Range Fighters: Preparing To Take Back the West: Part 1
Sierra Times Exclusive Report - by J.J. Johnson - Posted: 02.26.01

Range Fighters - Las Vegas, Nevada
Feb. 24th, 2001

Welcome to Sagebrush

LAS VEGAS - Welcome to the war room of the Sagebrush Rebellion. At stake: over 45,000 family ranches that have been worked for generations, and the food supply of millions of America. It has been a problem nationwide, but the hardest hit are the people few Americans can see while passing by at 35,000 feet. The Range Fighter Conference held over the Weekend on February 24, 2001 was not your typical gripe session. It was here where over 50 Real Americans from Ohio to Washington representing the heart and soul of the American agriculture and livestock industry met to do something about it.

At the meeting were a list of heavy hitters. Many names could easily register as "legends" to a Westerner who has been victimized by government land regulations. Among them, Cliven Bundy, a legendary Nevada rancher and cowboy, Robert (R.J.) Smith, Senior environmental Scholar of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Jim Bason, President of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association; Karen Rose, a campaign and Public Relations Specialist, and Nancy Geehan, a Political and Communication Strategist, and several officers of Frontiers of Freedom.

From Left: Jay Walley Zalley; Jim Tenney
The Strategy and planning session was the idea of several groups led by the Paragon Foundation in response to a November planning session called "Range Net 2000," a left-wing, extremist plot to destroy ranching, farming and mining among private individuals. Fueled by as much as $25 million in contributions per month, agricultural and earth-based small businesses - even entire communities have been under political siege by a network of political special interest groups with more influence than the Nation Rifle Association. Jim Tenny a rancher and real-estate broker and Jay Zane Walley of the Paragon Foundation conducted the two-day strategy and planning session.

"Groups such as the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance have teamed up and all but control the Department of Interior," said Diane Foster with Frontiers of Freedom. The vehicles for the goals of such organizations are the Antiquities Act of 1906, and the Endangered Species Act. According to those in attendance, these acts of Congress have been perverted to place human beings on a lower order than plant and animal life (livestock not included).

"We are at an impasse in Congress," said R.J. Smith, Senior Scholar at a Washington, D.C. based grassroots think tank. "The Supreme Court won't even listen to a Environmental Protection Agency violation over the 5th Amendment.

The 5th Amendment clearly states that, "[No] private property [shall] be taken for public use, without just compensation." Today in increasing numbers, ranchers, farmers, mining interests, recreation visitors, especially in Western states are being forcibly removed from private land with no compensations by the government, and in most cases, those who are forced to leave are required to compensate the government for public use of the land. This has fueled a sentiment in the West known as the "Sagebrush Rebellion."

C.J. Hadley -
Range Magazine Editor & Chief

"...We will publish until there is blood on the highway!!"
Smith and others did not come all the way to Las Vegas just to complain, but gave clear ways to fight back. One of the most notable and powerful presentations at the event was by C.J. Hadley, Editor of Range Magazine, whose print publication about Western Life and Issues is subscribed to in all 50 states and 8 countries. Hadley is not a native born American herself, but a true Westerner with more Real American in her than most, who was almost in tears when describing the kinds of reports she receives from victims around the country and the financial problems that Range Magazine faces each day. Her growing list of readers are 150,000 strong.

"I make about two dollars an hour, " she said while pacing the floor with the microphone. "I had to sell my car. I don't even have transportation." But Hadley set the tone for the event when she insisted that Range Magazine will continue, and she's in the fight for the long haul . "We will publish until there is blood on the highway!" she insisted to a rapt audience.

There were no signs of anyone present ready to raise a white flag.

Like Hadley, few if any Westerners in the battle for their economic and cultural survival are in this battle for the money. She explained how battling against a multi-million dollar lobby, many who are under siege by administrative rulings and bureaucracy are forced to spend any spare funds on legal services. This presentation made fund raising a primary focus of this coalition of battle weary and battle tested Range Fighters. Targeted for fund raising will be companies and corporations who are directly affected by over-reaching government policies.

