Thursday, January 21, 2016

Conservation groups demand end to refuge occupation; plus complete Bundy press conference - video

With the armed takeover of a national wildlife refuge in southeastern Oregon in its third week, Ammon Bundy and his group are still trying to muster up broad community support — so far without much luck. Bundy has drawn a lot of attention to the dissatisfaction of ranchers and local townsfolk with federal land-use policies in the West. But the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has also begun to result in pushback from others who use public lands — birders, hunters and hikers, among others. On Tuesday, several hundred people rallied in Portland — about 300 miles north of the remote refuge in southeastern Oregon — to demand Bundy end the occupation and to point out that federal management makes it possible for all kinds of people to enjoy public lands. "This occupation represents a threat to public lands," said Bob Sallinger with the Audubon Society. "These are not political statements. These are crimes." In Boise, more than 100 people attended a similar protest Tuesday in front of the Idaho Capitol. Ann Finley, a member of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, said that the refuge is a special place. "I love our free lands, and we're out here today stepping out and saying those lands should remain public," Finley said. While many local residents want Bundy and his group to leave, they also back his views on federal land policies. Bundy's game plan may be to continue to try to win local support and to draw as much attention as possible to his complaints against the federal government. The small, armed group Bundy leads has said repeatedly that local people should control federal lands. Bundy has repeatedly told reporters the group would leave when there was a plan in place to turn over federal lands to locals — a common refrain in a decades-long fight over public lands in the West. At a Tuesday news conference, Bundy said "we're not going anywhere" until his group gets its goals accomplished...more

The aforementioned Tuesday press conference can be viewed on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page  here.

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