Category Archives: Blog Post

Witness to the Arrests: Victoria Sharp was in the car with Ammon Bundy when the FBI arrested them and shot Lavoy Finicum

“Are you kidding me? Have you seen the car? Have you seen the vehicle?…I mean, it’s completely covered with gun shots.”

This file (an audio interview with Victoria Sharp) was recorded after the arrests in Oregon.  It was sent to me and I don’t know the name of the interviewer.  If you do, please let me know so I can correctly attribute this to him.

Transcript of the Interview

 

Young Boy Recalls the Nt’l Park Svc Ranger Pulling a Gun on His Dad

This interview with young Cody Parker was conducted in 2005 on Bobby Parker’s front porch in the Mojave Preserve.  Bobby was trenching a new water line with his privately-owned water directly adjacent to his cabin when Ranger Dingman, with the National Park Service arrived with another ranger. Dingman demanded that Bobby stop trenching and pulled his gun out. Bobby’s adopted dad, Leo Spatziani, saw what was happening and went to his pickup truck, pulled out his rifle, held it up in the air and told the rangers to leave. A few days later, Leo was arrested for assaulting a federal officer and ultimately convicted. The then 66 year old spent six months in prison. This is an excerpt from one of the interviews with Cody recalling what had happened. The interview sound bite itself is unedited, so you hear Ms. Catania’s voice in the background.

 

Disabled Coal Miner Says Park Service is Taking His Home

“I was there the night she had the heart attack” (J.C. Kelley, American Coal Miner, New River, 2005)

This interview was conducted in 2005 on New River Road in Hinton, West Virginia.  According to sources there,  the National Park Service at first told the residents that they would fix the road and wanted permission to do so, but that mandate was changed by creating “scenic parkway,” focusing on “land acquisition options for resource protection.” The residents fought but many gave up. Some passed away during the process.  Years later, many of the homes taken away from the original owners to “preserve the beauty of the river” lie in disrepair and much of the property has been resold and subsequently redeveloped by others.

 

EXCERPT FROM THE INTERVIEW:

INTERVIEWER: What do you think is going to happen?

JC KELLEY: Well, you can’t fight city hall. They’ll eventually take it away from you because they got more time and money than we got. Just like uh, just like uh Doug Talbert says that we can wait ’til some of the people dies, and which they have.

INTERVIEWER: Have people gotten sick over this, has this been hard on people?

JC KELLEY: (TALKS OVER) Yes. I know of one lady that it killed. It killed one lady.

INTERVIEWER: Who was that?

JC KELLEY: Uh it killed uh, uh–

INTERVIEWER: Was that Mabel?

JC KELLEY: Mabel Flannigan’s the one it killed. I was there the night she had the heart attack when she seen the picture.

INTERVIEWER: What picture?

JC KELLEY: Of uh, the one they had computerized for her and had her home gone. Where it took her home away from her right up here. And she said that night that she would uh die in her house before she’d let them take it, and she, they had to force her to go to the doctor and to the store and stuff. She would not leave her home. And she died right there in her house.

INTERVIEWER: Wow.

JC KELLEY: I was there the night she had the heart attack. I was there the night she got sick.

New River – Virginia – Willing Sellers Are Not Always Willing

Cindy and Tommy Mullens spent 12 years building their dream home on the New River in Hinton, West Virginia, only to be forced off when the National Park Service began seizing property along what was going to be a scenic byway.

After dozens of landowners relinquished their homes, many of the properties fell into disrepair.  We noted some that were fenced in, falling down and blighted. According to the residents, some of the land that was seized was sold to a lumber company by the Park Service and private homes with new owners were rebuilt on the areas that had originally  been confiscated.

The Mullens home on the New River, Circa 2005
The Mullens home on the New River, Circa 2005

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Properties managed by the National Park Service. After years of neglect, the homes are rotting along the Scenic Byway, New River, West Virginia.
Properties managed by the National Park Service. After years of neglect, the homes are rotting along the Scenic Byway, New River, West Virginia.
One of the properties on the New River after several years of National Park Service management.
One of the properties on the New River after several years of National Park Service management.
After the Park Service sold some of the confiscated land to a lumber company, new homes were constructed
After the Park Service sold some of the confiscated land to a lumber company, new homes were constructed

This is a short excerpt (1:30) from a longer interview with Cindy Mullens. To see the longer version of her unedited interview (questions were taken out to avoid distraction, but the interview is presented as it occurred in 2005).

And here’s the full interview with Cindy:

For more information, go to http://www.sustainingamerica.com

 

 

Caught on Tape – Bragging about stealing land in the Mojave

I’ve wrestled about whether or not to publish this video, but as a journalist, I believe that all sides of a story should be told.  So, you be the judge.  This was filmed at a public event (Superintendent Mary Martin’s retirement from the Mojave Preserve) with government employees (most from the Park Service) so permission is not needed to publish.

 

 

 

Kit Laney Rides No More on the Diamond Bar Ranch

Kit and Sherrye Laney always dreamed of having their own ranch.  When they married, they combined their resources, marshaled some from family and friends and purchased the Diamond Bar.  It was their dream come true, until they lost it.  This is a brief excerpt from a two hour interview with Kit that I recorded while visiting them in the Gila a few days after he was released from prison.  He served six months in a maximum security facility for “assaulting an officer with the reins of his horse. (I’ll post the full two hour soon.)

Shortly after this interview was filmed, Kit left for Argentina hoping to run cattle there.  He has since returned to the United States, the Diamond Bar has been sold to private investors who are now running a tourist destination, Sherry was, when I last spoke with her, giving guided tours to hunters and the 100+ year old ranch house that was so lovingly cared for has been torn down to make way for a larger lodge.

During my research preparing for the film, I discovered that there is a huge aquifer running directly under the site of the former Diamond Bar Ranch.

 

Wayne Hage: Storm Over the Rangelands

Wayne Hage, Sr., interviewed here shortly before his death in 2006 at the age of 69,  struggled for years to preserve his rights as an American property owner and dedicated rancher.  His book, “Storm Over Rangelands,” is an important chronicle of what has happened in the West in the last three decades.

It is largely because of Wayne that I am making these films.  He made me promise to tell the stories.

Interview Pt. 1:

Interview Pt. 2:

Wayne Hage, 2006, Pine Creek Ranch Photo: Cirina Catania
Wayne Hage, 2006, Pine Creek Ranch
Photo: Cirina Catania

Sustaining America – About the Interviews

Since 2002, I’ve been traveling the United States of America interviewing people, primarily ranchers and farmers, about their lives, their land, their families.  It started out being a film about cowboy poetry, but soon morphed into something else as I learned how difficult it has been for them to keep their businesses alive and prosperous.  These interviews are being posted here unedited, just as they were recorded, so you can listen and formulate your own opinion about what is happening in this country.  Please come here with love in your heart and a generous spirit.  We welcome you!sunset cows 2_128_2833 1440x1080 72dpi