Cole said. "The lands, waters and wildlife that are already suffering from the drought and will now be further abused by these private cows."