Bundy Ranch Standoff

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Riggerjack
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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Dec 26, 2017 6:16 pm

@enigmaT120

Good. I like seeing examples of public management that are well done.

My own experience with the forest service has been pretty good.

But as a counterexample, we had a scandal here, locally involving state managed lands. In Wa, over half the land is fed or state, and this scandal involved the WA DNR, Dept of Natural Resources. We have a few big national forests, surrounded by DNR land in most places, but there are a some bordering private timberlands.

A policy for land swaps was approved, with the goal of swapping uncut timberlands that didn't border state lands for clear-cuts that did. Now, this is trading land with timber for land without, so it was up to regional management to negotiate the deals. The expectation was that the state would gain acreage, and get a more consolidated footprint, that would be easier to manage.

Instead, we traded up to 3 timbered acres for 1 cut acre, at the section scale (in surveying terms, a township is a square, 6 miles on a side, a section is a square 1 mile wide, or 160 acres). Then, the manager who approved the deal retired, and went to work for the company he just "negotiated against".

Now, you might think that negotiation that resulted in a loss of 84% of the appraised value might be fraud. Or incompetence. Or maybe it was just charitable. But I would be hard pressed to call this competent management. Yet when you look at the incentives, they are lined up for this to happen, all the time. This is the goal, it's not an unintended consequence, when it is so clearly intended. Somebody catching on, and printing it in the newspaper was unintended, but the rest is why people go into government administration. It should be no more of a surprise than an army supply sergeant who "happens" to have all the batteries and gortex jackets he could ever use.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Farm_or » Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:30 am

@riggerjack

Is that Fed incentive land grabbing? Or is that nepotism and corruption?

My experiences with land managers: in my teens, my father leased grazing from BLM and Forest service. Maybe it was due to my age or lack of experience, but my dad always had some "beef" with authority. I think it was his old school attitude and single sided view of life. We had to trail the cattle by barn sour horsebacks over five miles. My dad wanted to maximize the grazing opportunities, the managers wanted to limit that.

I have personally dealt with two range managers for the past dozen years. The first was a sob.

We started out on the wrong foot and it never improved. I believe that he had stereotyped me before I had half of a chance. We had one particular disagreement that was pretty well heated. I was quite pleased when he moved along and have gotten along splendidly with the new manager.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:00 am

Well, from my perspective, of not really caring about grazing, or bribes for senators, I wasn't worked up by the land grabbing concept. My understanding was that it had been native land, then it was federal land, and then never sold in the 100 or so years of actively trying to sell it. So if the owner decides to stop leasing it for grazing, in hopes of generating a nice bribe for a senator, well that's just Federal business as usual.

When hundreds of agents start to convoy out to a remote ranch for anything but a convention, I get concerned. Because that is act 1 in the "massacre at Z" screenplay, and we saw massacre at X and Y already, we know how this movie goes.

Several times in this thread, we have had general support for our friendly agents of federal peace and love, against those horrible outgroup ranchers. My point is that peace and love are not their business, nor their tactics, and whatever methods we approve of Feds using against our outgroup is the same playbook the will use when the outgroup is in power.

I don't like the Bundy's. I didn't like the Weaver's, I didn't like the Branch Davidians, and I don't like the KKK, or Nazis, or Antifa. But I dislike the inappropriate use of massive deadly force against any of them far more.

We don't have to go back very far to see this same overwhelming force used against black activists in the 70's. Hell, if I remember correctly, Cincinnati burnt 16 blocks to kill off some guys with a loudspeaker, for being outgroup. We've seen this go back and forth several times now, to the point that I find myself losing respect for anyone cheering for the abuse of their outgroup, knowing that soon the tables will turn, and today's oppressors will be tomorrow's oppressed.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Campitor » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:32 am

We don't have to go back very far to see this same overwhelming force used against black activists in the 70's. Hell, if I remember correctly, Cincinnati burnt 16 blocks to kill off some guys with a loudspeaker, for being outgroup. We've seen this go back and forth several times now, to the point that I find myself losing respect for anyone cheering for the abuse of their outgroup, knowing that soon the tables will turn, and today's oppressors will be tomorrow's oppressed.
I don't see how people overlook this blatant fact. Everyone on team X is fine and dandy when violence or laws are enacted against team Y but fail to see how it will cost them if team Y ever get into power.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:34 pm

Or how beating up team Y gives their cause legitimacy and sympathy, and strong motivation to aspire to wrest power from the hands of their oppressors.

