I've been meaning to write something about the bullshit going on in Oregon, and I guess now is as good a time as any. You see, I got my start in federal service not too far from where the standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge is taking place. I worked at the BLM office in the district just to the east of Burns. It was while working there that I got an "appreciation" of grazing on federal lands. I'm a complete and total lover of America's public lands. They belong to ALL of us. The calls to end the concept of public lands is simply a way to take what should belong to all Americans and put it in the hands of a few wealthy land owners (or corporations). There ARE ways to take possession of public lands. If you discover a mineral deposit, you can develop it into a mine and apply for a patent. If there are proven mineral resources, you have the option of buying the land. The thing is, ANYONE, can go through this process. When it comes to grazing, however, this is not the case. Not just anyone can apply for a grazing permit. You have to own lands nearby to do that. So you could conceivably own just 10 acres, but have access to thousands of acres around you where you could graze. And the cost to graze is, and has been, an absolute joke. I'm not sure what the current rate is, but I'm pretty sure it's still under $3 per cow and calf. The rancher who gets the lease essentially treats that land as his. Several years ago there was a controversy because banks were making loans to ranchers based on total number of acres grazed, not number of acres owned. They were essentially using public lands as their collateral.
So all I'm saying is that when it comes to vocal yahoos complaining about too much government regulation on public lands or how they're "stealing" the land from Americans, just realize that you're listening to a bunch of butt-hurt rednecks who are mad because they can't do exactly what they want. They want to do what they want, when they want. They like that old spirit of the west where you did what you had to do to stay alive. Sorry, boys. That might have worked 150 years ago. Not so much now. One of my sayings is that the difference between a Wise Use Movement person and a member of Earth First! is that the wise-user wants to set the clock back 100 years while the Earth Firster wants to set the clock back 1000 years.