Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Check your cinch

by Julie Carter

Working on a big cow-calf operation, a cowboy’s days are routine to his job title. With 4,000 head of momma cows and their babies by their side, a typical day was long and mostly seen from the back of horse. It also required the steady use of a rope.

The day would include doctoring pink eyes, scours, foot rot and any other bovine malady that showed up. During calving, it was usual to rope 50 calves a day to tag or stuff a scours pill down their throat.
As the story went for this cowboy Frank, not far away from his place of employment was a feedlot with backgrounding pasture and plenty of corn stalks.

Lloyd had worked so long at Deer Creek Feedlot not many even knew his last name. He was just Lloyd. He talked real slow, and for the most part, seemed in all ways, "slow." But he ran the feedlot and did his job well.

The cow boss of the outfit Frank worked for sent him and another puncher to go help Lloyd doctor shipping fever in a load of yearlings. They loaded their horses and headed to Deer Creek, arriving just as Lloyd was catching his big grey horse that he called Frog. 

Frank and his partner unloaded their horses and walked over to where Lloyd was saddling Frog. Frank couldn't help but notice that Lloyd's rig was an old center-fire bear trap that had no breast collar.  On the horn, there was an old rope tied off that had been broken and then tied into a square knot. More noticeable was that the cinch holding the saddle on had maybe a dozen strands still intact and the rest were broken in two and hanging frayed.

Frank always carried a rope bag in the trailer with a couple of extra ropes, leather punch, leather, awl and an extra cinch just in case tack repairs were needed at any time or place during a day of cowboying.

He told Lloyd that he had a better cinch if he wanted it and was sure welcome to it. Lloyd replied in his signature slow speech, "Nope, I reckon this one will do." 

Frank nodded his acceptance of Lloyd's decision and the trio rode to the pasture to get started on the doctoring.

The very first steer they saw needed medical attention. He was a big, soggy Simmental. Lloyd put the spurs to Frog and built to the steer. His loop caught him deep, far down on the brisket and included a front leg.

Lloyd jerked his slack and old Frog put on the brakes hard, laying some classic 11s on the ground. When things came tight between the steer and the horse, the cinch on Lloyd's saddle snapped. There went Lloyd, saddle and all, right over Frog's head. 

Since Lloyd had the steer’s head and a front leg in his loop, that steer might as well have been a Siberian husky in the Iditarod and Lloyd's saddle was the sled. Lloyd was the musher, except he was sitting down instead of standing and he was holding on to the swells of the saddle with both hands with his legs stuck out in front.

The steer was running full out and not showing any signs of slowing down. Frank and his partner were laughing so hard, they both missed the steer with their first loop. Frank managed to catch him on second try and when he got the steer halted, he took Lloyd's rope off of him. 

They had to pull Lloyd's spurs and stirrups down from around his knees to free him from his saddle. 

Old Frog was standing calmly right where the cinch broke, munching on some grass.

Undaunted by the event, Lloyd said with his very slow drawl, "Frank, you reckon I can borrow that cinch?" 

Frank laughed and said, "After that spectacular wreck, you can just keep the cinch." 

No one seems to know what became of Lloyd over the years, but Frank was certain it was a safe bet that Lloyd forever more used good cinches.

Always good advice. Check your cinch.

Julie can be reached for comment at

An Open Letter To Donald Trump, Street Smart – City Stupid

Open Letter to Trump
Street Smart – City Stupid
Management of the Commons
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            It is amazing to discover the degree to which the environmental cartel has hijacked intelligence. An explanation is best set forth by stating that what was once black is now white and what was once white is now black. It’s that simple and …that confounding.
It starts with a reliable historical and intellectual force, Aristotle.
Aristotle offered permanent insight when he wrote, “What is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it.” The words mean what the words say. There is no requirement for a special definition to interpret what the old professor meant. The best example was the city dump in Silver City in the days before garbage service was offered to homes outside the city limits. The dump was vile place. Dead pets, rotting table scraps, tires, broken furniture, and human debris of the lowest form of decomposition littered the place. Southwestern winds made it all worse with paper and trash strewn to the ridgeline to the east. Runs to the dump were dreaded. As kids we hated to be seen in that place.
“Do I have to go?” was the response.
When the inevitable did take place, we’d load the old Chevy pickup or the bobtail with the Lerro Feeds emblem on the door and run for the dump. The most accessible and least cluttered parking place would be selected and we’d back in and start slinging loose junk before we turned to muscle and upend the 55 gallon drums of ashes that invariably had yellow or red liquid ooze dripping out the bottom.
            Great relief was the feeling when we hit third gear on the hasty retreat upwind back into civilization and away from that most public of all wastelands. Indeed, what was common for the entire town had the least care bestowed upon it. It was a dire, nasty place and unloved by all who dumped their human detritus down its slopes.
The management of that commons, like all commons, eventually became …deplorable.
            In the same context since 1968, the claiming of environmental tragedies within modern commons, federal lands, has been a useful concept for reducing multiple use management and the promises of equal footing between eastern and western states. As the land health has diminished, maladaptive blame has been aimed at individuals and or small groups rather than the real culprit, government and agency management influenced by special interest masses unattached to any land.
            Aristotle’s Theorem is fully in play. The expected mismanagement and tragedies of the commons is now universally … common.
            Let’s redefine the real problem being faced. The central issue is not whether individual citizens lead inexorably to unsustainable outcomes on federal lands. The real problem has been the management of federal lands has been handed over to the masses and ecological overshoot has become the default condition.
            The environmental community attempt to accuse degradation of these lands on individuals pursuing individual wealth has long been tedious. The real degradation has come from their misguided and idealistic insistence to manage for common-pool resources (feely, touchy nonsense) rather than halt the factors that actually contribute to the deterioration of the western commons. There is little wonder that western forests are burning in multiples of millions of acres per year and millions more trees are being devoured by beetle and moth larvae. When there is no mechanism to reduce fuel loads, catastrophic nature will destroy everything. When tree densities of today reach 2500 per acre as opposed to 50 per acre at the start of the 20th Century, catastrophic nature will destroy everything.
            Wake up!
            Street Smart – City Stupid
            The lands of the West are indeed being over-exploited, but the exploitation isn’t the dimensional representation by the press or the federal government.
            The exploitation is the layered management of the common pool resources by influential groups making a passive living off those resources. To protect their positions, they work very hard to exclude all others who can actually make a difference. Prescriptions for changing that impasse involve decentralizing the authoritarian control rather than the steady advance toward such authoritarian controls, but such change is guarded with ferocious intent.
            The Forest Service is the best example. The agency was arguably once the most respected federal land manager. Today, the agency is the epitome of what is dramatically reversed from original intent and the arrival of the false premise of common pool resources. Its organic act set forth two mandates. The first was to maintain a ready source of timber for American use and the second was to assure downstream flows of water. Try to find that in their modern day mission statement.
            Their actual mission today is tripartite. They fight forest fires, they litigate entanglements and they manage for the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens. The problem is those citizens are not even locals. In a January 12, 2016 statement made to an Arizona legislative briefing, Deputy Southwestern Regional Forester, Jim Upchurch, left attendees gasping with incredulity. He told them their forests were managed “not for the local population, but populations of people in New Jersey, New York, and California”.
            His candor elevated what the greater numbers of folks across the West actually face. Their rights are being overwhelmed by special interest and political centers that have no business in local western affairs. The people of predominately urban centers don’t have any idea what it means to live lives by managing natural resources. They have no idea that success from such endeavors expressly requires conservation and the protection of those resources.
            Their misunderstanding of truths and their undo influence … is destroying western customs and culture.
             Mr. Trump,
             There are a whole bunch of us who have watched your campaign hoping a greater respect for American citizenry will emerge to be matched by your audaciousness. At issue is a simple premise. We don’t believe politicians of any form can now fix our country.
This monstrosity of government, sired by those politicians, is a raging inferno. It grows from its own mass and it devours anything and everything that poses a threat to its expansion. The checks and balances are gone and the workings are now made up of special interest groups that employ their own rent-a-senator, a judicial system that references the Constitution as an original form of ideas that has evolved into a diametrically opposed animal, and a federal bureaucracy that creates its own laws.
We, the subjects, are simply fund providers … well, at least half of us are.
Then, we were thunderstruck. We heard your suggestion the King shouldn’t divest himself of the kingdom and his royal forest (federal lands). After all, it is a place where the king’s men and their mistresses and concubines can retire to play and frolic in the fresh air. Your words were condescending.
“I mean, are they (the states) going to sell if they get into (a) little bit of trouble?” you began. “I don’t think it (the King’s forest) is something that should be sold.”
A proxy then answered the rest of the question for you. He said he liked to go bow hunting. Isn’t there more to this issue that that?
Quizzically, our question in response must be, “Why do you expect equal footing in your world and impose on us (Westerners) standards that can not be equated in any manner to states east of the 100th Meridian?”
Federal lands are a mess alright, but it is the absence of individual sovereignty that constitutes the reason why. For one full year, you need to run one of your hotels with a checkerboard land ownership underlying it. Make sure that 60% of the footprint is federal magic kingdom (just like western land ownership) and there needs to be at least three federal agencies managing the patchwork. Start by asking them if you can run a new sewage line from point A to point B under all ownerships. You’ll find that, with 60% ownership, the magic kingdom keepers will be granted dominion and they will gladly dictate to you when, where, what, and how you can do the whole deal. You won’t get a single thing done in a year, but we will guarantee you the experience will have consequences. For one thing, it will provide a sure cure for … City Stupid.
City Stupid is a condition in juxtaposition to Street Smart.
 We are not sure if the two are mutually inclusive or conditionally exclusive. What we do know is you stung us with your response. We are now exceedingly wary. We don’t want another politician. Indeed, we wanted your audacity, but we don’t need a president that alienates and divides us in a counter motion. We want a Constitutionalist … an Originalist. Perhaps we erred in our initial and hopeful expectation.
For the moment … widespread disappointment abounds.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.

