Saturday, February 6, 2016

It may take another while but The DOOMMM Club has all the patience in the world

Nothing new about this article, but we seem to be heading for an end to the current stage. So we need to get as much as we can from the still lingering media coverage. Two highlights:

1. This report gives more space to locals to express their grievances than most reports did. In this regard, this report is more specific than others.

2. The local ranchers seem to be apprehensive of a scenario already considered here in previous posts. Basically, standoffs like the last one in Oregon may be actually creating self sustaining/escalating dynamics by exacerbating the urban rural divide. On the city side of the divide there are already plenty of those who consider anybody questioning the federal ownership of land in western states as Bundy's accomplices.
Carol J Williams in Burns, Oregon (Guardian) {

Sam Levin contributed reporting from San Francisco.

Source = Oregon ranchers fear impact of militia standoff: 'We all look like crazies'

When Butch Delange first started logging in 1971, a man could make a decent living cutting timber, and the proceeds from open-bid contracts with the US Forest Service provided ample funding for schools and public services. Then the federal agency switched to sealed bids to award tracts for harvesting, driving most loggers and sawmills out of business and leaving the older trees to fall victim to rot and wildfires.

Delange, who now works at a gas station and garage on the main drag in Burns, Oregon, says that only bold actions like those of the militiamen occupying the Malheur national wildlife refuge will draw the necessary attention to the plight of western regions living under the federal government’s thumb. But like many, he concedes that the armed action and its violent turn with the shooting death of one activist may have set back prospects for relief, and done little to engender public sympathy.

Instead, local residents say, the armed seizure of the refuge on 2 January by Ammon Bundy and about two dozen fellow militants drew national attention to the clashes between ranchers and federal land stewards, but probably painted all government critics as violence-prone extremists.

Many fear their causes have been undermined by the costly and divisive controversy, despite the spotlight it cast on their complaints.

Wayne Smith, a 46-year-old local rancher, said he felt the occupation was finally waking people up to the overreach of the federal government, but that the death of Finicum had derailed any potential efforts to increase local control of public lands.

“People were getting educated. They were starting to realize what’s happening to us and there was more support,” he said. “But the federal government just had to stop them.”

[...]

Fran and Rich Davis have had to lease private grazing land in recent years to meet federal land management requirements for AUM, the animal-unit-per-month formula meant to prevent damage to grasslands. To feed their 100 cows, the Davises lease 1,880 acres of private grazing land, bringing their daily feed bill to $300 and forcing them to take on other seasonal businesses to make ends meet. The fourth-generation ranchers now operate a deli during the spring and summer months when tourists flock to the high desert country, as well as a women’s clothing boutique, a senior foster care home and a pickup and delivery service for the closest dry cleaners in Bend, 130 miles west.

“The DEQ is making me pay a fee in case there’s ever a chemical spill from the dry cleaning, which isn’t done anywhere near here,” an exasperated Fran Davis says of the latest tax being assessed on their side businesses by the state department of environmental quality.

The population has dropped from 12,000 in the 1970s to fewer than 7,000 today, which locals attribute to federal management of the public lands and increasingly burdensome environmental regulations cutting deeply into the local economy.

Fran Davis echoes the fears of many in Harney County that the armed occupation served to discredit the legitimate grievances of the broader population.

“We all look like a bunch of crazies,” she said of the image left by the militants.

[...]

Former local rancher Dayle Robertson, who now lives in Leavenworth, Washington, had business near the refuge on Thursday.

“I’ve lived in this country for 20 years. I know these people,” he said of the south-eastern Oregon ranchers. “But no one outside understands us. For the past eight years the environmentalists have been running our business. If they don’t like something you do, they file a lawsuit and shut you down.”

Delange blames misplaced priorities in the federal bureaucracies for the rash of fires that have swept the region’s forests and grasslands in the past two decades.

“I was in the national guard back in 1990 and we got called up to fight a huge wildfire up near the fish and wildlife preserve. But they wouldn’t let us pitch our tents on the federal land, said it was an ‘artifacts area’,” he recalled with disdain.

That fire, believed to have been sparked by a Bureau of Land Management truck left idling in a dry grass field, “burned 105,000 acres, more than 40 years of logging had taken”.}

PS

It's my personal view, but I believe that the recurrent refrain in many interviews with rural locals that "the nation has heard our cries of pain at last" is totally misplaced. In general, the story of rural America reminds me of the Russian peasant concept of good czar. These are obedient and law abiding subjects who trust the order/authority. The agents of order are good, they just don't know how people on the ground suffer.

Of course, reality is very different. Those locals are just delusional. In fact, this situation is structurally built into America's urban rural divide. It's kind of unavoidable.

Delusions sometimes take an extraordinary amount of time to die. The interesting part, however, starts when they finally do.