Obama administration’s ‘Culture of intimidation’ seen in Nevada ranch standoff

Washington Times

Critics say fight isn’t first instance of feds’ ‘overkill’

Sending scores of armed agents along with helicopters and dogs to confront an elderly Nevada rancher over grazing fees may seem like overkill, but critics say it’s not inconsistent with the federal government’s recent approach to environmental enforcement.

The simmering truce between the Bundys and the Bureau of Land Management comes after high-profile raids last year by armed federal agents on small-time gold miners in tiny Chicken, Alaska, and guitar makers at the Gibson Guitar facilities in Tennessee.

That doesn’t include more subtle threats, such as recent efforts by the Obama administration to raise grazing fees or pressure permit holders to transfer their water rights as a condition of renewal, said Ryan Yates, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau.

“Some have called it a culture of intimidation,” Mr. Yates said. “It’s issue after issue, threat after threat. It’s becoming harder and harder to keep those operations in business.”

The atmosphere was quiet but tense Tuesday at the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville, Nev., just days after Bureau of Land Management chief Neil Kornze pulled federal agents off the property and returned about 400 head of cattle to rancher Cliven Bundy.

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