The standoff between a Nevada rancher and the federal government has put public lands issues in the national spotlight. But Utah’s governor says it’s not the kind of attention that helps to solve problems.
Federal officers stopped their roundup of Clive Bundy’s cattle earlier this month to prevent a violent confrontation with Bundy’s armed supporters.
In the days since, Bundy has made a number of public statements on various issues, including telling a reporter from the New York Times that black Americans might have been better off under slavery. Governor Gary Herbert says the attention Bundy’s getting doesn’t help a rational debate over how to manage public lands.
“Clive Bundy should not be the face of the public land issues in Utah," Herbert told reporters at his monthly news conference on KUED. "I don’t know, I’ve heard about the racist comments, which I think are based in ignorance and are certainly despicable and offensive, if they in fact are true. But let’s not have him become the face of the challenge we have with the management of public lands.”
Herbert says his administration has a good relationship with B-L-M executives in Utah and in Washington. He said that’s the reason they listened when Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox went to Nevada to ask them not to auction Bundy’s seized cattle in Utah.
Herbert told reporters, "You can’t use us as a relief valve, and that’s what they’re trying to do, take it out of Nevada, move it in a more remote area away from the conflict with the Bundys. And that doesn’t solve the problem.”
Herbert says the state could do a better job of managing some resources if it had the opportunity, and he cited the expanding population of wild horses as an example. The BLM has now agreed to reduce the number of mustangs on public rangeland after the Iron County Commission linked that issue to the confrontation with Bundy on the other side of the state line.
Filmmaker Jennilyn Merten hears from members of Bundy's Volunteer Army in a video available on KUER's Video West.