VALMY — After years of struggling with the Battle Mountain Bureau of Land Management, ranchers Dan and Eddyann Filippini decided they would turn out their hungry cattle in spite of one more last-minute reversal of an agreement made by the BLM.
“The grass is green and tall, the cattle are hungry and the allotment is part of the Badger Ranch,” Eddyann Filippini said Tuesday.
They bought the ranch in 1989from Leroy Horn, who got it from the Rufi brothers whose parents settled it in the 1800s. Its water rights go back to 1862.
Although the Bureau of Land Management can claim only about three percent of the 100,000-acre North Buffalo Allotment attached to the Badger Ranch and none of the water rights, the federal agency controls the whole allotment and therefore, the viability of the ranch. The rules are made by non-involved bureaucrats who have no “skin in the game,” said Filippini.
“Our cows are tapped out and so are we.” she said. “Badger ranch has made a stand and these cows are not coming home. If we keep backing down, we lose the ranch.”
She said the latest harassment began on May 28 when the ranchers went to the BLM office to pay the grazing fee for the North Buffalo Allotment. They were told there would be no bill issued until there was agreement about the Argenta Allotment, which she said is being held up by Western Watershed activists. Argenta is not connected to North Buffalo.
The Filippinis had advised the BLM’s acting District Manager, John Ruhs, of their intention to turn out last Tuesday in spite of the BLM’s recent ruling and they called interested people to come to Valmy at 10 a.m. when the first truckloads would arrive.
Monday night Filippini received a phone call from Ruhs saying the BLM would not stop them, that they were “authorized for their Exchange of Use AUMs (Animal Unit Months)”. Filippini said, “We have verbal authorized use of our own private ground.”
No agency employees were present at Valmy on Tuesday but Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Allen and two deputies were there just in case there was trouble. There was none.
Two Elko County Commissioners also showed up. Demar Dahl and Rex Steninger arrived with horses to help push the cows up the canyon after they were unloaded several miles from the highway. Altogether there were eight riders. Former Assemblyman John Carpenter opened the gate.
“The BLM’s 153 AUMs are still closed,” Filippini said, while the ranch has 2,259 AUMs on its private land. When the rain stops and the unused residual grass dries out, “the wildfire danger will be enormous. The resource is not the issue. The so-called endangered sage grouse will burn up too,” she added.
“This is not the end of it. We are not conceding any more. We can’t and survive. If we quit, our way of life and that of our children will be gone and there will be less food produced for the nation.”