Plans to expand Rio Grande del Norte National Monument into San Luis Valley debated
ALAMOSA, Colo. – Plans to expand the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument northward from New Mexico into the San Luis Valley are getting more support and more opposition.
Supporters say the goal is to preserve traditional uses such as hunting, fishing and other recreational uses. The monument would also prevent the land from being sold or leased for mining.
Rio Grande Water Conservation District Board Member Dwight Martin says residents don’t need the monument in Conejos County because it serves no purpose.
According to the Alamosa Valley Courier, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument covers nearly 250,000 acres. The expansion would run north of the New Mexico state line into the southern part of the San Luis Valley and would add about 64,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.
EPHRATA – Rep. Dan Newhouse joined with 145 U.S. representatives to criticize the Environmental Protection Agency for spending money to lobby for stricter regulations.
Newhouse, representing Grant County in the Fourth Congressional District, criticized the federal money being used on “What’s Upstream?”
The website is a project by the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Swinomish Tribal Indian Community and the Western Environmental Law Center to support a 100-foot buffer zone between agricultural land and waterways.
“Planting buffers can help the agriculture industry do its part to protect our water resources,” states whatsupstream.com.
The EPA originally awarded a grant to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, a consortium of 20 tribes. The commission passed the money to the Swinomish Tribe in northwestern Washington, according to a Capital Press article.
EPA officials criticized the tribe using the money to support the campaign, according to the Capital Press. The grant was awarded for billboards aimed at endangered salmon recovery efforts.
The representatives stated the agency need’s tighter controls on its money to prevent the money being spent on illegal projects.
They pointed out an EPA Office of the Inspector General investigation showed “of a sample of 10 different EPA subawards, only three had protocols in place to ensure … recipients did not engage in lobbying activities.”
“The whatsupstream.com campaign appears to be part of an alarming trend where EPA engages in funding advocacy efforts against the very entities it is seeking to regulate,” the representatives stated. “EPA cannot systematically choose when it wishes to follow the law and when it does not.”
Newhouse stated it is disturbing the agency allowed funding to attack farmers.
“The EPA must be held accountable to cooperate fully with oversight investigations and to end the pattern of taxpayer-funded lobbying efforts,” he stated.
The U.S. Department of Energy published data last week with some amazing revelations — so amazing that most Americans will find them hard to believe. As a nation, the United States reduced its carbon emissions by 2 percent from last year. Over the past 14 years, our carbon emissions are down more than 10 percent. On a per-unit-of-GDP basis, U.S. carbon emissions are down by closer to 20 percent.
Even more stunning: We’ve reduced our carbon emissions more than virtually any other nation in the world, including most of Europe.
How can this be? We never ratified the Kyoto Treaty. We never adopted a national cap-and-trade system, or a carbon tax, as so many of the sanctimonious Europeans have done.
The answer isn’t that the EPA has regulated CO2 out of the economy. With strict emission standards, the EPA surely has started to strangle our domestic industries, such as coal, and our electric utilities. But that’s not the big story here.
The primary reason carbon emissions are falling is because of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking. Some readers now are probably thinking I’ve been drinking or have lost my mind. Fracking technology for shale oil and gas drilling is supposed to be evil. Some states have outlawed it. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come out against it in recent weeks. Schoolchildren have been bombarded with green propaganda about all the catastrophic consequences of fracking.
They are mostly lies. Fracking is simply a new way to get at America’s vast storehouse of tens of trillions of dollars worth of shale oil and gas that lies beneath us, coast to coast — from California to upstate New York. Fracking produces massive amounts of natural gas, and, as a consequence, natural gas prices have fallen in the past decade from above $8 per million BTUs to closer to $2 this year — a 75 percent reduction — due to the spike in domestic supplies.
This free fall in prices means that America is using far more natural gas for heating and electricity and much less coal. Here is how the International Energy Agency put it: “In the United States, (carbon) emissions declined by 2 percent, as a large switch from coal to natural gas use in electricity generation took place.”
It also observes that the decline “was offset by increasing emissions in most other Asian developing economies and the Middle East, and also a moderate increase in Europe.” We are growing faster than they are and reducing emissions more than they are, yet these are the nations that lecture us on polluting. Go figure.