Cheering the defeat of your outgroup is inviting a turn in sentiment. Cheering the massacre of your outgroup makes them martyrs, and when sentiments change, makes you at best an embarrassing liability, at worst, a target. How do we feel today for the "law and order" crowd that cheered the beating and killing of black activists in the 50-70's? Do you think at the time they felt less righteous and justified than anyone does today about say, antifa?

We evolved as tribal. It is part of who we are. But if we are to handle problems at a modern scale, we have to overcome our more primitive urges. The urge to splinter and hate if the group is too big is hardwired into us. Simple narratives with a "bad guy" is the easiest way to do that.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by BRUTE » Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:47 pm

bravo, Rigger.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Augustus » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:06 pm

Riggerjack wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:24 pm
There have been several appeals for better management by government on this thread. That somehow, our priorities got a bit out of wack, but overall, the management and oversight of public lands by government is done well, and in the interests of the public.

To me, this seems fantastically ignorant. Replacing the reality of the situation with a comforting daydream. Everywhere I have looked, I see counterexamples.

But, this could be a function of where I am looking, and what I am looking for. Does anyone have any examples of this well managed, government controlled, public resource? This opinion is very common, surely proponents have some example, somewhere, where this worked out in a manner they approve of. Please, give me a link. Give me an example. Hell, give me the story you heard one time about the good guy district manager TM, and his talking raccoon. I would like to see something different than what I have, to help me see your side of this.

Thanks.
I think you have to look back in time. I loooove old magazines, I feel like their writing and reasoning is far superior to the crap that gets printed today. I bought ~500 national geographic magazines from someone I am assume is now dead, I've read in quite a few of the old issues (80 years old or more) where the Nat Geo society got a bunch of land conserved that was in imminent danger of getting ruined or polluted or whatever. If you go back 100 years the prevailing idea was that all land should be exploited because there was plenty of it, and conservation was a new idea that actually had merits, because they had a bunch of cases where bad things were happening and they wanted to preserve them for future generations, again this was a completely novel concept at the time.

So if you need places to look and horror stories of mismanaged non-public lands, look back about 100 years, there are lots of well written, compelling articles to read. It seems to me that the conservationists accomplished their goals and then some, so now it's going in the other direction, and now we don't remember why it was important at one time to pioneer the idea.


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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:40 am

Ooh! Great soundtrack for that story! That was nice, thanks.

Augustus, is your point that Nat Geo is capable of doing great stories about their own greatness? Or that conservationists actually solve the issues they address, in contrast to environmental groups? Or that a 100 years ago government was better or worse? Honestly, I'm just not getting your point.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Augustus » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:22 pm

This is obviously going to be a subjective thing, but, for example, I'm reading an old natgeo now that mentions in passing that the Sequoia national park was about to be sold off for lumber in 1915, you can actually see some cool old pictures of parts of it being cut down here: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2012/10/th ... s.html?m=1

This knowledge has fallen out if popularity. For instance, if you search for the history of the Sequoia national park, it's just plain not mentioned that it was nearly sold off for lumber. But, in my old magazines, it was still popular knowledge. I actually have found that a lot, I learn lots of things that have lost popularity when reading older magazines.

So, did they do a good job patting themselves on the back, no? Everyone forgot, so I'd say they failed there. Did they accomplish something good? I think so, those trees are cool, and ancient, one of the largest organisms on the planet, but that is personal preference. Was the government screwing up back then? Well, yes, selling logging rights to log Sequoia national park was a screw up in my opinion. I'm glad they prevented it. lastly, I don't see the point in distinguishing the conservationists from 100 years ago from the environmentlists today, Id say the environmentlists evolved from them, and they've lost their way and gone overboard in many cases because the worst problems are already solved.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by George the original one » Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:33 pm

Augustus wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:22 pm
lastly, I don't see the point in distinguishing the conservationists from 100 years ago from the environmentlists today, Id say the environmentlists evolved from them, and they've lost their way and gone overboard in many cases because the worst problems are already solved.
The worst problems will reoccur. That is what modern environmentalists are trying to prevent. Current protections can be removed or reversed. Do you really want to see drilling/mining in Yellowstone?

