THE BUNDY STANDOFF—A
CENTURY OF ABUSE
Michael S. Coffman, Ph.D
June 3, 2014
Part III—The Massive Attack on Western Prior Property Rights
|Key Legislation Affecting Land Ownership West of the Rocky Mountains|
|Forest Reserve and General Revision Acts of 1891. Gave the president the unconstitutional power of creating vast federal reservations of forest and range land to be managed by the federal government. It also revoked all preemption laws passed and established earlier in the century that allowed homesteaders to keep the land and water rights they had historically used. (See Part I) This turned the federal government into an unconstitutional landlord.|
|Organic Act of 1897. Formally called the Sundry Civil Approp¬riations Act of 1897. Established administration and protection guidelines for management requirements of federal lands, including the use of grazing permits and fees. Author¬ized the Dept. of Interior the authority for rule-making and regulation of Reserves. Authorized the General Land Office to hire employ¬ees and open the forest reserves for public use.|
|Transfer Act of 1905. Created the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) within the Dept. of Agriculture.|
|Weeks Act of 1911. Also called the Organic Act. Allowed the U.S. Forest Service to purchase and create new National Forests in Eastern States.|
|Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. Enlarged the acreage of a Homestead to 320 acres because 160 acres proved too little for the arid West. The two homestead acts were instrumental in settling the land between the Rockies and Mississippi River.|
|Stock-Raising Homestead Act of 1916. Increased the acreage to 640 acres to encourage more ranching home-steads west of the Rockies. Not extensively used because 640 acres was still not enough to economically raise livestock.|
|Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. Allowed the creation of the Division of Grazing and the U.S. Grazing Service within the General Land Office. In 1946 the. Bureau of Land Manage¬ment (BLM) was created out of the Grazing Service and placed under the Dept. of Interior. The creation of the USFS and BLM established the structure for the tyrannical feudal/manorial forms of governance.|
|Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Forest Management Act, both in 1976. Created under heavy pressure from environmentalists, these altruistic environmental laws changed the relationship between the federal agencies and landowners/minors to one of much greater conflict. FLPMA also codified federal claim to public lands.|
|Sustainable Communities, Early to Mid-1990s. Not a law passed by Congress, but a radical shift in U.S. policy to adapt environmental regulations and management to the “eco-spiritual sustainable” policies of the UN’s Agenda 21. This shift is devastating resource users and communities who depend on federal land to survive in the West.|
At the direction of a powerful group of progressive northeastern financiers and industrialists, called the northern core, Congress deliberately scrapped the Equal Footing Doctrine embedded in the Northwest Ordinance and the U.S. Constitution.
AS THE ABUNDANT WEALTH IN WESTERN territories became known, powerful forces attempted to manipulate the federal government so they would have total control over the West’s resources. These industrialists and financiers were known as the northern core. The northern core was aided in their efforts by the tumultuous pre and post-Civil War and the very fluid politics and events surrounding it.
The chaotic mid-1800s spawnedtremendous discord in Western policy as the tension between the North and South built.Turbulent allegiances were created. California’s Mother Lode country was populated mostly by Southerners aligned with the South against the North pre-Civil War. Because of this, the North allowed California to become a state in 1850 to bring it under the North’s control. The North also used statehood to wrestCalifornia from increasing control by the Mormons for their newly self-proclaimed State of Deseret in 1849, a portion of which reached all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Congress turned down the Mormon’s request for statehood in 1850 when it allowed California statehood.
The North also didn’t want the Mormons to control Nevada’s Comstock Lode either, so it systematically cut them off from Western Nevada.Congress simultaneously declared the Territory of Utah in 1850 when it turned down the Mormon’s request for its self-proclaimed State of Deseret. Things were so unstable and the federal government so desperate to control its silver, that Nevada was allowed statehood in 1864 – even though it didn’t have the requisite population of 60 thousand people. The decade’s long crisis allowed the federal government to maintain control over the public lands and set the example by which the remaining Western territories would be admitted as states after 1864.
Taking advantage of the tremendous disarray and discord, the northern core manipulated the federal government into not ceding the land to the states upon statehood, as required by the Northwest Ordinance and U.S. Constitution, and to weaken the property rights guaranteed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Preemption Act of 1941 to the ranchers. That attack on the West continues today. Although it had been brewing for several years, the opening salvo was the Forest Reserve and General Revision Acts of 1891.
The Forest Reserve and General Revision Acts of 1891
The pesky constitutional limitation established in the Equal Footing Doctrine did not stop Congress from totally ignoring it when passingthe Forest Reserve and General Revision Acts in 1891. It was made possible only with tremendous pressure from progressive northeastern industrialists and socialists and their stooges in Congress. They used the granting of statehood toCalifornia and Nevada during the turbulent years of the Civil War as precedent. Desperate to control the vast gold and silver wealth for the North, the public lands were never ceded to the two states (see Part I).
