Just how much land does BLM claim to own, anyway?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Bureau of Land Management, public property, federal government

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(NaturalNews) A number of questions have emerged surrounding the federal government's recent stand-off with a Nevada rancher whose family has run cattle on the same stretch of land since the late 1800s, including the motivation behind the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) decision to now, after decades, try to force 67-year-old Cliven Bundy off his ranch and just how much land the federal government "manages" in the first place.

For the former question, we need look no further than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but first, a little background, as reported by talk show hostess Dana Loesch.

She notes that the BLM asserted its power to intervene and boot Bundy off his land over a desire to protect the supposedly endangered desert tortoise, "a tortoise so 'endangered' that their population can no longer be contained by the refuge constructed for them so the government is closing it and euthanizing over a thousand tortoises." The fact is, the tortoise -- which has been used by the BLM to run all but a lone rancher out of southern Nevada, is doing quite well. The real threat to it is not Bundy's cattle, but urbanization of the Gold Butte, Clark County region.

Reid's connections

The fact is, the BLM doesn't care about the tortoise; it wants Bundy's land. Enter Reid, per Loesch:

The tortoise wasn't of concern when Harry Reid worked BLM to literally change the boundaries of the tortoise's habitat to accommodate the development of his top donor, Harvey Whittemore. Whittemore was convicted of illegal campaign contributions to Senator Reid. Reid's former senior adviser is now the head of BLM. Reid is accused of using the new BLM chief as a puppet to control Nevada land (already over 84% of which is owned by the federal government) and pay back special interests. BLM has proven that they've a situational concern for the desert tortoise as they've had no problem waiving their rules concerning wind or solar power development. Clearly these developments have vastly affected a tortoise habitat more than a century-old, quasi-homesteading grazing area. If only Clive Bundy were a big Reid donor. [emphasis added]

It should be noted that Bundy owns the water and forage rights to the land that the BLM was attempting to boot him from.

There's more.

The China Syndrome

In April 2012, Bloomberg News reported that Reid was in cahoots with a Chinese billionaire who wanted to build a huge solar plant in the very same region of the state where Cliven Bundy just happened to run his cattle.

Bloomberg reported that Wang Yusuo, one of China's richest men and CEO of ENN Group, teamed up with Reid to build a $5 billion solar panel plant:

Company founder Wang Yusuo, one of China's richest men, has joined with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to win incentives including land 113 miles (182 kilometers) southeast of Las Vegas that ENN is buying for $4.5 million, or less than one-eighth of the $38.6 million assessors say it is worth. The project has produced legal work for Reid's son, Rory, a lawyer at a Las Vegas firm that gave the Nevada Democrat more than $40,000 in the past three election cycles.

The plant is just one component of rising investment in the United States by China. Chinese investment in the U.S. jumped to 66 deals worth $4.5 billion in 2011, up from just 11 deals worth $146 million in 2003, according to the Rhodium Group, a New York-based firm that researches trade with China.

The federal government - the nation's largest real estate holder

As previously mentioned, an astounding 84 percent of Nevada land is owned by the federal government and is in turn "managed" by the BLM, among other agencies.

And as this graphic demonstrates, the federal government owns pretty much all of the Western United States, with notable swaths of California, Montana and Washington State still in private hands.

The dividing corridor appears to stretch from Texas and Oklahoma due north to North Dakota.

According to a 2012 study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the federal government owns nearly one-third (28 percent) of all lands in the U.S.; that's 635-645 million of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the country.

Responsibility for most of these lands (609 million acres) is spread out primarily over four federal agencies: the Forest Service (USFS) in the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), all in the Department of the Interior (DOI).

According to the CRS, one of BLM's "management" functions is to facilitate grazing of cattle, but also "energy development":

The BLM manages 248 million acres and is responsible for 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources. The BLM has a multiple-use, sustained-yield mandate that supports a variety of uses and programs, including energy development, recreation, grazing, wild horses and burros, and conservation.


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