This County Just Voted To Disregard The Federal Government

As standoffs between citizens and federal agents continue to spread across the American West, representatives in one rural New Mexico county decided to take a decisive step in advancing local governance.

After the U.S. Forest Service fenced off a portion of land in Otero County, commissioners voted unanimously to authorize the sheriff to open the gate, allowing cattle access to a watering hole on the other side.

“We are reacting to the infringement of the U.S. Forest Service on the water rights of our land-allotment owners,” Commissioner Tommie Herrell explained, noting that locals have allowed their livestock to graze on the 23-acre plot for nearly 60 years.

A spokesperson for the federal agency explained the fence was erected a number of years ago to protect an endangered species of mouse. The reasoning hearkens to the recent stalemate between the Bundy family in Nevada and the Bureau of Land Management, which restricted ranch access to protect a local tortoise habitat.

While the USFS’s Mark Chavez explained that a new fence was put up in accordance with the affected rancher and allowed access to other water sources, Herrell disagreed. He explained the rancher complained to him about the situation.

The local legislator also explained that he is unfamiliar with the rodent ostensibly being protected behind the fence.

“I’ve never seen one of these mice,” he said, “and the Forest Service claims they caught one last year.”

The authority granted to Sheriff Benny House is a first step in defying the federal action. According to Herrell, local authorities will meet with the state’s U.S. Attorney this week; and from there, the state House would consider additional action.

Regardless of the outcome, this is yet another clear message being sent to Washington, D.C. by local officials tired of the constant encroachment of federal bureaucracy.

As Western Journalism recently reported, many protesters left the Bundy Ranch demonstration last week to join a similar rally in Utah. Like the New Mexico initiative, that event was also spearheaded by a county commissioner.

Photo Credit: Famartin (Creative Commons)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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  1. The US Constitution guarantees each new State will be equal with the other States. BUT — When the Western States were admitted to the Union, the Federal Government stole over 1/2 of their land. The Constitution restricts the Federal Government to a 10 square mile parcel where Washington DC is located and such other land as HAS BEEN PURCHASED FROM THE STATES — WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE. I'm sure the Federal Government cannot show any approval by any of the State Legislatures, nor can they show a receipt showing that they paid for the land. BESIDES, according to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, the Federal Government can only own land for forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings.

    Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 – To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings.
    It's time the States simply told the County Recorders to change the County Records to show that the land is owned by the Counties and can be used by the Counties for the needs of the State Citizens residing in those Counties.
    This could very well do away with school taxes, property taxes, and even State income taxes.

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