Of course, an important corollary of this theory is that one need not pay anything for non-consumptive uses of the land, other than federal income taxes. Mr. Bundy and everyone else have a right to take a hike on it, ride a horse on it, and exercise First Amendment (and Second Amendment) rights on it. It’s just that he cannot unilaterally annex it to his modest one-quarter-section (160-acre) ranch to create a mega-ranch.
That said, Bundy’s truculence has created one positive outcome. It has focused the wider public’s attention on a fact that few in America’s urban centers have to grapple with: that in most of the largest states of the union, an enormous amount of land is publicly owned, and under the control of an alphabet soup of federal agencies.
How many people had never heard the abbreviation BLM before this episode? Yet this obscure outfit — along with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service — calls the shots on millions of acres. Its bureaucrats have the power to make or break the livelihoods of both citizens like Mr. Bundy and entire communities in the rural West that depend on natural resources harvested from or raised on federal land.