This is an excerpt from my February column in the Stockman, which should be published any day now.  

Donald Trump recently said he was totally against transferring federal lands to the states.  In an interview with the editor of Outdoor Life Trump had the following to say: “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land.… And the hunters do such a great job—I mean, the hunters and the fishermen and all of the different people that use that land.” 

The idea the only way something can be “great” is for it to be owned by the feds is scary to me.  And besides, wouldn’t that also apply to Hotels & Casinos? 

Ben Carson says, "I think it's ridiculous that the government owns so much land and that we should enact a program whereby we gradually begin to restore that land to the states," while acknowledging, "we can't do it all in one fell swoop because they wouldn't be able to afford it."

Ted Cruz says, "I think it is completely indefensible that the federal government is America's largest landlord."  “I believe we should transfer as much federal land as possible back to the states and ideally back to the people," said Cruz, making exceptions for national parks and military bases.  "If I am elected president, we have never had a president who is as vigorously committed to transferring as much federal land as humanely possible back to the states and back to the people," said Cruz.

Baxter Black - Pleasant Valley

Once upon a time there was a beautiful little valley called Pleasant Valley. Pristine streams ran down from wooded hillsides. Wild game was abundant. Fish flourished. The peasants tilled their farms and irrigated them with mountain water. The livestock grazed the grassy meadows. It was a contented community, though lacking in material wealth.

Word of the scenic beauty of Pleasant Valley spread. People came to admire it. Some stayed. They brought with them treasured flora and fauna from their homes far away. Others followed to do their laundry and build their homes and teach the children of the newcomers.

Those that came formed a committee to preserve the beauty of Pleasant Valley. A planned community was envisioned. Architecture and public buildings were required to conform to a style pleasing to the committee.

Streams were diverted to do the laundry of the newcomers. To water the lawns around their houses and bathe their children. The town became a city. Muddy tracks from the farm trucks detracted from the image Pleasant Valley hoped to project. Animal smells wrinkled eco-sensitive noses. The peasants were encouraged to move to a neighboring valley.

Pleasant Valley grew. The committee imposed wood burning bans, zoned restricted agricultural areas, stressed cart pooling on the golf course and recycled the Cultural Center newsletters. After agonizing consideration they built a nuclear plant because it was the cleanest and least ecologically depleting fuel. Hydro-electric power was unthinkable since it required damming a natural stream.

Eventually, the natural streams could not supply enough water to support the environmentally safe service industries that had become the lifeblood of Pleasant Valley.

Baxter has written a history of the West in less than 400 words.

Rancher killed by federal agents in eastern Oregon

“This is not just a little occupation. It’s a movement that’s taking place across the country.”
Those were the words of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum a day before he was killed by federal agents along Highway 395 north of Burns, OR. Finicum was a rancher, father and husband from Cane Beds, AZ. He had traveled to Harney County, OR, to join a protest of the imprisonment of fellow ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond—and of the federal government’s ownership of almost half of the landmass in the western states.

On Jan. 2, Finicum and a group of fellow protestors had set up camp in a vacant federal compound on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles outside of Burns. At print time, the occupation continued.

The two objects of their protest—Hammonds’ imprisonment and federal land ownership—are tied: Hammonds had started fires on their private property to protect and improve the range, and those fires had subsequently spread onto a total of roughly 140 acres of rangeland owned by the federal government. The government charged the two men under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. A judge originally sentenced them to just over a year in prison in 2013. But after they’d served their time, the government appealed for a longer sentence: the antiterrorism Act calls for a “mandatory minimum sentence” of five years. The two were forced to go back to prison on Jan. 4 of this year.

...Over the course of the month, the occupiers continued spreading their message.
WLJ has transcribed parts of several interviews Bundy did. At the core of his message was this statement:

“I still believe that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land,” Bundy said. The Constitution, he continued, does not allow the federal government to own the millions of acres it lays claim to in the West.

He noted that Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution “puts restrictions on the federal government when it comes to controlling land and resources inside a state.” Specifically, Bundy explained that in order for the federal government to own property inside a state, the government must do three things: get the consent of the state legislature; purchase the land; and only use the land “for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings.”

