BURNS, OR -- The Bureau of Land Management officially restored grazing rights, last week, to the Hammond family, whose dispute with the agency was was the impetus for the Harney County occupation. Dwight Hammond, and his son Steven were found guilty in 2012 of arson on the public land where they had grazing rights. That conviction was used by the BLM to deny renewal of their grazing rights in 2014. They were ordered to prison in early 2016, inciting the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
When the pair was pardoned by the President in July, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA), Oregon Farm Bureau (OFB) and Harney County Stock Growers Association began working to reinstate their permit. It really was a precedent-setting case and situation," says Jerome Rosa, with the OCA. "They’re very excited to be back on the ground, back having their permits. They’re wanting to just kind of get their lives back to normal and get out of the public eye. But, they are extremely grateful for all of the folks that helped." He adds, "First time they’ll be back out on that land in many, many years. So, it was a huge win for not only OCA but the Harney County Stock Growers, along with the Oregon Farm Bureau. So, we were really happy about the outcome of this and glad that we could be a small part of it."
The Trump Administration ordered the BLM to reissue the permits in early January, "This was one of the final acts that former Interior Secretary Zinke did before he left office. And, apparently, the reason why it took a while to come out was because of the government shutdown," says Rosa. The BLM signed documents reissuing the grazing permit on February 13, five years - almost to the day - from when it was revoked.
The Oregon Farm Bureau issued a statement saying, in part, "This reissued grazing permit signals that justice has finally been achieved for this rural family. While nobody can restore what the Hammonds have lost to years of prosecutorial overreach and bureaucratic vendetta, we are grateful this awful chapter is closed."