How far will those crazy Tea Partiers go to bring back the fictitious past glory days of America they’re still living in? Over 2,800 miles, apparently.
Say hello to Bundy Ranch 2.0. The Elko Daily Free Press reports the Grass March Cowboy Express plans a coast-to-coast ride on horseback to protest “federal government overreach” and recent grazing land closures in Elko County, Nevada. The riders plan to depart from Point Reyes, California — an area known for its extensive ranches– on or around September 26, and ride all the way to Washington, D.C. to deliver their petitions, while gathering signatures all along the way.
When all-American “folk hero” Cliven Bundy offended America with his toxic racist comments, his Koch-funded backers dropped him like a hot potato. But it didn’t take them long to find a replacement in the equally folksy Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber.
Grass March Cowboy Express: Git them feds off my lawn!
The Grass March Cowboy Express website, of course, sounds downright Bundy-esque, and declares in ALL CAPS:
THE RIDER WILL BE CARRYING PETITIONS DEMANDING THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TAKE ITS HEAVY HAND OFF THE PEOPLE OF THE WEST!
Gerber told reporters he expects his cross country horseback ride to take around 20 days and plans to pick up riders along the way. The Grass March Cowboy Express web site quotes Gerber explaining that — based on their march on Nevada’s state capitol back in May — this March is totally feasible.
“I know we can do it. After the experience we had with the Grass March and Cowboy Express going from Elko to Carson City in May, we could leave next week and make it to Washington in approximately twenty days. That shakedown ride was over 10 percent of the distance to Washington.”
In an interview with Mike Adams on Agritalk Radio, Gerber explained that he and Grass March Cowboy Express Events Coordinator Katie Jones hope to convince their fellow Tea Partiers in Congress to protect them from mean old Obummer and his administration:
“We’re going to the Capitol, or as close as we can, because the only hope we have — because these federal agents, they’re working under the Obama administration — and the only hope we have is for Congress to take away their funds or pass legislation so they can’t keep doing this to ranching, mining, timber, oil and gas, hunters, and others. And so, we’re going with the hope that we’ll catch their attention, and the attention of people in the nation, to realize the great injustice that’s being done.”
That’s right. Gerber and his band of cowboys want Congress to defund the U.S. Bureau of Land Management or at least defang them. To protect mining and timber interests! Oh yeah, and ranchers and hunters, too.
There’s just one little problem with that line of reasoning: Drought.
Here’s the audio from Mike Adams’ interview with the Grass march Cowboy Express organizers Katie Jones and Grant Gerber on Agritalk Radio.
It’s all about the water.
What Gerber and his friends at Grass March Cowboy Express doesn’t realize is: The feds didn’t revoke grazing rights on U.S. government lands from six Elko County families to attack their wholesome ranching lifestyle or starve them into surrendering their guns. They did it because there isn’t enough water! Unfortunately, Nevada, California, and other western states have dry climates and often have droughts — as is happening now. And no, you can’t just go and dig a well. Here in the West (this writer lives in California), when we don’t get enough rain, snow, and meltwater from ice packs in the mountains, our water tables get depleted too.
From the local to state levels, water issues dominate politics out West in ways folks back East and up North don’t understand. For example, this writer once lived in a small rural community where discussing septic systems, sewage, and water run-off in lurid detail at the Annual BBQ and Crab Feed — while everyone’s eating — was perfectly appropriate and socially acceptable.
The Bureau of Land Management’s page on grazing in Nevada explains that it seeks to keep the rangeland healthy, and that the main challenges it faces in this region are drought and the spread of grass-killing invasive species.
Public land grazing is managed to achieve the fundamentals of rangeland health as indicated by soil and site stability, hydrologic function and biotic integrity.
Furthermore, drought and environmental disruptions can cause mass starvation for both wildlife and cattle, as explained in an environmental assessment (EA) for Nevada’s Alpine, El Dorado, Inyo, and Mono counties.
Emergency situations include, but are not limited to: wild horse, burro, wildlife and livestock starvation; water deprivation and death; major soil erosion events; rangeland degradation; and livestock starvation due to lack of forage, etc. The purpose of the EA is to analyze alternatives that would allow for the rapid response to drought situations on public lands in order to alleviate the impacts of authorized uses and activities on natural resources that are at risk of being adversely affected by drought conditions.
