The surprising history of the Malheur wildlife refuge

http://www.hcn.org/articles/the-surprising-history-of-the-malheur-wildlife-refuge?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email

The refuge’s creation helped support nearby ranchers.

National wildlife refuges such as the one at Malheur near Burns, Oregon, have importance far beyond the current furor over who manages our public lands. Such refuges are becoming increasingly critical habitat for migratory birds because 95 percent of the wetlands along the Pacific Flyway have already been lost to development.

In some years, 25 million birds visit Malheur, and if the refuge were drained and converted to intensive cattle grazing – which is something the “occupiers” threatened to do – entire populations of ducks, sandhill cranes, and shorebirds would suffer. With their long-distance flights and distinctive songs, the migratory birds visiting Malheur’s wetlands now help to tie the continent together.

This was not always the case. By the 1930s, three decades of drainage, reclamation, and drought had decimated high-desert wetlands and the birds that depended upon them. Out of the hundreds of thousands of egrets that once nested on Malheur Lake, only 121 remained. The American population of the birds had dropped by 95 percent. It took the federal government to restore Malheur’s wetlands and recover waterbird populations, bringing back healthy populations of egrets and many other species.


Sandhill crane in Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Yet despite the importance of wildlife refuges to America’s birds, not everyone appreciates them. At one recent news conference, Ammon Bundy called the creation of Malheur National Wildlife refuge “an unconstitutional act” that removed ranchers from their lands and plunged the county into an economic depression. This is not a new complaint. Since the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1980s, rural communities in the West have blamed their poverty on the 640 million acres of federal public lands, which make up 52 percent of the land in Western states.

Rural Western communities are indeed suffering, but the cause is not the wildlife refuge system. Conservation of bird habitat did not lead to economic devastation, nor were refuge lands “stolen” from ranchers. If any group has prior claims to Malheur refuge, it is the Paiute Indian Tribe.

For at least 6,000 years, Malheur was the Paiutes’ home. It took a brutal Army campaign to force the people from their reservation, marching them through the snow to the state of Washington in 1879. Homesteaders and cattle barons then moved onto Paiute lands, squeezing as much livestock as possible onto dwindling pastures, and warring with each other over whose land was whose. Scars from this era persist more than a century later.

In 1908, President Roosevelt established the Malheur Lake Bird Reservation on the lands of the former Malheur Indian Reservation. But the refuge included only the lake itself, not the rivers that fed into it. Deprived of water, the lake shrank during droughts, and squatters moved onto the drying lakebed. Conservationists, realizing they needed to protect the Blitzen River that fed the lake, began a campaign to expand the refuge.

But the federal government never forced the ranchers to sell, as the occupiers at Malheur claimed, and the sale did not impoverish the community. In fact, it was just the opposite: During the Depression years of the 1930s, the federal government paid the Swift Corp. $675,000 for ruined grazing lands. Impoverished homesteaders who had squatted on refuge lands eventually received payments substantial enough to set them up as cattle ranchers nearby.

John Scharff, Malheur’s manager from 1935 to 1971, sought to transform local suspicion into acceptance by allowing local ranchers to graze cattle on the refuge. Yet some tension persisted. In the 1970s, when concern about overgrazing reduced – but did not eliminate – refuge grazing, violence erupted again. Some environmentalists denounced ranchers as parasites who destroyed wildlife habitat. A few ranchers responded with death threats against environmentalists and federal employees.

But violence is not the basin’s most important historical legacy. Through the decades, community members have come together to negotiate a better future. In the 1920s, poor homesteaders worked with conservationists to save the refuge from irrigation drainage. In the 1990s, Paiute tribal members, ranchers, environmentalists and federal agencies collaborated on innovative grazing plans to restore bird habitat while also giving ranchers more flexibility. In 2013, such efforts resulted in a landmark collaborative conservation plan for the refuge, and it offers great hope for the local economy and for wildlife.

The poet Gary Snyder wrote, “We must learn to know, love, and join our place even more than we love our own ideas. People who can agree that they share a commitment to the landscape – even if they are otherwise locked in struggle with each other – have at least one deep thing to share.”

Collaborative processes are difficult and time-consuming. Yet they have proven that they have the potential to peacefully sustain both human and wildlife communities.

