Cliven Bundy was invited to come to Paradise, Montana, to speak about his problems with the federal government. According to Bundy, he is being persecuted for not paying for use of public lands.

He does not recognize powers of the federal government stating that he has no contract with the federal government. “My 15-second defense is I only graze my cattle on Clark County, Nevada land and I have no contract with the federal government,” he said. “I haven’t had a contract with the federal government in 25 years.”

This fellow thinks that public land is state land. This thinking is in line with those who want to turn public land over to the states. By his own admission, Cliven Bundy has been stealing public land use for 25 years.

Let us be clear about federal lands. They do not belong to the government. They belong to the public. The “public” is you and me. The government, in the Bundy case, is the Bureau of Land Management that is charged with taking care of that land for the public. Again, “public” is you and me. The problem is that Bundy claims that the BLM does not have the right to charge him for use of public lands to run his cattle on. This inane argument is very hard to believe.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Bundy still owes us more than $1 million for grazing his cattle on BLM land. Anyone who grazes his cattle on private land will have to pay grazing fees to the landowner. So why does Cliven Bundy think that he can stiff you and me for use of our land? Because we have let him get away with it.

This is the same philosophy that fueled the Sagebrush Rebellion during the ‘70s and ‘80s and is currently fueling the effort, by the greedy, to transfer public lands to the states. They know Montana cannot afford to own those lands: Montana would have to sell those lands, and the vultures will be waiting.

Harold Johns