BEND, OR -- The occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge say they want the federal lands given back to local communities. But about 200 who attended a recent rally in Bend say those public lands are important.
Great Old Broads for Wilderness hosted the event on Friday in downtown Bend. At the rally, Rinda Clark told KBND News, "I'm here because I care about our lands. I care about our forests, our wildlife refuges, our public parks, our recreation areas, and I want those areas preserved for my children and my grandchildren. I wan the bullies to go home. Enough is enough; we need to take back the refuge in Harney County."
Several Harney County ranchers came to Bend for the rally, to voice their opposition to the armed occupation of the refuge. Julie Weikel said, "I'm not a fearful person, I leave 30 miles from the nearest grocery store, I've never locked my doors in my entire life until last Monday night. I don't choose to live that way, but there's way too many guns just down the road from me, and I want them out of there." Weikel is involved in the group Friends of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
. She added, "I'm here because the Malheur Refuge absoulutely doesn't deserve this. It has worked so hard to be collaborative with the community, to serve the community. That community, and the employees of the refuge, are intertwined at a family level, at a school level, at a community level, and this is just so wrong."
Great Old Broads for Wilderness started 25 years ago to protect public lands for future generations.