What is the meaning of this article and why is the information it contains important to us?
How much land does the federal government control in the western United States?
What is the federal government doing to this country?
Does the West have a long history of land disputes? Who are the armed demonstrators in Oregon?
What do protesters want?
Federal land ownership in the western United States has been a source of conflict for decades. On Saturday, about 20 armed demonstrators took over the headquarters of the National Wildlife Refuge in rural eastern Oregon, demanding the return of state land to local ranchers and loggers.
The federal government manages these lands to balance environmental protection and conservation with permitted use. In response, ranchers, private landowners, and some local and state governments are campaigning for greater control over land use. In some cases, this has led to loud protests, such as the one that broke out on Saturday.
This reserve in eastern Oregon was established in 1908 by Theodore and his President Roosevelt to protect waterfowl such as ducks and crested ibises, many of which have become extinct due to the feather trade. According to the Audubon Society of Portland, the 188,000-acre U.S.-developed preserve represents “some of the Pacific Flyway’s most important bird habitats,” according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The federal government owns her 640 million acres of land, equivalent to almost one-third of the land area of the United States. Many of them are found in the west and are a mark of the country’s expansion over time. In the East, there are 10 states with less than 2% of land under federal control. In contrast, 84.5 percent of Nevada’s land is controlled by the government. Oregon is federally controlled with 53.1% of her. Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico and California are not far behind, with Utah even higher at 57.4%.
This patchwork of federal land is primarily overseen by various agencies such as the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service. Some of this is protected as wilderness or parkland, but most of it is used for grazing, logging, hunting and fishing. Land officially designated as a national park is much more protected than land monitored by the Forest Service or Land Management Service and is often open to activities such as logging, mining and grazing. The country has more than 560 wildlife sanctuaries designed for the welfare of birds, fish and other animals and their habitats. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, “wildlife dependent uses such as hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, photography, interpretation, and education are lawful and appropriate uses of evacuation systems where applicable.” That’s what I’m talking about.
Large public land area: Federal land accounts for almost one-third of the land area of the United States, with an even higher percentage in the western United States and Alaska. This map uses squares to represent each state by area, with the smaller green areas showing the percentage of public land.
Debates over federal land policy have raged for centuries, with conservationists often pitting themselves against corporate interests, national interests, and local interests. During the 1970s and 1980s, a movement for local control spread across much of the West and became known as the Sagebrush Rebellion. Ronald Reagan was also one of the supporters of this movement. He delayed the designation of new nature reserves in the White House, but the move did not lead to major changes in land policy. The group’s leader, a Nevada rancher named Ammon Bundy, occupies a shelter with his brother Ryan and other supporters. The Bundys are the sons of Nevada rancher Cribben Bundy, who was embroiled in a high-profile confrontation with the US government last year.
Protesters have posted reports on Facebook of up to 100 people inside the shelters, but local media who visited the site said the actual number was closer to 20, with about 100 people in pickup trucks. 12 cars are parked.
The facility was closed and empty when demonstrators armed with semi-automatic weapons arrived, the government said.
Protesters said in Facebook messages that they wanted the federal government to hand over land control to local administration. Ryan Bundy told the AP that he wants more land to be used for “ranching, logging, mining and recreation” and removed from federal oversight.
Protests began in Burns last week after ranchers Dwight and Stephen Hammond were on the verge of being sent back to prison for setting fire to BLM land on which they rented grazing rights. Witnesses testified in court that the Hammonds deliberately set the fire after poaching deer, but the Hammonds claimed they set the fire to drive out invasive species. Ryan Bundy called the Hammons incident “an example of terrorism inflicted on the people by the federal government.”
Lawyers for the Hammonds argued that the protesters did not represent the family’s views.
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