This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
I wrote last week about a video posted on Facebook by the American Lands Council (ALC) that alleges the Bureau of Land Management deliberately started fires, then carelessly let them rage out of control, killing livestock and destroying ranchers' property in Oregon.
The video was misleading, since news stories and subsequent BLM reports of the 2012 blaze show it was lightning-caused, fueled by heavy dry underbrush and desperately fought by federal, state and area firefighters.
Here's the rest of the story: It was a rip-off of a heavily edited propaganda video produced in December by Ammon Bundy.
The ALC video's text even contains the same spelling errors as the one released by Bundy, the now-jailed leader of an armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon to protest federal land-management policies.
Bundy's father, Cliven Bundy, made headlines during an armed 2014 confrontation with federal agents over decades of unpaid grazing fees.
So this is the source the ALC used to rile up anti-BLM opponents and enlist fees-paying ALC members.
The group was co-founded by Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, who until recently was its president, making a salary of $135,000 in 2014.
Ivory has spearheaded efforts in the Utah Legislature to demand the federal government transfer control of public lands to the states and to commit millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to sue the feds over the disputed turf.
Research by Michael Heggen, a Salem, Ore., horse breeder, discloses that an original video was shot by an area rancher named John Witzel, who was armchair-quarterbacking the BLM's battle against the blaze. While Witzel criticized the agency for not acting quickly enough, he didn't accuse the BLM of "burning out ranchers" as claimed in Bundy's edited version.
"What you see in the video," Heggen writes, "are firefighting efforts including the use of backfiring, which involves intentionally burning land ahead of a wildfire in order to create a black line devoid of fuel for the wildfire not thuggery by the yellow-clad stormtroopers of the tyrannical BLM."
The multiagency crews included young locals hired and trained as firefighters as well as volunteers from the rangeland fire-protection district.
Ammon Bundy twisted Witzel's words, according to Heggen, with clever editing to create a masterful piece of propaganda.
Bosom buddies • I have questioned the motives of Ivory and the ALC, as well as other nonproft endeavors that he has launched. He and his supporters have retaliated with op-eds and letters to the editor questioning my accuracy and credibility, basically dismissing me as a member of the liberal media.
But, apparently, all is forgiven.
I received an email last week from Ivory, addressing me as "friend and neighbor" and thanking me for my support of the ALC.
He also has invited me to sign up for his new cause: Free the Lands, a joint initiative of Federalism in Action, a nonprofit group affiliated with the Koch brothers and other right-wing activists.
So it's Ken and I fighting for truth, justice and the American way.