Here at home, this market-driven transition has caused a pro-natural gas celebration by the green groups, right?
Hardly. Groups like the Sierra Club and their billionaire disciples have bet the farm on wind and solar power. They’ve launched anti-fracking campaigns and “beyond natural gas” advertising campaigns. But wind and solar are hopelessly uncompetitive when natural gas is so plentiful and so cheap. So are electric cars.
The media also have gotten this story completely wrong. Last week The New York Times celebrated the DOE’s emissions findings as evidence that governmental iron-fist policies are working to stop global warming. For the first time “since the start of the Industrial Revolution,” the Times argued, “GDP growth and carbon emissions have been decoupled.”
The Times pretends that this development is because of green energy, but that’s a fantasy. Wind and solar still account for only 3 percent of U.S. energy.
So here is the real story in a flash: Thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling technologies, we are producing more natural gas than ever before. Natural gas is a wonder fuel: It is cheap. It is abundant. America has more of it than anyone else — enough to last several hundred years. And it is clean-burning. Even Nancy Pelosi inadvertently admitted this several years ago before someone had to whisper in her ear that, um, natural gas is a fossil fuel.
Meanwhile, the left has declared war on a technology that has done more to reduce carbon emissions and real pollution emissions than all the green programs ever invented. Maybe the reason is that they aren’t so much against pollution as they are against progress.
On April 13, Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Jon Tester (D-MT), chairman and vice chairman of the SCIA, subpoenaed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy or Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus to testify at the field hearing. The invitation for Stanislaus to testify was originally sent on March 28, but the EPA declined to send him or any other witness.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks at a committee field oversight hearing on “Examining the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Unacceptable Response to Indian Tribes,” which took place in Phoenix, Ariz., at the City of Phoenix Council Chambers.
The hearing provided an opportunity for committee members to demand answers from the EPA regarding the impact of the Gold King Mine disaster on Indian Country. Committee members also heard testimony from tribal leaders about the EPA’s responses to issues affecting their communities. The field hearing was requested by Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
Chairman Barrasso’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Today is Earth Day, a day generally recognized for reflecting on environmental protection.
“Instead, we are called upon to examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental disasters.
“This hearing will focus on the EPA’s unacceptable response to Indian tribes.
“Eight months ago, on August 5, 2015, one of the largest environmental catastrophes occurred in the Rocky Mountains. This event affected thousands in three states and at least two Indian tribes under the direction and supervision of the EPA.
“It was called the Gold King Mine blowout.
“In this disaster, over three million gallons of toxic wastewater unleashed into the Cement Creek, a tributary of the Animas River and then flowed downstream to the San Juan River, affecting thousands of lives on the Navajo Nation.
“Pictures of that event are on the easels in front of us. Words simply cannot describe the economic disaster that ensued.
“In September of last year, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing on this disaster and heard testimony from the Navajo Nation and Southern Ute Indian Tribes.
“The President of the Navajo Nation, Russell Begaye, told our committee that for the Navajo people: “Water is sacred, and the river is life for all of us.”
“Unfortunately, for the Navajos and other surrounding communities, this is what life became for thousands last summer.
“I can see why President Begaye and other Navajos “are afraid to use the river.”
“We know that the EPA caused the spill more than eight months ago because they made critical mistakes and they failed to take basic precautions.
“In a few weeks, spring runoffs will begin in the Rocky Mountains.
“The spring runoff is causing another round of fear among residents along the banks of the Animas and San Juan Rivers, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.
“The April 8, Wall Street Journal article states: ‘The EPA hasn’t returned to conduct more tests, and now […] others are worried that lead and other toxic materials that settled in the river will be stirred up and contaminate the water again as the Animas swells with spring snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains.’
“Furthermore, the article goes on to say: ‘The sludge turned the Animas mustard-yellow for days, and federal officials found high levels of toxicity from lead and arsenic. EPA officials eventually cleared the water for drinking and recreation, but warned that chemicals in the riverbed could be stirred up again and that a full clean up could take years.’
“The carelessness of the EPA is disturbing, to say the least.
“It was almost as careless or, to put it bluntly, disrespectful for the EPA not to send a single witness when we announced this hearing almost a month ago.
“It’s a sad day, when a subpoena is needed to be issued from the committee to compel an administration witness to appear.
