WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two Eastern Oregon ranchers whose imprisonment sparked the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge have their grazing privileges back. Dwight and Steven Hammond received a 10-year permit on the last day of the Trump presidency.
Newly-elected Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) is also a rancher and was happy that their rights have been restored.
“I know the Hammonds,” he said. “They’re personal friends of mine and my family’s and we’ve worked with them many, many years. I’m happy for them.”
The Hammonds had their grazing rights revoked after they were convicted of arson on public lands in 2012. They were released from prison, but the U.S. Department of Justice ordered them back to finish their mandatory five-year sentence. Protests followed and resulted in the 41-day armed standoff at the refuge.
Bentz said President Trump did the right thing in restoring their grazing rights.
“I know it’s a huge part of their successful ranch operation, so I know for them, from the standpoint of being able to stay in business, it’s a really good thing,” he said.