The Obama administration sentenced two Oregon farmers to five years in federal prison for starting a preventative fire on their land. The fire spread to federal land and burned less than 140 acres.
Steven Hammond and his father Dwight Hammond were sentenced to federal prison for five years. (Capital Press)
The government charged the ranchers as “terrorists.”
The Oregon Farm Bureau reported:
Today two Oregon ranchers were sentenced to five years in federal prison under terrorism statutes for setting preventative fires on their own land. We are gravely disappointed at this outcome.
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Elderly Harney County rancher Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, a former OFB Board member and Harney County Farm Bureau president, have already served time in federal prison for their mistakes and paid their debt to society for the less-than-140 acres of BLM land that was accidentally impacted by the fires.
This is an example of gross government overreach, and the public should be outraged.
Today’s verdict is also hypocritical given BLM’s own harm to public and private grazing lands, which goes without consequence. It is unjust. OFB worked on this case quietly behind the scenes with BLM through the spring and summer. That diligent diplomatic effort was fruitless.
This prosecution will have a chilling effect across the West among ranchers, foresters, and others who rely on federal allotments and permits. It will harm the positive relationship many ranchers and organizations have worked to forge with the BLM, and undermine the cooperative spirit most ranchers have brought to the bureau in helping the health of the range.