Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Eastern Oregon Militia Occupation: A Detailed History (Part 2)

After the 1994 charges against the Hammonds were dropped in 1997, it seemed like this small, local controversy would fade into annals of state history as an obscure oddity in the background. However, this would not be the Hammonds' last run-in with the law. In 1999, the Hammonds were given a warning by the Bureau of Land Management that they while they could lease public lands for grazing, they were not permitted to burn anything without authorization.

In September of 2001, they set fire on their property that spread to public lands. They claimed that this was to burn off invasive species, but a teenage relative testified that the intent was not so innocuous. Said teenage had to take shelter in a creek because the flames spread so high and so rapidly. The fire ultimately burned away 139 acres of public land and "took the acreage out of production for two growing seasons." If you're wondering why something like this didn't make national headlines, need I remind you of a certain particular major world event that took place in September of 2001?

In August of 2006, a lightning storm caused several fires near to where the Hammonds grew their winter stock. Steven Hammond responded by setting back burns near the boundary of his land. The problem was that a burn ban was in effect and a waiver was required in order to set a fire legally. Steven Hammond did not seek this waiver.

In 2010, the BLM filed charges against the Hammonds for arson and in 2012 they were put on trial.

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