Bundy believes the County of Harney should be in control of federal lands within its borders—lands such as the 180,000-acre Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“People have to have access to their land and resources,” Bundy said in one interview. “If they don’t, then they are literally put into poverty.... So whoever controls the land and the resources has full control of the people. And that’s why our founding fathers were so adamant that the only safe place for the resources was distributed in the individual people’s hands—and that it was not safe that government get a huge amount of control of these resources, because they begin to use it for themselves, and the people get put into poverty. And that’s exactly what’s happened here in Harney County.”

This is excellent coverage of the events and issues.

Oregon standoff: Four holdouts say fight is "going to keep going"

The four remaining occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge doubled down on their pledge to stay put until they've been assured no one leaves in handcuffs. The holdouts repeated their demands for pardons in several videos posted online on Saturday, the 29th day the federal building has been occupied. One clip responded to calls from Ammon Bundy, who lead the occupation until he was arrested on Tuesday, to be vacate the refuge. Instead, one holdout declared on the video that their fight is "a fight that is going to keep going." "When are Americans going to learn to take a stand and then fight the system that is corrupt, instead of throwing yourselves into that mess and trying to put your fate into what you are fighting against?" asks the video's narrator, who appears to be David Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio. The others encamped are Sean Anderson, 47, and his wife, Sandy Anderson, 48, of Idaho, and Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1553

Our gospel tune today is Pickin' Time by Johnny Cash.  The song is on his 1958 album The Fabulous Johnny Cash

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Judge denies pre-trial release of Bundy brothers

A federal judge says she won't release from jail three of the main figures behind an armed standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman said at court hearings Friday for group leader Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and Ryan Payne that they pose a danger to the community and she's concerned they won't follow orders to return to Oregon for criminal proceedings. Bundy told the judge has no interest in returning to the refuge, saying "my only desire is to be home with family and take care of my wife and children." Beckerman said Joseph O'Shaughnessy doesn't have to remain in custody, noting that he didn't spend his nights at the refuge. Federal prosecutors objected, however, and he'll stay in jail pending a Tuesday hearing. Beckerman also said she might also release citizen journalist Peter Santilli. But she said it's a close call and wasn't ready to make an immediate decision. Shawna Cox, the only woman arrested in connection with the refuge standoff, will be allowed to go home but only after the armed occupation ends. Four holdouts still are occupying Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Ammon Bundy's lawyer, Lissa Casey, says her client is not aligned with those remaining at the refuge and wants to go back to his family in Idaho. Casey said of Bundy: "He is done in Harney County; his message has been sent."...more

Ammon Bundy Tells Oregon Court He Wants to ‘Preserve Freedom’

Ammon Bundy, the leader of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, told a judge here on Friday that his actions were intended to “preserve freedom.” The first of 10 defendants arrested in the siege to appear before Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman for a detention hearing in federal court, Mr. Ammon said, “I respect the federal court as a place for people to find redress.” “I do love the Constitution,” he said. “It allows us to live in happiness, to live as free people. I do love his country very much. My desire was to preserve freedom for the people.” As he has done twice since his arrest on Tuesday, Mr. Bundy again asked the remaining occupiers — who now number four — to leave the refuge. “I must insist that everyone go home,” he said. “The process is working.” Judge Beckerman ordered Mr. Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and three other defendants — Ryan Payne, Jason Patrick and Dylan Anderson — to remain jailed...more

Friday, January 29, 2016

Of myths and militias

By Dawn G. Marsh

The arrest of Ammon Bundy and many of his supporters on Tuesday and Wednesday left one man dead and a handful of protesters still occupying a federal wildlife refuge in rural eastern Oregon. Weeks after they first occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the question remains: What do they want?

Ammon and his brother Ryan Bundy had issued an array of claims and accusations that resonate with many Western land users. Who are the enemies they confront? The federal government, the Bureau of Land Management and even Linda Sue Beck, a biologist at the wildlife refuge whose office they are occupying, draw the ire of the Bundy brothers and their followers.

Declarations of federal tyranny, divine inspiration and potential armed revolution provided a barrage of headlines, media musings and fodder for political analysts and late-night talk-show hosts. But why does this rhetoric sound so familiar and why are so many sympathetic to the message, if not the method? Because it’s based on the myth of the American West — a land of good guys and bad.

To many Americans, the West remains a place of nostalgia, fueled by decades of enthralling tales that reverberate with man’s conquest of an untamed land. It is a “West” occupied by cowboys and Indians, ranchers and pioneers, lawmen and gamblers. It’s rife with guns and violence, where the good guy in the white hat takes a stand against a bad guy in a black hat. It is this imaginary West that infuses the rhetoric and misguided agenda of the Oregon protesters. One idea ties it all together: land rights.

The West, real or imagined, is about land and its claimants. It remains a vast and largely unoccupied geographic space that encompasses a multitude of ecosystems and crosses numerous state and tribal boundaries. Federal lands, like those disputed by the Bundy family, are managed for the benefit of the nation. The Bundy brothers lease the land and must, like all renters, abide by the contract terms. The federal government rents grazing land at a price far below market value. But the Bundy family, including father Cliven Bundy, decided to stop paying the rent.

Ironically, Ammon Bundy’s objective is to reclaim control of “our land” for the local population. When he was asked what it would take to end the occupation, Mr. Bundy responded, “When the people of Harney County are secure enough and confident enough that they can continue to manage their own land and their own rights and resources.”

Yet, it is not their land.

Throughout the 19th century, the juggernaut of U.S. expansion into the continental West was rapid and lucrative for many Americans. It was, however, often ruinous for the environment, and it shattered the Native American societies occupying the territory.

For all you myth-sufferers and nostalgiacs out there, you will be seeing more and more of this.  That's why you need to read, or re-read, Steve Wilmeth's The Lock, published here on Jan. 19th. In one column, you will find a lot useful and accurate information on land laws.  It's been one of the more popular items recently published by The Westerner and has been widely distributed on Facebook.  Then go to the website of the American Lands Council for a treasure trove of information on these important issues.

Los Angeles Times: Repairs are overdue at the national parks

When household budgets are tight, people tend to put off expensive maintenance projects. So a leaky roof gets patched instead of replaced, or paint is left to peel for a season or two or three longer than a homeowner (not to mention the neighbors) would like.

Government agencies do the same thing. And now, after years of putting off less-crucial repairs because of insufficient funding, the National Park Service has an $11.5 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects — about four times the department’s annual operating budget (and part of a $159 billion overall federal backlog). About half of the parks backlog involves roads and bridges, and the rest covers wastewater treatment plants, buildings, water systems, campgrounds and other facilities.

That’s an astounding amount of work, and while it’s not as popular with park users as habitat restoration, it’s crucial for ensuring public safety and the quality of the parks themselves. Fortunately, Congress’s recent budget nearly doubles the money — to $116.3 million — for projects deemed by the Park Service to be critical for the well-being of visitors and workers, or for environmental restoration. The new five-year highway transportation bill also includes $1.4 billion for roads and bridges in national parks. While the increased spending is good news for the parks and those who visit them, it’s far less than what’s required to address the need.

