Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Thursday renewed his calls to make a national monument out of Gold Butte, the site of the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada where Cliven Bundy had illegally grazed his cattle for decades.
Reid announced on the floor that he plans to ask President Barack Obama to use his authority granted under the Antiquities Act to protect that land. The minority leader argued the protection could come at a fortuitous time, as several members of the Bundy family are jailed for their roles in both the 2014 standoff and the takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge earlier this year in rural Oregon. Family patriarch Cliven Bundy is also being held in Nevada on assault and federal conspiracy charges tracing back to the 2014 standoff near his family’s ranch.
“Because of trouble caused by the Bundys and their pals, the federal employees tasked with safely guarding these antiquities were prevented from doing their jobs,” Reid said on the floor. “It was about 19 of them that have been indicted. Most of them are still in jail where they belong…[workers] have been under constant physical and mental threat for doing what the American people asked them to do.”
The national monument Reid is asking for would stretch roughly 100 miles, beyond the site of the 2014 standoff. The land is currently jointly managed by Clark County and the Bureau of Land Management. Grazing is not legal on the land, and if the land is granted monument status it still won’t be legal to graze there.
Reid had introduced legislation in the past to protect Gold Butte, as The Las Vegas Sun chronicled, but it faces long odds in a Republican-controlled Congress. Reid has since turned to asking the President to deem the area a national monument.