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Augustus » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:00 pm

False dichotomy. environmentalism is a belief system for a lot of people now. Some people take their belief systems too seriously and it becomes their whole identity, then they go blowing people up or start making really bad music, etc..just because I don't like those things doesn't mean I'm anti conservation.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:40 pm

"The worst problems will reoccur. That is what modern environmentalists are trying to prevent. Current protections can be removed or reversed. Do you really want to see drilling/mining in Yellowstone?"

And this, in a nutshell, is the difference between Environmentalists and conservationists.

An Environmentalist will work to create a political, temporary solution to problems, some real, some just fine mental imagery. Of course, that work is never done. Just when you think you have something "protected", along comes a new committee member, or new threat, or just some other group seems to be working on a more "Facebook worthy" project. Now new urgency is needed, new resources must be raised, new selfies taken.

By contrast, conservationists buy the land, amend the deed, and sell the land, absorbing 100% of the capital losses on their own. The land is protected by deed, so the restrictions will last as long as the government that grants the deed, with no need to campaign or donate to your chosen political/paternal figures, no crusaders, just quietly making the world a better place.

At least that's how I see it, one group gets the job done, one group gets the glory, and both groups get what they want.

Augustus, natgeo was an odd magazine. Short, fluffy, picture rich, articles, but their photography printing was so good, there were many lower income folks who collected entire bookshelves of NatGeo. I spent many, many hours in my youth reading old natgeo editions from such collections.

Natgeo had a certain quality about them, they cultivated an air of culture. That somehow a subscriber was part of a wider world experience, by far cultured than say, their nieghbors. It was a packaged, consumerist approach to the style of travel Jacob espouses.

Part of that was to emphasize the dramatic and the foreign. Then emphasize the ways they are similar to middle class Americans. I never got the impression from any of the articles I read that journalistic integrity was high on the list of qualifications for their reporters. I'm not saying they were dishonest, I'm saying the stories come with bias (more cultural than political, which is nice), and trump didn't discover fake news in 2016.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by jacob » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:35 pm

Let me introduce some cracks in your nutshell... What's missing here is a sense of scale and proportion.

A few individual conservationists buying up 40acres here and 250acres there pretending to save the world by converting small lots into private vistas, "two mile nature walks", or prime hunting grounds using Japanese mini-tractors to create a wildlife shooting gallery and posing for a selfie in front of a trophy six-pointer deer, and then deeding it for non-development upon their death are not quite getting the job done either. Sure, they're doing some job, but it's not enough in the grand scheme of things. Consider it 1% of the way there. It's moving in the right direction, but there are not nearly enough people doing this compared to ...

The majority of people who would like to increase their standard of living by turning another 100,000 acres of woodland into developments generally named after whatever used to be there, like "Old Meadows". There are very many good small business operators dying for the opportunity to bulldoze a bit of land to make a few million bucks from people who are looking for a nice pastoral place to raise a family... in between a few remaining old trees that defined the previous meadow.

So that happened ... and happens moreso whenever regulations are relaxed. Then some entrepreneurs make some money.

And now consumers live in former woods, where hunting is illegal, because we can't have random six-pack inspired sunday-shooters within 300 yards of property... There are tons of deer, because we eliminated all their predators, because we don't want wolves around our children, because there needs to be safety around the outdoor trampolines. So instead we got mice and ticks spreading Lyme disease all over the place --- where this happened.

Now some people lose some money to treat that. And other people make some money treating it.

The stock market goes up. The community gets sicker and poorer.

A few individual environmentalists saw that coming... but because it's a large systemic problem, all they can do is to create a temporary, political solution, so that consumer humans don't eliminate all the wolves and move into deer infested bulldozed woodlands because living in some Old Meadows sounds super-romantic. Problem is that in order for environmentalists to feel good about achieving their goals, they need to buy about 100-1000x as much land as the conservationists because they're looking at bigger scale problems, so the solution has to be political, because they can't afford to buy that much.

