January 5, 2016

Authorities Should Hold Extremists Accountable for Seizure of Public Land

Eight major hunting, fishing, and conservation groups are condemning the extremist takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

For the last several days, as reported by numerous news outlets, a headquarters facility at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon has been occupied by an armed group of extremists from outside the state. This ongoing occupation represents a seizure of public land that American hunters and anglers find unacceptable.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and seven major sportsmen’s groups—the Wildlife Management Institute, Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Public Lands Foundation, Berkley Conservation Institute, Snook and Gamefish Foundation, and Dallas Safari Club—are united in condemning these unlawful actions and have issued the following statement:

“Many citizens of the West—sportsmen and women included—take issue with some public land management decisions, but there is a legitimate process, well-established by law, to provide significant opportunity for public input and influence on these decisions. When an extreme minority uses lawlessness and threats of violence to occupy public land, it threatens the rights of many for the benefit of very few—a profoundly un-American course of action.

We want to thank refuge employees, public land management employees, and law enforcement personnel for their dedicated service during this incident, and we’d urge authorities to uphold law and order by bringing a peaceful resolution to the occupation and then by bringing these armed extremists to justice.”

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds. The refuge provides essential habitat for more than half of the Pacific flyway’s migratory waterfowl, as well as sandhill cranes, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and native redband trout. It is typically open to hunting and angling—but not today.

More than 23,000 hunters and anglers have signed a petition opposing the seizure of America’s public lands.

Help protect public lands and Roosevelt’s legacy—learn more at sportsmensaccess.org.

25 Responses to “Authorities Should Hold Extremists Accountable for Seizure of Public Land”

  1. David Tucker

    You all need to read the real facts as to what is at stake with your so called”PUBLIC LAND”. Blm has been flooding and burning ranchers out of their private property so they can buy it up on the cheap. Well the Hammonds for forty years have been raising cattle to feed thousands of people and wont sell their land to BLM. So BLM has tried every shit trick in the book to coheres and manipulate the legal system to steal the land. I commend your organization for keeping public lands public but in this one issue you are all on the wrong side of the fence. READ THE REAL FACTS!!!

    • Dan Lewis

      Mr. Tucker is mistaken here. First, the land is not owned or operated by the BLM. It is a National Wildlife Refuge, owned and operated by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in coordination with the State of Oregon wildlife agencies. It was created by my favorite Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, and is operated by hunting license, fishing license, duck stamp, and similar fees, gladly paid by sportsmen, the same folks who lobbied hard for and got a major increase in the federal duck stamp price. Before Mr. Tucker asks people to “read the real facts,” he should ascertain the facts he is referring to as being real. Having read the real facts many time in many venues, I assure the readers Mr. Tucker is ranting without any basis in facts inthis case.

    • David Tucker, while your professionalism, grammar, and spelling could use some refining, I don’t believe you to be so far from the mark. But, these Bundy guys from Nevada need to go home. They have garnered their cause attention, and from this point are providing it with more harm than good.

    • Rick Allen

      David the only truth in your statement is probably your name. The BLM doesn’t flood or burn anyone out. They are land management they do not acquire land. There is no reason for the BLM to try to acquire more land, and even if the head of the department of agriculture (which oversees the BLM) wanted to do a land grab, there are no means in the BLM to do so. So get your facts straight. before you lie to hundreds or thousand of people.

    • Jim Hammett

      I have read the real facts, and you are dead wrong. The Hammonds had been violating both BLM and USFWS laws and permit conditions for years — blatantly. They just went too far with the arson (set to cover up deer poaching), got caught, got prosecuted, refused to settle for lesser charges, went to trial, convicted by a jury, and got the minimum sentence allowable under the law they broke. They even signed a pre-sentencing agreement, agreeing to the 5-year term. It is indeed a complicated history, but that is the distillation. The deeper you read into this case, the more you begin to understand the delusions of rights versus privilege.

    • Steven G.

      Funny it wasn’t the BLM that started the fires, it was the ranchers. Also, the group claims to want the land turned back over to the people, which is exactly where it already is. In reality they want it turned over to the private individual.

    • Glenn Reynolds

      This about private lands being seized by the BLM in the name of wildlife refuge, Stick to the facts that the BLM has coerced the sale of private land so they could add it to the refuge. They have wrongfully accused the land owner of Terrorism and then when they did not like the out come went back into the courts with a new judge to get the results they wanted. This stand off is to bring this abuse to light and the american public needs to know what a government bureaucrat will do to advance their control over the land and increase their stature for promotion.

  2. Paul Baicich

    Good for you TRCP and others!

    Not only was Malheur National Wildlife Refuge established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, setting aside unclaimed government lands “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds,” but Duck Stamp dollars have gone to acquire large parts of the NWR. About 48,000 of the current 187,000+ acres of the refuge have been acquired through MBCF/Stamp dollars, through willing sellers. That’s a quarter (25.6%) of the refuge.

    These land-grabbing insurrectionists need to be brought to justice.

