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BLM Investigating Ryan Bundy For Gold Butte Irrigation Violations

 On Wednesday, Jennifer Yachnin, for Greenwire, reported that The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is investigating if Nevada rancher Ryan Bundy illegally built a new irrigation infrastructure in the Gold Butte National Monument area.

Jennifer Yachin

According to Yachnin, “A group of local hikers visiting the 300,000-acre monument in southeastern Nevada in mid-April reported the incident to BLM.” She adds that two individuals familiar with the situation told here that the BLM is investigating the incident. Bundy, Yachnin reported, in an email to E&E News, said he said he was unaware of BLM’s inquiry into his irrigation efforts.

Yachnin reported that Cliven Bundy previously held permits to graze cattle in an area known as the Bunkerville Allotment but rejected a new permit in 1993 when the government insisted on new restrictions related to efforts to protect the desert tortoise

Nonetheless, on October 23, 1997, Keith Nay (deceased) and Cliven Bundy filed nine applications for spring water on Virgin River Basin 222 and Gold Butte basin 223 for stock watering. That month, the State Water Engineer granted Bundy those rights as “unadjudicated” but “vested.”

That means his claims of ancestral irrigation rights was never investigated but nonetheless accepted by the State Water Engineer as “factual”.

A review of the Nevada Water Engineers Hydrographic Abstract database for Gold Butte areas Basins 222 and 223 shows that while 184 Acre Feet Annually (AFA) flows in and out of the springs, Cliven Bundy’s use rate (Duty) is zero.  Ryan Bundy is not listed as a holder of any water permits or certificates in either basin in the state database.

The recent BLM complaint suggests that Ryan Bundy is likely using the system for additional cattle watering troughs in the area and will increase the number of livestock that the Bundy clan illegally grazes in the region.

“Our conclusion truly is that we are dismayed that this problem continues in this protected area and is likely to get worse if no action is taken,” the complaint says.

In 1994, BLM revoked Cliven Bundy, Ryan’s father, grazing rights, which eventually led to a confrontation with the BLM and numerous court battles that continue to this day.

In 2014 The BLM confronted Cliven Bundy in a bungled attempt to seize and auction his cattle to settle outstanding fines. The effort resulted in an armed standoff, followed by numerous arrests, and court actions. While several individuals were charged and convicted, the Bundy’s father Cliven and sons Ryan and Ammon walked.

The Justice Department appealed the dismissal of the cases against the Bundy’s. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in that case on May 29 in San Francisco.

The appellate court denied a request from Cliven Bundy last month to alter its description of the case on the court’s website, arguing that it displays a bias against Bundy and his co-defendants.

In the meantime, Ammon Bundy is threatening police in Idaho as part of far-right anti-pandemic protests.

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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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