One would think with this huge backlog that acquisition of additional lands would be halted until the existing federal estate was properly equipped.  Nope.  The Republican Congress just doubled the amount of funds for land acquisition.

Udall, Heinrich, Luján Announce Selection Of Valles Caldera, Bandelier For National Park Service Centennial Challenge Project

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján announced that the Valles Caldera National Preserve and Bandelier National Monument have been selected to participate in the National Park Service Centennial Challenge Project. The National Park Service (NPS) has selected 69 projects at 63 parks nationwide to highlight during its centennial celebration this year. As part of their selection, the Valles Caldera and Bandelier National Monument will receive $20,000 to conduct forest restoration monitoring with local youth. Partner organizations will contribute an additional $28,000 to the project, including the National Park Foundation, Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, Caldera Action and the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation. The new funding will help expand Valles Caldera’s successful youth forest restoration program to Bandelier. Part of the Every Kid in a Park initiative, the program engages local Tribal youth in resource preservation and restoration efforts occurring on the land they consider sacred...more

Native Americans wanted the Valles Caldera lands turned over to themselves, but Udall & Heinrich insisted on the lands going to the Park Service. So what could be done for the unhappy Native Americans? Why have their youth work on some piddly restoration projects. Now you know why the Valles Caldera was "selected".

Where private land meets public interest

...Yet it’s increasingly tough for ranchers like Shahan to hang onto land that’s been in their families for generations. And it’s even harder if they want to be environmentally friendly: In Colorado, New Mexico and other Western states, private land managed for conservation purposes might be taxed at a higher rate than agricultural or residential land, explains Lesli Allison, director of the nonprofit Western Landowners Alliance. Plus, individual landowners often struggle to communicate their needs to land managers and policymakers. In 2010, a group of landowners on the Colorado-New Mexico border came together over those very problems. They disagreed with the way migratory elk were being managed across borders, but didn’t have much say in the matter. Being organized would give them a stronger collective voice, but even that was controversial: Some ranchers were suspicious of the Western Environmental Law Center, which had offered to help. Eventually, with the help of a young woman named Monique DiGiorgio — one of the few environmentalists who seemed to understand them — they formed the Chama Peak Land Alliance. DiGiorgio, now the executive director, is helping the landowners preserve and protect open spaces and ensure that the Colorado-New Mexico borderlands are managed not as a hodgepodge of private, state, federal and tribal interests, but as a whole, intact ecosystem. Together, Chama Peak’s members own a whopping 250,000 acres — roughly half the private land in the area. With outsized land ownership comes outsized influence. So far, the group has successfully deferred Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases near community drinking water sources, restored miles of riparian habitat, implemented water-quality monitoring and mapped the forests most at risk for high-intensity fires. Its members have also been vocal opponents of a controversial ski development on Wolf Creek Pass. In the process, they’re showing that private-land conservation can be at least as effective as public-land management, and requires a lot less red tape. “When we think about wild, we think about public lands,” DiGiorgio says. “But these private landowners are managing some of the most intact, wild spaces we have left.”...more

Groups sue Kaibab forest over plan for big game retrieval

Environmental groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over a plan that lets hunters drive off designated roads to retrieve elk and bison. Each of the ranger districts in the Kaibab National Forest allow hunters to venture a mile off the road in their vehicles to pick up big game during hunting season. Forest officials encourage hunters to use the most direct route that would limit disturbance. The environmental groups say the off-road travel harms wildlife habitat and cultural resources. They also argue that it can spread invasive and noxious weeds. They asked a judge in a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Arizona to force forest officials to do more rigorous environmental reviews. Kaibab forest spokeswoman Jackie Banks declined comment, citing pending litigation.

Judge refuses to stop gravel mining near Roosevelt ranch

A federal judge says he won't stop a gravel mine operation near Theodore Roosevelt's historic western North Dakota ranch. The U.S. Forest Service a year ago said it had found no significant impact with the project in western North Dakota and issued a permit to Montana businessman and mineral rights holder Roger Lothspeich. He'd been trying to get permission to mine gravel at the site for more than six years. The National Parks Conservation Association in December asked for an injunction while it sues the Forest Service for allegedly failing to conduct a proper environmental assessment. The Bismarck Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta declined, saying he couldn't find irreparable harm in allowing the first 5 acres of gravel to be mined.

Ammon Bundy Again Tells Oregon Occupiers to Surrender

The leader of an armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge on Thursday again called for remaining protesters to turn themselves in to authorities. Ammon Bundy, who was arrested along with seven others Tuesday, made the statement through his attorneys. “My message still remains: turn yourselves in. Do not use physical force. Use the national platform that we have to continue defend liberty through our constitutional rights in an Article III court, with an Article III judge,” Bundy said in the statement.  Time

Bundy's Attorneys Set Up Legal Defense Fund Page

Money donated will be placed into an attorney trust account for Ammon Bundy's representation. It his Ammon's hope that his attorneys can do the work that is important to the cause on his behalf. A rising tide lifts all ships.

Judge To Decide Friday Whether To Release Bundy, Other Militants

A detention hearing is scheduled Friday at the federal courthouse in Portland for the arrested militants who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with Ryan Payne and seven other militants, have been at a jail in Portland since they were arrested earlier this week. At their initial court appearances, most of the militants’ defense lawyers asked that their clients be released from detention. But federal prosecutors have countered that the former armed occupiers pose a flight risk and could return to the ongoing occupation at the refuge. For now, Judge Stacie Beckerman has agreed with prosecutors. “I’m not going to release anybody from custody, but I’ll entertain it tomorrow,” she said from the bench Thursday. Many of the arrested militants have little or no criminal history, defense lawyers have argued.  OPB

Four holdouts remain at Oregon refuge

A handful of armed protesters remain holed up in a federal wildlife refuge in the US state of Oregon, surrounded by police and federal agents, despite impassioned pleas from their jailed leader for them to stand down after the death of an activist. One of the holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, David Fry, said in a YouTube message on Thursday that their number had dwindled to four following the departure of another occupier on Wednesday night. Fry said the small group had been in contact with the FBI, which had pledged not to arrest anyone not subject to a federal warrant. "(But) it turns out that if you do leave they end up charging you later, they're pressing charges on everybody who was here, it sounds like," he said. "That's like five years of prison sentence, it's a felony. So of course if you get a felony you can't vote any more and they take your guns away."...more

Bundy Donut, Says 'Welcome To Portland'

