BEND, OR -- While sympathetic to the philosophy behind the occupation of the wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) says it is time for them to leave. On a swing through central Oregon this week, the Republican said the group has made it’s point, but now it’s time to go back where they came from.
"The message I would have for the folks at the refuge is, while you’ve highlighted and made national these issues on federal public lands, you’ve gone too far," he tells KBND News. "I’ve not supported the armed takeover of the refuge, for goodness sakes. And the community, for the most part, would appreciate it if they left. I think if they overstay they begin to hurt the cause of the people they want to help."
However, Walden agrees with the militants that rural Oregonian’s voices are often not heard by the federal government regarding how land is managed in their communities. "And they’re feeling that all too often the fix is in before the process starts and that they're voice is not heard and what they have to say about how things are managed in their communities is ignored. We’ve got to get back to where people have faith in their government because they’re government listens to them. And that’s not always been the case." But he says the militia has broken the law and he does not support their tactics.
Governor Kate Brown says she plans to ask state lawmakers to find money to help Harney County pay for the standoff. County costs are now running at about $100,000 a week. "I have asked us to scour the budget to make sure we can have the resources at the state level to subsidize the cost for Harney County, and we’ll be asking federal officials to reimburse the state for these costs." Governor Brown adds, "The situation is absolutely intolerable and it must be resolved immediately. The very fabric of this community is being ripped apart."