  3. Henry Carlile

    David, It is not “so called” public land; it is OUR public land. I’d like to see you provide some real concrete evidence that the BLM has been “flooding and burning ranchers out of their private property so they can buy it on the cheap.” You can’t. It’s anecdotal evidence, at best, and more conspiracy theory than substantive proof. Bundy and his compatriots need to get the hell out of Oregon and go back where they came from. We don’t need their help.

  4. Perhaps, David, you could direct us to the sites that would give us the “real” facts regarding this matter. As of now, every account I have personally read has been remarkably similar in terms of what supposedly happened to get us to where we are now.
    Regardless, the armed occupation of a federal property on public land,…mostly by individuals that have no direct association with this specific case, and many of whom have “shady” histories to put it mildly,…is foolish and counterproductive, at best.
    As one who has dealt with public lands access problems for decades, it has been my experience that the BLM bends over backwards to appease and accommodate landowners and public-land lessees, often at the expense of the public interest in those same public lands.
    Perhaps the situation in Oregon is different, but based on my personal experience, I think I will continue to believe that I and others here, are squarely on the right side of the fence on this issue.

  5. David Allan Cole

    Fourteen Defining
    Characteristics Of Fascism

    1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

    2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

    3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

    4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread

    domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

    5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

    6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

    7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

    8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

    9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

    10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

    11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

    12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

    13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

    14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

  6. dale lockwood

    They are criminal who willingly broke into a federal building while armed. To allow this to go unpunished opens the door to the end of democracy. Where do you draw the line ? A federal court house,congress or a elementary school?
    Bundy’s had a record of being on a bully pulpit and thinking he is a separate country. Talk to people who personally know him and many agree it is time to end his actions.
    He is acting no different than the Black Panther movement in the 60’s and 70’s.

  7. phil holmes

    “raising cattle to feed people” What BS ! He raises cattle to make money. Nothing wrong with that, but spare us the obfuscation. Regarding restrictions on BLM land use, if , e.g., grazing isn’t controlled/managed by some objective, best practice based agency how many ranchers would follow proper grazing management practices ?, The whole western ” we are not subject to Federal laws/rules ” mentality is ego centric and certainly not interested in the greater good.

  8. Joey Tart

    I really dislike how some Groups like the TRCP are politicizing the Bundy Standoff. Yes, I support the TRCP in it’s conservation efforts, but for heaven’s sake,……..leave the Political Agendas and Politics out of it.

    Support the Animals and Birds and quit supporting the Political Agendas!!!!!

  9. Jonathan Stumpf

    Thanks for reading, everyone and engaging in the conversation around this important issue–it should be treated seriously. It’s also important that comments here are respectful. Malicious language will be taken down.

  10. David Tucker

    I’m here now to apologize for my earlier ignorance. I spoke with my girlfriends brother in Burns who grew up with the Hammonds in their community. He has seen and heard first hand all the events that have transpired over the years. Yes the poaching is true and I assume that means a fire was started to cover it up . The truth of the backburn incident is that there were firefighters on the hillside above the Hammonds and Steve Hammond was told twice not to start a back burn by one of the firefighters as it may endanger them. Steve did so anyways and that is why authorities were called in for help. I do not have evidence of this nor is it relevant to my decision to continue to plead for the Hammonds release from prison. They paid half of a $400,000 fine to BLM and had fulfilled their original sentence of prison. I believe it is unjust to punish them further.

  11. The truth here isslowly percolating to the forfront. The bac-kburn was not only set to protect the residence and out buildings, but “apparently” to also cover up a “poaching” that would have possibly been discovered. The other half of the story, is once a Justice (different than sentencing Judge) reviewed the case after the Hammond’s were home, sent them back to jail under the Bush-Era Anti-Terrorism laws created after 9-1-1.
    In order to vet myself, I am a sitting member on the Steens Mountain Advisory Council (SMAC), Burns BLM. Iam a life-long hunter, angler, have done work for BHA, support TRCP and was born and raised in eastern Oregon.
    I was a two-year BLM firefighter with a nephew that was an engine-boss the year of this fire.
    There are many more details that don’t need to be discussed here.

    Keep Public Lands in Public Hands!!!

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April 11, 2015

I Traveled from Colorado to Washington, D.C. to Stand Up for My Public Lands

Congress has been deciding on appropriations for the national budget, including line items that are way over my head. I don’t understand everything about this process, but I do know that it can shape the discussion of how our public lands are managed for years to come. This was my reason for traveling 1,900 miles to be in Washington, D.C., to stand up for sportsmen’s access to public-lands hunting and fishing. With help from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the National Wildlife Federation, and Trout Unlimited, I met with my representatives from Colorado, Sen. Gardner and Sen. Bennett, witnessed the process, and now I better understand how to fight for our outdoor rights.

Photo courtesy of Dan Harrison.

