Trump pardons OR ranchers who sparked occupation of wildlife refuge


Attorney Morgan Philpot also told The Associated Press the men feel persecuted by federal officials after they were convicted of setting fires on public land and sentenced to five-year prison terms under an anti-terrorism statute.

A father and son pardoned by President Donald Trump after being convicted of intentionally setting fires on public land in OR flew home after being released from custody.

The pardons will hopefully make it clear that federal managers are not free to put ranchers out of business and take their land, said Dave Duquette, national strategic planner for Protect the Harvest, an agricultural and hunting nonprofit. The Hammond family and their supporters insisted they started a "prescribed fire" to burn off invasive species, and the case became a symbol to some conservatives of government overreach in rural parts of the American west.

Sanders defended the Hammonds as "devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West".

Lyle Hammond, another of Dwight Hammond's sons, said Tuesday that his father and brother have been released from a federal prison south of Los Angeles but he didn't know their whereabouts.

As of this month, Dwight Hammond has served two years and nine months in prison and 31 months of supervised release. "I hope that Dwight and Steven will soon be able to continue their work on the Hammond Ranch".

The Hammonds said they were using standard brush-control and land-management techniques, but the government said that in at least one instance they were trying to hide evidence of their slaughtering a herd of deer.

"Pardoning the Hammonds sends a risky message to America's park rangers, wildland firefighters, law enforcement officers, and public lands managers", Rokala said in a statement.

Duquette was so confident something was afoot that he got a hotel room Tuesday in Long Beach, California near the Terminal Island federal prison where the Hammonds have been held, and where they walked out about 2 p.m. Tuesday, about six 1/2 hours after Trump pardoned them. They engaged in an armed standoff with federal authorities, although the Hammonds turned themselves over to authorities to serve the additional time and did not heed the Bundys' call to resist. They were found guilty by a jury and faced mandatory sentences of five years.

Lucas, the multimillionaire oil magnate and backer of the Indianapolis Colts, and Pence, an IN native, have known each other for a long time, Duquette said.

Protesters who rallied to support the Hammonds included Ammon Bundy, who was part of the self-styled militia that broke into the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, beginning a 41-day standoff with the US government over how it handles rangelands throughout the Western states.

The occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended shortly after occupier LaVoy Finicum was shot to death by Oregon State Police at a roadblock and Ammon and Ryan Bundy were arrested. "The 2001 blaze burned 139 acres of public land, according to court documents; the 2006 fire - for which only Steven was convicted - burned an additional acre of public land".

Some environmentalists see a pattern in the way Mr. Trump is approaching public lands, which comprise nearly half of the U.S. West, and have linked the pardons to his position.