Dispute over public lands and cattle grazing rights, BLM backs off

MESQUITE, Nev. (KLAS/CNN) – A tense, week-long showdown appeared to end Saturday between the federal government and supporters of a Nevada cattle rancher battling the Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights on federal land.

The BLM stopped rounding up rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle and returned about 300 head of cattle to the open range to avoid the potential for violence, according to the BLM.

Protesters flooded this federal holding pen area, aiming to release Cliven Bundy’s cattle.

Federal officers tried to bring the Bundys over the line to negotiate.

But after Dave Bundy was already arrested once, he was fearful it’d happen again.

Walking past armed BLM rangers, the Bundys started talks about releasing the cattle, and calming the crowds.

The incident commanders agreed to release Bundy’s cattle, but says ultimately it’s not his call.

Metro police were on hand to keep the peace between protesters and BLM, but metro leaders say they wish it had never come to this.

“We had a lot of fears. Individuals being shot, trampled. Individuals being run over on the highway. So it took a lot of resources, a lot of resources to associate with this,” Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo,

Las Vegas Metro Police Department said.

Bundy’s cattle are back to roaming public lands, but it’s still unclear what consequences the Bundys could face for opening the gate.

The BLM says Bundy owes about one-million dollars in back fees because his cattle grazed on federal land.

Bundy claims his rights to graze the land date back to the 1800s.

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