Supporters of Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy say the Bureau of Land Management may have impounded his cattle because of recommendations the agency made last month to preserve Gold Butte land Bundy has used without paying federal grazing fees.
The recommendations were included in a March 14 report — just weeks before the roundup — that addressed the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone northeast of Las Vegas.
As part of a federal initiative to develop large-scale solar energy power plants in western states, the BLM began studying the potential harm these projects could do to surrounding environments.
Recommendations in the Dry Lake report included ways to preserve Gold Butte from further environmental degradation, even though it is 32 miles east of the Dry Lake area.
Gold Butte, which covers roughly 350,000 acres south of Interstate 15 near the Arizona border, was initially designated as an area of critical environmental concern (ACEC) by the BLM in 1998 as part of a land management plan for the Las Vegas area.
That plan prohibited grazing by domestic livestock in areas of critical environmental concern primarily as a way to preserve the desert tortoise, which the federal government considers a threatened species. At the time, Gold Butte’s assets were said to include cultural and historic resources, scenery and habitat for special status species such as the desert tortoise.
Last month’s report, titled Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone, had this to say about those assets on page 30:
“The resource values found in the Gold Butte ACEC are threatened by: unauthorized activities, including off-road vehicle use, illegal dumping, and trespass livestock grazing; wildfire; and weed infestation.”
Though not stated in the report, the only alleged trespass livestock grazing in Gold Butte has been tied to Bundy.
Read the Rest at Connection drawn between cattle roundup and BLM report
Read the Full Report – Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone