By New Times
By Connor Radnovich
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Ray Stern
By Keegan Hamilton
By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
The brothers filed papers in Cochise and Graham counties laying claim to about 300,000 acres--almost all of it state or federal land. They based the claims on their interpretation of constitutional and common law, citing the family's long history in the area and their continued use of the rangelands.
The two Klump brothers claimed "all minerals, coal, oil, gas, water, geothermal, gravel and all known and unknown substances to the center of the Earth. We claim the air, airspace, water, gases, all living things, all dead things and all substances to the heavens and beyond."
This document, to put it mildly, gave the state and federal governments the notion that the Klumps had gone off the deep end.
"The Klumps think they own the land and that's bull," says state land commissioner Jean Hassell. "It's not as clear about the water rights, but we think we're in the right and so do they on that. They are salt-of-the-earth people who have a different idea of how America should work and what public lands are."
Last year some of the Klumps started locking gates on lands they leased. Wayne Klump says he closed off several dirt roads in the Dos Cabezas Mountains after reading court decisions that say leaseholders may be held financially liable for injury and death on public lands.
It wasn't as drastic a move as it might first appear. As the authors of the Arizona Atlas wrote in 1981: "Lessees of state land have been permitted to treat it as private property, limiting passage and recreation use if they wish."
But the State of Arizona's philosophy has changed, at least when it comes to the Klumps. The locked-gates issue became news in southeast Arizona this year, after the state and the feds sued the Klumps, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department brought criminal misdemeanor charges against Wayne Klump.
As Wayne and Wally Klump got more and more steadfast in their struggles with the government, something happened that few who know the family thought they'd ever witness. Some of the Klump brothers won't talk publicly about the family split. But a sure sign of the rupture came in a letter last March from Dan and Belva Anne Klump to state land commissioner Jean Hassell.
"My wife and I would like you to know that there is no partnership as Klump brothers and never has been," brother Dan Klump wrote. "Wayne Klump is not our agent or spokesperson. . . . For the last year, my brother Wayne hasn't allowed me to get my cattle off of the land. When you have the cattle removed, I would like to be able to claim my cattle and pay whatever trespass I owe at that time."
as of last week, all the Klump brothers--not just Wally and Wayne--were subjects of pending lawsuits and administrative appeals in Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Tucson and Bisbee.
Last February 28, the BLM sued Keith Klump in U.S. District Court, saying he had blocked Mascot Canyon Road by locking a gate near an old mine of his. The feds claim the locked gate "constitutes an enclosure of public lands." The feds are also planning major cattle seizures at Klump leaseholds in the Steins Mountains, Roostercomb, Simmons Peak and Badger Den allotments.
"I've told Wayne that the country is moving in one direction and he is moving in another," says Joe Lane, a former Willcox rancher and state representative, now an aide to Governor Fife Symington. "He and his brothers are intimidating, but they won't hurt people--I don't think. They just had better get with the program for their own good."
A few weeks ago, Wayne Klump filed personal liens in several courts against BLM officials and other individuals involved in last month's cattle raid at Little Doubtful.
The documents demand at least $650,000 from each for "rustling" his cattle, trafficking in "stolen goods," trespassing and other transgressions. It's far more than a nuisance suit. The BLM's Larry Humphrey--named in the lien claim--says a colleague also listed has been transferred from Arizona to Washington, D.C. The lien has clouded the title on his colleague's home, Humphrey says, and he won't be able to sell it until the case is decided.
And while on June 10 a justice of the peace in Bowie dismissed criminal charges against Wayne Klump after he unlocked the gates on public land, Klump didn't promise he would keep them unlocked.
"I couldn't afford a criminal conviction," Klump says of his decision. "I got too many fights to fight to go to jail right now."
If truth be told, Larry Humphrey is sick and tired of the family. "I used to think the Klumps were people you had to respect, even if you didn't agree with them all the time," says Humphrey. "Hardworking, family values. I can respect people being against the federal government. But whenever you get to analyzing their philosophy, it's really the Klump family against the world."
wally klump's wife, Charlene, is vacationing with one of the couple's sons in her native Iowa. Another son is vacationing in Australia and a daughter is running the family's cattle ranch in New Mexico.