3% Stand With Snake River Ranchers
by Shari Dovale
A dispute between the Federal government and a small ranching family in Washington has been ongoing for years, however it has recently gained the public’s attention.
Through the Spokesman Review, we learned about Walter “Sonny” Riley.
The 71-year-old rancher has become the focus of a legal effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane, which is asking a federal judge to sanction Riley for “trespass, encroachment, damages” and make him pay the legal costs incurred by forcing Riley to abide by the rules on ground purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers some 53 years ago.
“The government just has too many employees and too much money,” said Riley’s nephew, Chad Lindgren, who works Riley’s River Ranch. “They are not going to back down. They are not going to give in unless we make them give in.”
And, he noted, the yearslong dispute is being funded by taxpayers: “We are basically paying those people to be a pain in our ass.”
The government filed just last month against Riley’s River Ranch. They allege that:
Riley and his employees “unlawfully” grazed, operated a “winter feedlot operation” and built unauthorized structures on federal land. It also alleges the ranch placed hay bales, feeders, machinery, debris, tires, manure piles, and “a pile of over fifty animal carcasses” on the disputed land.
Lindgren acknowledged that the ranch has traditionally used the land in dispute as a calving area for heifers. The flat land, and its accessibility, made it easier for the ranchers to monitor the young cows, he said.
But at no time, he said, did the ranch use the land as a feedlot operation, which are fenced enclosures where the ranch keeps about 500 cows and another 500 calves during winter months.
It was recently announced that Karen Budd-Falen, one of the nation’s top rancher-rights advocates, and who could soon become President Donald Trump’s pick to run the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has joined the legal team for the rancher. The Spokesman Review tells us:
Karen Budd-Falen, who practices law with her husband, Frank, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, filed paperwork Friday with U.S. District Court in Spokane to help represent Walter “Sonny” Riley along with Riley’s current attorney, Toni Meacham, of Connell, Washington.
Additionally, the ranching family has gained the support of the Washington Chapter of the 3 Percent Original group. In a press release, they announced their “wholehearted” support for Walter “Sonny” Riley.
Calling it “yet another overreach by the Federal Government” they state that the issues are caused by negligence on the part of of the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Washington chapter is joined by their brothers in Idaho:
The Idaho 3%ers are monitoring the situation closely. We back our neighbors in Washington. We will work with the Washington 3% in any and all ways possible. We encourage the federal government to do the right thing… but we are not going to hold our breath. ~Eric Parker, State lead ~The real Idaho 3%
Will the government look at their own carelessness in resolving this issue, and not put yet another ranching family through the Federal Court system for their own agenda?
The 3 percent, and all their neighbors, will be there to let you know.
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