Authorities closing in on Oregon’s Malheur occupation

http://www.hcn.org/articles/malheur-occupiers-1-dead-7-arrested-finicum

FBI calls for removal of occupiers following eight arrests and the death of one man late Tuesday.

Will the History Books Record How Neo-Nazis Made Eyes at the Bundy Militia?

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34575-will-the-history-books-record-how-neo-nazis-made-eyes-at-the-bundy-militia

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 00:00
Written by
Spencer Sunshine By Spencer Sunshine, Truthout | News Analysis

With fellow protesters on either side of him, Ammon Bundy, back to camera in center, speaks to reporters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Princeton, Ore., Jan. 4, 2016. (Jarod Opperman / The New York Times)With fellow protesters on either side of him, Ammon Bundy, back to camera in center, speaks to reporters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Princeton, Oregon, January 4, 2016. (Photo: Jarod Opperman / The New York Times)

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The FBI and the Oregon State Police have arrested most of the leaders of the three-and-a-half-week armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. At least two militia members were shot during a highway traffic stop that turned into a shoot-out Tuesday night, and one militia leader – Robert “LaVoy” Finicum – was killed.

From its start, the Malheur occupation highlighted the social and political fault lines within the United States, drawing sharply conflicting reactions ranging from mockery to hero worship to criticisms of the capitalist and colonial underpinnings of the militia’s tactics and aims. Reactions to the shoot-out have also revealed even more fault lines, including divisions within the left, as some celebrate the downfall of the far-right-wing occupiers and others question how any progressive could ever celebrate the shooting of a civilian by the police.

As the Malheur occupation fades into history, there are many insights on the US social and political landscape to be distilled both from this episode and from the national conversations it has sparked. One underreported aspect of the affair is what it revealed about the nature of the partial but significant overlaps between neo-Nazis and anti-federal-government activists like the Bundys.

The occupiers had been demanding the abolition of the federal government as we know it, using a set of rationales that were originally derived from racist movements. Some of the occupiers were known to spout anti-Semitic or Islamophobic conspiracy theories, while another denied that slavery existed. And so it should not have surprised anyone that neo-Nazis and other organized racists have applauded the occupation.

Instead of wearing a swastika and burning a cross, they were wrapped in the American flag and waving the Constitution.

Until their arrest, Ammon and Ryan Bundy (sons of deadbeat rancher Cliven Bundy) were leaders of the occupation of the refuge’s headquarters outside of Burns, Oregon, which had gone on since January 2. They had two demands: to remove control of the bird sanctuary (previously Indigenous-held land) from the federal government’s hands so that ranchers could use it for private gain without current environmental and other restrictions; and release two members of the Hammond family, local ranchers serving sentences for arson on public land.

Many of the ideas and political forms that Ammon Bundy and his friends used were derived from the 1970s white supremacist group Posse Comitatus. It promoted the formation of militias, developed a fictitious parallel legal world based on an idiosyncratic reading of the US Constitution, and rejected the authority of federal and state governments – claiming that the county sheriff was the highest legitimate elected official. But while Ammon Bundy and the others directly around him had many of the same ideas, they were careful not to use Posse Comitatus’ bigoted language.

This was not true of many of the Bundys’ followers at the refuge. Jon Ritzheimer, who was also arrested Tuesday night, is a famous Islamophobic organizer, known for his vicious rhetoric. Blaine Cooper once wrapped a Koran in bacon and set it on fire. Brand Thornton and David Fry are reported to hold anti-Semitic ideas. Ryan Payne (also arrested on Tuesday) believes that slavery didn’t exist. Rance Harris is said to have neo-Nazi tattoos like “88” – the alphanumeric code for “Heil Hitler.” And together they collectively offended the Burns Paiute Tribe (whose land used to include the refuge), by – among other things – breaking into an area where the tribe’s artifacts are stored.

So flirtatious overtures from neo-Nazis to the Bundy gang should not have surprised anyone.

More: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34575-will-the-history-books-record-how-neo-nazis-made-eyes-at-the-bundy-militia

Remaining Oregon protesters issue death threats: ‘This is a free-for-all Armageddon’

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-oregon-refuge-roadblocks-20160127-story.html

As law enforcement surrounded the remaining protesters at an Oregon wildlife refuge Wednesday, an armed occupier urged supporters to join them and to kill any law enforcement officer who tried prevent their entry, according to a livestream that has been broadcasting from the site.

“There are no laws in this United States now! This is a free-for-all Armageddon!” a heavyset man holding a rifle yelled into a camera that was broadcasting a livestream from the refuge Wednesday morning, adding that if “they stop you from getting here, kill them!”

A second man cooed to the camera in a sing-song voice, “What you gonna do, what you gonna do when the militia comes after you, FBI?”

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The FBI declined to release any details about how a spokesman for the protest group was killed during a confrontation with federal and state agencies a day earlier, citing a policy of not commenting on shooting incidents while they are under review.

The sudden move to arrest ranking protest leaders on a rural stretch of highway Tuesday afternoon was “a very deliberate and measured response” to the armed occupation that had lasted since Jan. 2 with no end in sight, Gregory T. Bretzing, special agent in charge of Portland’s FBI division, said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

“We’ve worked diligently to bring the situation” at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., to “a peaceful end,” Bretzing said.

He added that the FBI and Oregon State Police’s surprise arrests of protesters confronted outside the refuge Tuesday was deliberately carried far from county residents and that agents were cognizant of “removing the threat of danger from anybody who might be present.”

But he said he could not release details about how protester spokesman and Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was killed, citing an ongoing investigation. A pair of unverified videos from a man and a woman who claimed to be traveling with the protesters when they were arrested said that Finicum was shot after he sped away from law enforcement during a traffic stop.

Several members of the group — including one of its most prominent leaders, Ammon Bundy, 40 — were expected to make their initial appearance in federal court Wednesday afternoon to face charges of government intimidation.

Meanwhile, the standoff continues….

More: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-oregon-refuge-roadblocks-20160127-story.html

FBI sets up checkpoints around Oregon refuge after deadly confrontation


Reuters

By Peter Henderson

Jan 27 (Reuters) – U.S. and state officials in Oregon on Wednesday set up checkpoints around Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where an armed group pledged to prolong its standoff with the government a day after one protester was shot and eight others were arrested.

Authorities said the new security involves a series of checkpoints along key routes into and out of the refuge, and was made out of an “abundance of caution” to protect the public and law enforcement after the confrontation.

The month-long occupation of the wildlife reserve over federal control of large tracts of the country turned violent on Tuesday after officers stopped a car carrying protest leader Ammon Bundy and others near the refuge. Activists said Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers, was killed.

There were no details on why shooting broke out at the traffic stop. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said authorities would hold a news conference on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. PST (1730 GMT) in Burns, a town near the refuge.

One of the remaining occupiers, Jason Patrick, told Reuters by phone they would stay until the “redress of grievances.”

“I’ve heard ‘peaceful resolution’ for weeks now and now there’s a cowboy who is my friend who is dead – so prepare for the peaceful resolution,” Patrick said.

Authorities on Wednesday said the checkpoints will allow only ranchers who own property in the area to pass and anyone coming out of the refuge will have to show identity and have their vehicle searched.

More:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fbi-sets-up-checkpoints-around-oregon-refuge-after-deadly-confrontation/ar-BBoKsvV?ocid=spartandhp

 

Ammon Bundy speaks by phone to FBI negotiator

http://komonews.com/news/nation-world/ammon-bundy-speaks-by-phone-to-fbi-negotiator

Ammon Bundy speaks by phone to FBI negotiator

160122_ammon_bundy.jpg
Ammon Bundy speaks with reporter at a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, near Burns, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
BURNS, Ore. (AP) The leader of an armed group that is occupying a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon has spoken with the FBI and there are plans to communicate again on Friday as the standoff over federal land policies nears the three-week mark.

Standing outside the municipal airport in Burns, Oregon, Ammon Bundy spoke by phone Thursday to an unnamed FBI negotiator. The federal agency has used the airport, about 30 miles from the refuge, as a staging ground during the occupation.

The conversation happened a day after Oregon’s governor sharply criticized federal authorities for not doing more to remove Bundy’s group from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the state’s high-desert.

The FBI did not specifically comment on the Thursday conversation, though it was streamed live online by someone from his group.

Bundy said he went to the airport to meet with FBI officials face to face, but they declined to meet him. Bundy said the FBI had called him 14 times in a row earlier this week, but he couldn’t pick up the phone because he was in a meeting.

“We’re not going to escalate nothing, we’re there to work,” Bundy told the FBI official, with reporters and supporters watching. “You guys as the FBI… you would be the ones to escalate. I’m here to shake your hands… myself and those with me are not a threat.”

He also told the FBI the agency doesn’t have “the people’s authority” to station at the airport. Earlier this month, officials said the FBI has jurisdiction over the armed takeover of the federal buildings in the refuge, as well as any crimes committed there.

“This occupation has caused tremendous disruption and hardship for the people of Harney County, and our response has been deliberate and measured as we seek a peaceful resolution,” the FBI said Thursday in a statement.

On Wednesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she was angry because federal authorities have not taken action against Bundy’s group, which began occupying the refuge Jan 2. The Democratic governor said the occupation has cost Oregon taxpayers nearly half a million dollars.

“We’ll be asking federal officials to reimburse the state for these costs,” Brown said.

Bundy did not address concerns about how much the occupation is costing authorities. He did rail against federal land management policies and reiterated that his armed group would not leave the refuge until federal lands including the refuge are turned over to local control.

“We will leave there if those buildings are turned over to the proper authorities… and never used again by the federal government to control land and resources unconstitutionally in this county,” Bundy said.

Bundy said that despite some negative sentiments against his group expressed at recent community meetings, he believes his group’s work is appreciated by locals. He said the armed men have been “helping ranchers,” doing maintenance on the refuge because “it’s in a bad shape,” and taking care of fire hazards in the refuge’s fire house.

Bundy also asked the FBI to let two ranchers sent to prison for arson go back home. Bundy agreed to speak with authorities again on Friday. He said he would again come to the airport and hoped to speak with someone from the FBI face-to-face.

Earlier Bundy also said his group plans to have a ceremony Saturday for ranchers to renounce federal ownership of public land and tear up their federal grazing contracts. The armed group plans to open up the 300-square-mile refuge for cattle this spring.

___

Wozniacka reported from Portland, Oregon.

RELATED LINK: Oregon standoff leader attends community meeting, hears chants of ‘go’

The Oregon Militia Is Turning Out To Be Its Very Own Worst Enemy

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/bundy-standoff-enters-third-week-of-ridiculousness

In what is starting to look like a genius move, the federal government and local law enforcement have mostly kept their distance in the two weeks since an unknown number of out-of-town, rag-tag militiamen stormed the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and vowed to stay until the federal government turned over its land to local ranchers.

So far authorities have declined to confront the men or to put the squeeze on them by restricting movement to and from the refuge or even to turn off the electricity, which might help draw the men out of the compound in the freezing January days.

But the lack of confrontation by federal officials has not only prevented it from becoming the next Waco or Ruby Ridge but transformed it into a peculiar and mundane sideshow, a one-sided standoff where the militiamen’s days are marked by visits from wacky outsiders like pretend judge Bruce Doucette coming to sniff out “evidence” against the federal government and from disgruntled community members ready for the men to leave already.

By leaving the would-be revolutionaries to their own devices, authorities have given them enough rope to hang themselves.

In the last week alone, the militiamen have made headlines–not for forcing the government’s hand on federal lands or helping free the Hammonds–but for throwing boxes of dildos on the floor in protest against the mocking mail they have been receiving, for getting arrested after allegedly driving an official refuge vehicle into town to get groceries, for ransacking government files and for using government computers.

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With each odd incident, the media and the public gets more insight into the individuals holed up at the wildlife preserve and their puzzling and incongruent motivations. It does not appear that all of the men at the refuge subscribe to one ideology or another. A report from the Anti-Defamation League actually chronicles that the men hold a hodgepodge of views and have some varying disagreements on how to tackle the standoff.

By taking a hands-off approach to the incident, the government has actually given the militiamen room to stew, to fight with one another and ultimately, to undermine their cause.

Take for example Jon Ritzheimer, the man who recorded himself throwing boxes of sex toys onto the floor at the compound. Before he appeared in Oregon standoff videos, Ritzheimer was not known for taking up land disputes, but for putting together threatening, anti-Muslim protests and videos. He was well known in Arizona for organizing a protest where more than 200 individuals –many with guns– showed up outside of a Phoenix mosque. In November, he once again came on the FBI’s radar for announcing he planned to travel to a Muslim hamlet in New York.

