UPDATED 3:18 p.m. to properly attribute Taylor quote.
PUBLIC LANDS -- Washington State Rep. Matt Shea has ridden out of his Spokane Valley district on his white horse to save us from the overpowering federal government as he stands in lock-step with a Nevada rancher who's stolen more than $1 million in grazing favors from public land.
Whom will Shea stand up for next? The guy who says he has a Constitutional right to rob the Post Office?
Shea says he was compelled to back Cliven Bundy as he joined Rep. Dave Taylor for a trip to the Bundy Ranch. As Taylor put it,“If we don’t stand up for our neighbors, there won’t be anybody left when they come for us.”
The confrontation stems around a Nevada rancher who doesn't recognize the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as the owner of the public land he wants to graze his cattle on. Bundy has declined to pay about $1 million in fees while he lets his stock run amock where law abiding ranchers don't.
Trouble is, the BLM isn't the only voice saying Bundy is breaking the law. So have the courts, twice.
The courts, at last check, are our nation's way of settling points of law.
BLM backed away from confiscating Bundy's cattle -- seizing the stock was authorized by a judge -- when supporters came in and posed the climate for a violent confrontation.
So where do we go from here?
The public owns the land, not the rancher. If every man who fabricates a disagreement with the government decides to run his cattle -- or cuts his trees, builds his roads, kills his game, nets his fish, or fires up his bulldozer -- the way he sees fit, the American icon of public land will be lost.
That, Mr. Shea, is what's worth standing up for. Not one man's greed and selfishness, but rather the rule of law and the overwhelming advantages of regulated public land.