In addition to violating very specific limitations in the Constitution, the Forest Reserve and General Revision Acts also trumped the Equal Footing Doctrine and effectively sacked the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. Many scholars and attorneys believe that to be unconstitutional. The Equal Footing Doctrine, discussed in Part I, effectively requires new states to enter the Union having the same rights as former states – which in this case meant no federal land without the consent of the new state legislature.
|The federal government actually used federal troops to enforce their decrees over the state government in the forest reserves. Those in charge of the reserves also asserted the doctrine of sovereign immunity. They were seemingly untouchable.|
The Forest Reserve Act gave the president vast powers to “set apart and reserve, in any state or territory having public land bearing forest, …as public reservations.” Lack of Congressional funding delayed implementation of the Forest Reserve and General Revision Acts until the Organic Act of 1897 was passed.
Although the new states strenuously objected to it, none challenged the constitutionality of the law. They couldn’t if the territory wanted to become a state, they could not demand Equal Footing or insist on the U.S. Constitutional requirements for the federal government to transfer the rights to the public land to the state. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s extortion and blackmail If any citizen or business tried to do the same thing. Apparently, in the progressive ideology, that is not only correct, but is as it should be; government sovereignty over the states and citizens. That realization should rock every American to the core.
Greed and Corruption
It is not generally known that the real reason the two acts were passed, and it borders on the bizarre. After an exhaustive study of how these blatantly unconstitutional Acts were passed, Wayne Hage, who was a dogged researcher and victim of the BLM and USFS himself, found a clear paper trail in the National Achieves back to the “northern core.” The core was made up of very powerful Northeastern progressive financiers and industrialists who wanted to control the West for its minerals, hydro power, and other natural resources. Controlling water was the key. Water was, and still is, gold. There was never enough of it. Says Hage:
“If northeastern industrialists and financiers controlled the water needed for the development of western mines, their control of the output of the mines would increase. The processing of trees into salable lumber from the western forests also depended largely on water. Stockmen needed water to raise livestock. If control of water on the forest reserves could be obtained, the stockmens’ preemptive rights could be eliminated.”
His meticulously referenced book Storm Over Rangeland has become an important legal reference book used in many court cases. Although the Forest Service and BLM had been harassing Hage for years, immediately after the book’s publication, the two agencies launched a blistering retaliation on his Nevada ranch and is discussed in Part V.
Hage’s sleuthing of original documents in the National Achieves found that the northern core and the American Forestry Association provided enormous pressure and funding to get the Forest Reserve Act passed. Once the U.S. Forest Service was created with the 1905 Transfer Act, it too worked on the inside for the same goals. The 1891 Forest Reserve Act allegedly gave the federal government legal sovereignty over forest reserves as federal enclosures; federal property exempt from state laws. The federal government actually used federal troops to enforce their decrees over the state government in the forest reserves. Those in charge of the reserves also asserted the doctrine of sovereign immunity. They were seemingly untouchable.
The most astonishing thing, however, was that they used Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution to justify their actions – the very constitutional language that actually forbids them from doing what they did! As repeatedly stated in this series of articles, this language severely limits the type of land the federal government can actually own to “federal highways, the District of Columbia,” and “only with the consent of the state legislature of “Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, Dock-Yards, and other needful buildings.” Forest reserves fit none of these categories of ownership and no state gave its approval in any way. This was the raw power of the northern core. Bundy and others are still suffering what these greedy industrialists started over a hundred years ago.
“Wresting control of the water from the states was a primary objective of national forest administrators,” according to the original documents Hage’s found. “If the federal government had legal sovereignty over forest reserves as federal enclosures, western water law would be gutted.” Suddenly, it becomes clear why the 1891 Forest Reserve Act created forest reserves that encompassed all the water and minerals in question.By doing so, “The total subjection of the West would be complete,” observed Hage.
Because of the socialist oriented education of most people less than fifty years of age, there is the common understanding that the U.S. Constitution is outdated, written for an agrarian society. It is not. It’s as valid and important to our freedoms today as it was when it was penned. It was specifically designed to chain down and lock government power so the government could never become more powerful than the people. Although that purpose has been trashed by case law and unconstitutional legislation today, that primary purpose was still in place in 1907. The northern core was about to crash headlong into that reality.
Wayne Hage. Storm Over Rangeland. (Merrill Press, Bellevue,
WA, 1989). P. 49.
2. Ibid, P. 49-51.
3. Wayne Hage. Storm Over Rangeland. (Merrill Press, Bellevue, WA, 1989). Pp 167-168.
4. Ibid, P. 167
6. Wayne Hage. Storm Over Rangeland. (Merrill Press, Bellevue, WA, 1989).P 168.
© 2014 Michael Coffman - All Rights Reserved