Forbes Billionaires Top US Welfare Ranchers List

welfare ranchingWhat do the Koch Brothers, Ted Turner, and the Hilton family have in common with Cliven Bundy? They’re among a group of powerful welfare ranchers that take from the public and keep for themselves.


GR:  Effective lobbying to control Congress requires lots of money. So it’s no surprise that much of the subsidized rangeland is owned by the ultra-rich.
The photograph illustrates one of the devastating aspects of ranching on the western US ranges. After rains, ranchers haul in livestock and water so the cows can clean up the weeds and grasses that spring up. When the new growth is gone, it’s back to the feedlot. The problem is that wild horses, pronghorn antelope, deer, rabbits, mice and many more needed that flush of growth to survive. It’s not surprising that their numbers are declining.

Legislative moves to give public lands to the states advance despite little evidence of public support

“All of the Western states except Montana now entertain bills to take the public lands from the United States and give, transfer or take them for the individual states. Some Republicans in Congress are trying to get the proposed redistribution of land going by means of the annual budget process.

“This is happening despite increased support by the general public for keeping the U.S. public lands safe for all Americans.”


GR:  State lands always wind up for sale to the highest bidder. Giving the states ownership of our public lands guarantees that they will be developed for profit without regard for air, water, soil, wildlife, or human society.

Somebody Stole $19 Billion from U.S. Wildlife and Open Spaces

Arches National Park, Utah. (Photo: Jacob Frank/Getty Images)GR:  The U. S. Congress is willing to drop any protections that might threaten a developer’s opportunity to use the land. In Arizona, it appears that our state Game and Fish Department opposes national monuments because someday a developer might come up with a profitable use for the land.

strange behaviors

Arches National Park, Utah. (Photo: Jacob Frank/Getty Images) Arches National Park, Utah. (Photo: Jacob Frank/Getty Images)

My latest for Takepart:

Here’s a brilliant idea: Make oil and gas companies pay to conserve land for wildlife threatened by climate change. Crazy, right? But it’s already the law, and it has been for the last 50 years: In 1965, by a unanimous vote, Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund and declared that the government would spend $900 million a year to preserve open space, protect wildlife, and encourage outdoor recreation—all of it paid for with royalties from offshore oil and mineral extraction.

So why are our national parks falling to pieces? Why is it such a struggle to protect endangered species? Why is having someplace outdoors to play—someplace decent, I mean—a strange and dreamlike notion for most American children?

The sad reality is that Congress actually allocated only $306 million to LWCF in 2014…

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