Regulation without representation is tyranny,” said Nevada’s poet lariat Waddie Mitchell in a recent column published in the Elko Daily Free Press.
He was referring to the absolute dictatorial powers federal land managers at the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service exercise when determining how the land can be used, which in Nevada amounts to about 87 percent of all the land.
Mitchell also was tipping his cowboy hat to James Otis, a colonial Massachusetts lawyer who is credited with coining the phrase: “Taxation without representation is tyranny.”
The irony is that the colonists were opposing taxation imposed on them by a Parliament in which they had no representation. It was a matter of principle. The taxes themselves were fairly small. For example, the tea that was dumped into Boston Harbor, even with tax, was cheaper than what the colonists had been paying. But paying the tax would have been tacit acknowledgement that Parliament had the right to impose taxation without representation.
On the other hand, the regulations being imposed by the managers of the BLM and the Forest Service place the livelihoods of ranchers across the West in dire jeopardy. Cattle are being ordered off rangeland that private range management experts say is capable of supporting grazing, and, in fact, should be grazed to reduce the fuel for wildfires.
Speaking of taxation, where do you think the money comes from to fund federal land “management”?
The BLM is such a good steward of the land that it budgeted $6 million to confiscate Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle because he allegedly owed fees and fines amounting to $1 million.
A study prepared for the Nevada Public Land Management Task Force, a committee created by the state Legislature to look into whether the state should take control of some federal land and how to do so, found that the BLM spends 91 cents an acre on the public land it controls in Nevada. That’s $31.1 million a year on average over the past five years.
The analysis by Intertech Services estimated Nevada could earn nearly $30 an acre. If the state took control of just 4 million of the BLM’s 48 million acres, the state could net $114 million.
In addition, the ranchers who might graze any of that land would be represented by their state lawmakers and local county commissioners, who they helped elect.
The 2015 Legislature is expected to pass a resolution asking Congress to allow the state to assume control over some of what is now federally controlled land.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives was expected to once again pass a package of seven bills this week that would affect the use of nearly 100,000 acres of Nevada land. Several of the bills would allow local communities to purchase federal land at fair market price for economic development.
For example, the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act would allow the town of Yerington to buy 12,500 acres of federal land adjacent to the Pumpkin Hollow copper mine for an industrial park. It is estimated the project could create 800 to 1,000 permanent jobs and about 500 jobs during the construction phase.
That bill, at Sen. Harry Reid’s insistence, also would designate 48,000 acres of wilderness to be called the Wovoka Wilderness Area, a proposal the local residents had previously rejected. How’s that for representation?
Speaking of representation, Congressman Mark Amodei, who represents the northern portion of rural Nevada, said that after passage of the land bills, “I will sit by my phone waiting for the call from Senators Reid and (Dean) Heller inviting me to the White House to see the president sign this consensus and long overdue Nevada legislation.”
We pray he doesn’t have to wait long. — TM