Some media beginning to explore the root cause of the Oregon protest

While most of the media attention is focused on a handful of protesters camped out in a vacant building on a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and the plight of the Hammond family ranchers is dismissed as justice being served, a few accounts are beginning to explore the underlying cause of the controversy — overreach and abuse of power by federal land managers.

The situation is being compared to others across the country that indicate a pattern if not a conspiracy.

One of those comparisons is to the Hage ranch litigation that has lasted more than two decades and outlived the father and mother of the current owner of the ranch near Tonopah.

At one point a federal judge said this about the federal land managers:

After the filing of this action, the Government sent trespass notices to people who leased or sold cattle to the Hages, notwithstanding the Hages’ admitted and known control over that cattle, in order to pressure other parties not to do business with the Hages, and even to discourage or punish testimony in the present case. For this reason, the Court has held certain government officials in contempt and referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In summary, government officials … entered into a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive the Hages not only of their permits but also of their vested water rights. This behavior shocks the conscience of the Court and provides a sufficient basis for a finding of irreparable harm to support the injunction described at the end of this Order.

An article at the National Review cites this case and others as examples of the long brewing Sagebrush Rebellion.

The article also cites the case of a Wyoming rancher who refused to grant the BLM a right-of-way across his property. He lost at the Supreme Court but a dissent by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was scathing in its assessment of the federal government. She wrote that the BLM “demanded from (rancher Harvey Frank) Robbins an easement — for which they did not propose to pay — to replace the one they carelessly lost,” due failing to file on the deed before Robbins bought the ranch. According to Ginsburg, Robbins became the target of “a seven-year campaign of relentless harassment and intimidation to force [him] to give in.”

Also National Review writer David French notes that the feds had been taking over Oregon ranches near the wildlife preserve for years and that by the 1990s, the Hammonds were among the few ranchers left. Some were forced to sell when the feds diverted water that flooded grazing land and made it unsuitable for ranching. “The protesters allege that the government then began a campaign of harassment designed to force the family to sell its land, a beginning with barricaded roads and arbitrarily revoked grazing permits and culminating in an absurd anti-terrorism prosecution based largely on two ‘arsons’ that began on private land but spread to the Refuge,” he writes.

If the Hammonds sell the ranch, the government has the first right of refusal.

A Wall Street Journal article points out the brazenness of federal land managers, citing a Texas example.

The Aderholt family had grazed cattle on a ranch near the Red River for seven decades until the BLM told them in 2013 that 650 acres of the ranch’s 900 acres belonged to the federal government because it was adjacent to the river.

“This land was bought and paid for and people struggled to acquire it, so for them to just come in and swoop in and say it’s theirs is pretty devastating,” the article quoted the rancher as saying.

The writers note that a neighbor of the Hammonds in Oregon was forced out by the feds, because the ranch’s grazing land kept getting reduced. “They just kept cutting back and cutting back on the grazing leases,” the rancher was quoted as saying. “They want to turn it all over for birds instead of cattle.”

Just a year and a half ago dozens of ranchers met in Austin, Nev., to try to figure out what to do about grazing reductions imposed by the BLM.

“I have worked hard my entire life to get along with the BLM and I have never been cited for trespass,” one rancher said. “But then one man with some sort of vendetta comes in and, with a snap of his fingers, he makes a decision that can ruin the lives of my family. It’s terrible.”

Meanwhile, a Wall Street Journal editorial declares:

Many in rural Oregon view this as a government vendetta. Rusty Inglis, who worked for the Forest Service for 34 years and now runs a local Oregon farm bureau, recently told a trade magazine that it’s “obvious” that “the BLM and the wildlife refuge want that ranch.” The Oregon Farm Bureau called the sentences “gross government overreach.” The ideology of “national” land has become the club to punish private landowners who are the best source of economic stability and conservation.

While many in the press mistakenly say the Hammonds set fires on public lands, they actually set fires on their own land and it accidentally spread to the 140 acres of public land near the 187,000-acre federal refuge that has grown from its original 89,000 acres in 1908.

The Hammond family

Oregon Rep. Greg Walden:

Walden: “More than half my district is under federal management, or lack thereof.”

Walden also noted that federal agents set a back fire on private land that jeopardized the private land owners who were fighting fires in the area,  but no one was ever charged with a crime.



16 comments on “Some media beginning to explore the root cause of the Oregon protest

  1. Spot on comments by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon 2nd District…is anyone listening in Washington?

  2. A succinct comment from the Wall Street Journal linked story…

    “Arbitrary federal management of land out west is notorious. The size of the federal debt is also notorious. We can solve both problems with a single program. The federal government should sell western public land to private parties in regular auctions to raise money to pay off federal debt. This would help in two ways. First, it would bring in money directly to the treasury. But secondly, it would also place the land under the management of private owners who would have an incentive to develop and use the land productively.

    Placing federal land under state ownership merely exchanges one bad landlord for another. Worse, it strips the federal government of assets it can use to satisfy its creditors. Selling the land is the best way to lessen the taxpayers debt burden and at the same time put the land into more productive use which would generate economic growth and increased tax revenue without raising tax rates.” Doug Bohrer

  3. nyp says:

    I like this “root cause” excuse for the armed takeover of federal property. Makes sense to me. Just like you have to look at the root causes of why gangs in inner cities rob convenience stores. Don’t focus on the gangbangers with their guns — what must be explored are the “underlying causes.”

  4. Steve says:

    “I like this “root cause” excuse for the armed takeover of federal property.”
    Nowhere in this article does Tom Mitchell make that claim.

    You are creating an argument so you can argue with yourself?

  5. Thomas Jefferson outlined some “root causes,” but apparently those should have been ignored and he and his ilk hanged.

    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government …”

    It is still time for prudence.

  6. nyp says:

    You may wish to look at the title of Mr. Mitchell’s post.

  7. Steve says:

    The heds a grabber, the body does not support it.

    Perhaps you should read it.

  8. Steve says:

    Glenn Cook named interim editor at RJ, I say make it permanent!

  9. It’s obvious nyp didn’t view the video clip or he wouldn’t be spouting such nonsense. But alas…he does like arguing with himself or anyone else he can reel in…

  10. nyp says:

    “, a few accounts are beginning to explore the underlying cause of the controversy ….”

  11. Steve says:

    ” overreach and abuse of power by federal land managers.

    There, finished it up fer ya,,,,,now read the rest of it.

  12. Patrick says:

    The root cause? What is the root cause here Thomas? Your input might serve some good here as to what the root cause is.

    I know I’m interested in your opinion.

  13. Patrick says:

    After a brief review though, maybe you already identified that which you believe to be the root cause Thomas. “Overreach and abuse of power by federal land use managers”; is that correct?

  14. […] refuge in Oregon, where the Bundy brothers and like-minded protesters are camped out, has grown to double its original size in the past century, gobbling up ranches by hook and/or […]

  15. […] to the cases involving the Hammond family ranchers in Oregon in which a father and son face five years in prison […]

  16. agent provocateur says:

    Reblogged this on Nevada State Personnel WATCH.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s