While we were in with Senator Heinrich, I also helped to deliver a petition against the sale or transfer of public lands. I have been guiding and outfitting for well over 20 years, almost entirely on public ground and in wilderness settings. During this time, I have hosted people from every corner of the U.S., and some from across the big water, whoseopinions and political leanings are all over the spectrum. (As much as I try to stay away from discussing religion and politics around the campfire, you can’t spend a week on the mountain without learning a little about people’s views and ideas.) Many see something going wrong and, as much as they may care, assume that there is nothing they can do—they’ll most likely be overridden. This assumption has gotten sportsmen in so much deep water that we are about to lose our uniquely American outdoor heritage that we love so much. The hunting industry alone is over 28 million strong, bringing billions of dollars to the economy. If you combined the hunting and fishing community with the outdoor enthusiasts who hike,raft, and cycle on public lands, it seems to me that you’d have one of the largest organizations in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Dan Harrison.

The organizations that want to sell off our heritage are masters at getting their word out to our elected officials, and they have an advantage overus, because their only focus is to lobby in D.C. The organizations I belong to, many in life membership, do great work in most respects, but their fundraising dollars are spread very thin, because they’re focused on conservation, education, and habitat. We have to lend our support with individual voices.

Outdoorsmen are the original conservationists. We are the ones generating funds for our wildlife and youth education. We have to protect our outdoor heritage and lifestyle, too. So, when was the last time you picked up the phone or picked up a pen and actually voiced your opinion to a decision-maker in your hometown, home state, or in Washington? Your voice and opinion will count as long as we stand together and show how big our piece of the pie really is. Start flooding their offices with opinions. I don’t mean just write one letter, or make one phone call; be persistent. Harness the passion you have for the hunt to stand up for the places you go afield. Because once we lose them, we won’t get them back.

Dan Harrison is a resident of Colorado’s Western Slope, longtime public lands supporter, co-host of Remington Country TV and Owner/Partner of Colorado Mountain Adventures.

March 27, 2015

The Sale of Your Public Lands is More Possible Now Than Ever

Yesterday the US Senate passed a budget resolution that, while it does not carry the weight of law – does serve as an internal instructional document, a broad outline of the policies and priorities that Congress will seek over the next few months to implement in legislation that most certainly will carry the weight of law. As such, it included a series of up or down votes that put members of the Senate on record on several issues important to sportsmen.

And, in general, it was not good news.  First, the numbers:

The Senate budget resolution would maintain sequestration for non-defense discretionary spending (including all conservation spending) and then cut an additional $236 billion over the 2017 to 2025 period.  The Senate budget would cut conservation funding in FY2016 by about $5 billion dollars relative to 2013 levels.  Conservation Funding wouldn’t return to its 2013 funding level of $41 billion until 2022.  If you adjust for inflation the cuts inflicted by the budget will be far worse.

And now the policy:

I’ll start with the two bright spots.  Senator Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) amendment clarifies that all existing agricultural exemptions in the Clean Water Act, which date back to the early 1970s, should be maintained in the proposed Waters of the US rule.  That the amendment passed unanimously may signal that Congress may be willing to look at the facts on the proposed rule and not just the rhetoric from status quo stakeholders.  The next bright spot was an amendment offered by Senators Crapo (R-ID) and Wyden (D-OR) that changes the way we pay for catastrophic fires, which now eat up almost half of the Forest Service’s annual budget. The amendment had sufficient support that it was included in the manager’s report by acclimation.

Besides the basic funding levels, the giant alarm bell coming from the budget resolution was the amendment offered by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that essentially encourages Congress to “sell, or transfer to, or exchange with, a state or local government any Federal land that is not within the boundaries of a National Park, National Preserve, or National Monument…” The amendment passed 51-49. Here is a roll call of the vote.

Photo courtesy of Eric Petlock.

As most sportsmen know, transferring lands to the state or selling them off is a bad deal for sportsmen.  See www.sportsmensaccess.org for more information on the issue.  If Congress were to follow these instructions, all BLM lands, National Forests and even National Wildlife Refuges could go on the chopping block.  Heck, even national battlefields and historic sites could be transferred or sold.

All Democrats voted against the Murkowski amendment, and three Republicans — Senators Alexander (TN), Senator Ayotte (NH) and Senator Gardner (CO) — bucked leadership and sided with sportsmen.

The budget resolution does not carry the weight of law and is an easy place for members to make “symbolic” votes without actually changing the law.  But symbolic votes show what members think and what they think is important.

Make no mistake about it, the public lands vote on the budget resolution was a finger in the eye to sportsmen everywhere.  But the real action is still to come, the question is whether sportsmen and women will pay attention and make their elected representatives know what they think about selling off or giving away our public lands.

As a sportsman who cares about access to our federal public lands, you can do two things right away.

  1. Sign the Sportsmen’s Access petition at www.sportsmensaccess.org – and then forward it to two other friends and urge them to sign as well.
  2. Call your Senator’s office at (202) 224-3121 and thank them if they voted ‘No’ or voice your concern if they voted ‘Yes’ (see how they voted here).



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