“An administration witness.
“Not since the hearings of Jack Abramoff did this committee need to compel a witness to come forward.
“It’s shameful, you know it, and Indian Country knows this. Let me be clear, the committee is not finished with the EPA spill. I intend to have further hearings as needed, and I will do whatever it takes for Indian communities to get answers.
“This is not the end.
“Today’s hearing will continue to highlight how the EPA’s actions have impacted tribal communities.
“This includes the inadequate handling of the Gold King Mine disaster and the agency’s response to cleaning up Cold War uranium mines across the Navajo and Hopi reservations.
“I think the Navajo Nation and other tribes in the west are right to not trust the EPA.
“Before we receive testimony from our witnesses, I want to thank Senator McCain for requesting this hearing, on behalf of the Indian tribes, and his leadership on this matter. Thank you Senator McCain.”
Power plants provide “warm water refuges” for manatees, yet EPA goes full tilt on regulations resulting in closures. EPA is the number one threat to manatees in Florida.
From the House Committee on Natural Resources:
In early January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released plans to down-list the endangered manatee to “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. One of the greatest threats to the manatee is loss of habitat, including the closure of power plants that create warm water refuges for manatees during winter months. Meanwhile, the EPA remains unshakable with its plan to shutter coal plants across the country. The manatees aren’t going to turn in to mermaids, Mr. Ashe.
My family has lived and worked in southeast Oregon since the 1800s. We are people of the land and for the land. Our businesses have worked hand-in-hand with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Department of State Lands to care for this land since the agencies were created.
With our intimate knowledge of the lands, we assist in reporting, locating and fighting rangeland fires and helping with search and rescues missions. Our goal for our own land and the public’s land is to maintain a healthy, viable sagebrush ecosystem in the high desert of southeast Oregon.
Now, all of this may come to an end.
An outdoor clothing corporation and special interest groups have proclaimed 2.5 million acres in southeast Oregon “unprotected” in their campaign to pressure President Obama to turn the land into a monument.
To call this public land “unprotected” is like saying the land in downtown Portland has no zoning code.
The Owyhee Canyonlands along the Oregon-Idaho-Nevada border and the water and wildlife that run through it enjoy protections from more than seven layers of local, state and federal government and are actively managed by professional resource managers employed by the three state or federal agencies.
The protections include at least five federal acts (Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, Endangered Species Act of 1973, Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979) and three land-use plans (Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Southeastern Oregon Resource Management Plan of 2002 and Oregon Greater Sage-Grouse Approved Resource Management Plan of 2015).
When likely Oregon voters were told in a recent poll about the existing protections and plans in place for these lands, 61 percent said the Owyhee Canyonlands has enough protection.
This monument declaration doesn’t offer further protection. It’s more an act of exclusion.
Once a monument is declared, public lands become less accessible, not more. It would restrict road maintenance, and that would inhibit search and rescue and firefighting operations. It would also restrict ranchers’ ability to care for the land under their grazing permits, limiting our ability to maintain water sources and reservoirs that benefit all wildlife.
The monument would limit access for people who are not aggressive hikers, especially the elderly, handicapped and veterans. Those who enjoy hunting, fishing, rafting and viewing birds, wildlife and wildflowers in the Canyonlands area will also be greatly restricted.
Special interest groups are urging President Obama to act alone under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to cut Congress and our community out of this decision. But their agenda runs counter to the voice of Oregonians across the state, from Malheur County to Multnomah County. At the ballot in March, 90 percent of Malheur County voters opposed the idea. In the poll of likely Multnomah County voters, 69 percent agreed that Congress should get a voice in the decision.
Polls show the feeling is the same in urban and rural Oregon. This land belongs to everyone — not just members of select interest groups. We all deserve a voice in the future of our land. This is an extreme overreach of presidential power. The people of the Oregon need to stand and be heard from Malheur County to Multnomah County. It is our land and our voice.
Rancher Linda Bentz lives in Juntura and is a sixth-generation rancher in the Owyhee Canyonlands. She is a member of the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy won’t be attending an Arizona field hearing on Earth Day about how the agency-caused mine blowout harmed Navajo tribal members living along the San Juan River.
McCarthy told senators Tuesday she won’t be attending the hearing, despite being subpoenaed by Republicans on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. In fact, McCarthy claimed she was never even invited to the hearing set for Friday.