Kenneth Medenbach, the man arrested for allegedly driving a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service vehicle into town, was actually out on bail for another seven-month government land occupation he was allegedly involved in last year. According to the Guardian, he was also convicted of squatting on government land in 1996 when the 62-year-old now chainsaw sculptor resided in a tent on government land and guarded his assumed property with “50 to 100 pounds of the explosive ammonium sulfate, a pellet gun, and what appeared to be a hand grenade with trip wires.”

The more outspoken, bold and hungry the militiamen are for attention, the more peculiar their standoff becomes. While federal officials have been wildly criticized for leaving the militiamen to their own devices, those still at the compound are giving feds plenty of evidence to help government officials charge them later.

In one bizarre video released last week from inside the compound, an ISIS-sympathizing, self-proclaimed video gamer from Ohio, David Fry, recorded himself using a Linux flash drive to circumvent password-protected government computers. And there are several photographs of de facto standoff leader Ammon Bundy ripping apart government fencing with his bare hands.

Over the weekend, one of the most outspoken standoff participants LaVoy Finicum– a Mormon rancher who has ceased paying grazing fees and has penned a right-wing conspiracy-ridden cowboy thriller – had several foster children removed from his family’s custody back in Arizona.

Photo: Snow by Jim Robertson

Photo: Snow by Jim Robertson

He claimed the federal government was taking aim against his family in retaliation for his involvement in the standoff in Oregon, but questions have now been raised about his motivations for fostering such a large number of children and whether such an activity is his major source of income.

Another man affiliated with the Oregon militiamen, Californian Darrow Burke, 57, crashed his vehicle outside of Hines, Oregon, in an embarrassing display for the militiamen Sunday. He was cited for driving without a license. A man who in the first few days of the standoff served as Ammon Bundy’s bodyguard – and who goes by the name of ‘Fluffy Unicorn’ – was arrested last week in Maricopa County, Arizona, for an outstanding warrant. One by one, the militiamen’s pasts are catching up with them.

Even the father and son pair they claimed to be fighting for – Dwight and Steven Hammond– have turned themselves into authorities and have begun serving five-year sentences for setting fire to federal lands. The Hammond family has said it wants nothing to do with the standoff at the refuge.

The longer this standoff drags on, the more the militiamen do that further undermines that cause and the more the federal government begins to look like they may have made the right move when the opted to deescalate the situation. Isolated from the rest of the country, the militiamen enter the third week of this standoff, free to cross legal lines and incriminate themselves on video tape.

Grannies (and Friends) Against BULLIES — A Public Rally in support of our PUBLIC LANDS

http://www.malheurfriends.org/

Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (Friends of MNWR) was formed in 1999 and is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation committed to:

    • Conserving, enhancing, and restoring fish and wildlife habitat and cultural history in the Harney Basin in southeast Oregon through the support of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge staff and programs.
    • Assisting the Refuge in providing wildlife-dependent educational and recreational opportunities while enhancing public knowledge and appreciation of the Refuge mission.
  • Advocating for support of the Refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Media Alert from the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Because of this potentially volatile situation, we have been asked to refer all media inquires to the Joint Command, led by the FBI who are coordinating law enforcement efforts. Here is the web page http://www.flashalertbend.net/
Date: *01/15/2016 (Fri.) *Time:* 11:30pm – 1:00pm PST (Speakers at High Noon) *Location: *Crow’s Feet Commons (downtown riverside) *RSVP: CLICK HERE< http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0f44afa729a5fa7-grannies> *(not required but helpful) PLEASE JOIN the *Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge< http://www.malheurfriends.org/>* and the *Great Old Broads for Wilderness< http://www.greatoldbroads.org/>* to send a message to the armed militia trying to steal Malheur Wildlife Refuge: “get out, go home, and give the public back its wildlife refuge.” Speakers include Alice Elshoff, a board member of the Friends and Julie Weikel, a Harney County resident who participated in the process to develop a Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that included local ranchers and won a national award. Rally organizers believe PUBLIC LANDS are part of AMERICA’S HERITAGE and the government must enforce the laws that protect our public lands. These laws should be evaluated through a democratic process, not through bullying, intimidation, and armed anarchy. To RSVP CLICK HERE< http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0f44afa729a5fa7-grannies> or go to link http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0f44afa729a5fa7-grannies

I have a lot in common with the Bundys. Here’s what I’d like to say to them.

http://www.hcn.org/articles/im-not-so-different-from-the-bundys-heres-what-id-like-to-say-to-them

Like the Bundy brothers now illegally occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, I’m a lifelong rural Westerner, and I believe that if I were to talk with them, we’d most likely find we have a lot in common.