Water conflicts in Elko County go way back. In 1995 High Country News reported on the “Sage Brush Rebellion” in Elko County’s Ruby Valley:
Like so many Western wars, this one broke out over water. Kelley Spring is an unremarkable trickle of water that emerges from the dry mountainside above the Duval ranch at the north end of Ruby Valley. Don Duval installed a pipe to carry water from the spring on the Humboldt National Forest to a nearby private pasture, in 1992. Duval believed he had a right to the spring water. He still believes it.
When an environmental group pressured the local forest service to enforce standards and restrict grazing, all hell broke loose:
Elko County’s economy really runs on tourism and gambling, mining, services, retail stores and government offices, not on ranching. But Elko, the county seat, still fancies itself the last cowtown in America: A tourism brochure promises you’ll find “the Old West as it was meant to be.” And listening to elected officials, one might think the county was ready to form a militia to protect its cowboys.
As the article also aptly points out, the prevailing ethic here in the western United States — even in blue states like California — is self-reliance, individualism, and “don’t tell a man what to do with his land.”
But in an age with higher populations and with wide-ranging and complex interwoven webs connecting disparate communities across the nation, how is the individualistic vision of the Old West even possible.
… And it’s also all about the Koch Brothers’ land grab for the oil, gas, and timber industries
One can sympathize with ranching families who feel their traditions, way of life, and vision of themselves are being threatened. The problem is that the Koch Brothers-funded right-wing organizations that backed the Tea Party, promoted Cliven Bundy, and which may be funding the Grass March Cowboy Express movement don’t have these people’s interests and well-being at heart.
John Prager from AATTP reports that the Koch Brothers and Big Energy have a huge interest in getting people like Cliven Bundy’s militia and Grant Gerber’s Grass March Cowboy Express to protest “federal government overreach” on public lands, because they want to get their greedy paws on that land for themselves.
Americans for Prosperity Nevada and AFP Colorado [Koch-funded conservative groups] have been cheerleading the terrorists’ actions. On the AFP subsidiaries’ Facebook pages, both posted graphics supporting the armed opposition to the attempt to deal with the situation.
Politicus USA further explains that these protests are all part of the Koch Brothers plans to seize public land for fracking, mining, and Lord knows what other nefarious purposes.
The Koch brothers’ paid ALEC to create several pieces of “model legislation” for Republican states to “demand that Congress extinguish title and government jurisdiction over public lands that are held in trust by the US federal government” such as ALEC’s “Eminent Domain Authority for Federal Lands Act.” In 2012 Utah’s Mormon governor, Bundy and ALEC supporter Gary Herbert signed “The Transfer of Public Lands Act” mandating the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management relinquish their domain to Utah Republicans no later than 2015 or the conservative Supreme Court will do it for them. It is important to remember that Cliven Bundy’s primary assertion was that the federal government had no right, or claim, to public land it had purchased from Mexico and why the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity and Republicans fell over themselves to support Bundy’s claim of “government overreach.”
According to Media Matters, Fox News’ fawning coverage of Bundy’s band of white, right-wing, gun-toting terrorists definitely had a lot to do with all those huge ad buys from the Koch Brothers and affiliated groups.
Fox News Network and Sean Hannity have a particular interest in the promotion and realization of such Koch interests because their funding depends on it — Hannity receives major funding and large ad buys from Koch-affiliated Heritage and Tea Party Patriots.
Hannity’s Koch-affiliated funders have a long history of promoting the privatization of public lands and condemning the federal ownership of land. Tea Party groups have supported local efforts to transfer federal lands. Heritage has advocated shrinking the U.S. government’s control by selling its physical assets such as “huge swaths of land (especially out west).” Heritage was also a loyal promoter of the Federal Land Freedom Act of 2013, advocating for the transfer of federal land management to state regulators for energy resource development.
Slate also makes an explicit connection between Bundy’s (and now the Grass March Cowboy Express’s) protests against “federal government overreach” and the Koch brothers’ shady interests:
Bundy’s anti-federal agenda is closely aligned with that of Charles and David Koch, major Republican donors who have been pushing for states to gain control over federal lands – so they can be sold or leased to people like the Koch brothers in deals that are even cushier than the one granted to Georgia-Pacific [a big timber company].
If these ranchers hate it when the feds bar them from grazing their cattle to preserve these lands for them in the future, imagine how they’ll feel when the Koch Brothers bar them from cattle so they can extract energy, destroy the land, and turn Nevada into a toxic, post-apocalyptic Hell.
Here’s a video with footage the Grass March Cowboy Express’s march on Carson City, Nevada’s state capitol, via The Review Journal.