Let’s keep this very simple.
Clive Bundy is a thief. If I came onto your property and took fruit from your tree and did not pay for it I would go to jail.
For 20 years Clive Bundy has failed to pay for the right to graze on land owned by the people of the United States. He is no better than any other welfare cheat and if it were up to me he would be in jail.
As for who owns the land in Arizona and is the federal government allowed to own and manage the land — if you look at a map of Land Use Management Responsibility for the State of Arizona you will see that the state has a very large area that they own. This is the land given to the state by the federal government when Arizona became a state at a rate of one section for the state and one section for the federal government, with the understanding that both are holding the land in trust for use by the people.
Land was not stolen from the state and Arizona has sold many tracts of land to the benefit of the state.
Finally, as usual, one of your letter writers quotes those parts of the Constitution to support his argument without stating all the facts. Article IV section 3 deals with new states joining the union. It clearly states, “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States”. Arizona was a territory and Congress determined how the land would be distributed between the state, the Indians, open space for recreation and land held in trust by the federal government. Maybe you want to be a strict constitutionalist and say that buildings are just that; you could argue that the federal government has no right to manage open land, but if you build a toilet in a national forest and manage it for the benefit of those visiting the forest would that not fall under Article I Section 8? Or, how about trying to collect rent from a thief, would that not also fall under Article I Section 8?
As for payment in lieu of taxes, let’s not make the same mistake we made in the last budget crisis. The state of Arizona, to balance the budget, sold a number of buildings owned free and clear by the state only to have to lease them back and make regular payments to private corporations. Let’s not make the same mistake with our public lands and by selling them to private corporations and see them closed to all but the wealthy. Let’s keep the West the land of wide open spaces for the use of all those living here.