Voodoo Doughnut has a sweet and doughy message for Ammon Bundy: “Welcome to Portland.” The popular Portland-based bakery created the special treat after Bundy’s arrest on Tuesday. Voodoo Doughnut’s co-owner Kenneth Pogson said the Bundy-themed baked good had been his idea. “We're trying to avoid politics,” he told The Oregonian, “but this whole thing seemed like such a big deal -- with them taking public property, armed to the teeth, making a stand that they thought everyone would join. It was a debacle that was on everyone's mind, left or right.” He added that the doughnut had been created as “more of a commentary on contemporary culture and the so-called patriot movement giving Oregon a bad name” than as a jibe to the militants themselves. There was also no intention, he said, of diminishing the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a spokesperson for the militants who died during a confrontation with law enforcement on Tuesday...more

FBI releases video of shooting death of Oregon protester

In an unexpected move, the FBI released video Thursday of state police officers fatally shooting one of the armed Oregon protesters who took over a remote wildlife refuge as a sign of protest against government land-grabbing and over-reaching. "I want to caution you that the video does show the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum," said Greg Bretzing, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Portland. "We realize that viewing that piece of the video will be upsetting to some people, but we feel that it is necessary to show the whole thing unedited in the interest of transparency." He said it was "incumbent" on law enforcement to show the video of Finicum, who he said behaved recklessly and made a motion toward a gun in his coat pocket. Supporters of the militants who took over the refuge had claimed Finicum, a rancher from Arizona who came to Oregon to support the protesters, was gunned down in cold blood. Some posts on social media have called his death an anti-government rallying cry. The FBI released the video to allay public concerns over "inflammatory" accounts of the shooting, Bretzing said.Bretzing said Finicum eventually pulled the truck over and was ordered by officers to surrender. "Finicum leaves the truck and steps through the snow," Bretzing said. "Agents and troopers on scene had information that Finicum and others would be armed. On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket. He did have a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket. At this time, OSP troopers shot Finicum."...more

Here's the video via USA Today:

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1552

Porter Wagoner's 1961 recording of My Name Is Mud is our selection today.  The tune was on his LP album A Slice Of Life.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

U.S. wildfire plan seen as biggest land policy change in decades

A year after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell shifted the national approach to fighting wildfires across a wide swath of sagebrush country in the West, her strategy is turning out to be one of the most significant federal land policy changes in some 80 years, public land experts, outdoor enthusiasts and scientists say. The five-page order she issued last January directed federal resources for the first time to fight massive blazes in open sagebrush steppe habitat that supports cattle ranching, recreation and some 350 species of wildlife, including the imperiled sage grouse. “It is one of the most imperiled ecosystems in the United States,” said Janice Schneider, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management. Firefighting officials say Jewell’s order led more of the nation’s firefighting resources to respond to blazes in Great Basin sagebrush steppe last year, when the U.S. experienced one of its worst wildfire seasons, with nearly 16,000 square miles burned. Experts say her strategy helped extinguish several smaller fires, though one giant blaze scorched sagebrush steppe in portions of Idaho and Oregon. Many ranchers have embraced the order despite wariness and sometimes anger with federal oversight, displayed in the armed occupation of a federal wildlife preserve in Oregon. The small group who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge more than three weeks ago says the government has no authority to enforce federal grazing contracts with ranchers. Ranchers backing Jewell’s order have formed Rangeland Fire Protections Associations, teaming up with federal firefighters to stop small fires from exploding and charring forage needed by cattle. The order led to the biggest change for sagebrush steppe since the Taylor Grazing Act of the 1930s, which sought to stop overgrazing on public lands, said U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist Matt Germino, who specializes in sagebrush ecosystems. “The initiatives that are underway — preserving the good habitat and restoring the bad habitat — that’s unprecedented,” he said...more

Utah ranchers renounce federal control of their lands at gathering

Amid escalating tensions over federal land management, eight Utah ranchers on Saturday pledged to disavow their contracts regulating their use of public land to graze their cattle. The men made their declarations at a "property rights" workshop in Cedar City, just days before the illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge took a tragic turn with the death of Arizona rancher Robert "LaVoy" Finicum on Tuesday. On Saturday some of these ranchers agreed to sign notices of "withdrawal of consent" to be governed, in essence rejecting the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service's authority to regulate use of their grazing allotments. "This is as an act of civil disobedience in response to a long trail of abuses," said Todd Macfarlane, a Kanosh attorney who had helped organize the Cedar City event and follow-up gatherings in Idaho and Montana. "They aren't going to go out and plunder the land and the resources. They are saying, 'We are exercising our liberty to exercise personal choice for our ranch and do it responsibly.' " These ranchers recognize they have "a right" to pay grazing fees, which they will deposit in escrow accounts until the ownership of Utah's public lands is resolved, Macfarlane said. The chief speaker at these events is Angus McIntosh, a former rancher and an adjunct professor of agriculture at Texas A&M University. Another planned speaker, Utah rancher Jon Pratt, took part in the Oregon standoff. The meetings are hosted by the Utah group National Federal Lands Conference, which opposes environmental regulations and champions property rights. "We are giving [attendees] tools for them to understand what their rights are," said Macfarlane. The "withdrawal of consent" action was inspired in part by the re-incarceration of Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond, according to Macfarlane. Other ranchers at Saturday's gathering were not comfortable making such a pledge, he said, but many did agree to sign "a redress of grievances" outlining a generic list of complaints that ranchers have with federal agencies...more

3 more arrested at Oregon wildlife refuge

Hours after the jailed leader of an armed anti-government group urged remaining militants to abandon the Oregon wildlife refuge they have occupied for more than three weeks, the FBI said they arrested three more suspects at one of the checkpoints they've established near the refuge. The FBI and Oregon State Police said in a statement that 45-year-old Duane Leo Ehmer of Irrigon, Oregon, and 34-year-old Dylan Wade Anderson of Provo, Utah, turned themselves in around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. And 43-year-old Jason S. Patrick of Bonaire, Georgia, did the same a few hours later. The men were described as being in contact with the FBI and officials said the men surrendered to agents on a road near the refuge. It was unclear whether the rest of the remnant of Bundy's followers still holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns was ready to heed his advice. While some left it was believed perhaps a half-dozen remained late Wednesday, apparently sitting around a campfire.  Authorities refused to release any details about the encounter or even to verify that it was Finicum who was killed. Also on Wednesday, a federal judge in Portland unsealed a criminal complaint that said the armed group had explosives and night-vision goggles and that they were prepared to fight at the refuge or in the nearby town of Burns. Someone told authorities about the equipment on Jan. 2, when the group took over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, according to the document. Bundy and the seven others are charged with felony counts of "conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats." The criminal complaint stresses that point. It states that the 16 employees at the wildlife refuge "have been prevented from reporting to work because of threats of violence posed by the defendants and others occupying the property." FBI agent Greg Bretzing said people could leave through checkpoints "where they will be identified." FBI officials said Wednesday night, in addition to the three men arrested, five people left the refuge through the checkpoints and were released without arrest...more

Hands up, just shoot!

by Jeff Knox

The occupation of a remote wildlife refuge turned violent yesterday when federal agents stopped two vehicles carrying protesters to a town hall meeting in John Day, Oregon. Victoria Sharp, a passenger in one of those vehicles, has reported that federal agents opened fire on the group without provocation after conflicting and confusing demands for the protesters to surrender. Sharp reported that shots were first fired at Ryan Payne as he complied with orders to show his hands out of the window of the vehicle in which she was riding, but that the shots missed. Payne was calling for police to not shoot, as there were women in the vehicle, and exited the vehicle, asking that the women be allowed out.

