Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy owes the Bureau of Land Management more than $1 million in late grazing fees — almost five times as much as every other rancher combined.
Bundy’s high-profile face-off against the BLM seemed to many, at first, to be a classic David and Goliath tale: the lone rancher and his family stand up to the overreach of big government.
But as Bundy’s reasoning behind his refusal to pay grazing fees — and his controversial remarks on slavery and government dependence that some deemed racist — came to light, many began to see him as more villain than victim.
Now, according to data obtained from the BLM, the magnitude of Bundy’s bill is becoming clear.
Bundy is one of about 16,000 ranchers in the country who graze cattle on BLM lands, and he’s not the only one with late grazing fees due — 458 other ranchers nationwide owe a combined $237,000, according to E&E News.
That number pales in comparison to Bundy’s outstanding tab, which tops $1 million as a result of his refusal to pay since 1993.
The fee ranchers pay to graze cattle on public lands is a modest $1.35 per cow per month — much of the size of Bundy’s bill is due to accumulating penalties on top of regular charges.
BLM said 97 percent of ranchers pay their fees on time.
This story has been updated to better reflect the nature of Bundy’s comments on slavery.
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