“There may be some confusion, but I was never invited to this hearing,” she told lawmakers, adding that EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus would be going to the hearing, not her.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the committee’s chairman, was not happy with McCarthy’s answer, especially since he had not gotten anything official from EPA stating Stanislaus would attend the hearing.
“Communities want to know if their families will be safe,” Barrasso told her, adding that residents in Arizona and Colorado — where EPA workers caused a massive mine blowout in August — are angry with the agency.
“EPA stands for the Environmental Polluting Agency,” he said, referring to what some residents in the southwestern U.S. now call the agency.
McCarthy is technically right in that she was never invited to the hearing, but she was, in fact, subpoenaed by the Indian affairs committee after EPA refused to send any witness to attend in person. EPA was originally going to send written testimony on the Gold King Mine spill.
Not happy with EPA’s response, Sens. Barrasso and John McCain of Arizona and called for a subpoena on April 6 for McCarthy or Stanislaus to appear at the Arizona field hearing in order to hold agency officials accountable to Navajo Nation for contaminating their drinking water. Six days after their challenge, EPA said on April 12 it would send Stanislaus to speak on the agency’s behalf. The committee still sent a subpoena on April 13 to make sure EPA would actually send someone to the hearing.
McCarthy is the first person to be subpoenaed by the committee since lobbyist Jack Abramoff was called to testify about a decade ago.
EPA workers breached the Gold King Mine last August outside Silverton, Colo., and unleashed 880,000 pounds of toxic metals mixed in with 3 million gallons of mine wastewater. The spill sent an orange bloom down the Animas River and into the San Juan River, where it spread to Navajo lands.
Navajo tribesmen had their drinking and irrigation water shut off after the toxic plume reached portions of the San Juan River abutting their lands, and the tribe and federal officials have been extremely critical of the agency’s handling of the spill.
“It caused hundreds, maybe thousands of farmers to lose their crops and have their crops affected last season,” Mihio Manus, spokesman for the Navajo Nation’s president, told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Ethan Barton in February.
“It affected the livelihood of these farmers,” Manus said. “A lot of farmers lost a lot of money.”
McCarthy said the EPA had reimbursed Navajo Nation $158,000 for the mine spill, but to date the agency has not launched a criminal investigation into the spill or paid any penalties. EPA officials have also not developed a plan to protect water quality in the San Juan River, despite fears Spring storms could churn up toxic metals.
If McCarthy attends the Earth Day field hearing, she won’t be able to attend the U.N. signing ceremony set to happen that day when world leaders are set to officially approve a global agreement to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
McCarthy has spent much of her energy crafting and promoting the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan, which is the Obama administration’s signature global warming regulation. McCarthy herself has said the CPP was more about garnering global support for a U.N. treaty than it was about addressing global warming.
The role of collusion between the BLM and Utah environmentalist groups in the prosecution of two local leaders
By Marjorie Haun and Monte Wells
“Environmentalist collusion with the federal government can be more accurately described as infiltration of agencies such as the BLM, by environmental extremists.”
When Juan Palma stepped down in March of 2015 from his post as the Director of the Utah Bureau of Land Management, he was lauded as a ‘respected leader.’
After five years overseeing nearly 40 percent of Utah’s land, Juan Palma retires Friday as the state director for the Bureau of Land Management.
An easygoing leader who was able to navigate the fraught politics of public lands management in Utah, Palma is respected by environmentalists and oil and gas developers alike. Salt Lake Tribune March 6, 2015
Despite praises by Utah’s media of Palma, it appears he was a party in a coordinated effort to discredit and prosecute outspoken critics of the BLM office in Southeastern Utah, which he oversaw.
Critics of the BLM included San Juan County Commissioner, Phil Lyman, and Monticello (located in San Juan County) City Councilman, Monte Wells, who spoke out openly about the federal agency’s prohibitive activities in this remote corner of Utah.
Citizens of San Juan County were increasingly outraged by the BLM’s 2007 ban of motorized vehicles in Recapture Canyon, a historical watershed accessed by locals for a century. So, during a San Juan County Commission meeting in early 2014, Lyman floated the possibility of an ATV protest ride in the canyon if local officials were unable to convince the BLM to reconsider their restrictions. Monte Wells, a friend and supporter of Lyman, and a well-known local blogger, publicized Lyman’s “freedom ride” on Facebook and in his blog, The Petroglyph.
