UPDATE - BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The latest on armed protesters who have taken over a federal building at an Oregon wildlife refuge.

One of the protesters occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon says the ultimate goal is to turn the land over to local authorities so people can use it free of federal oversight.

Ryan Bundy — one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights — told The Associated Press Sunday the protesters want to "restore the rights to people so they can use the land and resources" for ranching, logging, mining and recreation.

Ryan Bundy spoke at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns, Oregon. Ryan Bundy says he and others are prepared to occupy the remote federal area indefinitely.

The protesters object to a prison sentence for local ranchers for burning federal land.

Ryan Bundy says the federal government has been "tromping on people's rights and privileges and properties and livelihoods."

=================================================================

UPDATE -  An Oregon sheriff says the group occupying a national wildlife refuge came to town under false pretenses.

Sheriff David Ward says the men came to Harney County in remote southeastern Oregon claiming to be there in support of local ranchers, but were really there to spark a movement to overthrow the government.

The sheriff says he is working with local and federal authorities to keep the citizens in his county safe and to quickly and peacefully resolve the situation that began Saturday evening after a peaceful protest in the nearby town of Burns.

He is asking people to stay away from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for their own safety. Ward says he does not think any other parts of the county are in immediate danger.

=================================================================

UPDATE - BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The latest on armed protesters who have taken over a federal building at an Oregon wildlife refuge.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden says "outsiders" are to blame for the situation in a rural part of the state where protesters are occupying a national wildlife refuge to object to a prison sentence for local ranchers for burning federal land.

Wyden told The Associated Press he had been briefed by Gregory Bretzing, the FBI special agent in charge in Portland, Oregon. Wyden says the FBI is coordinating with state police and the Harney County sheriff's office, but he declined to offer further details.

Ammon Bundy — the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights — is among the people at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns, Oregon. It's unclear how many protesters are at the refuge, but Bundy says they are planning to stay indefinitely.

Wyden says he understands why some may be frustrated with federal bureaucracy and poor economic conditions in rural areas. However he says they shouldn't be "misled by some outsiders who seem willing to take the law into their own hands."

Wyden says he believes most people in the area don't support the protesters.

====================================================================

A small group of armed protesters calling themselves a “militia” are occupying a small, empty building on a wildlife refuge in Oregon.
The group, which claims to be nearly 150 people, but experts estimate number around a dozen, says through spokesman Ammon Bundy that they plan to be at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge “for the long haul.” Bundy and his brother are the sons of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who refused to pay grazing fees for government land he ran livestock on, sparking another armed protest that ultimately fizzled out.
This group is protesting the prison sentences given a rancher and his son for setting a fire that spread to federal land adjacent to theirs. Here is the Associated Press story on that case.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The father and son of a prominent Oregon ranching family plan to surrender Monday to serve more time in prison for setting fires that spread to government lands they leased as cattle rangeland.

Seventy-three-year-old Dwight Hammond and 46-year-old Steven Hammond say they lit the fires in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires.

The two were convicted three years ago and served time, but a judge ruled the terms were too short. Federal lawyers prosecuted the ranchers under an anti-terrorism law that they say required a five-year minimum sentence.

The decision to again imprison the Hammonds has generated controversy in a rural part of the state. It's also playing into a long-simmering conflict between ranchers and the U.S. government over the use of federal land.
So far, authorities are simply keeping people away, as the group is issuing calls for what they describe as “patriots” to come and join them. The usual complaints about “government tyranny” have been issued, mainly on Facebook, and it is not known how much food the group has brought with them.

  • 1