PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A senior adviser in the U.S. Department of
Interior on Friday rescinded a January Trump administration
decision to grant grazing allotments to an Oregon ranching
family whose members were convicted of arson in a court battle
that triggered the takeover of a federal wildlife refuge by
The new memo from the Interior secretary’s office found that the
Trump administration hadn’t allowed for sufficient time to
receive and consider public challenges to the permit for Hammond
Ranches Inc. It directed the Bureau of Land Management to
further consider the matter.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the
latest action came just days before the cattle were expected to
be turned out on public lands neighboring the Malheur National
Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.
Steven Hammond, co-owner of the ranch, and his father, Dwight,
were both convicted of arson for setting fire to range land and
sent to prison for mandatory five-year sentences.
That led to the armed occupation of the Malheur National
Wildlife Refuge for 41 days in 2016. One occupier was shot dead
by Oregon State Police. They say he reached for a pistol at a
President Donald Trump pardoned the Hammonds in 2018, allowing
them to be freed from prison. In 2014, when Barack Obama was
president, the BLM denied Hammond Ranches a grazing permit
renewal, saying it “does not have a satisfactory record of
performance” and cited numerous incidents of arson.
W. Alan Schroeder, the attorney representing Hammond Ranches,
declined comment to The Oregonian/OregonLive on Friday’s
Four environmental advocacy groups on Thursday sued the Interior
secretary and BLM, saying last month’s permit approval on the
final day of the Trump administration was “tainted by political
influence” and that a “rushed and truncated public process” cut
out opportunities for the public participation required by law
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