LAND GRAB: The Air Force Is About To Seize 400 Acres Of Private Land In Nevada

The Cliven Bundy case showed lots of Americans that the federal government is guilty of some pretty egregious abuses of property rights with respect to its dominant position as a landowner in the West, and particularly in Nevada.

But the Bundy situation was one thing. After all, Bundy’s rights in question involved grazing rights on government land and the feds’ appropriating his livestock following a sketchy, if not downright crooked, legal process.

There is another Nevada land case which is considerably worse, and that one – which involves nuclear testing, airstrikes and Area 51 – is coming to a head now.

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The U.S. Air Force is giving an ultimatum to the owners of a remote Nevada property that over time has been surrounded by a vast bombing range including the super-secret Area 51.

The Sheahan family is being told to take a $5.2 million “last best offer” for their property by Thursday — or the government will seize it through condemnation.

The owners include descendants of a couple who lost their hardscrabble mining enterprise after the Air Force moved in in the 1940s. Nuclear tests then began in 1951, their mine mill mysteriously exploded in 1954 and they ran out of money to seek reparations from the government in 1959.

Family representatives say they’ll reject the deal — at least for now. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported this is because they simply “want to keep our property.”

The LVRJ article in question has some interesting bits of the back story in the Sheahan case…

[Joe Sheahan, 54, and his] cousins Ben Sheahan, 56, Danny Sheahan, 58, and Barbara Sheahan Manning, 59, — all from Henderson — said their stake in the combined 400 acres of property and unpatented mining claims is worth considerably more, not counting the reparations they say they are owed by the Air Force and Department of Energy for “abuses and atrocities” that date back to the early 1950s. That’s when they said their ore processing mill was fire-bombed by a military jet and their property was showered by radioactive fallout from numerous above-ground nuclear weapons tests.

Most recently, when some family members visited the property in the restricted area 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas — as the Air Force has allowed them to do about once a month — guards held them at gunpoint, including a 7-year-old girl who was “traumatized” by the show of force, Danny Sheahan said.

“It seems like machine guns solve anything on the property out there. That’s not the American way,” he said.

The Air Force denies the Sheahans’ claims, and says they’ve been “disruptive” to its operations. Joe Sheahan disagrees, telling the LVRJ “We’re interrupting their operations? Really? We didn’t parachute into their backyard. They parachuted into our backyard.”

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