Oregon Ranchers Report To Prison As Protests In Support Of Dwight Hammond Continue

Oregon ranchers reported to prison amid heated protests over their convictions. Dwight Hammond Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Hammond, 46, were locked in a battle with the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and were arrested for starting fires on land owned by the federal government. The protest, which resulted in the takeover over a wildlife building operated by the federal government, earlier today quickly garnered national headlines, but the fight between Western ranchers and the BLM has been prompted increased tension for several years.

Dwight Hammond and Steven Hammond were ordered back to prison by an Oregon judge who decided that the time they were given for on the federal arson charges did not mesh with minimum sentencing laws. On Saturday, a protest organized by supporters of the Oregon ranchers resulted in the occupation of the wildlife building, some of which were armed militia members, MSN reports.

Oregon Ranchers Report To Prison Amid Massive Protest

After a rally on Saturday to protest their sentences, armed militia members occupied the federal building. The BLM controls 480 million acres of federally-owned land in the United States. The Oregon ranchers were convicted of setting fires in 2001 and 2006 in an effort to eliminate invasive plants to protect their land from wildfires. The original sentence ordered was for a term of three years and time served, which sent the father and son to jail for one year.

While ranchers in the West are extremely familiar with the powerful BLM, many folks in the rest of the country were largely unaware of either the existence of the control the federal agency wielded over the men and women who raised the steaks that appeared on their dinner plates. During the Cliven Bundy BLM standoff in Nevada, the populace was given a crash course in the ongoing conflict between ranchers and the taxpayer-funded entity.

Half or more of the land in some counties in Western states is owned by the federal government and under the supervision and control of the BLM. The ability of the federal government to hold title to land indefinitely and to severely restrict its use by the public is at the heart of the fight between ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management.

Armed Protesters Take Over Federal Building In Oregon During Dwight Hammond Rally


During a telephone interview with Carol Bundy during the BLM standoff, Cliven’s wife told the Inquisitr that her husband felt he was being pushed off his land by the government after refusing to sell his beloved property multiple times. After the BLM restricted grazing use of land that Bundy and a plethora of other ranchers had used for decades over alleged environmental concerns, the senior citizen refused to remove his cattle from the land he felt he was rightfully entitled to graze.

Other notable property rights battles between individuals who make their living off the land and the BLM over the past two years include the Galice Mine dispute in Grants Pass, Oregon, the Otero County jumping mouse dispute in New Mexico, the declaration of 50 million acres of public land in Nevada for solar development only, and the Recapture Canyon showdown in Blanding, Utah.

Harney County, Oregon, Sheriff David Ward told the media that the protesters who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building in support of Dwight Hammond and Steven Hammond said they belong to a militia groups which supports all local ranchers.

“In reality, these men had alternative motives to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States,” Sheriff Ward also said.

The Dwight Hammond protest at the federal wildlife building was reportedly left by Cliven Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, and two of his younger brothers.

“We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely,” Ammon Bundy said during an interview with OregonLive. “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute. The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds.”

What do you think about the prison sentence handed down to Oregon ranchers, Dwight Hammonds and Steven Hammonds? Should the BLM and the federal government control such a massive portion of public land and prohibit the long-standing tradition of leasing grazing rights to the ranchers who help feed the nation?

[Image via Shutterstock]

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