In an ongoing story which splashed across state and national headlines for over a year, the words “Recapture Canyon” became central to a modern West showdown between the federal government and Utah locals.
Emails obtained by Monte Wells, between Director Palma, other BLM agents, and several environmentalist groups, hint at a conspiratorial effort to smear Wells and prosecute Lyman well before a protest ride was ever to take place.
The collusion involved several environmental activists; Liz Thomas (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance–SUWA ), Rose Chilcoat (Great Old Broads for Wilderness), Lori McCullough (Tread Lightly), and Nada Culver (Wilderness Society).
In an email to Steve Boos, Eric Swenson, and Mark Maryboy, representatives and attorneys for the Navajo Nation, who were suing San Juan County (SJCO), Liz Thomas, SUWA’s Field Attorney, signaled her intent to discredit Monte Wells, months prior to a possible protest ride.
Liz Thomas made herself a de-facto informant for Director Palma and another BLM officer, Lance Porter, feeding them information about op-eds and social media posts by Commissioner Lyman.
Here, Thomas even goes so far at to dictate to federal officers, Palma and Porter, what actions they should take, including “citations” and a “damage assessment” in the event of a protest.’
See page 7 (below)
Nada Culver served was the Senior Counsel for The Wilderness Society’s (TWS) “BLM Action Center.”
Liz Thomas’ interest in Facebook posts related to the Recapture Canyon ride exceeded that which the NSA has shown in cases of domestic ISIS recruits.
Rose Chilcoat, of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, also played BLM informant and an anti-Bundy Ranch spy, for Porter and other non-BLM environmentalist operatives.
BLM officer, Lance Porter, colluded with SUWA’s Thomas, Tread Lightly’s Lori McCullough, and other BLM agents in preparation for the planned protest ride.
Nada Culver coordinated with Director Palma to inform him about additional pressure from The Wilderness Society (TWS) regarding the “illegal actions” of Lyman, despite the fact the nothing illegal had taken place.
See pg 17 (above)
BLM Director Palma acknowledged SUWA and TWS as part of the BLM’s “broad coalition in support of Recapture Canyon.”
Before the event would ever occur, collusion between BLM and its various environmentalist supporters seems to have determined the fate of those involved with a Recapture protest ride planned for May of 2014.
Despite every effort by Lyman and citizens of San Juan County to work out a solution with the BLM regarding the restrictions in Recapture Canyon, it appears the decision to prosecute had been made whether or not the ride would actually prove to violate the law or the protesters would cross into the closed area.
On May 1, 2014, Commissioner Lyman recorded a phone conversation during which BLM Director Palma promised that if those participating in the Recapture ride stayed on the well-traveled county road D05314 and avoided the ATV trail in the canyon, that no one would be arrested. Palma specifically told Commissioner Lyman to go ahead with the “freedom ride” and that it would be no problem for protesters to ride or walk into the canyon.
Reneging on his promise, Palma placed several undercover BLM agents among the protesters on the day of the Recapture Canyon ride, who recorded footage of the participants. As Lyman promised, none of the participants left the county road or crossed into the closed areas. Nevertheless, footage taken by undercover BLM agents was used as evidence to file federal charges, including trespassing and conspiracy, against Lyman, Wells, and three other men.
After the ride, the trial
During the subsequent prosecution in which Lyman and others were tried for the Recapture excursion, Director Palma denied ever giving Commissioner Lyman permission to go ahead with the ride, and he became very frustrated in court when confronted with the recording of the phone conversation made by Lyman.
Lyman and Wells were convicted and required to pay restitution for “damages” which purportedly occurred in Recapture Canyon during the protest ride. They were also sentenced to short stints in federal prison and Lyman received three years’ probation.
In an interesting side note, during various stages of the Recapture Canyon trial, four separate judges recused themselves citing entanglements with the BLM and members of the environmentalist groups involved in the coordinated efforts against Lyman, Wells and their associates.
Following his retirement from the BLM, Juan Palma stepped in as Chief Conservation Officer for the Latino environmentalist group, HECHO.