At this point, LaVoy Finicum, one of the spokesmen for the occupiers, who was driving the vehicle in which Ms. Sharp was riding, yelled out the window that they were going to go talk to the sheriff (at the meeting in John Day), or that agents could just shoot him. He told the passengers to get down, and drove forward, precipitating heavy gunfire from the agents, and crashing the vehicle into a snowbank.

Sharp said that Finicum then exited the vehicle, hands in the air, yelling, “Just shoot me then!” A volley of shots rang out, and Finicum fell to his back, hands still over his head, and was shot several more times on the ground, Sharp said.

According to Sharp, agents continued shooting at the car, striking Ryan Bundy in the shoulder as he shielded her on the floorboard, and deploying tear gas before finally taking the rest of the group into custody. She also claims that none of the protesters fired a shot or even touched a gun during the encounter.

The full audio of Victoria Sharp’s account is posted on YouTube, and comes across as very credible.

Another report suggested that Finicum "charged" at police after exiting the vehicle but does not dispute the claim that his hands were in the air. Cliven Bundy, father of Ammon and Ryan Bundy, leaders of the occupation who were both taken into custody during the incident, has further charged that, not only were Finicum's hands in the air, but he was not armed at the time.

In interviews during the occupation protest, Finicum, a soft-spoken rancher and father of 11 from Arizona, had insisted that he would rather be killed than "put in a cement box" prison. He said that some things were more important than life, and that freedom was one of those things.

...The death of LaVoy Finicum is a needless tragedy.

Federal authorities had wisely been taking a hands-off approach to the occupation, denying Bundy and his friends the opportunity for the tense stand-off they seemed to be seeking. Unfortunately, politicians like Oregon's Democrat Gov. Kate Brown, took the occupation as a personal affront and were calling for law enforcement to take more aggressive action to put a stop to the flagrant defiance of federal authority. The result is a martyr for the fringe and escalation of the situation from a nuisance to a volatile and dangerous level. The strategy was clearly to "remove the head of the snake" by capturing the leaders of the occupation, but what if those leaders were the cooler heads that were keeping the protest calm and peaceful?

With the death of Finicum, in circumstances that some are calling murder, a fuse has been lit, and unless authorities can and do quickly produce evidence that their actions were clearly justified, this could blow up in a very ugly way. And it all could have been easily avoided.

Realistically, what harm were the protesters doing? They were occupying buildings of a remote wildlife refuge in a sparsely populated area of the country in the dead of winter. They were making no threats, harming no one, and getting less and less attention from an unsympathetic media. They were not supported by any national or state militia organizations, and their whole agenda had pretty well fizzled.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1551

It's Country Roots today and we have the Kessinger Brothers performing Old Jake Gillie.  The tune was recorded in NYC on Feb 4, 1929 and is available on Volume 1 of their Document Records collection.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ammon Bundy, via attorney, tells refuge militants to go home

Ammon Bundy is calling on those who remain at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to go home and "please stand down," his attorney said Wednesday on the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland. The message came moments after Bundy and six others were arraigned, one by one, on the ninth floor of courthouse on Southwest Third Avenue. The whole process took about 90 minutes as more than 60 people arrived to watch the proceedings. Approximately 20 people couldn't fit.  Here's the full statement read by Mike Arnold, Bundy's attorney:

"First I want to address my beloved friend, [Robert] Levoy Finnicum. Levoy is one of the greatest men and greatest patriots I've ever seen. His love for this country ran deep through the blood he gave yesterday. And I mourn for him and I mourn for his family. I'm praying fervently for you in every prayer. We'll have more to say later, but right now I'm asking the federal government to allow the people at the refuge to go home without being prosecuted.
To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.
Being in the system we're going to take this opportunity to answer the questions on article 1 section 8 clause 17 of the United States Constitution regarding the rights of statehood and the limits on federal property ownership. Thank you, and God bless America."...more

Liberal Activists, Mainstream Media, Law Enforcement Bear Partial Blame for Showdown in Oregon that Led to Death of LaVoy Finicum

WASHINGTON, DC - Left-wing activists and news outlets that only partially cover their activities are in part to blame for the confrontation in Oregon that led to the death of LaVoy Finicum, says the National Center for Public Policy Research.

That's because left-wing organizations often use civil disobedience without consequences, which leads the public to believe law-breaking in pursuit of political or public policy goals can take place without serious consequences.

Parts of the news media are complicit because they cover stories in ways that help the left-wing organizations achieve their goals.

Kieran Suckling, the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a left-wing green group, was repeatedly covered in the news media criticizing those occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (for example, here, here, here, here, here). No story we found mentioned that Suckling has been found guilty in court (here, here) for occupying private property and refusing to leave as part of a political protest, or that he has been arrested (and even bragged about it by issuing a press release) for civil disobedience as recently as 2014.

"In yet another case of 'do as I say, not as I do,' the environmental left is protesting civil disobedience by citizens while it practices and/or condones civil disobedience itself," said David Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

"Kieran Suckling, the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a left-wing green group that sues the government while expecting the taxpayers to pay its legal bills, has gone to Oregon to protest the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Yet he has been found guilty of much the same offense. Occupying another's property without their permission in the name of a political cause is either wrong or it isn't. It isn't okay when the environmental movement does it and wrong for everyone else. Kieran Suckling is much like the Bundys; he may disagree on policy but he's used the same technique," Ridenour added. "Kieran Suckling should be laughed out of Oregon for his hypocrisy. So should any news reporter who writes about the Center for Biological Diversity's statements about the occupation at the wildlife refuge without covering Mr. Suckling's past conviction in a court of law for similar activities."

Parts of law enforcement also share partial blame, the group says.

"Kieran Suckling is far from the only leftist to be arrested for civil disobedience," said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "Most liberal activists who commit civil disobedience are never charged, or get merely a tiny slap on the wrist. The news media runs pictures of left-wing activists getting arrested for their cause of the day knowing full well the charges will be dropped, but the media never tells the public the arrests are all-but-fake. Quite often all this is arranged in advance. The public is impressed by this false dedication. But people who pay attention know those arrested rarely face any penalties. Is it any wonder some have gone on to assume civil disobedience is a perfectly safe and consequence-free thing to do?"

"Law enforcement shouldn't make essentially fake arrests so activists can look good on camera, and government officials who get arrested on purpose should be fired," Amy Ridenour added. "A high-ranked member of the Bush and Obama Administrations, James Hansen, who ran NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies before he retired, was repeatedly and intentionally arrested - in violation of the law as well as federal ethics rules -- while serving in the executive branch, the part of the government that is tasked with enforcing laws. He was never fired. When even high-ranking members of the law enforcement branch of government break the law to get attention for their pet causes, sanity has broken down. Until we restore sanity, expect to see more civil disobedience. And because law enforcement treats some civil disobedience as worse than others, and enforces the law against some while dropping charges against others, expect to see more deaths like the one in Oregon yesterday."

