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In Hindsight: The Bundy Ranch Standoff


The Bundy ranch near Bunkerville.

Now that the Bundys are out of jail and the judge dropped charges due to misconduct by federal prosecutors, all their troubles are over, right?

Not so fast.

The Bundy family, whose ranch is some 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, still reportedly owe the federal government about one million dollars for decades of unpaid grazing fees and fines related to those non-payments.

Also, in hindsight, some former BLM chiefs have questioned how the 2014 standoffwith the Bundys was handled.

Erika Schumacher, who was head of enforcement with the Southern Nevada BLM during the standoff, said in the final days of planning the court ordered roundup of Bundy's cattle "a lot of things changed."

On top of those changes, Schumacher said no one on the ground expected armed militia members to show up.

“There were things that happened on the ground that not the sheriff, not the BLM, not the FBI expected," she said, “We didn’t expect the militia and that sorta changed things on a dime as we were out there.”

Schumacher said the agency could have used social media better to combat messages being sent out by Bundy and his supporters.

As far as what's next, Schumacher said one of the basic problems is Bundy's cattle are still out there.

“The issue that is out there right now is you have cattle out there grazing that are not supposed to be there,” she said.

She said it took years for the bureau to get to the point it was at in April 2014 when it tried to round up the cattle and if the agency is going to try again she believes several agencies need to work together to figure out how the cattle are going to be removed and how the fees are going to paid.

Schumacher believes there are people at the BLM who are still monitoring the situation. 

She is now with UNLV as program coordinator in the Emergency Crisis Management Program. She said there are several things she learned from the standoff that she passes along to students.

One thing she would do differently is to improve messaging. She said she didn't believe the general public understood what was happening. 

The question of what to do with Bundy's cattle, however, still hangs in the balance.  

Erika Schumacher, program coordinator, Emergency Crisis Management Program UNLV

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.