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Utah Ranchers Vow to Stand Up to Government Abuse Despite Oregon Arrests

Sam Levin
The Guardian

On 23 January, a group of Utah ranchers gathered in Cedar City and made a pledge: they signed notices of “withdrawal of consent” to be governed – a statement rejecting the authority of the federal agencies that regulate grazing and charge fees to have livestock use public lands.

The ranchers were following in the footsteps of Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, who at the time was a leader of a land-use protest at an Oregon wildlife refuge and who had publicly refused to pay for grazing rights.

Then on 26 January, state troopers in Oregon shot and killed Finicum during an attempted arrest, and two weeks after that, federal authorities detained and charged Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who led an armed standoff at his property in 2014.

Utah-Rancher
Utah rancher Todd Macfarlane at public hearing in February (Image Source: Salt Lake City Tribune)

The aggressive prosecution of the unofficial leaders of the land-use rights movement in the west appeared to be the government’s way of sending a clear message that authorities would not tolerate these types of protests.

But in remote desert ranges of Utah, ranchers say they remain committed to finding a way to stand up to what they see as federal overreach and mistreatment – even if the most vocal activists leading the charge are now dead or behind bars.

There are a number of factors that make Utah a key battleground in the brewing fight, with some questioning whether tensions could boil over and erupt in the form of another high-profile standoff and national controversy.

Some in rural parts of central and southern Utah tell stories of extreme overreach by the government, alleging that the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and environmental advocacy groups have used endangered species regulations and conservation initiatives to prevent families from sustaining ranches passed down through generations…

Continue this story at The Guardian

READ MORE OREGON STANDOFF NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Oregon Standoff Files