Elko, Nevada: Local protesters plan to picket BLM office

Elko Daily News

ELKO, Nevada - 5/30/02 -- A local protest of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's seizure of Raymond Yowell's herd south of Elko is planned for 3:30 p.m. Friday in front of the Elko BLM office.

According to Janice Wilkerson, protesters plan to picket against BLM over the impoundment of Yowell's cattle and Friday's planned auction of the herd in Reno.

"We're citizens concerned about the cattle situation," Wilkerson said this morning, reporting that her husband, Bill, is organizing the protest and asking others to join.

BLM is planning to offer for auction three lots of cattle taken from Yowell for back payment of grazing fees. One lot will include 42 cows, another 48 cows with 48 calves and a third, 12 cows and seven calves.

Bids are being accepted from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the state BLM office in Reno, according to BLM.

Yowell, a Western Shoshone rancher, and a group of protesters were heading to Reno earlier this week, and they said they planned to protest at the BLM's holding facility at Palomino Valley.

Yowell, 72, claims he has the right to graze his cattle on public land managed by the BLM under the Ruby Valley Treaty of 1863 and under a proclamation creating South Fork Indian Reservation that he said allows for grazing in the pockets of BLM land scattered between reservation segments.

He belongs to the Te-Moak Livestock Association, which lost its permit for grazing after it stopped paying grazing fees. BLM instead issued a grazing permit to another Western Shoshone group, the South Fork Livestock Partnership.

BLM said Yowell's cattle were removed because with both herds on the grazing allotment, they would exceed the land's grazing capacity.

Mike Brown at the Elko BLM office said today that BLM has a "free speech area" established. The protesters should be on the grassy area between the parking lot and the area where BLM has been planting trees and shrubs, he said.

Threats claimed by rival livestock group

By JEFFRY MULLINS, Associate Editor
Elko Daily News

ELKO, NEVADA - 5/30/02 -- Te-Moak Livestock Association is protesting the federal government's seizure of its livestock, but rival ranchers claim the group has threatened to impound its cattle, shot six of its cows and has been making death threats.

Raymond Yowell of Te-Moak Livestock Association isn't the "goody two-shoes" the press has painted him to be, Vince Garcia of South Fork Livestock Partnership said this morning.

People shouldn't feel sorry for Yowell or the loss of his cattle, Garcia said. The group was given more than its share of "due process" over the years since it stopped paying grazing fees in 1984, he added.

Yowell's group attempted to get an injunction in the impoundment case and was turned down by U.S. District Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Ruby Valley Treaty is not an issue, either, Garcia said, calling the matter "settled."

Garcia said he started in the livestock business in 1992 with 10 head, and now has the largest herd on the South Fork Reservation. But as his success grew, so did threats from the Te-Moak Livestock Association.

He said he was ordered to stop using tribal range land and when he defied the group, they shot six of his cows.

Garcia said his group obtained temporary grazing permits on the disputed federal allotments in the late '90s, and when he complained to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management about Te-Moak cattle being turned out, the agency failed to impound them.

Garcia said he paid $2,200 this year for grazing rights on the allotments.

This time, Yowell's cattle were quickly rounded up by the BLM and hauled to Reno where they will be sold Friday at auction. According to the Nevada Attorney General's office, the BLM can take legal possession of unauthorized cows.

"I have a right to use public land" the same as anyone else, Garcia said. "I also have a right under the Western Shoshone Constitution to use the tribal lands."

Garcia said he received death threats over the weekend from association members and reported them to tribal authorities.

"If I'm willing to risk my life following the laws of this land, then they ought to be able to risk their livelihood for not following those laws," he concluded.

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