The National Center for Public Policy Research last commented on the Oregon situation in a press release here. It neither endorses nor participates in acts of civil disobedience, and it has not endorsed the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.


FBI says occupiers had 'ample' time to leave

Oregon FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing told reporters during a press conference Wednesday morning in Burns that the occupiers at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge had "ample" time to leave peacefully. Bretzing was joined by U.S. Attorney Bill Williams and Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward during the press conference, held on the 26th day of the standoff with the occupiers. They expressed disappointment that a traffic stop on protesters had turned deadly Tuesday. "It didn't have to happen," Ward told reporters gathered at the Harney County Chamber of Commerce. "We all make choices in life. Sometimes our choices go bad." Bretzing said the FBI, state police and the Harney County Sheriff's Office had taken a "very deliberate and measured response" to the protesters who took hold of the refuge on Jan. 2. The occupiers there, he said, were given the opportunity to air their grievances. They had the chance to leave and return to their families, Bretzing said. "Instead, these individuals have chosen to threaten and intimidate the America that they profess to love," he said. During the news conference, officials did not provide additional details about the traffic stops or what prompted the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation. They also did not confirm that Finicum was the one who was killed during the confrontation. His daughter told The Oregonian/OregonLive Tuesday that her father had died defending his beliefs. They also did not take any questions from reporters. Bretzing and Ward both stressed that there could have been another outcome. "Let me be clear: It is fully and unequivocally the behavior and the choices made by the armed occupiers that have led us to where we are today," Bretzing said in a statement, released by the FBI. "And, as the FBI and our partners have demonstrated, actions are not without consequences." Authorities reiterated that the occupation has been disruptive to the Harney County community and said they are committed to restoring normalcy for residents there. Ward said he had been working on a resolution to the problem since November, when several of the people involved in the occupation came to the sheriff's office. "They had ultimatums that I couldn't meet," he said. "I'm here to uphold the law."...more

Feds signal time may be running out after Oregon standoff arrests

A day after the spokesperson for an armed militia occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge was shot and killed during a traffic stop, the county’s sheriff lamented “there doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community” and said he was “disappointed” that the incident “ended badly.” “We all make choices in life,” an emotional Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said during a Wednesday news conference. “Sometimes our choices go bad.” “We don’t arm up and rebel,” he said. “We work through the appropriate channels. This can’t happen anymore. It can’t happen in America. And this can’t happen in Harney County.” The events surrounding Finicum’s death remain unclear, and officials did nothing to clarify the incident on Wednesday, taking no questions during the news conference. FBI special agent in charge Greg Bretzing placed the blame for the deteriorating situation squarely on the protesters. “It is the actions and choices of the armed occupiers of the refuge that have led us to where we are today,” Bretzing said. He added: “Actions are not without consequences." An unknown number of protesters remained at the refuge Wednesday, but members of the media began leaving after the FBI reportedly told some journalists the Bureau couldn't offer "protection." KTVZ reporter Lauren Martinez tweeted a video of her leaving the compound area with the ominous note "@FBI warns media no protection." Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter John Sepulvado tweeted ".@OPB was told by FBI that we were on our own -- essentially stuff is going down and we need to move." Earlier in the day, Jason Patrick, one of the leaders of the crew remaining at the outpost, said he could see an armored convoy and a number of law enforcement officers gathered from his perch in the compound. "Sounds like the definition of peaceful resolution is either forcefully kidnapping me or death," Patrick told USA Today. "A peaceful resolution is not dead people."...more

What happens next at Oregon wildlife refuge after Bundy arrests?

Are protesters still at the wildlife refuge?
Yes, it appears so, though it's unclear how many. Numbers have fluctuated since the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters began in early January.  CNN's Sara Sidner, who visited the refuge earlier this month, said she saw dozens of people there, mostly men. After Tuesday's arrests, the usually outspoken group didn't specify how many remain. Gov. Kate Brown called for patience while officials work toward a "swift and peaceful resolution."
What do the occupiers plan to do next?
Occupiers who remained Wednesday morning told journalist John Sepulvado -- reporting from inside the refuge but outside the headquarters -- that they planned to stay and were prepared to die. "I just spoke to the new leaders -- including Jason Patrick -- They say that 5-6 (people) had a meeting, and by consensus they decided to stay," Sepulvado wrote Wednesday morning on Twitter. Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, had said he and others were prepared to stay in the building for days, weeks or months if necessary. They have enough food and other supplies, he said, to see them through for a long time. The younger Bundy repeatedly warned that the armed occupiers don't intend to harm anyone but said that if law enforcement or others try to force them from the building, they would defend themselves.
On Tuesday, the group said on its unverified Facebook page that it was "at a heightened level of alert" and asked for prayers.
What happens next?
That depends on whether the rest of the occupiers leave. Keeping an eye on them apparently hasn't been cheap. The price tag on the occupation so far is costing Oregon about $100,000 a week, the governor said. She wants reimbursement from the federal government for those mounting costs. Then there's the legal process. All eight people arrested Tuesday face a federal felony charge relating to their occupation of the refuge: conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats, authorities said. It's unclear when they'll make their first court appearances. Also unclear is how exactly the arrests unfolded, and who fired first.
"The situation in Harney County continues to be the subject of a federal investigation that is in progress. My highest priority is the safety of all Oregonians and their communities," the governor said in a statement...more

Cliven Bundy: Oregon standoff a ‘wake up call’;

Cliven Bundy, the patriarch of the Bundy family, said Tuesday the arrests of his two sons and a shootout between federal authorities and armed militia members who had been occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge was a “wake up call.” “This will be a wake up call to America,” Mr. Bundysaid in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “This whole battle is over a constitutional issue where the federal government has no rights within the state or at least rights in a sovereign state.” He added that the situation was a “total disaster to be happening in America where we have I’m guessing federal people killing innocent people.” “Isn’t it a wonderful country we live in?” Cliven Bundy said sarcastically in reference to Mr. Finicum’s death, the Los Angeles Times reported. “We believe that those federal people shouldn’t even be there in that state, and be in that county and have anything to do with this issue. … I have some sons and other people there trying to protect our rights and liberties and freedoms, and now we’ve got one killed, and all I can say is, he’s sacrificed for a good purpose,” Mr. Bundy said, the Los Angeles Times reported. He also told the Review-Journal that his sons were in Oregon to “do good. No harm was intended. They would never threaten anybody.”...more