Environmentalist collusion with the federal government goes beyond mere communications between private organizations and taxpayer-funded agencies, and can be more accurately described as infiltration of agencies such as the BLM, by environmental extremists. Today, you cannot tell where one begins and the other ends.
BILLINGS – It’s been a few years since oil and gas leases on public land have drawn much of a crowd, which is why a peculiar sale this spring is attracting attention.
The Bureau of Land Management last week moved its upcoming oil and gas lease sale from the beige partitioned confines of its Billings office to the spacious trappings of the Northern Hotel, arguably Billings’ nicest venue. The move comes at a time when low oil prices have sapped nearly all leasing interest in fossil fuels from public lands.
BLM is making room for protesters, who have turned out at lease sales in other parts of the country. Roughly 40 protesters showed up for a BLM lease sale in Reno, Nevada, last month. It was a sale that drew no bidders and lasted 15 minutes, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The protest was similar to one in February in Utah, where a BLM sale drew 100 opponents and few bidders to a sale at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. At that sale, according the Center for Biological Diversity, protesters cited the amount of greenhouse gasses that would be released if the federal land was developed.
In oil-rich New Orleans, 300 protesters derailed a lease sale of oil and gas tracts in the Gulf of Mexico.
“As you’ve seen across the country, there has been an increased interest, on the part of the public in oil and gas leases,” Nash said. “So the department has asked us to move these sales to locations where we could accommodate a greater number of the public if they choose to participate.”
The particular lease, Nash said, is not very big. There under 10 tracts, located in Sheridan, Richland and Garfield counties. In the extreme northeast portion of Montana, some of the larger leased areas a located beneath small lakes in the northern most U.S. Prairie Potholes Region. Prairie Potholes is known as the “duck factory” of the United States because of its population of water fowl.
In the West, Wild Earth Guardians has been a key organizer of the protests. There are 450 billion tons of fossil fuels beneath federal lands, said Tim Ream of Wild Earth Guardians.
Keeping those fossil fuels in the ground is crucial to minimizing climate change, he said.
“I think most people would be surprised to find out the 25 percent of the energy related emissions come from public lands,” Ream said. “We’re listening to the scientists about climate change and they’re telling us that up to 90 percent of the fossil fuels in the world will have to stay underground for us to have a good chance of staying under 2 degrees Celsius,” in global warming.
Wild Earth Guardians has a Montana presence and has planned protests at oil and gas lease sales in several Western states, including Wyoming, but hadn’t announced a Montana protest.
Ream said Wild Earth has pledged to protest every federal lease sale for the remainder of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The rallying cry for protesters is “keep it in the ground,” a phrase that’s become a pejorative in fossil fuel circles.
Two weeks ago, at the Montana Energy Summit in Billings, coal proponents repeatedly used the “keep it in the ground” slogan to work the audience into a lather.
On October 7, 2015 father and son ranchers from Oregon, Dwight, 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, were labeled as terrorists and sentenced to five years in federal prison under anti-terrorism laws.
In 2001, a fire set by the Hammonds to eliminate overgrown sagebrush on their own property inadvertently spread to adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The two were convicted of arson when the BLM accused them of using fire to destroy federal property. In 2006 Steven Hammond was again convicted of arson when he set several “backfires” on his ranch which burned nearby public acreage.
Both men admitted to setting the fires on their own property, but emphasized they had no intent to damage federal property. The Hammonds were sentenced and each initially spent a few months in federal prison.
In 2015, at the urging of the federal attorney in Oregon, the Obama Department of Justice re-sentenced Steven and Dwight Hammond to serve full five-year terms. These two peaceful ranchers were sent back and are currently in federal prison until their five-year terms are up.
The Hammonds admitted to accidentally burning a little over 100 acres of BLM land next to their ranch. The fires did no damage to buildings or property and did not threaten wildlife or humans.
The following footage was recorded by ranchers near Frenchglen, Oregon. Agents from the BLM set “prescribed” fires yards away from corrals and ranch buildings owned by private citizens. The resulting conflagration destroyed several buildings, including at least one house, and killed over 80 head of cattle. It grew to an immense size and threatened the town of Frenchglen.
No restitution was made by the BLM to the private citizens who lost property and livestock in the fires. No one was arrested, and to date, none of the responsible agents have been charged.