BLM rescinds earlier decision granting the Hammond family grazing permits

By on Saturday, February 27th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

PORTLAND – The Bureau of Land Management rescinded an earlier grazing decision that was the subject of a federal law suit in the Pendleton division of the U.S. District Court. The move by the BLM came Friday, the day after environmentalists filed a suit to overturn the decision allowing Dwight and Steven Hammonds’ grazing rights on Steens Mountain.

The suit was filed by a coalition of environmental groups and contends that the BLM’s decision cut short the public process required by law for such an award, and failed to consider both imperiled wildlife and damage to Indigenous sites.

“We believe when they reconsider the proposed action, they’ll realize there were major substantive problems as well,” Western Watersheds Project Deputy Director Greta Anderson said of a review under the Biden administration after the last-minute decision by the Trump administration.

The suit contends that the Hammond family is not qualified , calling the BLM’s process both rushed and opaque.

The Oregon Farm Bureau disagrees.

“The Hammond family are long-standing pillars of the Harney County community who have been subjected to continued government overreach while sustainably managing their ranch for the benefit of the local community, local ecosystems, and generations of their family,” OFB wrote in a prepared statement. “The decision to issue their grazing permit should be a criteria-based process, and one that BLM approaches objectively. The Hammonds have demonstrated several times that all applicable factors favor them being restored their permit, including the family’s record of stewardship, their ownership of intermingled private land and several range improvements, and their contributions to the local economy. It is fundamentally unfair to continually subject this family to ever-changing regulatory whims, and in the process, jeopardize their livelihood, proper rangeland management, and ability to fully utilize their private lands. The Hammond’s permit should be restored, and the family should be allowed to move forward with their lives in peace.”