Militias Get Reinforcements After Bundys Get Busted

...It appears the Bundy clan knew arrest or worse was becoming more inevitable when Ammon’s deputies started going home to say goodbye to their families. Ritzheimer was in Arizona and said he was planning to see his wife and children before heading back north. At least two refuge occupants have traveled to Utah and back already. Back in Oregon, the arrests have only escalated tensions. Brandon Curtiss, president of the Idaho Three Percenter militia that has patrolled Burns and provided security for the occupiers at the refuge said no one’s leaving. “We’re still going to maintain our same position, the community has asked us to stay, and we’re trying to be there the best we can for support and to continue our investigation,” Curtiss told The Daily Beast on Wednesday morning. In fact, a clarion call has gone out from Oregon to militia groups and they’re heeding it. Locals told The Daily Beast they saw truckloads of new faces coming in overnight. It appears the Bundy clan knew arrest or worse was becoming more inevitable when Ammon’s deputies started going home to say goodbye to their families. Ritzheimer was in Arizona and said he was planning to see his wife and children before heading back north. At least two refuge occupants have traveled to Utah and back already. Back in Oregon, the arrests have only escalated tensions. Brandon Curtiss, president of the Idaho Three Percenter militia that has patrolled Burns and provided security for the occupiers at the refuge said no one’s leaving. “We’re still going to maintain our same position, the community has asked us to stay, and we’re trying to be there the best we can for support and to continue our investigation,” Curtiss told The Daily Beast on Wednesday morning. In fact, a clarion call has gone out from Oregon to militia groups and they’re heeding it. Locals told The Daily Beast they saw truckloads of new faces coming in overnight...more

FBI tells Oregon refuge occupiers to leave as authorities set up roadblocks

Law enforcement officers set up roadblocks Tuesday night around the headquarters of the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge hours after one of the takeover's top spokesmen was killed and other leaders were arrested on a highway out of town.  FBI officials told those still at the compound, about 30 miles southeast of Burns, that they were free to leave and should do so. By midnight, few people appeared to have taken up the offer and the lights were still on. Only a few people had left, said Gary Hunt, who arrived Sunday from California to support the occupation. "The rest have decided they're going to hold their ground," he said. Hunt -- a board member of Operation Mutual Defense, a network of militias and patriot sympathizers – left the headquarters late Tuesday and talked to The Oregonian/OregonLive while parked six miles from the refuge. Among those still there was Ammon Bundy's wife, Lisa. She told those at the compound that she took a call from her husband after his arrest and he described some of what happened. Hunt said there was confusion among those remaining at the compound and he wasn't certain who was providing leadership. The protesters anticipate that law enforcement will take action against them, he said. "They've got their observers out," he said. In recent days, it looked as if about 40 people were staying in the buildings, including women and children...more

Deceased Militant LaVoy Finicum: Rancher, Patriarch, Bundy Believer

Robert LaVoy Finicum, who died Tuesday in a confrontation with FBI and state police on the highway between Burns and John Day, was a man whose life was transformed by the 2014 standoff between Cliven Bundy and federal officials in Nevada. At the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Finicum stood out as one of the few ranchers in a crowd of army vets and anti-government activists. Finicum quickly emerged as a key surrogate for occupation leader Ammon Bundy and a spokesman for the militants. “You don’t stand here, unless you believe in your heart of hearts what you’re doing is true. You’re going to have to weather the storm of intense persecution, and criticism and demonization,” he said in an interview last week. “You don’t draw a line in the sand unless you’re willing to go all the way.” Finicum participated in many of the militants’ activities, helping remove a fence at the edge of the refuge and taking down cameras — allegedly used for surveillance, according to the militants — from a nearby power station. At the refuge, Finicum wore a cream colored cowboy hat, eyeglasses and a gun belt. At times, he smiled and spoke softly. From behind the wheel of his quad cab pickup, he said he didn’t much care for country music and preferred British pop star Adele. In his youth, he said he’d worked as a property manager in the Portland area. Finicum spoke about the possibility of a war between the people of the United States and its government, and wrote an apocalyptic novel, available on Amazon, titled “Only By Blood and Suffering.” He urged reporters to consider setting aside enough food and water to last six months. Before 2014, Finnicum had never met Cliven Bundy face-to-face, though his cattle grazed on thousands of acres in Mojave County, Arizona, not far from the Bundy’s ranch. He came to visit the Bundys the day before the standoff started. “I said Cliven, don’t let them take your cows,” Finicum recalled in an interview with OPB. “He says saddle up your horse and be here early in the morning. I was the first cowboy to show up in the dark.” In fall 2015, Finicum followed in Bundy’s footsteps and chose to stop complying with his lease contract with the Bureau of Land Management, in spite of a long positive relationship with the agency. “The people I deal with in Arizona, they’re great, they’re wonderful,” he told OPB. “It’s not whether they do good, or bad, it’s should they have the power?”...more

‘There has to be retribution’: Bundy family says slain Oregon protester unarmed

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s family condemned the death of an Arizona rancher who they say was unarmed with his hands up when he was shot dead by authorities during an arrest Tuesday of leaders of an armed group that has been occupying a federal wildlife refuge in rural eastern Oregon. Speaking with the Sun late Tuesday, Steve Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s nephew, accused authorities of killing Finicum “in cold blood,” claiming he was defenseless. “We lost a great family friend, a great family man, who was unarmed with his hands up,” Steve Bundy said. “They cold-blood murdered a family man.” In an audio clip posted to Facebook on Tuesday, Cliven Bundy echoed his nephew's message. “(Ammon Bundy) said (Finicum) had his arms in the air, he said he was unarmed, and they shot him cold-blooded.”  Cliven Bundy was not available for further comment Tuesday night, but the family spokesman said the Nevada ranch militia members would seek to avenge Finicum's death “very soon.” “There has to be retribution,” Steve Bundy said. “But we’re not going to ruin the element of surprise.”...more

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Oregon standoff spokesman Robert 'LaVoy' Finicum killed

Oregon standoff spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was killed and other top leaders of the wildlife refuge occupation were arrested Tuesday after law enforcement officials stopped vehicles about 20 miles north of Burns. Authorities did not release the name of the person who died at the highway stop, but two sources told The Oregonian/Oregonlive that it was Finicum, 55, of Cane Beds, Arizona, one of the cowboy-hat wearing faces of the takeover. Finicum's daughter, Arianna Finicum Brown, also said police confirmed to her mother that he had died. Ryan Bundy, 43, of Bunkerville, Nev., suffered a minor gunshot wound in the confrontation at 4:30 p.m. along U.S. 395. He was treated and released from a local hospital and was in FBI custody, authorities said. Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore said that Ammon Bundy called his wife, Lisa Bundy, from the back of a police car on Tuesday night. Fiore, a vocal supporter of the Bundy family, said that Ammon Bundy told his wife that Finicum was cooperating with police and had put his hands up. Then, Fiore said, Bundy told his wife that he watched police shoot Finicum three times. She said that Ammon Bundy also said Finicum was on the ground when he was shot. Finicum on Monday said in a radio blog interview that he sensed heightened activity from federal law enforcement. "Definitely a lot of saber rousing going on around us,'' Finicum said on America's Freedom The Right to Bear Arms. "I do believe they're positioning themselves. There's definitely a hardening of their postures. They're bringing in more assets. They're doing a lot of saber rattling. ... We're just moving forward.''...more

An updated version of this article is here.