BLM ignores illegal grazing, fears ‘another Bundy situation,’ ex-staffer says

By Scott Streater | 05/09/2024 04:25 PM EDT

A former Bureau of Land Management rangeland specialist said the agency has been too timid in an exit memo sent to Director Tracy Stone-Manning.

Cattle grazing on an allotment in Oregon.

Cattle graze on an allotment in Oregon. Greg Shine/Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

A former Bureau of Land Management staffer who retired last week after 32 years with the agency issued a scathing exit memo warning that the 2014 armed standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has frightened bureau leadership away from stopping illegal grazing.

The result is that untold acres of federal rangelands are being damaged by livestock from neighboring private lands illegally grazing on federal lands, Melissa Shawcroft wrote in the memo sent Thursday to BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning.

“This ‘see no evil’ posture” on illegal grazing activity is “a BLM-wide issue as managers say they do not wish to have another Bundy situation,” wrote Shawcroft, who retired April 30 as a range management specialist in the Colorado office’s San Luis Valley region. Shawcroft did note that illegal grazing has been tolerated on BLM lands for decades, even before the Bundy incident.


Last month marked the 10-year anniversary of the weeklong armed standoff between BLM law enforcement agents and armed ranchers and militia groups. BLM failed to round up Bundy’s cattle for auction to settle nearly $1 million in unpaid grazing fees and trespass fines, and the Bundy family ranch’s cattle continue to illegally roam the same federal lands without permits.