When two things are alike, but not at all alike

Fire in the Washoe Valley. (Photo provided to RGJ)

Fire in the Washoe Valley. (Photo provided to RGJ)

Let’s engage in a little compare and contrast.

In 2001 father and son ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, started a fire on their own Oregon ranch to burn off juniper and sagebrush. The fire escaped their property and burned 139 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.

In 2006, lightning started several fires and the Hammonds set a back-burn fire to try to prevent the fire from spreading to their crops and buildings. That fire burned an acre of public land.

Today the Hammonds are serving five-year mandatory sentences under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. It was their sentencing that prompted the armed sit-in-style protest on a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. The seven defendants were recently found not guilty. This included two sons of Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy.

Investigators recently confirmed that a mid-October fire in Northern Nevada that burned 2,300 acres, destroyed 23 homes and 17 out buildings and resulted in smoke inhalation injuries to four people was caused by a prescribed burn conducted by the Nevada Division of Forestry. Damage could be close to $4 million, according to the Reno newspaper.

A Forestry statement was released saying, “The Nevada Division of Forestry is deeply moved by and concerned with the tragic impacts to residents of west Washoe Valley. NDF staff has worked closely with many of these residents over the years and has offered conservation crews and natural resource specialists as part of the recovery team.”

No one has been charged with a crime, nor ever will be.



11 comments on “When two things are alike, but not at all alike

  1. Yes, sadly what’s good for the goose…isn’t good for the gander. Especially when that gander is the F-Troop known as the BLM. What happened to the Hammonds is a travesty and a miscarriage of justice…just as what happened to the Hage family in Nevada and the Redd family in the four corners area of Utah was!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well I know one difference; the Hammons had a trial, and the jury of their peers found them guilty of the charges.

    Seems like justice to me.

  3. Rincon says:

    It sounds different when the justice Department says it:
    “The jury convicted both of the Hammonds of using fire to destroy federal property for a 2001 arson known as the Hardie-Hammond Fire, located in the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area. Witnesses at trial, including a relative of the Hammonds, testified the arson occurred shortly after Steven Hammond and his hunting party illegally slaughtered several deer on BLM property. Jurors were told that Steven Hammond handed out “Strike Anywhere” matches with instructions that they be lit and dropped on the ground because they were going to “light up the whole country on fire.”

    The jury also convicted Steven Hammond of using fire to destroy federal property regarding a 2006 arson known as the Krumbo Butte Fire located in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Steen Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area. An August lightning storm started numerous fires and a burn ban was in effect while BLM firefighters fought those fires. Despite the ban, without permission or notification to BLM, Steven Hammond started several “back fires” in an attempt save the ranch’s winter feed.

    And, “By law, arson on federal land carries a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. When the Hammonds were originally sentenced, they argued that the five-year mandatory minimum terms were unconstitutional and the trial court agreed and imposed sentences well below what the law required based upon the jury’s verdicts. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, upheld the federal law, reasoning that “given the seriousness of arson, a five-year sentence is not grossly disproportionate to the offense.”

    Two fires, one for no good reason. Sounds like they weren’t charged for the poaching. You can argue with Congress for making the minimum sentence so strict, but in the absence of further information, I have to conclude that the judge and jury probably did their jobs correctly.

  4. nyp says:

    Today’s Second Amendment moment: Confederate flag-waver ambushes and kills two police officers in Des Moines.

  5. And if he is found guilty…he will hopefully receive the death penalty and assume room temperature.

  6. Rincon says:

    He said, she said. The difference is that one side managed to convince a jury. The other failed to explain how that was done.

  7. Steve says:

    Oregon Jury’s are more knowledgeable about nullification than other places…mostly east.
    But Nevada isn’t known for juries who will nullify law.

    Needless to say prosecutors and judges try hard to weed out of their jury pool, these types of people.

    And the Cubs won the series…does that mean miracles can happen this year?

  8. Yes it does! Trump Day next Tuesday…

  9. Steve says:

    You have your miracles, I have mine!

    I suspect both of us will be seeing someone else take the election.

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