There’s the way our lives were shaped by the land, for instance. I was born in Nevada, and I grew up and now live in southwestern Idaho. Though my family worked as carpenters, we lived on small farms where we raised cows and grew hay for the winter. Like the Bundys and many of their allies, I come from hard working, blue-collar folks.

From them I learned to love the land, especially the Northwestern high desert. I’ve hunted the uplands of eastern Oregon from Juntura to Rome, and from Leslie Gulch to the Imnaha. Much of that country is open range where cattle graze. Thanks to ranchers, I’ve watered my bird dogs at troughs where ranchers had enhanced a spring, benefitting both cattle and wildlife.


A group of mule deer bucks moves across Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. There is no big game hunting on the refuge, so deer abound.

I imagine that if the Bundys and I sat down over coffee, we’d start trading stories about our early years. Pretty quickly, though, our differences would emerge. They’d insist that taking over a wildlife refuge is speaking for “the people” – Westerners frustrated by the federal government. I couldn’t let that stand.

Want to read more of our coverage of the standoff and what led to it? Find it here.

I’d respond by saying: That wildlife refuge you’re occupying belongs to me and to 320 million other Americans. You are trespassing, taking advantage of the hospitality and tolerance of the rest of the American people. You are abusing the rights you so readily invoke by occupying the refuge indefinitely. I would remind you that you are free to stay a maximum of 14 days, because that is the camping limit in most places, and it was put in place so that everyone can share the land.

If they let me continue, I’d suggest they go home and read Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau and perhaps brush up on their history about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. Parks didn’t wave guns around and threaten to kill people on the bus.

Then I’d say: “You are carrying firearms and threatening to commit violence if you don’t get your way. You say you want this to be a peaceful protest, but in the same breath you warn that you will fight and die for your cause.  You bluster, trying to provoke a response, all the while using the media to protect you and further your cause.

“You are abusing your rights as an American. There are legal ways to change systems if you feel that they aren’t working. I have heard nothing from you about your responsibilities, only demands about what you want, though ultimately, what you want is to control a resource that belongs to me and to every other American. Public lands are our birthright, and you have no right to commandeer them for your own purposes.

“Frankly, I don’t want my land – which includes all the federal land in the West – turned over to people who behave like you. I want to be free to hunt, fish, hike, ride my horse, my mountain bike or all-terrain vehicle, to picnic, camp, and to bird watch on the nation’s vast tracts of federal ground, and I don’t want to have to ask for your permission to do so.

“Your protest is nothing more than an elaborate tantrum conducted with firearms. If you actually won claim to any public lands, I think you’d intimidate and bully others the way you and your followers did in Nevada, and the way you are doing now. Furthermore, your family owes me and 320 million of my fellow Americans more than a million dollars in back grazing fees for using public land without paying your fair share.

“When I cut firewood on nearby Forest Service land, I purchase my 10-cord, personal use permit. I pay my camping fees. I buy my hunting license. I pay to park and use ramps on wild rivers where I kayak. I pay fees because they are used to improve recreation opportunities for everyone.

So I want you to go home and start paying me and your fellow citizens what you owe us. That’s what good citizens and neighbors do. Thanks for the conversation.”

Malheur Occupiers under siege from PETA

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/01/06/go-vegan-and-go-home-occupiers-under-siege-from-peta-native-tribe/

On Tuesday, Bundy said some folks brought them soup and a sympathetic rancher stocked a freezer full of meat for the group holing up at the refuge. And the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) delivered vegan jerky to the militants on Wednesday.

The snacks came along with signs that read, “The End of Animal-Based Ag Is Nigh: GET OUT NOW!”

The occupiers gladly accepted the vegan fare, which is made of soy, seitan and shiitake mushrooms and packs a bigger protein punch than beef. At least one self-described hardcore carnivore occupying the refuge promptly announced his love for the meatless treats, a PETA spokesperson said.

“He tried the hickory smoked primal strip,” said PETA spokesperson Lindsay Rajt. “He said it tasted like salmon and he loved it.”