This is just one example of a pervasive pattern whether it's deer and Lyme diseases, water pollution, fracking, or air pollution. The difference between conservationists and environmentalists is basically according to the scale of the problem they care about---neither realizing that the majority of parochial consumers don't really care either way because the consequences have yet to bite them in the ass personally.

For the most part, those labels are just red vs blue shirt posturing while trying to solve the same problem in different ways while claiming the high moral ground over the other.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:42 pm

@ Jacob, I think we will have to agree to disagree on this.

My job involves land division. From 2005 to 2009 if you subdivided your land in North King, Snohomish, or Skagit counties, it crossed my desk. And the pattern you describe above is exactly the way I would expect city folks to think of land division, in fact, it's how I thought about it before I got this job.

In reality, those plats you are talking about are almost exclusive to the urban growth areas and close to highways. Mostly they aren't woods, but a house on acreage, often wooded, where rising home values put enough upward pressure on land values that it's worth destroying the house and grounds to go the the enormously expensive platting process.

But this doesn't effect much land. 5 acres here becomes 40 homes, 20 acres becomes stage 1 of many, as they slowly convert landlocked timberlands into houses that may last as long as the first generation of trees they replaced.

But there just ain't much nature there. Yeah, racoons, coyote, rats, but these isolated spots really don't support much. Even my suburban woods on an island doesn't do much. We cleared out the bear and wolves, they take too much territory to be living within the light pollution of the city. But their prey lives there. Prey is part of the ecosystem, too. And you can't get the big preditors back without supporting prey.

You say that ain't enough. Ducks unlimited claims 14 million acres conserved, and, since they care about the ecosystem of ducks, most of that land is wetlands being preserved as nesting grounds up in Canada. (I am not associated with them, but my boss has been very active in both preserving habitat, and freeing it up for younger birds, so I hear about it.) I expect that number is only accurate for PR purposes, but that's not a lot here and a lot there.

And ducks unlimited is just the biggest in an entire field of conservation groups. Look, they are everywhere. Want to create a family cemetery, and donate the rest of the property rights? There's a group to help with that. Want to just donate development rights to the people of Washington? We have a program for that, and will drop your property taxes.

If you actually want to preserve your land, and are willing to take that loss, there are lots of conservation groups to help you.

If you actually want to preserve someone else's land, against their will, and have no interest in paying for it, there are plenty of environmental groups to help you with that.

I may sound bitter. I wasn't, before I started reading into this, reading county code, reading critical areas ordinances, reading case studies.

Let me give an example. Endangered species act. This is the gold standard for environmental activism getting concrete action. If your species goes on the list, it activates all kinds of restrictions on habitat.

For instance, bald eagles nest in tall trees, and the same pair will go back to the same nest for 15 years. If one dies, others will take over the nest, and they can be 10 feet deep.

I like bald eagles, though when they fly up behind you they go from majestic to huge flying predator in a hurry! But the rule is that if one nests, nothing can happen within 200 feet of the trunk of that tree. No clearing, no building, no logging. If you bought your dream property, hoping to build your perfect home for retirement, best hope you have a few generations of eagles left in you. Try again in a few decades.

But if you try to sell your lot, with a documented eagle's nest? Nobody wants that. Knock off 90% of the price you paid, and maybe someone will buy it. I know people who have damaged trees that eagles are in, just because of this.

This story gets repeated over and over with the ESA. The red headed woodpecker is on the list and they nest in the kind if trees on my timberlands? Cut it. Cut it all. Cut it now. We'll replant in some other tree.

That's a shit result for the environment, and for the woodpecker, but it sure was a good law, right?

If you limit yourself to political solutions, you get political results. You get to have just enough to keep you fighting, because that is what politics is all about. Capturing constituencies. Getting groups fired up and engaged. Preferably with an equal and opposite faction. That is how funds are raised, and volunteers are recruited. A political solution is just a way to take the most motivated people, and chaining them to a party, either one will work, and they are happy to work together for this kind if thing.

Or, we could just make the changes we believe in. Conservation groups are pretty good at helping with that.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Augustus » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:10 pm

Riggerjack wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:40 pm
Augustus, natgeo was an odd magazine. Short, fluffy, picture rich, articles, but their photography printing was so good, there were many lower income folks who collected entire bookshelves of NatGeo. I spent many, many hours in my youth reading old natgeo editions from such collections.