Diane Foster, who video recorded the entire event, spoke about how anti-free market, bio-extremist groups have teamed together and shown a united front. "We should do the same," she said to the audience. "We need to get the word to the loggers, ranchers, snowmobilers, miners, and farmers that we are all affected, and we need to stand together."


As each subject was brought up, Jim Tenney made sure there was a list for everyone to see. The key was to come up with solutions, not more problems. That's when the brainstorming began. The Range Fighters believe a window of opportunity was created by a recent legal victory in Jarbidge, and the change of the guard at the White House. But recent statements made by Interior Secretary Gale Norton are of major concern to these Ranch stewards. R.J. Smith assured the audience however, that there are persons in place within the Bush administration, ready to address many of the concerns, but only loud voices will be heard.

Also, there are current bills in two state legislatures (Utah & New Mexico) that would give states more authority and control over land issues.

Only time will tell. "The consensus seems to be," Walley stated after hearing opinions from those present, "we must focus with our local elected officials." The reality is, experience has taught the group that working exclusively with federal officials is like "beating your head against a wall," as one rancher said who wished to remain anonymous. The ranchers are in agreement that tactical offensive operations are best, such as the Woodrow Wilson bridge (I-495 over the Potomac River) injunction that was filed by the Landmark Legal Foundation.

The Wilson Bridge is one of the few interstate draw bridges remaining, and is a major cause of Capital Beltway traffic jams during the week in the Washington D.C. area. Range Fighters consider such lawsuits as offensive operations, or as it was called, "thinking out of the box." Westerns hope injunctions in urban areas against badly needed development will help Americans in more populated areas understand the inconvenience and frustrations Rural Westerners must endure daily due to over-reaching environmental polices.

Thus, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia residents can sit in that rush-hour parking lot called the Wilson Bridge thinking about how important it is to save a rare species that they've never heard of, and will probably never see.

Karen Rose - Fort Collins. Co.
Political & Public Relations Expert

"...We need good county officials."
One example of local response to ecological extremists was reported by Karen Rose, a political and public relations specialist from Fort Collins, Colorado. She is also a former Idaho sheep herder. She stated that with most concerns, such as the EPA, or enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, the county must be notified, since the county has the responsibility to carry out most of the federal mandates. Rose advocated the creation of "Private Property Advisory Boards" to oppose many of the "environmental advisory boards" that have been created in many areas.

"Private property provides a tax base," Karen Rose said. She says that working closely with good county officials can slow down land grabs by as much as 5 years, or until more public pressure can be brought to bare. According to Rose, these Advisory Boards are being formed in Larimer County, Colorado, just north of Denver.

Nancy Geehan - Buffalo Wyoming
Policy Analysis and Communication Strategy

Maintains her faith in the American People

There are some who are skeptical about even working with local government at times. Nancy Geehan, a Policy and Communication Strategist from Buffalo, Wyoming, strongly suggested, "not to depend on government, but each other. To rely on government means not relying on each other. We should work with individuals instead."

Educating the public was key to the overall strategy. It was learned that one of the difficulties was reaching many of the scientist and university professors. "Many of them are nervous. Speaking out against the [ecology extremists] could cause de-funding to a university - even if their facts are correct," said R.J. Smith. "In most cases, scientific credibility is determined by the U.S. Forestry Service. A solution to this problem was proposed to create a special "peer review" where scientists can publish findings free from such threats.

Overall, the meeting went well. There was a mutual consensus that "waiting on the next show to drop" wasn't an option. In the west, it is time to get pro-active said one Arizona rancher. After the challenges were listed on the wall, the job of making action plans began. "I think we've got a successful fighting team here," said Paragon Foundation's Jay Walley. "The people here have nothing to gain, and everything to lose. That and the Constitution is what motivates us."

Coming up next: Action Plans

A complete video presentation of this event is available. For details, contact:
Diane Foster (Frontiers of Freedom)
P.O. Box 160
Reliance, WY 82943
E-mail: difoster@wyoming.com

A Special and Personal Thanks to Mr. & Mrs Jay Walley for bringing so many good Americans together, and never giving up the fight.

Reprinted with permission in Sierra Times - www.sierratimes.com

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]

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