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When Kit Laney answered a knock on his door Saturday, law enforcement officers from the U.S. Forest Service handed him a piece of paper announcing his Diamond Bar Ranch in southwest New Mexico would be shut down Wednesday and his 300 head of cattle grazing there would be removed – one way or the other.
Laney was not surprised. He knew someday there would be an on-the-ground confrontation to enforce a 1997 court ruling which says his cattle are trespassing on federal land.
That day has arrived.
Laney insists the land in question belongs to him; the Forest Service says it belongs to the federal government. So far, the federal court is on the side of the Forest Service.
But Laney is not willing to throw in the towel and give up the land that has been in his family since long before there was a U.S. Forest Service.
Moreover, in New Mexico, there is a “brand law” that says, essentially, no cattle may be sold or transported out of state without approval from the State Livestock Board.
Local sheriff Cliff Snyder has notified the Forest Service and other state and federal officials that even though the Forest Service has a court order authorizing the confiscation of the Diamond Bar cattle, they “cannot be shipped and sold without being in direct violation of NM Statute.”
His memo also says “I intend to enforce the state livestock laws in my county. I will not allow anyone, in violation of state law, to ship Diamond Bar Cattle out of my county.”
When he acquired the Diamond Bar, the allotment provided for 1,188 head of cattle. By 1995, the Forest Service reduced the allotment to 300 head. When the permits came due for renewal on the original Laney ranch and the Diamond Bar, in 1995 and 1996, Laney decided he would not sign the permits, since he believed the land was his, not subject to permits issued for grazing on federal land.
Laney’s ancestors participated in this type of Forest Service adjudication process in 1907, three years before New Mexico became a state. The system worked well until 1934, when Congress enacted the Taylor Grazing Act. This law changed the status of the grazing permit from a voluntary process agreed to by the ranchers, into a “license” required by the federal government.
Few ranchers realized this law eventually would strip them of their rights and the land they had worked for generations.
The Laneys say they have a ray of hope, however. On Jan. 29, 2002, Judge Loren Smith ruled in a similar case that Wayne Hage “submitted an exhaustive chain of title which showed that the plaintiffs and their predecessors-in-interest had title to the fee lands” which the federal government had claimed to be federal land.
Wayne Hage lost his cattle, but now the court has ruled that a “takings” has occurred, for which the government must pay “just compensation.”
The Hage decision has sent ranchers across the West rushing to courthouses, searching for and documenting the “chain of title,” to the land, grazing and water rights.
Kit Laney has completed his search, and recorded the “exhaustive chain of title” in each of the county courthouses where his land lies. He may not be able to stop the removal of his cattle, even with the help of the local sheriff. But Laney has served notice that he does not intend to roll over and let the government simply take what his family has worked for generations to build.
He says he will fight as long as he has breath. The Forest Service, and the other federal agencies now know they can no longer pick off a single rancher, and move on to the next. The Hage decision, and the determination of Kit Laney has inspired thousands of ranchers to resist the government’s squeezing and to push back.
I'm amazed at all the supporters of the federal government's control over millions of square miles of land, then on the other hand be the same to cry about over population.
LOL I'm seeing where the militias are heading next....
It's clear what this is turning out to be. It's not only an assault on hard working individuals and freedom loving citizens, but an assault on the US food supply.
I'm amazed at all the supporters of the federal government's control over millions of square miles of land, then on the other hand be the same to cry about over population.edit on 4/13/2014 by eXia7 because: (no reason given)
They should just sell that land to a developer. They get a nice bit of income from a new tax base and as a private owner the developer could just shoot the cows and the rancher when they came onto their property and ATS would be cheering them on for using the second amendment to give it to these corporate ranchers.edit on 13-4-2014 by MrSpad because: (no reason given)
Maybe the militia shouldnt have let the feds leave on the Bundy ranch.
reply to post by gladtobehere
I am confused this story is from 2004.....even old than the Bundy dispute...