Natgeo had a certain quality about them, they cultivated an air of culture. That somehow a subscriber was part of a wider world experience, by far cultured than say, their nieghbors. It was a packaged, consumerist approach to the style of travel Jacob espouses.

Part of that was to emphasize the dramatic and the foreign. Then emphasize the ways they are similar to middle class Americans. I never got the impression from any of the articles I read that journalistic integrity was high on the list of qualifications for their reporters. I'm not saying they were dishonest, I'm saying the stories come with bias (more cultural than political, which is nice), and trump didn't discover fake news in 2016.
You asked where to find examples of bad things happening in the environment... My consumerist low income low integrity dirty foreign loving magazine delivers in spades. I think you ought to give it a reread, anything pre 1980 is pretty decent, after that it takes a nose dive and becomes all about pretty picture environmentalism. The pre 1980 stuff is gold.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by slowtraveler » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:36 am

@ Jacob & Riggerjack

I agree with both of you. Thank you for the educating discourse.

I love nature but at some point, I surrendered on trying to save nature. I don't litter but I eat lots of meat and take long flights to access places quicker, both are arguably worse from a carbon stand point but I value taste/feeling good and seeing the world/ learning more highly than I value the carbon cost of my actions. Though living outside the states, not driving, and all that also arguably lowers my carbon footprint.

People are people. If they want to do something, they'll work around political constraints. Whether it's in accessing or protecting a resource. That's what makes this all so tricky.

Groups are even worse, often getting so caught up in fighting they lose sight of the larger goal. Environmentalists vs conservationists? Really? I could've sworn both were on the side of protecting nature.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:25 am

@slowtraveler:

You are inextricably part of nature. Beyond conservationalism or environmentalism, or petty politics in general, there is something known as ecology which is a form of science. The thing I have often noticed about both people who claim to be in favor or conservation or environment (including me at times!) is that they haven't gone to any sort of significant trouble to learn any of the underlying science. The thing to learn about Nature is that ultimately she does not give a f*ck about you or the human species, yet you are utterly dependent upon her, and your brain is pretty much all you have going for you.

For instance, in just the last 40 years, the number of quagga mussels in the Great Lakes system has gone from negligible to trillions. The European species of earthworm that came over on the Mayflower in a flower pot is making its way up into the Northern woods after completely out-competing the North American native for niche. Every fertile acre of land contains about a ton of earthworms. One reason to think about how a species such as the Bald Eagle might be protected is that humans thrive in a niche that is much more like that of a Bald Eagle than a quagga mussel. A dead canary coming out of a coal mine is not a good sign. So, instead of chanting something along the lines of "Save the Bald Eagle because Beautiful Bird and Symbol of Freedom" it might be more sensible to chant "Save the Bald Eagle because Your Ass is Next."

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by enigmaT120 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:22 pm

Riggerjack: "But there just ain't much nature there. Yeah, racoons, coyote, rats, but these isolated spots really don't support much. Even my suburban woods on an island doesn't do much. We cleared out the bear and wolves, they take too much territory to be living within the light pollution of the city. But their prey lives there. Prey is part of the ecosystem, too. And you can't get the big preditors back without supporting prey."

No problem on my 32 acres on the edge of a small town:

ImageCougar by Ed Miller, on Flickr

The winter before that, we followed the tracks of a pair of them in the snow all over our place.

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Re: Bundy Ranch Standoff

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:29 pm

Yeah, and you will see cougar outside Marysville as well. But they aren't hanging out in an isolated 5 acres lot surrounded by development. You find them on centennial trail, a wooded trail that runs through connected large tracts of woods. The population density of most of Whidbey island is low enough to support large predators, but short of walking across the bridge or swimming, they wouldn't be here. They need access to large tracts of land, with little human development.

In short, the only thing needed for nature to flourish is for us to stop messing with the land.

Conservationists do this voluntarily and permanently. Environmentalists do this by political compulsion, temporarily.

I'm merely pointing out the difference in goals and methods, so people can support the methods and goals that most closely match their own.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe, while I wasn't looking, environmental groups have somehow gotten far better at aligning their actions and strategies to get better results. This seems unlikely, as the incentives are all lined up the other way, but I am willing to admit the possibility.

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