Behind Cliven Bundy's refusal to pay over a million dollars in illegal grazing fees and behind the Bundy militia occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon is a belief that federal land actually belongs to them. They believe federal land was illegally seized from their ancestors (it wasn't) and that it belongs to the states (it doesn't).
These nonsensical beliefs form the basis of their belligerence and underlines everything they and many of their ilk have done over the last several years so, naturally, House Republicans are considering a trio of bills that effectively legitimize their beliefs.
House Republicans will consider three bills that would transfer ownership of federal land to various states.
The first bill, introduced by Representative Don Young from Alaska (R), would allow any state to seize control and ownership of up to 2 million acres of national forests within its borders — an area nearly the size of Yellowstone National Park. A state would then be able to auction off the lands to private ownership or for mining, logging, and drilling.
The second bill, written by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), would give states and counties the right to take direct control of up to 4 million acres of national forests across the country for clear-cut logging, without regard to environmental laws and protections.
A third bill, written by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), would turn over what the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance estimates to be 6,000 miles of road right-of-ways on U.S. public lands to counties in Utah, opening the door for road construction and development in protected wilderness areas.
As you can see, the men who would have the federal government forfeit ownership of public land aren't interested in preserving or protecting it. Their only interest is in pillaging it.
This isn't about principal or ideology. It's about money. They don't look at public land, national parks, or refuges and see land that must be protected and maintained. They see dollar signs; not for you or I or the general public, but for themselves. States do not have the money or resources to protect and maintain these lands but that is not their goal. Their goal is to sell the land.
The men who occupied a remote corner of Oregon were mostly unemployed and relied on government benefits or family members to financially sustain themselves. For them, seizing control of federal land and public property is a means to an end of amassing personal wealth.
In that sense, you could say their seizure of the wildlife refuge was nothing more than an unsuccessful heist or glorified robbery.