The Nevada rancher who was at the center of an armed standoff with federal agents last year held a peaceful rally on Tuesday in support of a proposal that would give the state greater control of public lands, local media said.
Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, was the site of an armed protest against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management last April after the agency sought to seize cattle because Bundy refused to pay grazing fees.
Nevada lawmakers are debating a bill that would make the federal government obtain permission to use land in the state, and would let county commissions parcel out state land for commercial use, including land claimed by the U.S. government.
Carrying placards bearing slogans including: “It is simple: the land belongs to the people,” Bundy and several supporters of the bill, some wearing cowboy hats, gathered in the state capital, Carson City, images from local channel KLAS-TV showed.
Nearby, several opponents of the proposal being discussed in the Legislature waved banners that read: “Keep public lands in public hands,” and “Nevada is not for sale.”
Opponents say the legislation would threaten access to public lands and could end up damaging the state’s hunting, fishing and outdoor pursuits industries.
The bill follows a move by neighboring Utah, which enacted a law in 2012 calling for U.S. public lands there to be transferred to state control. Similar proposals have also been put forward in other Western states.
The Nevada bill’s sponsor, Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, said it would return control to the state’s people.
“The federal government has claimed 84.5 percent of our land. That means they are using up all of the resources that we have,” Fiore told reporters.
(Writing by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Peter Cooney)